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Exclusive Pics; Q&A: Brad Dourif talks “MALIGNANT”

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When it comes to the fine character actors that populate the genre, few are as consistent and authentic as the Academy Award-nominated Brad Dourif. Though horror fans know him best as Charles Lee Ray and the voice of Chucky from the CHILD’S PLAY films, Dourif’s physical roles have also been scaring and affecting audiences throughout the years, whether it be his demonic turn in THE EXORCIST III, his more human horror as Luther Lee Boggs in THE X-FILES, or even as Sheriff Brackett in HALLOWEEN II (2009). Dourif remains just as active in the genre today, as evident by his terrifying turn as a mad, bad scientist in Brian Avenet-Bradley’s MALIGNANT. Dourif spoke exclusively to FANGORIA about MALIGNANT, lobotomies and a small role in a significant genre project that he unfortunately couldn’t take…

FANGORIA: How did you first come aboard Brian Avenet-Bradley’s MALIGNANT?

BRAD DOURIF: It was a straight offer, to tell you the truth. There’s not much of a story there. They made an offer and I decided to do the film.

FANG: When you received the script, what was your first impression of the character you were going to portray?

DOURIF: The character was very precisely and well written. I knew there was something I could do with him that I thought might be interesting.

FANG: You’ve had your fair share of iconic roles, villainous or otherwise, in the past. Was there any angle you wanted to approach this character with in order to separate this performance?

DOURIF: Well, I don’t try to separate my performances like that. I don’t necessarily focus on doing anything I haven’t done before and it’s not a goal of mine. Having said that, since the character was written so precisely, I thought I could play him very sympathetically. He’s somebody who really feigns sympathy. He’s not being sympathetic, as you can see, but he thinks he is.

FANG: Did you ever talk to director Brian Avenet-Bradley about bringing anything to the character that wasn’t expressly written in the script?

DOURIF: No. As a matter of fact, I don’t think Brian said much to me while I was doing my performance. I didn’t get much in the way of, “Change what you’re doing here.” Maybe some, like a suggestion to try something another way, but there wasn’t a lot because we were pretty much on the same page immediately.

FANG: In the past, you’ve been quoted as saying that despite the number of horror projects you’ve been involved in, you’re not necessarily a fan of horror per se. Did the scientific or medical aspects of MALIGNANT draw you in at all to the project past the genre elements?

DOURIF: I tend to like things that are mechanical and of course, science is mechanical. That’s what it is. All science does is describe the mechanical aspects of something that’s physical and there, or appears to be there. So, yeah, that whole science angle was interesting to me.

The history of lobotomies has always been interesting to me, too. I was a part of a Tennessee Williams play and lobotomies had played a part in Tennessee Williams’ life. Her sister was lobotomized and she never forgave her mother for that. So that’s something else that caught my interest.

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FANG: Did you do any outside research before coming in for your performance, in that regard?

DOURIF: I found out a little bit, like some research that I did online. There were a couple things that the director put me on to that I found interesting, but overall, it doesn’t really help that much.

FANG: There’s reverence of your career. What was it like working with the cast of MALIGNANT? Did the actors at all look up to you in a way, considering your body of work?

DOURIF: Well, one of the firsts things I do on a film set is if there’s any of that kind of dynamic, I put it to rest right off the bat so that everyone there is on the same page. I like working with people, and when I’m working with people, I like for them to work as well. So that all got dispensed with very quickly, though I mainly just worked with Brian and Gary [Cairns.] In fact, I don’t think I really worked with any of the other cast members.

FANG: In terms of your performances, you’re often very physically in-tune with your characters. Did you find that same freedom for this character as well?

DOURIF: Well, the character isn’t a very free person. He’s very mechanical. But I did feel good and relatively loose. I haven’t seen MALIGNANT since I don’t like watching my own movies, but I tried to make the character very relaxed and sure of himself. I wanted to make him like someone with a bedside manner.

FANG: You mentioned before that you wanted to inject some sympathy into this character. Is this something that you do commonly with the antagonistic roles you’ve taken on in your career?

DOURIF: Well, the key to playing a villain is that there’s no such thing as a villain. Villains are just people going down a bad road. As an actor, I want to know why and I want to make them human.

FANG: Considering you had worked with David Lynch on BLUE VELVET and DUNE, I had heard that you were up for a role in the second season of TWIN PEAKS. Is there any truth to this or is it merely conjecture?

DOURIF: It was not in the second season, but I was offered a role in the first season of TWIN PEAKS. I was doing a movie, however, and I had to turn it down. It was the role of the brother of [Ben Horne], Jerry, played by David Patrick Kelly.

MALIGNANT, starring Brad Dourif and Gary Cairns, is currently available on VOD from Gravitas Ventures.

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About the author
Ken W. Hanley
Ken W. Hanley is the Web Content Manager for FANGORIA, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, a graphic novel and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
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