Andy Powers is a classically trained actor originally from El Paso, TX. After graduating from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, he spent the next four years in Off Broadway Theatre developing new work from young playwrights with the Barrow Group Theatre, The Cherry Lane Alternative, Second Stage, and The Hypothetical Theatre Company. Television audiences were introduced to Powers as the convicted rapist turned Neo-Nazi cross-dresser Franklin Winthrop on HBO’s hit series “OZ.” He starred opposite Matt Frewer and Dakota Fanning in Syfy’s presentation of Stephen Spielberg’s “TAKEN.” Films include “Sweets” directed by R.E. Rogers, “In Her Shoes” directed by Curtis Hansen, “Northeast” directed by Gregory Kohn. Powers has appeared in many episodic series and independent films. He devotes much of his personal time to wilderness backpacking and environmental conservation. He’s currently promoting his latest feature, Clown, and he sat down with Gruesome Magazine to talk about his role in the film which just happens to be (as of this post) the number one horror movie on iTunes!
GruesomeMagazine: First off, thanks for speaking with me, and congratulations on the film. I liked it a lot!
Andy Powers: Thanks! We had a lot of fun making it.
GM: Before we get to the film, I’d like to know a little bit about your background. How did you get into acting?
AP: I’m originally from West Texas, and I was inspired by some really great films and actors when I was a kid. I knew from an early age that I wanted to go to New York City and give acting a shot, and I did – right out of high school.
GM: Were you successful right off the bat?
AP: No, not at all! I was really terrified at first. I went to a drama school called The American Academy For Dramatic Arts, and afterwards I was just so scared to audition that I simply didn’t for years. Whatever little jobs I did get were given to me by friends. What finally ended up happening was that I had a girlfriend that had broken up with me, which just broke my heart but the break up led me this insane period of time where I was all of a sudden willing to do anything without fear. That’s when I started auditioning, and then I found some success.
GM: So this girl who broke your heart inadvertently led you to success as an actor?
AP: I’ll tell you, it was a great favor she did for me.
GM: Does she know this? I mean, have you ever told her?
AP: No! But if I ever run into her, I’ll tell her that the break up was a very good thing for me.
GM: The plot in Clown is pretty unique and different. What was it about the script that attracted you to it?
AP: It jumps off the page right away, it’s a very unique story. And I was excited to do something that was sort of akin to Cronenberg’s “The Fly“, where there’s this inexorable slow transformation to something that’s as horrific to my character as it is to everybody around him. Once you’ve been in this business long enough, you can recognize good writing right away. I could see that even though this was about a demon who looks like a clown and eats kids, it was a clear and cohesive vision. I thought it was a really awesome script.
GM: The idea of a demon that looks like a clown is very unique, but it sounds really goofy…
AP: I thought so too at first! But I had a conversation with (Co-Writer/Director) Jon Watts, and he explained to me how the character was based on the ancient European legend of Krampus, who’s the opposite of Santa Claus, that was the impetus behind writing the script initially. There are things in ancient cultures that are evil, and target innocent children. Things that are not sympathetic to human feelings and security. Once you start getting into it, you realize it’s unique because we forgot where we came from.
GM: Once you were committed, and production began on the project, did you ever think that the concept of a demon that just happens to look like a clown could fail?
AP: If you ever get to meet Jon, you’ll see that he’s a really consummate person who knows what he’s doing, so I never thought it could fail. The people who were involved with it knew what they were doing as well, so I actually felt like I had won the lottery! Like I had stumbled into something that was destined to reach its full potential. So no, I never felt that it wouldn’t do well. I still don’t, and that’s taking into account the amount of time its taken to be released as well. I still think that once people are exposed to it, it’s gonna really take off and blow people away.
GM: Clown is being promoted as a Eli Roth production, but is having his name on the cover of the DVD/Bluray box just a promotional gimmick, or was he actually involved with the production? For instance, was he ever on set?
AP: He was supposed to be, but I believe he ran into some scheduling issues. He was shooting The Green Inferno at the same time we were in production, and I think that went over schedule so he couldn’t be on set with us. But he came back and shot the little commercial teaser for Clown afterwards.
GM: One of your co-stars, Peter Stomare, has a bit of a reputation for being an oddball…
AP: He was insane in all of the most beautiful ways…
GM: Can you describe what it was like working with him?
AP: He’s just one of the nicest, most generous people you’ll ever meet. He just genuinely enjoys doing what he does, and he brings everything he has to the table every single day. On the first night I worked with him, we had a very physical scene in which I drag him out of a car and throw him onto the hood. Now, Peter is getting a little long in the tooth to be doing some of that physical stuff, but he just gave it everything he had on every single take. I mean, he’s really getting dragged out of the car and being violently thrown onto the hood. Between takes I could hear him yelling “Gimme More! Gimme More!“, and I’d look over and then I’d see him standing there laughing maniacally at the top of his lungs! He was really amping himself up for the next take, and he never wavered in that. He was so much fun to work with.
GM: Your director, Jon Watts has made quite a name for himself since you worked with him. He directed a really good little movie called Cop Car, but the bigger news is that he’s been tapped to direct the new Spider Man film. When you worked with him, he had directed some short films, commercials and a few music videos, but now he’s officially entered the big time. What was he like to work with, and did you see that kind of potential in him to direct blockbuster films like the upcoming Spider man film?
AP: Jon is very confident, but not in a overly arrogant way. It’s comforting to work with someone who knows what they’re doing, and you want to work with that person because you know your time and effort will be utilized well. I didn’t doubt for a second that he’d go on to do great things, and I imagine that when he was offered the job of directing Spider Man that he wasn’t surprised because it was all part of his master plan. When I worked with him I realized he was doing our film because it was exactly what he wanted to do, he wasn’t directing Clown as a director for hire. He never takes on a project that he doesn’t want to do, and I think that’s been the way he’s worked from day one. He’s a very focused individual.
GM: Personally, I love the idea of a demonic homicidal clown killing kids…
AP: [Laughing] Yeah, so do I!
GM: But the concept will turn off a lot of people. Did you have any thoughts on how the violence might affect certain viewers?
AP: You know, we live in a world where there aren’t any boundaries for that kind of thing anymore, so that thought never really crossed my mind. In fact, I kind of look forward to the idea that it might be controversial for some viewers. Although when we were shooting (in Ottawa), there was one guy who was harassing the production because he was an actual working clown and he was worried that we were giving clowns a bad reputation! He was trying to bad mouth us all over town, in fact he even wrote the production a really nasty letter on toilet paper! It was really, really weird.
GM: Towards the end of the film, your character undergoes a complete transformation into the demon. Was that you in the makeup?
AP: No, in those last scenes it was a guy who actually makes his living as a costumed performer. A lot of movies do it nowadays, because it is kind of its own art form with all of that specific physicality and stuff. He also doubled as a stunt man, and he had a really hard time because he did a lot of physical things that bruised his body all over. And the suit was built on a diving suit, so even though it was winter in Ottawa, when you’re wearing that suit you just feel like you’re dying of heat exhaustion. So he had a really rough time, but it worked out pretty well in the end.
GM: But it was definitely you in the suit up to a certain point in the film anyway, knowing what I know about the suit now, what was wearing it like for you?
AP: Well, I wore three different suits for the film. The first two were the baggier versions of it, when the skin was supposed to look saggy and those were pretty easy to wear. But the one where it starts to look like scaly skin was really hard, that was the one built over a diving suit. The thing is that once it’s on, there’s literally no respite from it whatsoever. I spent four hours in the makeup chair before I reported to the set, and then the first thing I had to do was put on that suit. It’s not like you just slip it on and they zip you up either, it’s really tight, and then they glue it shut so that there’s no seams to be seen. Then the hands and reptilian collar have to be glued on very precisely, and then I had to act in it. It wasn’t easy, it was pretty grueling.
GM: Well, what would happen if nature suddenly called and you had to use the restroom?
AP: I can only speak to doing number one, because once the suit was completely on that was the only option, no number two allowed! So in the crotch of the suit there’s a small Velcro opening. But it was set so far back that the only way that you could relieve yourself successfully was to take one of those cardboard tubes that you get from a roll of paper towels, and sort of create a path for the fluid to follow. I’m probably saying way too much about the process, but that’s what I had to do. And if I needed to be cooled off while wearing the suit, a makeup woman would have to use this device that looked like a dust buster, but it was actually a kind of air conditioner. This gadget had to be inserted into that small Velcro opening as well, so there were times when someone would walk onto the set and see this woman crouched down in front of my crotch, while I would be laying back on a table moaning “Ahhhhh”! That poor woman was a real trooper.
GM: So what’s up next for you?
AP: Well I have a short film that’s playing the festival circuit right now that’s called “Sasha“, and it was directed by Jonathan Chekroune. He’s a really good director and I believe he’s gonna be a big deal someday, I’m really proud to be a part of it. The other thing I’m doing is a project with my wife (Lauren Fox) called “Atlas Of The Soul” which we financed with a very successful crowdfunding campaign. We just signed two major actors to be part of it as well, but I can’t announce their names until next week. It’s being directed by Jeremiah Kipp and we begin principal photography in the fall. We’re all very excited to begin production on it, and we believe it’s going to be something really special once it’s completed.
Dimension Films and Anchor Bay Entertainment will be releasing Clown, starring Andy Powers, Laura Allan, Peter Stomare and Elizabeth Whitmere to select theaters and On Demand on June 17th.