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Q&A: Henry Rollins Talks “HE NEVER DIED” and Its Indiegogo Campaign

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Having won strong reviews (including ours) at festivals, the horror-drama HE NEVER DIED is heading for theaters in December, with an Indiegogo campaign launched today to support the release. Fango got an exclusive chat with star Henry Rollins about the movie and the crowd-funding.

In HE NEVER DIED, written and directed by Jason Krawczyk, the famous musician/spoken-word artist/actor plays Jack, an immortal cannibal who prefers to live a solitary lifestyle, but keeps getting drawn into situations requiring him to employ his superhuman strength and satiate his bloodlust. Among the perks offered at the Indiegogo page are voicemails from Rollins, who is proud of the film and happy to help get it seen.

FANGORIA: Tell us about the Indiegogo campaign and the inspiration behind it.

HENRY ROLLINS: As with a lot of independent film efforts, we’re high on ideas and inspiration and effort, and low on resources, so we’re trying to raise more money to get our humble effort over the wall. I’ve been kind of thrust into the middle of it all, as far as doing the phone messages or whatever, and I’ve said yes because I believe in the film and I realize that in the present climate, we have to work outside of the big studios, which I don’t think would have much time or interest in our effort, so we have to use alternative means of getting our point across. We have to get our thing distributed, and you can’t do that with hugs and smiles; sadly, it takes cold hard cash, and you can be very honest about that. You can say, “Look, we need money, and here’s a cool way for you to contribute 20 bucks” or whatever it is.

FANG: You do have an advantage over many filmmakers using Indiegogo, who are trying to finance production or postproduction. You have a finished product that has already gotten strong responses, and now you’re just looking for assistance in getting it out there.

ROLLINS: Well, we shall see, in that it is a marketplace, and now it’s up to its citizens to say yea or nay, so we have to hope that people care. A lot of that is out of our hands. All I know is that myself and everyone else on the film busted our asses making it, and are super-excited about the idea of other people seeing it. But that’s the same on every film you’ve ever liked and every film you’ve ever hated; everyone felt the same way: “We made something great, and boy, that was hard and no one slept for six weeks, and now we’re all broke.” That’s how all independent movies are: People love what they did, and they really want you to dig it, and sometimes it goes over and sometimes it doesn’t.

Entertainment is a very rough room, ’cause there are eight gajillion people who are so well-intentioned, but once the rubber meets the road, you have to be very brave and willing to slug it out. We wrapped HE NEVER DIED in December 2013 and we’re coming up to December 2015, two years after the last shot, and I’m still talking about this film. With my tours, once I walk off the last show, I’m on to the next thing with an urgency that would leave you wide-eyed. I’m gone, it’s a dead body; there’s nothing I can do about a tour that’s over except limp away from it and start preparing for the next move. But with film, you shoot it and can still be talking about it years later. You know, the shoot was like the easy component—the actors acted, the camerapeople did their work and the editors lost their minds putting it together. And now, the harder, scarier and more strategic part is, “OK, how do we get it to where people can see it?” and that’s why you and I are talking today.

FANG: HE NEVER DIED is kind of a departure for you in terms of your onscreen persona; you very effectively underplay the character. Do you think this might be the beginning of a new career for you in terms of your acting, and the kind of persona you put out there?

ROLLINS: I have no idea, in that with every film or TV thing I’ve done, I’ve always looked to see if it adds to ticket sales at my live shows. Like, “OK, I just did a season of SONS OF ANARCHY, a huge series, and my next tour will be bigger because of that,” and, um, not really. The point I’m making is, I’ve never seen evidence than anything I’ve ever done has led to more opportunity for an optimized environment on the next project I do. So would I like it if HE NEVER DIED got me more acting work? Are you kidding? Of course. If I could do a film like HE NEVER DIED, or do HE NEVER DIED parts two, three and four starting next week, I’d run at it, because I enjoyed it so much. But I have no empirical evidence from multiple field trials to tell you anything’s going to get any better movie-wise for yours truly. I just have to do what most people in the world do—take every day as it comes.

You said something interesting that I’d like to comment on briefly. You said how I underplayed the role—thanks for noticing—but make note that I wasn’t underplaying him, I was underplaying me in that part. That was my theory of Jack, and I brought it to Jason, and he agreed with me. I hashed out this character for 11 months before the shoot started. I worked on this damn thing so hard, and I gave Jason my initial script as a gift, because it’s just full of notes—like, every blank page is full of writing.

HENEVERDIEDROLLINSIGG

My idea was that Jack has been alive for centuries and has killed many people. If you remember the scene where I’m walking with Cara, the waitress played by Kate Greenhouse, and she asks, “So what do you do?” and I give her this litany: I’ve seen everything, I’ve done everything, I survived the bubonic plague, ended wars, spent incredible time in prison in a multitude of different locations; nothing blows my hair back. So human interaction, threats of violence—it’s all incredibly ho-hum to him. I treated Jack as this existential, tragic person. The only thing he would show you emotionally is annoyance at a bullet in his brain because it causes migraines, and it heals so fast that he has to do quick surgery with needle-nose pliers. There is the boredom factor that plays out in a kind of straight-faced comedic way when he takes guns away from people with a look of mild annoyance. He’s kind of a flatline guy, and I had to remember every day to Botox my emotions.

FANG: You mentioned the possibility of sequels, and Krawczyk has said he very much intends to keep going with this character. Have you discussed with him, in any depth, where Jack would go from here?

ROLLINS: We were hoping in our highest mind that we’d be back in Toronto 12 months later doing part two. I mean, Jason and I walked off that set and said we’d be in touch almost immediately, to start working on what would happen to Jack next. In two years, nothing’s happened. I know he’s written a season of episodic television, which I’ve read two episodes of. I have almost all of them on the computer, and the two I’ve read are completely mental and wild. Jason is an interesting guy; he thinks differently and has an amazing mind. He’s why I want to do movies, and I would do pretty much whatever it takes, down to an amazing pay cut, to make the HE NEVER DIED series happen. I believe in him and the idea so strongly.

But in this reality of everyone competing for money and opportunity, you get what you’re going to get. I have no crystal ball on what will be, because for nearly two years there’s been nothing but an incredible amount of hard work, interviews and…relative stasis. I mean, the film is done. I was at the South by Southwest premiere, and people seemed to completely dig it. The reviews were nice, so the powers that be seem happy. What comes next? I’m not really the one to ask; all I can do is do your voicemail if you buy one and hope it gets us somewhere [laughs].

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About the author
Michael Gingold
Michael Gingold has been a member of the FANGORIA team for the past three decades. After starting as a writer for the magazine in 1988, he came aboard as associate editor in 1990 and two years later moved up to managing editor. He now serves as editor-in-chief of the magazine while continuing to contribute numerous articles and reviews, as well as a contributing editor/writer for this website.
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