Johnny Whitworth talks Blackout in Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance, on 3D Blu-ray now!
Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance hit the home circuit this Tuesday, June 12th, with the 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, and DVD now available at most retailers. Nicolas Cage returns as bad boy stunt rocker Johnny Blaze, the man who made a deal with the devil to save his father's life.
This time out, while hiding in Eastern Europe, Johnny must help save a boy wanted by the devil, all while Satan's best and brightest nip at his heels. Johnny Whitworth plays one of these men, the evil villain Blackout, who brings just enough edge and humor to the proceedings to make this particular installment a campy delight you'll want to watch again and again. Throw in the non-stop kinetic camerawork of directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, and you have a true cult classic on your hands. This isn't your kid sister's Marvel movie, that's for sure.
We recently caught up with Johnny Whitworth to celebrate his great turn as Blackout in the film, and it's arrival on home video. Here is our conversation.
Watching the movie, I can't imagine you were ever bored on set...
Johnny Whitworth: It was definitely a fun movie to make. The more times I see it, the more entertaining it gets. Though, I haven't seen it again since it was out in theaters. There is one scene I love. It is with Nicolas Cage...Being a fan, I love when he is riffing on turning into The Ghost Rider. When he is Johnny Blaze, and he is trying to hold that back and fight it. There is that scene at the telephone in the bar, and he has a gun in that guy's mouth. He's screaming, "He's scratching at the door!" That is pretty funny...
The sequel actually allows Nicolas Cage to play The Ghost Rider as well as Johnny Blaze. We didn't get that in the first movie. How do you think having him in costume on set helped or influence your own performance?
Johnny Whitworth: First off, I am a fan of the genre. I saw the original. While it had its merits, you could tell it wasn't Nicolas who was doing Ghost Rider. He just didn't have to come to set that day. Here? He had to work every day on this movie! Just having him there in his get-up...He would paint his face up as a skull, and he wouldn't speak to people. It was amazing to watch him perform as an actor in a situation like that. Because his body language is there. You can read into it. He brought his Nicolas Cage thing to it. I don't want to get into a long thing, but I did do a workshop for acting with masks, and clown make-up. There is some freedom you get when you are hiding behind a mask. Because you are trying to interpret the character's point-of-view without being able to speak, or have any normal rapport with human beings. It was really cool to see Nicolas Cage pull that off. I found it inspiring. And I was thankful. Having him standing in front of you, looking that way, adds to the film experience.
He's always so willing to go all-the-way for any role. Is that inspiring to you, especially on set? When you saw how far he was willing to take Johnny Blaze or Ghost Rider, did you feel more freedom to open up Blackout in ways you may not have, acting opposite a more reserved actor?
Johnny Whitworth: Absolutely. Yes, it does. Just the fact that we are doing a movie together, and he is Nicolas Cage. He is not afraid to go there. Before we worked together, I was a fan. I was inspired by his fearlessness. Coming into this, I'd already been inspired as an actor by him. From my youth. I knew what kind of actor he was. The answer is yes. But it was not a surprise. I wasn't on set suddenly going, "This guy is bringing it!" I had expectations, and he met them.
Blackout seems like the perfect kind of role for you...
Johnny Whitworth: It was a different kind of challenge. I tend to take roles that inspire me. I like the journey the character has to go through, and what I can do with that. The challenges that come with it. As far as Blackout is concerned, it freed me up to do anything I wanted. Taking on a character of this comical kind of nature...A villain...I know...Um, I'm sorry...There are people pulling scaffolding right outside my window...Anyway...Taking on a villain that is kind of comical...I am trying to bring humor into a role that is, for all intents and purposes, a dark character...That was the challenge, but also the fun of the whole thing. There's nothing holding you back when you are wearing a mask!
Blackout is a little different here than he is in the comic books. What was the collage measure you took to finding this guy. Was it a culmination of the comic page and the script page, mixed with your own personality and take on the make-up?
Johnny Whitworth: The directors were inspired by this character Blackout mainly because of the nature of his appearance, and his ability to cloak everything in darkness. They took it a bit further. The character in the comic book is a bit limited. At least my research on the character, when I started to delve into the history of the character...I realized these guys had taken a lot of liberties. Though, I found it more liberating to play their Blackout. There was more freedom. There was a stronger feeling of supernatural powers with him. He had more energy. He had the power of decay. To my knowledge, Blackout in the comic books didn't have that. As a fanboy, I wanted to be as true as I could. Also, I was inspired by the script. Mostly. There were a few pictures of Blackout that I chose to use for imaginative inspiration.
In talking about the directors, Neveldine and Taylor, who are both quite fearless in their shooting style...What is the single most dangerous thing they had you do on set?
Johnny Whitworth: That they had me do? Yeah, I have to think...There was a lot. I did, pretty much, all of my own stunts. What I consider dangerous you might not consider dangerous. I have a reckless mentality. I throw myself into it. I would prefer to do my own stunts if the camera is there. Throughout this shoot, I was willing to do anything. I'm trying to think...What was the most dangerous? God! I can't think about what was the most dangerous. I keep thinking about other people. For me, it was exciting and dangerous. I did all of the wirework. I did things like jump from car to car, which was all on wires, which could be considered dangerous. But I felt pretty safe with the stunt guys. There were explosions that were going on right behind me. It's hard to say what was more dangerous, because it was all dangerous. There is a reason why most studios don't let the actors do all of their own stunts. They run the risk of somebody being injured, and their film being held back for a while. It was all dangerous. I did everything you see in the movie except for maybe five percent. There was stuff that the studio just wouldn't allow, like jumping from moving car to moving car. The stunt guy that did that...Actually, there were two of them...One of the guys injured his shoulder doing that stunt. So...Uh...I guess I just don't know how to answer this question. I should have prepared my answer. Look...ALL of it was DANGEROUS!
There must be a level of peer pressure coming from Neveldine and Taylor after watching them do there thing. They are right there with the actor, jumping and running with the camera. They can't even see where they are going most of the time...
Johnny Whitworth: Mark Neveldine is amazing. He is Evel Knievel on Rollerblades, with a camera. I worked with him previously, and he wanted me to light myself on fire. I said, "Sure, man, if you'll do it, I'll do it." So he did it. He's that type of guy. There's not much that he won't do himself. It's inspiring. And it's a bit of peer pressure.
Do you guys get away with more being out in Romania?
Johnny Whitworth: That kind of action, done at that level? I've only done that in Romania. And it was on this movie. Things were exploding. I was getting into fights. I was on wires, being swung at least 100 yards in the air. It was on the set...But it wasn't on the studio lot. That kind of thing I hadn't experienced before. It was a lot of fun. I think, because we were so far away, there wasn't a lot of studio involvement. There was no one on the set saying, "No, you can't have him do that! Or...THAT!" I would sit there, they would say, "You're doing this..." And I would welcome it. And do it.
Romania adds a lot to the overall atmosphere of the movie. I don't think they could have shot this anywhere else just for visual esthetics.
Johnny Whitworth: Yes. We shot in Romania and Turkey. There was such beautiful and dark landscapes. There was a vibe in Romania that you did get, that was captured on film. There were areas where we were fortunate to film. And I don't know of any other place that could have captured that. And I hear it's a lot cheaper to do bigger things there.
Take me through the make-up process. Was that a cool thing for you?
Johnny Whitworth: It wasn't anything like those theater classes. That was just a plastic mask with a rubber band behind it. Blackout took four and a half hours to apply all that make-up. I was covered in some kind of pharmaceutical grade silicone. It wasn't the best experience. But it did help add to the character.
Are you able to bring the pain and discomfort of that make-up to the character we see you playing on screen.
Johnny Whitworth: That's a good question. Yes, absolutely I do. After sitting for four and a half hours, and I can't move with a bunch of people putting their hands in my face, and trying not to react in horror. All that? When I got on set, I just let out all of that aggravation. There is a darkness. It's where my brain goes.
Is there any talk of bringing you back for a third movie?
Johnny Whitworth: That's never been discussed. I think they should do a spin-off. It would be a Blackout mein kampf kind of thing. Some kind of Romantic Comedy.
This, itself, has a lot of humor. It might be the funniest superhero movie out there. I mean that in a positive way...
Johnny Whitworth: I would take that as a compliment. I know that's what the guys, and I can speak for myself, wanted to achieve. They wanted to bring in some humor. When you are playing with dark elements, and playing with demons and hell, and the devil...You have to bring some humor into it. Otherwise, it's going to get too droney. It gets too horror-ish.
I've quite enjoyed all of Neveldine and Taylor's movies. I haven't been bored yet...
Johnny Whitworth: Of course not. You don't have time to be bored. The camera is moving at all times. You have shit happening in the frame, and shit happening behind the frame. You don't have time to compute it all. I find that all of their films are more interesting and compelling the second or third time that you watch them. Because there is so much happening. You can't decipher it all on the first viewing.
I need to watch Crank 2 again.
Johnny Whitworth: You and me both. I really enjoyed Crank High Voltage. I saw Crank 1, but I went back to Crank High Voltage a second and third time, and I am still catching stuff, "Whoa, that is awesome!" Because Mark Neveldine had become a friend of mine. Both Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor. Their level of insanity is so much fun to watch!
Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance is on 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, and DVD today!