Getting the scoop from Captain Spaulding and his pimp associate, Charlie on The Devil's Rejects
They might not look like 'America's Sweathearts,' but Sid Haig and Ken Foree aren't supposed to be in their new film The Devil's Rejects. Sid reprises his role from the original "House of 1000 Corpes" as Captain Spaulding, patriarch of a family of serial killers. Ken comes in as a new-comer in the Rob Zombie follow up; he plays the head of a brothel and good friend of 'The Captain.'
We sat down with the two to talk about working with Rob and playing in this kind of genre of film:
Are you a fan of the genre?
Sid Haig: Ever since I was a kid. Until they started getting silly, like films where six months after the first one we get six new stupid kids to go to the same f*cking camp to get axed by the same guy wearing a hockey mask.
Ken Foree: I'm a big fan, always have been. Scare me to death every Friday night.
What's it like to work with Rob?
Sid Haig: He's a great to work with. That's exactly it -- You work with him, you don't work for him. It's totally collaborative. He knows what he wants. He knows how to get it. He explains it to you so that you get it. And then he just leaves you alone and lets you do your job.
Was there advice you gave to Rob?
Ken Foree: If had a suggestion, I would call him at night and I'd say, 'Rob, I've got an idea. What do you think of this? This might be an interesting scene, might change a little something.' And he was opening to listening to it and eventually when we got to the set, it may not have been the exact direction that I was going it, but it certainly was a change in the scene and he'd added some of the things that I had incorporated. He's very easy to work with.
Sid Haig: To take the onus off of his length of experience, this guy is the biggest film fan that I've ever seen. The only guy that's a bigger fan of film is Alice Cooper, OK? He has seen it all. He's analyzed it all. The fact that he's only been able to do it in two films has absolutely nothing to do with anything. I was at an interview at a studio that shall go nameless and the same question was asked and I gave a positive answer and the person said, 'Well, it was only his first film.' And I said, 'What the hell does that have to do with anything? You mean your first film can't be good? You have to make five years of crap before you get good? That's stupid.' Well, I didn't get the job, but I made my point.
How do you see Rob's evolution as a direct from House of 1000 Corpses?
Sid Haig: Much more comfortable.
Ken Foree: Glad I came in on the second one.
Sid Haig: He was much more comfortable. He wasn't full of angst in the first one, but he was relying on his crew, which a good director should do. But the second time out, he felt more comfortable with the process, he knew more about lenses and all that stuff and was able to be a lot freer with what he was doing.
Was that because of Lion's Gate being hands off?
Sid Haig: Lion's Gate said 'Go make your movie. We'll stay out of your way. You make it the way you want it and we'll deal with it from there.'
Ken Foree: Universal quite the opposite?
Sid Haig: Universal had their own producer on set every day. They watched dailies every day. And all of a sudden the film became too scary and morally objectionable. Well where the hell was the guy that you were paying to be on set and who's been watching the dailies. I take full credit for the demise of 'Cat and the Hat.' The same question came up and I said, 'This is Rob Zombie, OK? What the hell were you expecting, 'Cat in the Hat?'' And I know there was some producer at Universal going 'Hmmm... 'Cat in the Hat...' We can do that.' Well they can't.
How does Rob's comfort level help you as actors?
Sid Haig: It frees you up to be whatever you have to be.
Ken Foree: There was an air of cooperation, collaboration throughout the entire shoot.
What would you say about the twist of sympathy with the ice cream scene?
Sid Haig: At that moment in time, you say, 'You know what, this is a family.' Dysfunctional, yes. But they're having fun with each other and they're playing that family game. Everybody that I've talked to that has see the film has said that that kinda was the turning point where they said, 'You know what? The bad guys are now the good guys and the cops? Get them out of here.'
Ken Foree: That's the strange thing about the movie: You start rooting for the bad guys at the end and they're pretty horrible people.
Sid Haig: Because they're standing up for one another. As the father of the family, I have to protect the family.
Was there a family bond off screen?
Sid Haig: The bonding happened well before we started the film, because Bill [Moseley] and Sheri [Zombie] and Rob and I were holding one another together through that whole epic bullsh*t we went through with Universal and MGM and all that business. We were basically propping one another up and saying, 'You know, it'll work. This will get released. It'll be great.' At the same time, Ken and I were meeting up on the convention circuit on a regular basis, so we were bonding that way. So it just made it real.
Ken Foree: We had already established a tight relationship before we started shooting.
Is there any Captain Spaulding in you?
Sid Haig: Well hell yes. Sure. And you know what? There's a Captain Spaulding in you, too. Don't kid yourself. You can get there. I can draw you a map. I teach a lot of acting classes to teenagers. For 14 years I ran a teenage summer theater workshop. The one thing I tried to impart to everyone was that inside everyone is everyone else. We all have aspects of human behavior in us and you have to connect to that, whatever it is. Whatever it is in me that would force me to act like Captain Spaulding, I have to connect with. And when I make that connection, then all I have to do is completely go for it, all the while the little guy in the back of my head keeps saying, 'No one gets hurt. No one get hurts.'
Is this a core ensemble that might stick together?
Sid Haig: This could be the New Age Mercury Players. No one has really kept a company together since [Orson] Welles, really.
Do you feel nostalgic for the work from the '70s?
Sid Haig: I feel nostalgic in the world that I did with Jack Hill. He [Rob?] and Jack and Quentin Tarantino work very much the same way. They keep the set relaxed. They keep it focused at the same time. They're very clear in their wants and likes and dislikes. There was a part of me that was being thrown back into the mid-60s and '70s.
Was there any chance for improvising?
Sid Haig: In the first one, I was off the hook.
Ken Foree: Rob sets an atmosphere so you can do this kind of thing. You feel like you can ask or try something new and you won't get your head bitten off. Which, you didn't. He would occasionally come in and say 'Oh, no, no, no. Stick to the script.' Or 'That worked well, let's do that.'
Sid Haig: Every time I work with a new director, I like to see how far I can stretch the envelope. I have to know where my boundaries are when I'm working with somebody.
Is it still possible for you to be disturbed by movies like this anymore?
Ken Foree: I'm like any other audience member. I'm stunned by some of it, if it's intense and it's driving then I'm right there with the audience, I'm on the ride with everyone else.
Sid Haig: It's amazing how your subconscious plays into this stuff. There's one scene in 'House of 1000 Corpses' that gets me every damn time, because when I was a kid -- a little kid, two or three years old -- I wound up in the middle of a dogfight and so I carried that with me. When the deputy opens up the door to the shack and that rottweiler jumps out, I jump, every damn time. It's amazing.
You can check out The Devil's Rejects in theaters July 22; it's rated 'R.'