Q&A: Rob Archer On Portraying Krampus In A CHRISTMAS HORROR STORY

An archive interview from The Gingold Files.

By Michael Gingold · November 20, 2019, 6:26 PM EST
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Editor's Note: This was originally published for FANGORIA on November 20, 2015, and we're proud to share it as part of The Gingold Files.

The anthology feature A Christmas Horror Story showcases a fearsome incarnation of the Yuletide demon Krampus, as portrayed by actor/stuntman Rob Archer. At 6-foot-6 and 285 pounds, Archer needed no body prosthetics, just face pieces, horns and costuming (courtesy of makeup FX creator David Scott and his team) to become the “anti-Claus” that terrorizes a family in one of the movie’s interwoven tales. Although he has been most visible previously on television, in series such as Defiance, Lost Girl and Mutant X, he’s also done parts in features such as Repo Men, Kick-Ass 2 and Pixels. This writer got to query him about Krampus after hosting the world premiere of A Christmas Horror Story at the Fantasia film festival in Montreal.

Can you tell us a little about your background?

I can give you many stories about my background! I got into the industry years ago on the stunt side of things, and I am still Canada’s largest, fittest stuntman. But I don’t just do that anymore; I’m more of a guest star and lead actor. I’ve gotten more into the dramatic side, and that’s what I’m chasing. That’s where the challenge is, but I always do my own stunts, so I’m still known as an actor who can do all that stuff, and for always coming in and using my own body. There’s no CGI with me, no padded suits; when you see my abs, those are my abs, and I take pride in that. I dieted down to four percent body fat to play Krampus, and it was the coldest thing I think I’ve ever done in my life.

Have you done other creature roles in the past?

Yeah, I’ve been the BioMan on Defiance for three seasons; I played the entire race. I’ve played a zombie in an indie film, but Krampus is the be-all and end-all; that’s my baby.

How much did you bring to the character physically once you go the part?

I think I brought it all, because it was just me up there. I went and saw a lot of the different Krampuses they came up with, and the suits and the way they did things, and I wanted to add an animalistic aspect to it. So you can see that when I kind of tilt my head, and move my body a certain way.

Were there any scenes that were especially difficult?

Well, in that scene with the chain, where I’m swinging it around—try doing that with 2-inch fingernails, in minus-25 degrees with four percent body fat, and not hitting yourself in the head with that damn thing! I was going to applaud afterward; I thought for sure I was going to whack myself. But it ended up working out, and it looks good.

How long did the whole Krampus makeup process take?

Our very first sit-down, I had three amazing makeup artists, Traci Loader and Emily Skoggard and Larissa Palaszczuk, all working on me. I remember Traci coming in and saying, “This is the first time we’ve ever done this, but we actually went to Home Depot and bought paint rollers, because you’re just so big and wide, [the body paint] would take us forever otherwise.” And they actually had a Home Depot bag with the rollers in it, and that’s what they did the first couple of layers with, to cover up my tattoos and create a base. It was stop-and-go; each time I left the trailer to eat, they would stop the timer, and our first sitting was about nine hours. Then we got it to about eight and a half, and I believe by the fourth or fifth day, we had it down to about seven and a half hours. I put in a full day before I even started when I was doing that role.

How many days did you work in that makeup and costume?

It was four or five very, very cold days. Keep in mind, I had just come back from almost two weeks doing photo shoots in Florida, so it was totally the polar opposite, from nice and warm and humid to absolutely pitiful, “I hate you” cold [laughs]. I planned everything so that it all worked out, because the dieting-down process is so taxing on the body, and to be at the body-fat percentage I was to play Krampus, and then to be in the cold, and have all my energy gone, I really had to step it up a notch to put out the effort I wanted to be visible on the screen.

We’re seeing a lot of Krampus in the movies lately; are you looking forward to catching the other versions and comparing notes?

I do look forward to seeing the other performers and what they bring to the character, but with all the other Krampus movies coming out, I’m also keen on the challenge. I’m very proud of this film and what we put together, and I’ve played sports all my life, so that competitive instinct is there. I think everybody did such a great job, and I don’t believe anybody’s going to touch us.

The filmmakers have said they plan to bring Krampus back in a second Christmas Horror Story

How could they make another movie without Krampus [laughs]? You’ve got to have him in there, but it’s all going to depend on how this film does. I’m very, very confident, though; I’m proud of it, and I have no doubt I’ll be shooting part two soon.