The actor who portrays Axel Palmer talks about his role in the film, working in 3D, his new CW pilot and more
It didn't take Kerr Smith long to get his big break in Hollywood. After landing his first acting gig, a 24-episode run on the soap opera As the World Turns, he quickly landed the role of Jack McPhee on Dawson's Creek, staying on the series for its full run. After several major arcs in television and other film roles, Smith came back to the silver screen to portray Axel Palmer in the horror remake My Bloody Valentine 3D, which hits the shelves on DVD and Blu-ray (both of which includes sets of 3D glasses) on May 19. I had the chance to speak with Smith over the phone about his new horror role, and here's what he had to say.
So how did you come on board to this film and were you familiar with the original before you signed on?
Kerr Smith: Yes, I was familiar with the original film before I signed on, but I hadn't seen it since, what was it, 1982, somewhere in the early 80s. I came onto the project through the whole process. I went in, had an appointment to read for (director) Patrick (Lussier) and (casting director) Nancy Nayor. I think Patrick brought me in three or four times. I read for Axel, I read for Tom and it was actually a pretty long audition process, longer than usual (Laughs). It was pretty fun. Patrick and I had a pretty good time in the room and, obviously, ultimately, decided on Axel.
You hadn't really done a whole lot of horror prior to this, so what kinds of things did you do to take on this role of Axel?
Kerr Smith: Well, you know, Axel is a complicated character. He has a lot of baggage, a lot of things going on. That's why I wanted to do this project, because these kinds of characters are really fun to play. The other thing that was great was keeping the mystery in the air throughout the entire movie. Is Axel the killer? Is he not? Is he a good guy? Is he a bad guy? That was a lot of fun to keep up throughout the whole film.
You have a really nice cast to work with here, with Jensen Ackles, Jamie King, Betsy Rue, Edi Gathegi and the rest, so how did you get along with your cast-mates and what kinds of things did you pick up from them?
Kerr Smith: They were great. Jensen and I knew each other from the Dawson's Creek days. He was on our show for about a half a year. It was great to work with him again. Jamie, I'd never met, but we hit it off right away. It's just one of those projects where it just came together, you know. You do a lot of movies where things don't quite come together and personalities don't gel so well, but on this particular project, everything did gel. We had a great time doing it and I think it shows on screen.
Can you talk about filming in Pennsylvania? Besides Shyamalan's films, you don't really hear a whole lot of movies being filmed there, so what was it like shooting on location there?
Kerr Smith: Well, for me it was fun. I'm from Pennsylvania, from Philadelphia on the other side of the state, but it was cool to be close to home because on a long weekend off, I could just hop in the car and go see my family, which was nice. Western PA is cool. There are a lot of mining, especially around the area of Pittsburgh, where we were. I love the way Western Pennsylvania looks. It's just green and hilly. You get to Los Angeles and it's just a completely different aesthetic and it was fun to get home.
The director Patrick Lussier has a long career as a film editor, so how does that translate into his direction? Is it easier to have a director with that kind of background?
Kerr Smith: First of all, Patrick is a really smart guy. He knew every frame of the movie, the first time I talked to him, before we even started production, so I knew this was going to be a good movie because he was really really on top of it. He made some really smart choices and then, on the day, he was incredibly flexible too. We tweaked performances and changed things around a lot and was able to adjust. He knew what he needed in the editing room to cut it, that's the background he comes from, like you said, so all angles were covered. It was a real interesting process to watch him work.
Does he have a style that you could compare to anyone else you've worked with before?
Kerr Smith: Director-wise? You know what, he's pretty unique, man. I don't know if I could compare him to anyone else. He's one of my favorites. I want to work with him again and again and again. I'm really kind of disappointed that we're not going to do a sequel here because I would love to work with him again.
Yeah, I did hear about that. I did hear that he just signed on to another film recently, though, so are you going to lobby to join that?
Kerr Smith: Yeah. I'm going to have to give him a call (Laughs).
Yeah. It was just announced in the trades yesterday that he signed on for another film.
Kerr Smith: Nice. Is it another horror film?
I believe so, yeah.
Kerr Smith: Cool.
So this was a 3D film, so was the approach to filming this very different, or is it all done in post? Can you talk about that aspect of the film a litte?
Kerr Smith: Yeah, it's quite different, actually. Most of the effects that we did were done on set. We did very little effects in post. So it took a little bit more time to do it. With 3D, there's a ton of equipment, so it's just more set-up time, 3D requires a lot more light, so from an acting standpoint it's bright, hot and it takes a little bit of an adjustment to get used to that. But the process itself, I was surprised at how well thought-out and how smooth things really did go, for being such a new process.
Do you have any particularly favorite kills or any other favorite memory from the set?
Kerr Smith: Yeah, I liked when Tom Atkins' jaw gets ripped off. I loved that scene.
Kerr Smith: Yeah, you know, you'd think he'd return the favor (Laughs). Yes, I haven't been invited up there to work on TVtAeztvHjHKxw||Supernatural}, but I would love to. It's a good show, man. I really like it. In fact, I think I went out, when that show started, which was right after Dawson's Creek, I think I went out for either Jensen's character or Jared's character, I can't remember which.
Remakes have been big these days, so has there been any talk of maybe another Dawson's Creek series or maybe a film? Have you heard any whispers about that?
Kerr Smith: No, I don't think you're going to see a Dawson's Creek movie, no. I haven't heard any talk about that.
So is there anything that you're working on now that you can talk about?
Kerr Smith: I shot a pilot for the CW a few months ago, so upfronts are in a couple of weeks in New York, so I'm waiting to hear, hopefully this week, if we're a go. If that's the case, then I'll be up in Vancouver next or this coming summer shooting the series, which would be a lot of fun.
Oh cool. Is there anything you can tell us about that? What's it called?
Kerr Smith: It was called Light Years, but now I believe it's called Life Interrupted, or One Night Standing. They haven't decided on the title yet. It's a one-hour dramedy for the CW. It's about me and Shiri Abbelby and we're all kind of attempting to raise this 15-year old. Shiri and I we have our own radio show and the show is all about bantering back and forth about boyfriends and girlfriends and all that, and we're actually secretly dating. I ask her to marry me during the pilot and this 15-year-old girl appears, a daughter of hers shows up out of nowhere, who she gave up for adoption when she was 15. Then there's her father, a burnout bartender, the opposite of my character. I play a Ryan Seacrest kind of guy. In the end, the three of us try to raise this 15-year-old girl and, of course, we're all kids ourselves, so it's like, who's doing the parenting here? I got a chance to see it for the first time last week, and I've got to tell you, it's damn good. I'm hoping that CW picks it up. That'd be great.
So, finally, what would you like to say to those who might have missed My Bloody Valentine 3D in the theaters, to get them to pick this up on DVD?
Kerr Smith: Suckers! (Laughs) If you missed it, get the DVD. It's pretty sweet, actually, a two-disc set, you get four sets of glasses, the Blu-ray version coming out too. It's got a lot of things on the disc that you haven't seen in the movie. There's a commentary from Patrick and, I think, Todd Farmer, the writer, alternate ending, deleted scenes, extended scenes. There's a gag reel. I'm excited to see it, because I haven't seen any of those extras yet. I haven't even seen the different kinds of scenes. So yeah, I can't wait to get my copy.
Excellent. Well, that's about all I have for you, Kerr. Thanks so much for your time, and the best of luck with your new show.
Kerr Smith: Thanks, Brian. I appreciate it.
You can check out Kerr Smith alongside Jensen Ackles, Jamie King and more when My Bloody Valentine 3D hits the shelves on DVD and Blu-ray on May 19.