Check out the first part of The Film Reel’s interview with Dead Heads director Brett Pierce.
After getting a chance to talk with director Brett Pierce about Dead Heads, I asked some questions of cast members Ross Kidder who plays Brent, Michael McKiddy who plays Mike, Markus Taylor who plays Cheese, Benjamin Webster who plays McDinkle, and Natalie Victoria who plays Ellie.
They’re a great group of people, and willingly answered all of my insane questions. I didn’t even have to threaten to eat anyone.
THE FILM REEL: What’s it like working with the incredibly attractive….Markus Taylor? HAHA!
ROSS KIDDER: I wasn’t married at the time and it was very hard to not act upon my undying love and affection towards the dashing Markus Taylor.
BEN WEBSTER: Markus is a dream boat. He’s got those piercing white, lifeless eyes and those rotting teeth that could turn anybody… and that’s before makeup.
MICHAEL MCKIDDY: It’s good that Markus had make-up on cause if he didn’t then I’d have been distracted the whole shoot by his au naturel human beauty. He’s a good friend, knocked Cheese out of the park, and helped in creating the amazing family atmosphere we all had on set.
NATALIE VICTORIA: Hahaha! Did Markus write this interview question?
LOL MARKUSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!! No seriously, Markus is a wonderful guy – we LOVE him! He was so much fun to work with. I used to tease him on set once his zombie contact lenses were in (because he literally couldn’t see once they were in). I would yell MARCO / POLO and everyone would join in, while poor Markus would stumble about trying to find the craft services table…he was such a good sport about it. Lot of people may not know, but Markus is great to because he is very athletic and can really do all his own stunts, along with having such a strong presence on screen because he is so tall. But the coolest thing about him, is that in the same moment he appears threatening and ominous —he can be so soft and emotional as an actor, and make you just want to go ‘aw…’. He’s awesome like that! Ladies, he’s single —line up! (Sorry Markus…hehe)
THE FILM REEL: Alright, lets be honest, Natalie Victoria is the most attractive cast member, sorry Markus. I have to ask her, what’s it like having a zombie in love with you? I imagine that dinner with the folks would be hard.
NATALIE VICTORIA: If all zombies were like Mike Kellerman, I think ladies would be clamoring! I mean I think EVERY girl dreams of dating a guy like Mike! He’s sweet, good-looking, funny, sensitive, devoted, loyal, honest, and he never gives up on his love for Ellie. Even after three years has passed – all he can think about is finding her. What girl doesn’t want to date a guy like that?! Rotting flesh or not, I am in!
THE FILM REEL: What was the hardest part of playing your characters?
ROSS KIDDER: The schedule of a film shoot. There’s a lot of “hurry up and wait”… So you have to return to the same energy and feeling you had hours or days before.
MARKUS TAYLOR: I would say the hardest part of playing Cheese was actually staying in character and hitting my marks. Let me explain. During the course of the entire shoot I wore contacts that allowed zero visibility. So before the take Brett or Drew would take me to my one then we’d walk to my two and then I would back track it. Counting the steps as I go. So when they yelled action I had to stay in character and recount steps and actions. I had to be really focused.
BEN WEBSTER: My loins.
MICHAEL MCKIDDY: It was hard for me to play Mike so serious all the time, there’d be moments when Ross (as Brent) would be egging me on in a scene and I wanted so badly at times to be like “You know what?! You’re right, let’s have some fun and go eat some freaking brains!”
NATALIE VICTORIA: The ZOMBIE BRIDE was tons of fun to play, but I have to say I think the hardest part was playing ELLIE. With ELLIE you had to make sure the audience could identify with her in the movie, and fast. That was definitely a task considering ELLIE appears predominately in the second half of the film – so that was the hardest for sure [;-)] I mean if Mike is traveling cross-country, battling everything he goes through in the film, and putting his heart on the line, all for this one girl—Ellie better be worth the hassle right? I knew the audience would feel that way (as I did when I read the script) so I felt the pressure to bring a certain level of vulnerability and relate-ability to her in any way I could. I wanted audiences to go “Oh yea, I totally see why he is in love with this girl!” That was a challenge, and I loved taking it on! [;-)]
THE FILM REEL: How much of yourselves did you bring to your characters?
ROSS KIDDER: I saw a lot of my “Ross Kidder” optimism in Brent and I definitely infused it into his personality. Other than that, there were multiple influences used to blend the character into a nice flavored pudding. A little Beetlejuice, a little Jack Nicholson.
MARKUS TAYLOR: I tried to bring as much of myself to that character as I possibly could. I think the emotions that Cheese feels are emotions that everybody can identify with. The sense of wanting to belong and be loved. So we all can relate to him at one point in our lives. And that is what I tried to bring across.
BEN WEBSTER: Outside of the smell that was left in my radiation suit, not much. The rest is a potent combination of my junior high principal and the pro wrestler Ravishing Rick Rude.
MICHAEL MCKIDDY: There’s a small small bit of me in the Mike character, but he’s way more high strung than I am. I can definitely relate to the hopeless romantic side to him though, and I think you get more of a glimpse of who I am in real life when you watch the campfire scene.
NATALIE VICTORIA: Oh geez! You want the trade secrets! Haha.. Well, honestly I think there is a little of me in every character or role I play. For ELLIE – I tried to bring my own awkwardness & clumsiness into her personality—I think it helped bring that vulnerability to her especially during the high-school reunion scene where Mike sees her for the first time in three years. Ultimately, I just wanted people to see that ELLIE was as clumsy and awkward as Mike was – just in a different way. And for the Zombie Bride, I just pulled on every bad girl vibe I have —which really helped in relentlessly ripping that heart from Mike’s chest and devouring it like I meant it. Oh that was devilishly fun!!! I think everyone on set that night was like – WHOA! Different side of Nat here…little scared…LOL
THE FILM REEL: If there was one safe place you could live during a zombie apocalypse, what are the three things you would have to bring with you?
ROSS KIDDER: I would bring a gun and a knife, and my boyscout hand book. I know how to live in the wild and I’m not afraid to do it.
MARKUS TAYLOR: If I could bring three things it would probably be : A. My iTunes library. It’s big and eclectic so, assuming we have power, it would be a shame to loose music B. I know it seems silly but nobody thinks to bring seeds so you can grow food. People gotta eat. C. A toothbrush I guess. Lol gotta keep those teeth nice and white.
BEN WEBSTER: Bullets, thin mints and toilet paper.
MICHAEL MCKIDDY: 1.) My guitar
2.) iPad (with “Back to the Future” saved on it)
3.) Zooey Deschanel
NATALIE VICTORIA: M-4 assault rifle
Stiletto Heels (weapons and fashion in one!)
THE FILM REEL: Would you let McDinkle live with you in that safe place?
ROSS KIDDER: No chance in hell. He’s too much of a wild card. Wait, I take that back…. He’s crazy and has a taste for zombie killing…red rover red rover let McDinkle come over!!!!! I want him on my side.
MARKUS TAYLOR: Absolutely, McDinkle can be in charge of security. He can led the scavenger patrols to get supplies.
BEN WEBSTER: If McDinkle were there, it would neglect to be safe.
MICHAEL MCKIDDY: Hell no! I can’t help shake the feeling that McDinkle would find a way to get us killed somehow (for example, after an hour of living together, MCDINKLE: “I’m bored! Let’s go find a horde of zombies and shred ‘em up with our chainsaws!” ME: “Um, that’s a terrible idea. We’re in a safe place.” – McDinkle then pulls out a grenade – MCDINKLE: “Well then, maybe you should meet my friend Grandpa Face Exploder.” ME: “Horrible idea pulling out a grenade right now yo.” MCDINKLE: “Either we go fight some zombies, or I pull the pin on Grandpa…whoops, already pulled it…” and then we die cause McDinkle’s a douche smoker).
NATALIE VICTORIA: NO. Have you seen his belly hair? Little known fact, McDinkle used to peel his yellow rad suit down in between set-ups (smelly sweat dripping from inside the suit…I won’t touch that-LOL) and show me his belly hair which I like to call “the brillo pad” -black and curly on this white tummy. GROSSSSSSS! Ermmm..he’s not coming into my BUNKER. No Way!
THE FILM REEL: Cheese is such a great character in the film. If you could have your own pet zombie, what would you train him to do for you?
ROSS KIDDER: Kill and eat the mice in my house.. I wouldn’t have to get a cat!
MARKUS TAYLOR: If I had a pet zombie I would teach him/her to pull things. Like a cart or something. You know dangle a piece of meat in front of them just out of their reach and they would run after it. That or to be a guard dog.
BEN WEBSTER: Parallel park.
NATALIE VICTORIA: Protect & Cuddle! (oh I am such a girl…)
THE FILM REEL: Finally, anyone who loves zombies has to have an opinion on this one. Zombies. Fast or slow?
ROSS KIDDER: I truly think its a mix. I think a hungry zombie’s energy level is pretty low. I mean, come on, they might not have eaten for days months years! But a well fed zombie is on the prowl and not only has the taste for blood, but the endurance to catch and kill.
MARKUS TAYLOR: I would love to see a mix. Like why can’t we have zombies who just turned be fast as hell but as they decompose they get slower. But if I had to choose one I would say this in my movies I like seeing them fast. Creates more action. If it happened in real life. I hope to god they would be slow. Because seriously how much does the average person run? Exactly! That means only those people who run for fun would survive.
BEN WEBSTER: I’m a purist, so I’ll say slow. Being ripped apart by a slow moving zombie has to be like a visit to the dentist, sans novacane… but, no smooth jazz, so at least there’s that.
NATALIE VICTORIA: Are you kidding? Slow! I need time to run away!
I just want to thank everyone for taking some time out to answer a few questions. Make sure to pick up Dead Heads on DVD March 6, 2012!