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Q&A: Kurt Angle, on “PRO WRESTLERS VS. ZOMBIES”

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Ever since the zombie culture craze inspired dozens of filmmakers to pitch their own contribution to the genre, horror fans have seen their fair share of insane zombie mash-ups. Yet few have as much cross-genre appeal as PRO WRESTLERS VS. ZOMBIES, which pits a band of professional wrestlers against a horde of the undead in an abandoned prison. Mixing the supernatural with dark comedy and action, the film brings in some recognizable faces from across the world of wrestling, including Matt Hardy, Shane Douglas, THEY LIVE’s Roddy Piper and DYLAN DOG: DEAD OF NIGHT’s Kurt Angle.

Angle, an Olympic gold medalist-turned-professional-wrestler, has been more active as an actor as of late, fully embracing his dark side in multiple genre films. Angle spoke to FANGORIA about his small role in PRO WRESTLERS VS. ZOMBIES, as well as mixing his passions on the big screen…

FANGORIA: What was your initial attraction to PRO WRESTLERS VS. ZOMBIES?

KURT ANGLE: Well, I’ve been a big zombie fan but I pretty much did a cameo appearance. I thought [the project] was intriguing; I’d never heard of that mix before and I thought it’d be kind of fun to do it. I believe it was the producer who approached me and asked if I’d do a cameo in the movie, and I said that I’d love to.

PRO WRESTLERS VS. ZOMBIES is different than most zombie movies. If you’re going to do a zombie movie, you have to go all-in, and for the low budget they had, we had a lot of fun. You can’t compare this to a bigger budget movie, so you have to take it for what it is, and I think it was done pretty well for the budget that they had. I was really amazed by the make-up; they really didn’t spare any expense on that. I had a scene in make-up and I think they were working on me for like five hours. But they did an amazing job and that’s what really sold me on the movie when I was there. Seeing what they did and what they could create, I knew it was going to be a decent movie.

FANG: You actually play yourself—or rather, a version of yourself—in PRO WRESTLERS VS. ZOMBIES. Was that refreshing to get to portray yourself rather than a cheap knock-off of your wrestling persona?

ANGLE: Yeah, it was cool that we all got to play ourselves. They had a few big names in PRO WRESTLERS VS. ZOMBIES from the wrestling world, so they asked me to come in and do what I do, and that’s what I did to the zombies. But it wasn’t going to hurt to play myself in a movie like this, because I’ve done some movies over the past few years, like PAIN & GAIN, WARRIOR and DYLAN DOG: DEAD OF NIGHT. This was just a new flavor for me.

Being a part of something with guys like Roddy Piper and “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, who I looked up to, was exciting, so I’m glad to have been a part of it. I was only on set for a few hours, but all in all, it was a fun night.

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FANG: As you mentioned, you were in DYLAN DOG: DEAD OF NIGHT and you also appeared in the horror-thriller RIVERS OF DARKNESS. Is there a specific reason you gravitate towards genre films?

ANGLE: Yeah. I’ve always been a fan of horror, but I really got into it with TRUE BLOOD and THE WALKING DEAD. It doesn’t even matter that they’re horror, though, because they have great stories. Both of those shows have done an amazing job, and you can tell because they’ve been going on for so many years. So I love the stuff that’s like zombies, werewolves and vampires, but their backstories have to be very good.

FANG: Considering that many of the zombies you fight in PRO WRESTLERS VS. ZOMBIES are, in themselves, professional wrestlers, did that appeal to you as opposed to doing action scenes with professional actors or stuntmen?

ANGLE: Yes, because when you’re a professional wrestler, you’re taught that safety is first. So, there are things that we do and certain techniques that we have, like the way we clothesline someone or the way someone bumps, where there’s always a reason that it’s safe. So on PRO WRESTLERS VS. ZOMBIES, I could lay in but I was comfortable knowing that they would be safe.

In the wrestling business, we know that if we’re not on TV every week, we’re not going to be marketable. So if we keep injuring each other, nobody is going to be a star. That’s one reason why safety is so important. Working with wrestlers on this movie was relieving because I have done movies with actors that aren’t pro wrestlers who don’t understand those safety issues.

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FANG: How was your personal experience working with zombie make-up? Since you were playing yourself, was it more fun to play an undead version of yourself?

ANGLE: Yes. The best part of working in the whole film was when that zombie make-up was done. It was amazing and I couldn’t believe it; I was sending pictures to my wife and tweeting it out. I was taken aback by what they were able to do because I was expecting the make-up to be appropriate to the budget, and this wasn’t. Obviously, if you’re making a zombie movie, the make-up has to be right, and if it’s not right, the quality of the movie goes down the toilet bowl. But I had a lot of fun when I was in zombie make-up, no doubt about it.

FANG: So, now that PRO WRESTLERS VS. ZOMBIES is coming out, do you have any other films on your docket?

ANGLE: I do! I did a couple movies last month, the biggest one being SHARKNADO 2. To one extent, working with some of those actors was really fun and to another, being in a movie about tornadoes with sharks in them is kind of hilarious. But we shot that in New York City and had a great time doing that. The other is an untitled comedy with Shane Dawson and that was fun as well. I’ve been keeping busy, and I haven’t signed with an agency, but I’m in the middle of doing that now. All the movies I’ve done in the past were roles I got on my own, so I’m thinking now it’s time for someone to work for me and find them.

PRO WRESTLERS VS. ZOMBIES plays an exclusive theatrical engagement in Raleigh, North Carolina tonight, March 27th, before debuting on VOD on March 28th. The film will also be released by Troma on DVD this summer. For more information on the film, you can visit its official website and you can follow Kurt Angle on Twitter @RealKurtAngle.

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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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