You learn from the greats and build from them, and that is what we are doing with Art. -David Howard Thornton
Sometimes you book an assignment that can make you face your clown phobias and, come out of it braver and bolder because of nice people who play very dark demented characters. This is my exclusive chat for Scary Basement Media with the man who plays Art The Clown in the newly released horror The Terrifier available now. Everyone welcome David Howard Thornton to our #scarygood domain.
SBM: Much respect for portraying the creepiest damn clown on the big screen. How did you first react to seeing the final look of Art The Clown? Was it easy to transform into the character?
DAVID: The first time I saw myself as Art was during our make up test on Staten Island at our producer’s place. I pretty much freaked out since it didn’t look anything like me. I was already a fan of All Hallow’s Eve, so that was pretty surreal. I even scared the crap out of the pizza delivery guy when he came by. Poor guy! As for the transformation into the character, that was actually pretty easy for me to do. For some reason, being in costume and makeup solidifies everything about the character for me. I especially enjoy sitting in front of a mirror and just making faces to see how the makeup effects will read etc. I’m not one of those “Method” actors that needs to live and breathe the character. I can easily turn it on or off if need be. I am sure my costars were grateful for that! LOL!
SBM: What do you feel triggered the insanity of your character Art? What are you hoping for as far as the direction goes in the story?
David: I know what triggered it all, but I can’t say since we fully intend to explore that all in future films. We like to leave a lot of mystery behind the character since we think that makes him more interesting, so we intend to put little clues here and there about who/what Art is in future films rather than simply spelling it all out for the audience at once. I like to think we are taking a cue from the Joker in that department. We still don’t truly know who he is, but theorizing about his origins is partially what makes the character so much fun! The same applies to Art! I’ve definitely enjoyed reading some of the fan theories out there already!
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As for direction for the story, we definitely have a lot of ideas. Our biggest goal, though, is to bring in a true protagonist that can go toe to toe with Art in future films and be the Yin to Art’s Yang. Art needs his Batman to fully complete him, basically, and we fully intend to develop a worthy adversary for him. Stay tuned!
SBM:We know you have also portrayed The Joker from one maniac to another which is more fun to portray?
DAVID: They are both equally fun in there own ways! The Joker has always been my all time favorite villain, and not just because we look alike! I’ve always enjoyed villains that had that right mixture of humor and deadliness. Art and Mr. J both are such types of villains. I love portraying Art because I really get to experiment with a lot of physicality since he never utters a sound. It is a fun challenge having to emote and convey meaning and intent purely through body and facial movement! Joker is a lot of fun because he just gets some of the best lines and monologues! Both are such fun to play because they truly relish in their evil madness and their desire to cause chaos. They both find what they do to be extremely amusing and fun, and that makes them truly scary forces of nature that are so much fun to watch!
SBM:Tell us how you started in the business and how has horror been an inspiration?
DAVID:I grew up doing theater, especially during my high school years when my mom got me involved in community theater back in Huntsville, AL to help me overcome my shyness and build my self confidence after being bullied so much during my middle school years. I found that entertaining people was my true passion. However, I tried to be pragmatic and opted to study teaching in college over theater since I thought I would have a more stable career that way. It was not until my mother passed away during my final years of college that I realized that life was too short not to do what I was truly passionate about. So, with my father’s full support, I finished my degree, and then moved up to NYC to pursue my dreams. I’ve been here for almost 12 years now and have done everything from touring for 5 years with the national tour of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas: The Musical” where I understudied and learned from the master of physical comedy, Stefan Karl, voicing various characters in several animated series and video games, appearing on shows like “Gotham”, and now starring in, what will hopefully be the next big horror franchise! It’s been a wild ride and I have not looked back once! I can’t wait to see what the future has in store!
As for how horror has been an inspiration, I found much inspiration for the character of Art from many of the original slasher films of the 70’s and 80’s. I would say that Robert Englund‘s performance as Freddy Krueger and Tim Curry‘s performance of Pennywise are two of my biggest influences. Of course Chucky, Jason, and Michael Myers are big influences as well. I like to think that Art is a nice blend of all of those characters with a lot of extra original ideas mixed in for good measure.You learn from the greats and build from them, and that is what we are doing with Art
SBM: We caught wind you might be moving to LA. Is that due to the success of Art The Clown and the possible contribution you have made in cinema now?
DAVID: LOL! I’ve been intending to do that for several years now, but every time I set a date to move, something always keeps me here in NYC career wise. I’d love to move out there, and especially have places in both cities. I have just learned to enjoy the ride and allow the Fates to decide when that will happen. One day though!
SBM: We know you do alot of great voiceovers. Who is your absolute favorite? Which took the most work to refine?
DAVID: THAT is a very tough question. That is like asking me to choose between all 200+ of my kids! Goofy is probably up there since he was my very first voice that I discovered that I could do. I also enjoy doing Pinky and Krang since they are both so unique sounding. Bugs and Mickey are up there too because I have always dreamed of voicing one of them professionally. I could keep going! As for the hardest one to refine, I would say my Joker voice which is heavily influenced by the great Mark Hamill. I don’t try to do a dead on impression of his, but rather an homage of his and other versions as well while adding my own take on it. I’m always discovering new nuances to it and am always experimenting with it, especially the laugh.
SBM:Do people now recognize you on the streets? Describe one of your favorite fan encounters?
DAVID:No, not yet, though I am guessing it is because I look nothing like Art. I have already had some fun fan moments though when I tell them who I am, so that has been fun! One of my favorites was at WinterCon last December when I was there promoting the web series that I play the Joker on, Nightwing: Escalation. I was wearing my Art the Clown pin and a fan walked up and commented on it wondering where I got it from etc. He then started talking about how much he loved the character and hoped that more people would come to know who Art was. That is when I told him, “Thank you! By the way, I’m actually Art!” He freaked out since he had no idea. I ended up taking pictures with him etc and let him go on his way. It was just such a cool and genuine moment since I got to hear about how much someone enjoyed the character without them knowing who I was. It totally made my day!
SBM:So many people have a phobia of clowns what are some movies that made you fearful?
DAVID:Clowns don’t actually scare me. Good thing, eh? I found the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre to be frightening as well as The Omen and Exorcist. The more recent films that got me were the first few Paranormal Activity films since I have lived in some haunted house/ apartments over the years and have encountered some freaky stuff myself. They did a great job on building the tension in those films. I had a woman break up with me because she could not sleep for a few days after we saw that film together. LOL!
SBM:What was the most difficult scene to shoot for The Terrifier? Describe a blooper that occurred while filming.
DAVID:You probably think that I would say some of the kill scenes, eh? Those were probably more difficult for the other actors than myself. It is actually a toss up between the bike scene or my “Buffalo Bill” scene. The bike scene was difficult because that dang little bike was so difficult to ride when you are 6’2″ and wearing big clown shoes. They actually kept one of the bloopers in the film of one of the numerous times that I crashed the bike. I’m glad they did that since it is hilarious!
The “Buffalo Bill” scene is probably where a good blooper happened as well. I’ve never done nudity before, so this was new to me. Damien ( The Director) and I actually debated if I would wear that stuff over my clown suit or if Art would be naked. We ultimately decided on the latter since it would up the creepy factor. I was a little apprehensive of showing my skinny butt, but figured if my female costars could expose themselves in the manners that they did, then so could I, especially if it adds to the scene. The day of the shoot, Damien called me up and asked me to bring a “cock sock” to set. I asked what that was, and he just said, bring a sock. So, I brought a big white tube sock, not thinking that it might show up on screen, instead of a black sock. I think that they had to do a bit of editing there to cover that up! LOL! That was a very interesting two nights of filming since not only was I naked and wearing that stuff, I was also covered in lots of sticky blood in a cold building with no running water. I tried to keep the levity on set that night by making butt jokes the whole time since the poor cast and crew had to see me like that. It was even Samantha’s true first night of working with me, so what an introduction that was! The part where I had to lay down on the floor was not fun either because that building was NASTY! I got up from the floor and was covered in black grime and grit and only had jugs of water that we brought in with us to wash all of that stuff off with. I truly suffered for my Art! But it was worth it though. People really seem to love that scene!
SBM:How are your friends and family responding to your terrifying performance in the new movie? Bet you Noone wants to grab a slice of pizza with you in New York now? 🙂
DAVID:They are thrilled! Though several of them have told me, despite how much that they love me, that they won’t see it since they are utterly terrified of these types of movies and/or clowns. I just tell them to spread the word about the film then and all is good. I appreciate you spreading the word as well. It is hard being a small low budget indie film and competing with big budget Hollywood blockbusters! I truly appreciate what you are doing, as well as the fans for supporting the film as well. We did this film for the fans and we love them for supporting us. It would have not been made without their support! A big thank you to all of you that have been supporting us and spreading the word! Please continue spreading the word and giving us great reviews etc, because we want to make more of these films! There is so much more to tell about Art, and we look forward to bringing more of him to you all! You all rock!
Be sure to check out The Terrifier now on most VOD or, order your copy on Blu- Ray.
We would like to thank David for his candid chat and hope you liked my interview with him. You can follow myself, Kym Bear on instagram @cantbeartolivewithoutit Please let us know how you think we are doing down in the comments. Until next time….. stay #scarygood!!