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Looking for the perfect antidote to the summer’s soulless
CGI fests (i.e. TRANSFORMERS and all those spandexed superhero movies)? Look no
further than THE PERFECT HOST, a deliciously dark comedy from the Hitchcock
school that Magnolia Pictures begins rolling out this Friday, July 1 in select
theaters (venues in NY, LA and PA).
In the Nick Tomnay-directed film (also available now on
demand), Emmy-winner David Hyde Pierce plays Warwick Wilson, the consummate
host. As he carefully prepares for a swank dinner party, desperate career
criminal John Taylor (Clayne Crawford) rings his bell. He’s just robbed a bank
and needs to get off the streets. He finds himself on Warwick’s doorstep posing
as a friend of a friend, new to Los Angeles, who’s been mugged and lost his
luggage. As the wine flows and the evening progresses, we become deeply
intertwined in the lives of these two men and discover just how deceiving
appearances can be…
FANGORIA: What attracted you to THE PERFECT HOST?
DAVID HYDE PIERCE: It was the script first. I loved the
writing; I loved the storytelling and the surprises in it. And the character;
any actor would want to play this character. He’s just so complex and creepy.
Those were the first two things. And also, when I got the script, I also got
the short film THE HOST, which Nick Tomnay, our director, had done, which this
movie is based on. So I got a chance to see his filmmaking style.
FANG: Did the script’s twists and turns surprise you?
PIERCE: That’s a good question… I guess they must have. It
has been so long now since I first read it. I’m sure they did because that’s
what I enjoyed about it, and also the wit, the humor, that’s something I would
notice a lot because I care about that, that a story could be essentially a
thriller and very dark, but also be really funny and not joke funny, but
FANG: What appealed to you about playing Warwick Wilson? Do
you enjoy playing villains?
PIERCE: Well, depending on what point you are at in the
movie, he may or may not be the villain. And yes, I’ve played villains in the
past. It’s usually a lot of fun. I certainly enjoyed playing Warwick, just a
wonderful, rich dark place to go.
FANG: You really have a field day as this character. What
was your take on Warwick?
PIERCE: Honestly, I feel like Nick had completely captured
the character in the writing. When I looked at it, there wasn’t a lot for me to
do except film what was on the page. And the other task that I had, which was
something Nick and I talked about in our first meeting, before I even agreed to
do the movie, were—I’m trying to do this without giving too much away—the
characters went through a lot of different phases. And so the question was, how
do you delineate those phases as an actor? How much or little do you show
someone who is kind of different people at different times? And so most of my
work was figuring out how to do that in a way that had sufficient variety and
was also believable.
FANG: Were you inspired by the original actor from the
short, Graeme Rhodes, in any way?
PIERCE: Inspired is probably not the right word. He’s great
in the film, but I absolutely put him out of my mind as much as possible. But
also, he and I are so different that I just sort of played from my instincts.
But I have a great admiration for him and I should also credit him for his
performance in that movie; he’s what made it so good and what attracted me to
FANG: Tell me about your distinctive walk in the movie.
PIERCE: As Warwick’s sort of psychological states changes,
his physicality changes. And so I didn’t want any one particular side of the
character to seem exaggerated or false, so it was a question of trying to goose
what would be like any normal way of walking down the street or whatever, so it
was just slightly exaggerated in one direction. By contrast, I just slightly
exaggerated it in the other direction, so you’d end up with two things that
seem very far apart. The way he moves earlier in the film, part of the idea of
that is knowing that he’d be moving differently later in the film. So it was
kind of find the difference between someone who is more sinewy and fluid, and
someone who is kind of solid and down to earth.
FANG: Did you see the film more for its black comedy than its
genre conventions? It easily could have gone in a different direction…
PIERCE: It was clearly a dark comedy, with genuine suspense
and genuine surprise. Having said that, I’m always drawn to the comedy in
anything. Which is not that I’m trying to make everything funny, but I really
am most interested in characters and scripts and even FRASIER was like this,
where whatever the prevailing tones were, like, “Oh, this is a comedy,” it
would also have some serious undertones. Or in the case of THE PERFECT HOST, a
thriller, but it’s funny. I just like that sort of stuff. It’s more fun to
play, it’s more interesting, and it’s just my nature to try to find humor in
things and fortunately, in this script, it was so wittily written I didn’t have
to look far.
FANG: For research, did you look at some of Vincent Price’s
PIERCE: No. I love Vincent’s movies, but I would say no way
is that the kind of performance that I would emulate. There is a
film-within-a-film portion of the movie where my character is showing a Super 8
movie. The feel of that is very much like NOSFERATU, in its black and white
palette, that vintage. But I really took my inspiration from what Nick had
written. I didn’t have to go elsewhere to say, “Oh, it’s like so and so.” All
levels of the character, all facets of the character, were in the script, and I
just had to project them through my lens. And that’s what I did.
FANG: Is that rare as an actor? Finding a script that is so
well defined like that?
PIERCE: Yes. It is very rare because usually when a script
is that well defined, it’s because it’s one-dimensional. And it’s very clear
how to play a character because there’s not much there. And those are scripts I
See here for PERFECT HOST playdates and venues. You can see the film’s trailer and official site here.
And watch for an interview with co-writer/director Tomnay later this week.
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