Staci Layne Wilson reporting
Take it from me: there's nothing like getting a big hug and a smooch from bloodied 6' 7" actor Nick Principe in full costume as the sadistic slasher ChromeSkull… especially after having just watched him go to terror-town on a hapless victim with two giant, serrated blades. Fortunately, I have no fear — and a great drycleaner.
As is the case with so many of these amazing actors who possess the physicality and agility to play these rage-fueled roles, Principe is one helluva nice, funny, and easygoing guy when the cameras aren't rolling.
ChomeSkull: Laid to Rest 2 is (you guessed it!) a sequel to last year's fan fave, Laid to Rest . The introduction of ChromeSkull whet the appetites of fans of brutal horror everywhere, and this time around we are promised even more viciousness!
Horror.com was treated to a rather drenched day on set while director Robert Hall commanded the shots (and stabs). We got to talk to all of the principals on the sequel, but first up, here's Principe:
QUESTION: So when you guys were shooting the first one, there was already a sequel in the works. But how did it change from what your expectations might have been, originating this role and now continuing it?
NICK PRINCIPE: It all happened so fast. I think originally when we did the first one, he was planning on doing a second one, and I think halfway through filming – the way things were kind of going – I’m come on it’s a slasher movie; it’s pointless. Because I think slasher movies should be like comic books. You know, every three years just do another one, or something like that, instead of like monthly. You know, they’re never going to win an Independent Spirit Award, or be up for an IFC award, or something like that. And if it did, it would e like “Wow, great!” But for the most part it’s just fun. They’re fun movies usually. So we got funding, then we lost it, then we got funding…HEY SHUT THE FUCK UP (yelling to others in the room; immediately goes quiet)… See, that’s the kind of star power I got… I’m just kidding but be quiet (he now gently tells the others)…
QUESTION: Could you tell us something about the tattoo? We were told the scene in the movie where one of the characters is getting inked, that is actually your body we're seeing, getting tatted up for real!
NICK PRINCIPE: It was something I said I was going to do on the first one anyways, and then he (director Rob Hall) said he needed a shot where this other character is actually getting one, and he said he’d pay for it. So, I did it and it’s on my back.
QUESTION: So, Nick’s going to have his own little tramp stamp now?
NICK PRINCIPE: Yeah. But I thought if said: BORN TO KILL, it would be different. (laughter) So, I said, “Fuck it!” Initially, what I wanted was to do a whole horror leg – like I wanted to do my leg in just horror shit, and I initially was going to get the (Chrome) “skull” on my knew, have the eyes be there and shit like that. But it didn’t work out that way, and I’m not getting two of them. I don’t like them that much. But it’s free. Tattoos are not that big a deal for me anymore. That was like the most serious tattoo I’ve gotten in like fuckin’ ages. Before that, the last one I got, I was super drunk. And I usually only get tattooed back east by a really close friend of mine. And I was like, “I want THUG LIFE on my stomach. Wouldn’t that be funny?” (laughter) And I don’t even like TUPAC (Shakur) and shit like that. But I just thought it would be funny.
It is almost shameful, but I need the money – I got a call back for GLEE. I’m going to make more in one day than I am two weeks here. I’m playing a tattoo artist, so I don’t have to sing and dance. (Laughter) I don’t think my pride would let me do that. I can’t even watch a musical. That would be the twisted fate though. Like, “we need you to do this number” “How much is it?”…uhhh…. Pride… Overdrawn bank account. Pride… Overdrawn bank account. Damn you, overdrawn bank account! (laughter)
QUESTION: How’s the make-up FX this time out?
NICK PRINCIPE: It sucks! (joking) It’s a lot different from the first one. I call it the Kane Part 7 cowl, because all I remember in Fangoria as a kid was seeing Kane (Hodder) with the face cowl cut up like that and how silly it looked, and mine is ten times sillier. It almost turns into an S&M mask/the Gimp mask (ala PULP FICTION). In the first one, it was just paint the nose black. There were little pads in the cheeks and forehead, then you just glue it and stuck it on, and that was it. This one, rubber mask, big circle thing, slip it on, becomes a sweat chamber. There’s a couple times when I’m standing over actors waiting for something and there’s sweat dripping out on them. At least it happened to the stunt guy, so he doesn’t mind it as much. If anybody did mind it, they weren’t very vocal about it.
QUESTION: What’s the level of brutality this time verses the last one?
NICK PRINCIPE: I don’t know. It’s like how any good sequel should be. Double the body count. Same amount of original different kills as the first one. Again, just taking as much as time as we did with the first one. I don’t think it matters what actors are in the movie – it obviously helps for this and that for distribution, blah, blah, blah. I just think with the LAID TO REST movies the real star is the effects, the kills. Because that’s the one thing – love or hate the movies – you cannot talk shit about the kills. They’re a reason to watch alone, I think. The kills are spectacular.
QUESTION: You have a fairly gratuitous gag coming up today, right?
NICK PRINCIPE: This one’s really fun. Again, it’s heavy mix of the practical with – I guess, it’s technically – CG. But it’s more visual FX. I guess the best way to compare is the Lena Headey kill in the first one, how it was a dummy that gets stabbed in, but then they composite her real face in with it. So it ends up seamless at the end of the day. It’s the same thing, but way more brutal. I had a talk with him (Rob) today, and I thought it was going to be three swipes at the guy’s neck, and he like “No, you’re going to just keep hacking at the thing until I say stop!” And it’s literally going to be real meat, inside the thing with two real knives and keep cuttin’ & hackin’ and cutting & hackin’ until it actually rips. That should be the “star kill” of the movie. But when the movie is finished, you usually judge it by other people; what they think is the best kill. So far, I think this one is going to be the best kill.
QUESTION: Did you think they were going to take a supernatural route after the second one?
NICK PRINCIPE: We wanted to avoid doing the supernatural thing, and it’s a good explanation. You lose some parts of Chromy form the movie. But it’s purely to explain everything from the first one. He (Rob) really didn’t leave any loopholes. So, there’s like this mini-recuperation period, and he did talk to a bunch of cosmetic surgeons and stuff like that, saying basically, “If the brain wasn’t damaged, the guy wouldn’t be pretty. But if he got immediate response care, and healed after awhile he would live.” We saw a bunch of stuff about this guy in Russia, who was hunting bears, and a bear literally took a swipe at his face, and it was just gone. From here, it was just a tongue, and no eye sockets, no nose. Just nothing there. And they reconstructed it to a point to where he kind of looked like the Unabomber. Like if you were just passing him in the street, you wouldn’t notice it. It’s the same kind of thing, except you can wear a mask to cover it up. That’s what’s cool; you get to see him (Chromeskull) without his mask, and see the nastiness. And it certainly is nasty.
QUESTION: Yeah, we saw some of the skin.
NICK PRINCIPE: Oh, the flappings? It’s just like the first one; there’s a lot of things alike. A couple things, I don’t agree with. But I didn’t write it. It’s my job to do the best of it with Chromeskull. I definitely love Chromeskull. He’s like my bastard adopted son, and I try to do the best I can with him. And then hope for the best at the end of the day, and that’s all you really can do.
QUESTION: You've always got GLEE to fall back on.
NICK PRINCIPE: Yep (laughter). I got the call back for that. I mean, it’s not set in stone. But I’ll take a Fox (Studios) paycheck, man. Us actors, we’re whores. Won’t lie. I try to work only in horror and action films and thing like that. But if they call for something in your description, and there’s a few 0’s on that check – my rent don’t pay itself, man.
QUESTION: Do you have an agent looking for different things for you?
NICK PRINCIPE: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I really stress to look for certain things, and he really does. But unfortunately, a lot stuff I get back is kind of crap. So, I’ll turn it down. But ever since the first LAID TO REST, I get a slasher script, probably every two weeks. And since LAID TO REST, the only script that I liked was that movie MADISON COUNTY, and what those guys did. So, I went down south and shot that one for them. But I give a slasher script 30 pages, which I think is liberal – if I don’t see something within there then, sorry I already booked that time, or this, that or whatever. But that one was good. Of course, no else is playing Chromeskull as long as I’m alive. I’m really trying to get onto SONS OF ANARCHY. That would be my dream gig, because I got a chance to have “walk-on” role, for just like a day. But I turned it down, to hold out to be one of the bikers.
QUESTION: I love that show. You’d be perfect for it.
NICK PRINCIPE: I’d kill for it. Sometimes I regret it. But there’s always next season.
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