The up-and-coming young actor talks about his first starring role
Marc Senter is not a household name, but after his role in the new horror film The Lost, as well as some other upcoming projects, it just might be a name you'll become more familiar with in the near future. Senter is appearing in his first starring feature film role in The Lost, which hits the DVD shelves on March 18. I had a chance to talk to this young actor over the phone about this horror film based off a Jack Ketchum novel. Here's what he had to say.
This is your first starring gig in a feature film. What was that experience like, as opposed to playing some smaller roles?
Marc Senter: It was amazing, man. I've done a handful of TV spots. I've done like four or five different TV shows prior to the film, and this was my first real kind of movie. Playing a lead role was just phenomenal. It was amazing, and it's just like everything I want to do and just where I see myself, and where I fit in the best. It was incredible, man.
How did you first become involved in this project? Did you get a script sent to you, or did you find out some other way?
Marc Senter: Honestly, my agent at the time, I was auditioning all the time, like every actor in this town is, and I was hampering on my agent. I was like, 'You know, I really want to do some independent film stuff.' It's just tough to be a young actor in this town. I wanted to get out of TV, I wanted to get into film and a young actor getting a role in a major studio film, getting any substantial role, it's not easy. I just kept telling her, 'Please, look for anything that's indie, or anything I can do.' It's not about the money, I just wanna do the work and show people what kind of work I can do. Fortunately, this was one script that hit her desk that she didn't miss, and I read it and just totally flipped out. I went up to the audition and went in and met the guys like that. So, I kinda lucked out, man. I mean, thank God my agent saw it. You know what I mean? I always think to myself, 'God, if she wouldn't have seen this thing, who knows.' The timing was so right.
Can you tell us a little about your character Ray Pye and what he goes through in this film?
Marc Senter: Yeah. My character Ray Pye is (Laughs), well he's very interesting. He's actually loosely based on a real-life serial killer, Charles "Smitty" Schmid. He was known as the "Pied Piper of Tuscon" who was a real-life serial killer in the 60s. My character in the film, it's not a true story about this real guy, but Jack (Ketchum) definitely based him off of this guy. So, that was really cool, and I was able to do a lot of research on the real guy and get ready for my role. He's such an interesting guy, because, to be a serial killer you have to commit X amount of murders, and he only - not like this validates it, you know - but it was only known that he actually committed three murders. It was just the way that he did it, and the way that he was which made it so interesting. It's very true, from the real-life guy to the book, where he wore all black, he wanted to be Elvis. He's like 5'4" and he was so insecure about his height, that he put crushed beer cans - Budweiser, to be exact - in his boots to make himself taller, which would then give him a bizarre kind of a limp when he walked. It's such an interesting guy, because at the core of it its this super-insecure, very vulnerable, just a train wreck. But when you're got someone like that at the core, and it's just so interesting when he puts on this Elvis persona. The outfits, the eyeliner, the makeup, the boots, always listening to Elvis and just carrying himself like he really was a rock star. This guy really truly believed that this is who he truly was, or at least he was working so hard to believe that. It's so multi-dimensional, that's why when I read the script, I flipped out. You don't see roles like this, or characters like this that come across you often. You just don't. If someone is that dimensional like a Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver, or something lkike that. I've read a lot of scripts and it's rare that you see someone like that. So, for an actor, that's a role that's just a dream come true.
I saw that Jack Ketchum actually played a small acting role on the set. Did he have any advice on how to portray your charater, and what else did he bring to the production?
Marc Senter: Jack Ketchum, he's amazing. He's such a great guy. It's funny because when I saw him my first day on set, I was really nervous. It's like, I've done all this work, and I feel good about it, and I was feeling confident about it - I had to - and my director was confident, but I was thinking the one person I really want to be happy was the author of the book. When he was on set, there was one time where he kind of looked over at me and gave me a thumbs up and a big smile, and I thought that was good. It was a blast having him around. It's so funny to think that the guy writes what he writes because he's the nicest, most easy-going, laid-back guy. It always humors me that this kind of work comes out of a guy like that.
This is one of the two movies you've done with director Chris Sivertson. Did you know him before both this and I Know Who Killed Me?
Marc Senter: I did not. Like I said, fortunately my agent saw this project and got me in, and that was the beginning of my working relationship with Chris. So, my audition was the first time I met Chris.
It seems like this has taken awhile to hit the theaters after being on the festival circuit for so long. Do you know why it was delayed for a theatrical release for so long?
Marc Senter: Honestly, I think there were a handful of reasons. In a lot of ways, its unfortunate. I think there are a lot of us that would've liked to see this come to the theater a year ago, but honestly, we're first-time guys. I mean, sure, Chris (Sivertson) had made a handful of shorts, and he had worked on his buddies films like Ryan Johnson and Lucky McKee. He had done a couple of other really low-budget indies, but this was his first feature, and it's my first leading role in a feature. I just think, creatively and passionately, we were definitely there 100%, but I just feel like with this being the first time, I think it was just kind of a learning process. We were waiting on a lot of things too. We were waiting to see how I Know Who Killed Me did. The funny thing is we had a handful of different companies made offers on the film, but strangely enough, they all came at such bizarre times. It's not just like they all fluttered away, it just seemed that every week a new offer would trickle in. That was just kinda the way it was.
Do you have a favorite story from the set you can share with us?
Marc Senter: Actually, yeah, I do (Laughs). On my first day of filming, I was a total mess, because I'd been living in this guy and in this space, for well over a month, and talking to Chris and chipping away at the whole thing with Chris. On the first day, the whole weight of the character and everything was on top of me and I was just like, 'Holy shit. Am I gonna pull this off? Oh my God.' I remember that on that first day, I was so nervous, that I was throwing up in my trailer. I was just a mess! I kept thinking, 'Thank God this guy wears makeup, and half of it happens to be this pancake-white foundation makeup, because I was so pale. I found out later, that Chris was actually throwing up behind my trailer, because he was so nervous. I was like, that is hilarious! We shared a laugh later on because I was like, 'God, I can't believe that first day. I was so nervous, Chris, I was throwing up,' and he said, 'You were throwing up? I was throwing up.' I thought that was kind of funny.
Marc Senter: (Laughs) Yeah.
So, with The Lost and some of the other upcoming projects you have coming up, it seems that you've found a niche in the horror genre. Are you going to continue pursuing horror movies, or are there other things as well?
Marc Senter: You know, I am most certainly looking at other things. I kind of made the joke that I was never a horror fan. In fact, growing up, I never liked scary movies. I remember watching Freddy Krueger and movies like that when I was a kid, and just being terrified of them. I never was into them. I never watched them. Then I come into this group of Lucky McKee and Sivertson. We were at a festival in Austin Texas and people after the screening were genuinely afraid of me, and I'm laughing to myself thinking, 'I'm not that guy. I'm afraid of these types of movies.' I always say that, for me, the most important part isn't the genre, but the character and the story. Whether it's a horror movie or an action movie or a comedy, it's like, as long as the story is good and the character is strong, that's what compells me and inspires me. I kind of would like to tiptoe away from this genre. Fortunately, I found some guys that I think were purely talented filmmakers. It wouldn't matter what genre they were doing, it just happened to be this one at the time. So, after Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever and Wicked Lake, I kind of feel like I'm ready to hang my hat in this area, and kind of expand. That's really who I am anyway. I like to do a lot of different things.
Is there anything you can tell us about Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever and Wicked Lake? Are there release dates slated for those yet?
Marc Senter: No, Wicked Lake is gonna be at the Fangoria convention in April down at the (Los Angeles) Convention Center. We're all gonna be down there doing a panel for it, so that'll be cool. I think there is going to be a screening at the Egyptian Theater, actually late in April as well. It's a really cool film. It's very indie, it's very gritty, but the character I play in that is just awesome. Chris and I were at a Comic-Con party in San Diego like two years ago, and we met a guy who was literally Edward Scissorhands. This guy was unbelievable, and that was the character that Chris wrote for me in Wicked Lake. I play that guy from Comic-Con and we absorbed him into the script and I played that guy. Even though it's a horror movie, Chris knows how and has the talent and creativity to do something like that. Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever was great. I think (director) Ti West is an incredible filmmaker. I've seen a handful of scenes from it, and it looks hilarious. It's just really really neat. I think Ti did an incredible job, and I personally feel that the horror fans will really dig it. It's just different, man. He made a really good movie. It's not your typical horror movie. It's like The Karate Kid meets Carrie. It's really funny.
Wow. That's an interesting combo.
Marc Senter: Yeah, it really is. We based my character on Johnny from The Karate Kid. We were like, 'What can we do with this guy?' and Ti was like, 'Look man. It's The Karate Kid. Johnny. The karate bad boy.' That was really fun to play that kind of a guy, kind of tough, jerk jock guy. That was fun to do.
Wow. That's crazy.
Marc Senter: (Laughs) Yeah.
Finally, what do you want people to take away from The Lost, once they've left the theater?
Marc Senter: You know, man, it's our first film, and I just feel like there's so much heart in that film. It's certainly not for everyone, but the one thing I can say is that I just want people to see it, and know that it existed. We just threw ourselves into it, and just went for it. Honestly, I just really want people to see it, and see the work and watch the movie. Any and every reaction is good for me. If they love it, if they hate it, as long as it had an impact on someone, that's all I can really ask for.
That's about all I have for you, Marc. Thanks a lot for your time.
Marc Senter: Thanks a lot, Brian. Have a good one.
You can find The Lost on the DVD shelves on March 18.
Dont't forget to also check out: Lost