Q&A: Actor James Ransone on Coming Back for “SINISTER 2”Fearful Features,Home,Movies/TV,News Michael Gingold
The high mortality rate of the first SINISTER left only one key character free to step into the horror hit’s sequel: Now Ex-Deputy So & So, played by returning actor James Ransone in SINISTER 2, just out on Blu-ray and DVD. FANGORIA spoke to Ransone about his expanded role, making the movie and what scared him most on set.
Scott Derrickson’s original SINISTER had Deputy So & So helping true-crime author Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) investigate the horrific exploits of the demon Bughuul and his young followers. In SINISTER 2, directed by Ciarán Foy (who discusses the film here and here), scripted once again by Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill and released on disc by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, Ex-Deputy So & So tries to stop Bughuul from spreading his evil influence. He ends up at a remote farm, where abused wife Courtney (Shannyn Sossamon) is hiding out from her nasty husband with their twin sons (real-life brothers Robert and Dartanian Sloan). Ransone, who says he modeled So & So’s idolatry of Elliston in the previous film on Chris Farley’s celebrity interviewer from SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, gets to play a more heroic role here…
FANGORIA: You’re in kind of a unique position in SINISTER 2; it’s rare that a supporting character in a movie gets to take center stage in the sequel. Was it a surprise when you got the call saying Deputy So & So was going to get his own film?
JAMES RANSONE: Yeah, it was totally surprising. I was shocked that they would trust me enough to carry any franchise, regardless of its size! But of course, I was very happy about it.
FANG: When you first read the script, how did you feel about the ways it developed the SINISTER mythology?
RANSONE: Well, I didn’t really think about the mythology as much as I thought about how I was going to take sort of a tertiary character and flesh him out into a much more integral part of the story. What that I liked about the story was that it has a direct connection to the first one; it didn’t seem like, “Oh, we ran out of ideas and we’re going to do a prequel, or give the audience the same movie again.” I really appreciated that.
FANG: So & So is much more competent and proactive in SINISTER 2 than in the original; was that a fun transition to make?
RANSONE: I was more scared; I was like, “Oh my God, I had this ridiculous idea about doing a Chris Farley impression; how am I going to stretch that out into an hour and a half of a character?” So I took a bit of a different route, and I know this is going to sound crazy, but in the second one, I was trying to pay tribute to Charlie Chaplin in CITY LIGHTS. I was inspired by this ne’er-do-well, down-and-out tramp doing everything he can to help out this woman, against all odds.
FANG: The way the film is structured, you’re not involved directly in the horrific stuff until toward the end; you’re more involved with Courtney, and your story is more of a drama than a horror film.
RANSONE: That made it a lot easier for me. It’s always easier for any actor, and it has nothing to do with character development; it’s just that when you’re filming a horror movie, it’s actually rather boring when you’re doing the scary scenes, because they move very, very, very slowly. The scares are always created in the edit.
FANG: How was it working with Shannyn Sossamon and the twins?
RANSONE: It was great. Shannyn and I and Ciarán got into a really good working rhythm. I had worked with Shannyn years before in a limited capacity, so we already knew each other. The dynamic between the three of us was super-easy; I just listened to Ciarán and tried to do what he wanted to the best of my abilities, and everything fell into place. And then off-camera, there was a lot of joking around and horseplay.
The twins were great, too. They’re actually triplets—they have a sister as well—and they were wonderful the whole time. I’ve got to hand it to their parents; their mom was with them all through the shoot, and she’s a really sweet lady, and couldn’t have been more professional. It’s tricky working with kids, because you don’t know what you’re going to get, and union regulations stipulate that they can only work for a certain number of hours at a time.
FANG: Did their sister step in to do any doubling when her brothers didn’t have enough time?
RANSONE: No; actually, their doubles were these twin girls who were, like, 25 years old, but were the same size as the boys! And to me, they were actually the scariest part of being on set. When I would see them, and they’d turn around, and I’d assumed they were these 8-year-old boys and they were not—they were these 25-year-old women—it freaked me out so badly!
FANG: So in the first SINISTER, you were Deputy So & So, and in the sequel you’re Ex-Deputy So & So…
RANSONE: Yeah, there were a lot of lines that got cut out where I kept saying, “I’m not on the force any more!” There were more moments of comedy where it just got to the point where I’m like, “I keep telling you, I’m not a police officer!”
FANG: Do you have a name for him?
RANSONE: No; I think it’s cool to go nameless.
FANG: You mentioned before that making a horror film is an unexciting process; when you saw the first SINISTER, were you surprised by how scary it turned out?
RANSONE: Yeah, but just because I only showed up to shoot my scenes, obviously; I wasn’t there for the scary parts. To me, I was shooting a comedy, you know? Then when it was all cut together, it was pretty wild.
FANG: Some of the best scenes in SINISTER 2 are not the horror stuff; one of the strongest is when you tell off the cop on Courtney’s front lawn.
RANSONE: Yeah, that was fun. It was cool to get to be the hero, because I’m usually, like, the sidekick or the asshole or the villain.
FANG: So it was as much fun to shoot as it is to watch?
RANSONE: Well, I hate watching myself! Oh my God, I hate that so much. What I see in the movie is that I touch my face way too much. I think I may touch my face four times, but when I watch it, that’s all I see, and then I think, “Well, I should probably quit acting.” They always want me to watch the movie so I can talk about it to press, and they don’t realize what they’re asking me to do!
FANG: Are you a horror fan yourself?
RANSONE: Yes—older stuff, though. John Carpenter is one of my favorite directors of all time. I don’t even look at John Carpenter as a horror guy; to me, all his early stuff with Kurt Russell is equally as good as Scorsese and De Niro. I truly believe that. THEY LIVE is also one of my favorite movies of all time. I like Sam Raimi a lot; another one on my all-time horror list is DRAG ME TO HELL. That’s like, Sam Raimi totally blowing off steam from the studio pressure of making SPIDER-MAN, and you can feel it, and he’s just firing on all six cylinders.
FANG: Is there anything more you’d like to do as Ex-Deputy So & So, should there be a SINISTER 3?
RANSONE: Yeah, but I’m probably the wrong person to ask, because I think it would be cool to see him with a hook hand and an eyepatch, working on some old boat. Some kids have to go and find him, and now he’s the grizzled old guy; he becomes the Obi-Wan Kenobi, the shaman of the story, saying, “These kids are trying to bring me back in, and I don’t do that anymore!” You know what I mean? I’d like to see him retire his badge and go full recluse. That would be cool. But no one’s gonna want to watch that!