Judd Nelson talks about portraying the authoritative Headmaster Nash in Bad Kids Go to Hell, debuting in theaters December 7
It's been nearly 30 years since the 1984 classic The Breakfast Club found The Brat Pack stuck in detention. This weekend, John Bender himself, Judd Nelson, hands out the punishment as Headmaster Nash in Bad Kids Go to Hell, arriving in theaters December 7.
Director Matthew Spradlin's horror comedy is set at the elite Crestview Academy prep school, where six kids from vastly different backgrounds are forced to spend their Saturday in detention. The plot thickens in devious ways when these kids are killed one by one, making them believe that this library may be haunted after all. I recently had the chance to speak with Judd Nelson about this indie comedy. Here's what he had to say.
I read that you attended a prep school yourself. Obviously it was a much different time, but was there anything from that experience that mirrored how these students behave in Bad Kids Go to Hell?
Were you looking for a role like this at all, to play a principal or someone else in authority?
Judd Nelson: I wouldn't say I was looking for it, but it certainly seemed like a fun thing to do. I don't know if I necessarily look for certain roles. It's just the piece itself that usually drives me to a project, rather than an individual character.
Did you explore the comic book series at all? Was there anything you wanted to bring to the character from the comics, and were there things you wanted to make your own?
Judd Nelson: I think it starts with the comic book. Fortunately, the guy that wrote the comic book directed the film. If I had questions about the story, he could answer them for me. I had a few ideas, and they seemed to like that. If I wanted to change a bit of dialogue, they were all for that as well. It was a great experience.
Were there any specific authority figures that you referenced in playing Headmaster Nash?
Judd Nelson: I think subconsciously, there are those combinations of people you hated in school. I think this guy, this particular headmaster, he had a particular axe to grind with these kids. He just wants to run a good school, and they just will not behave.
I love how Matt (Cameron Deane Stewart) seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time doing the wrong things.
Judd Nelson: Yeah, he's in a lot of trouble. It's incredible.
It seems that Nash has quite a history with Matt. Did you develop any of that history between the characters to flesh out the characters more?
Judd Nelson: They were all working so hard, and they were all such pros, that it was really fun to work with them. They were just on it. We don't have a lot of money, and we don't have a lot of time, so you really have to come prepared. They were really easy to work with, I thought.
Can you talk about where you actually shot this?
Judd Nelson: They did a lot of stuff before I had arrived. We shot in a sound studio in Austin, this place called Spiderwood. Then we shot in the Dallas area at these schools, one was a Jewish school and one was a Jesuit school. It was a whole combination of things.
Can you talk about your work with director Matthew Spradlin? Is it refreshing or a better experience to have a guy who has such an inclusive take on this world?
Judd Nelson: I like the fact that when you work with a writer-director, the writer is there. It's always good to have the writer there, I think. He was just very enthusiastic. It's hard when you have to get maybe 50 to 100 setups a day, and you only have resources to do maybe 25. You have to get creative, and get the most out of little. I think all the actors did a great job.
It was great to see Ben Browder in this as well. We don't normally get to see him in a role like this. It was cool to see him as this subdued janitor.
Judd Nelson: Yeah, he's a good guy, very smart, a very interesting dude. I liked him very much. I didn't have much with him, but he was fun to talk to and hang out with.
In this day and age, do you think this movie will speak to today's generation? There is so much going on here, and it says so much about the state of youth.
Judd Nelson: It's really hard to know what the response might be, you know what I mean? You hope the project has meaning to people, and that it reflects the society in a positive way, but who knows, really. Who know's what people's response will be. Hopefully it will be favorable.
I know a lot of people are looking forward to Nurse 3D. It looks like quite a crazy project. Is there anything you can say about your character, Dr. Morris, and your overall experience on that?
Judd Nelson: I haven't seen any of it yet. There was quite a bit of blood in that. Fake blood was used profusely, and it should be very interesting. It was shot very well. It wasn't 3D gimmicky. It was more like shooting a beautiful scene, and then using the effects after the fact.
Is there anything you can say about your character, Dr. Morris?
Judd Nelson: Well, Paz de la Huerta plays a nurse who only has affairs with married men, because of her past experiences. It doesn't work out well for married men, because she exacts some ugly revenge. I kind of get ensnared in her wrath. The other actress was just magnificent in it, Katrina Bowden. She was great.
What would you like to say to fans of yours or anyone else who is curious about Bad Kids Go to Hell about why they should check it out in theaters this Friday?
Judd Nelson: Well, it's fun and it has a great musical score as well. All of the performances by the kids are great. It's not what you think. It's a good film.
Great. That's about all I have. Thanks so much for your time, Judd.
Judd Nelson: Absolutely. Thank you so much, and have a good holiday.