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Q&A: Jamie Kennedy Talks “BUDDY HUTCHINS,” “TREMORS 5” and More

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Jamie Kennedy first made a name for himself as horror expert Randy in the first two SCREAM films, and he’s still building his own history of genre fare. FANGORIA caught up with the actor to discuss his new bloodfest BUDDY HUTCHINS, the upcoming TREMORS 5: BLOODLINE and a horror-star vehicle he’s writing for himself.

BUDDY HUTCHINS, from writer/director Jared Cohn and released this month on DVD and VOD by Uncork’d Entertainment, sees Kennedy playing the title role of a man overwhelmed by bad fortune—a failing business, an unfaithful wife, etc.—who goes off the deep end and sets out to redress all his grievances…with firearms and a chainsaw. TREMORS 5, directed by Don Michael Paul, written by John Whelpley (who also scripted the third in the series) and coming later this year from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, teams Kennedy’s tech-head Travis with Michael Gross, back as worm-hunting survivalist Burt Gummer, for a new confrontation with the ever-mutating Graboids. Kennedy (who will also be seen soon in the similarly themed death-on-the-beach chiller THE SAND and the supernatural flick GLOOM) clearly intends to keep us screaming for some time to come…

FANGORIA: Tell us a little bit about Buddy Hutchins.

JAMIE KENNEDY: He’s just a guy who snaps, and reaches the end of his rope, like Michael Douglas in FALLING DOWN or John Travolta in WHITE MAN’S BURDEN. He loses it and kind of goes nuts, but I think in a funny way, and his weapon of choice is a chainsaw. That’s why I liked doing the movie, because we all have thoughts of doing crazy things, and Buddy doesn’t hold back; he just does them. That’s why I thought it would be a fun movie to be a part of.

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FANG: How did you get involved with the project?

KENNEDY: I was making a movie called 4CLOSED with The Asylum, and Jared was working on that movie and gave me the script for BUDDY HUTCHINS. I read it and really liked it, and that’s how the process got started.

FANG: How did the BUDDY production compare to doing the Asylum film? Was there more freedom?

KENNEDY: Well, The Asylum is pretty free too, but BUDDY was completely independent. The Asylum has deals and stuff involved when they do their movies, but BUDDY was financed completely independently by one investor. We still had to make our days, but we had more freedom to try stuff.

FANG: Were there any safety issues when it came to wielding Buddy’s chainsaw?

KENNEDY: [Laughs] Well, it was a real chainsaw, but we never turned it on. It looks like it’s running, but all that sound was done in post, because it would have been too dangerous. They kind of shot around it, so you can never really tell if the chain is moving or not, you just hear it. I also think we had another chainsaw that was made of rubber.

BUDDYTREMORSKENNEDY2FANG: How about dealing with all bloodshed FX?

KENNEDY: Well, I don’t know if you know about movie blood, but it’s usually really cold and sticky, so it’s a lot to deal with when you’re doing those scenes, because it gets all over you. It looks good, but it’s not easy to do.

FANG: You mentioned that you played Buddy for humor, but the movie also has a very grim side.

KENNEDY: Yeah, it’s grim—I mean, obviously, it’s dark in tone. There are moments I think are funny, but he does lose so much, and a lot of people are probably going through that these days, like losing their businesses, and the economy’s not that great. He does go to an extreme, and they are grim circumstances, but sometimes the way they’re played out are funny.

FANG: Even as Buddy does all these violent things, did you strive to make him sympathetic and relatable?

KENNEDY: Yeah, but you can’t really make a character sympathetic; he just is or isn’t in the script. I think he is, because so much happens to him, and he feels justified in what he does due to all the bad stuff that happens to him. He’s still a likable guy; he’s just trying to raise his daughter.

FANG: What was the highlight of the BUDDY HUTCHINS shoot for you?

KENNEDY: The highlight was probably working with Sally Kirkland. She’s a legend, she had a lot of good stories, and just listening to her and acting with her was pretty awesome.

FANG: What can you tell us about TREMORS 5: BLOODLINE?

KENNEDY: Well, you’re premature on that one, because it’s coming out in October, but basically, it’s been 15 years since the last worm, and it’s a whole new world; the worms aren’t just in Nevada anymore. The new one is set in South Africa; we shot down there, and it was awesome. From the little bit I saw, the CGI looks awesome.

FANG: Were there any live-action worms on the set, or are they all being done digitally?

KENNEDY: It’s a mix. I don’t know what I’m allowed to say about that [laughs], but I have to tell you, I’m really excited about the movie. It felt big, and there was a lot of action while we were filming it. It was a very intense shoot, so I think it could be really cool, and the TREMORS fan base will like it a lot. It could be a real reinvigoration of the franchise.

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FANG: Was it fun to work with Michael Gross?

KENNEDY: Yeah—he’s Burt Gummer, and it’s his franchise! He was great, and he’s really, really in shape. I mean, he’s like 67 years old, but one of the most physical guys I’ve ever met. He was smoking me, man, running and shooting—he kept me on my toes!

FANG: You were part of another cult-favorite franchise in the SCREAM films; do you find that there’s now a new generation discovering them?

KENNEDY: Yeah, it’s crazy. What has it been, 18 years now since my last one? It’s not that long ago to me, but people just love it, and I think it’s only getting better with time. It’s its own thing, you know, and people never get tired of it, and it stands up. There are new fans all the time, because the original fans are now parents, and they pass it down to their kids.

FANG: Do you have anything else coming up genre-wise?

KENNEDY: Yeah, I have a good horror movie I’m trying to make right now, and I’m waiting to see if I can get it produced. It goes back to the days of ’80s horror; I was raised on the iconic figures, like Leatherface, Jason, Freddy and Chucky. Now, horror is really good at the psychological side; the last scary movie I watched was OCULUS, which was really good, and I liked SINISTER. But there’s room to do a new kind of creature, a new kind of character, and that’s what I’m working on.

FANG: Would you direct the film in addition to playing that character?

KENNEDY: I would play that part, and I’m writing it, but I don’t think I’d direct it; I get some horror guy to do it!

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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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