As we celebrate the news of “Terrifier 2”, we’re thrilled to bring you this interview with the man behind Art the Clown, David Howard Thornton.
David Howard Thornton is appearing at horror conventions all over the US. A tall, lanky, happy guy, you would never picture him as the horrifying clown in Terrifier. If you get a chance to talk to him like I did, do it! You will love him.
In case you missed the killer news, Damien Leone, the twisted genius behind the indie hit Terrifier, announced this week on Facebook that Art the Clown is coming back for more bloody mayhem in Terrifier 2. Damien promises that “Terrifier 2 will be the merciless, no holds barred follow-up you’ve been hoping for.”
The man who helped make Terrifier such a huge success with his equally funny and terrifying portrayal of Art the Clown, David Howard Thornton, was recently at the Crypticon Convention in Seattle. I had the pleasure of talking with him. He was such an incredibly funny and sweet guy — so different from his menacing alter ego. He was kind enough to answer a few questions for me for this site.
You can read my interview with David below and learn more about his work in Terrifier, his love of horror, and what’s on the horizon for both David and Art the Clown.
INTERVIEW WITH DAVID HOWARD THORNTON (ART THE CLOWN)
Los Angeles Zombie Girl: Thanks so much for talking to me today! I love your character Art the Clown! How did you get involved with Terrifier?
David Howard Thornton: Pure serendipity really. I was on a 4-month break from waiting tables, I took four months off from my life to do auditions. I was a musical theater actor, and I was auditioning for Broadway tours. I almost got into several of them. But unfortunately, I didn’t get any and I was getting super disgruntled. So, I came across this audition online: ‘Looking for a tall skinny guy, with clowning or physical comedy experience to play Art the Clown’. I was familiar with the character since I had seen him in All Hallows Eve a few years before, and I said, “OMG yes!” So, I contacted my rep, had them submit me, and the rest is history.
LAZG: Did you have a desire to be in horror films?
DHT: I am a horror fan. But no, I never imagined myself being in a horror film, let alone play an evil clown! My acting background is in both comedy and voiceover. I imagined myself in Broadway shows, sitcoms, video games, cartoons, that sort of thing. But this was obviously meant to be, and I can’t complain!
LAZG: What was the best part, and the most challenging part of playing this character?
DHT: The most fun for me was the diner scene. I got to play around a lot in that scene and explore a lot of the aspects of the character of Art. You get to see his playful side and you get to see his creepy side. Then by the end of the scene you see his absolute vicious side, so that was a lot of fun. My biggest challenge was riding the bicycle around. It is a little bike. People think it’s a tricycle. No, no. it’s a tiny bicycle. And there are so many takes of me falling over sideways, or crashing into things, because it’s so hard to steer and ride on the slick floor.
But the most difficult scene was the hacksaw scene. That was a very dangerous stunt. It was the one night on set that we didn’t goof around. I was usually joking around. But that night we were very serious, because it was so dangerous for Catherine who played Dawn. We did our best to make it safe for her. She was so gung-ho about doing it, even though she knew it was going to be uncomfortable. It has become the scene that everybody talks about.
LAZG: How much was practical effects and how much was CG in the film?
DHT: We had a body double obviously to really cut in half, but Catherine was really hanging upside down naked. And it was like 20 degrees in that room that night, so she was really cold. She’s our MVP, I say, of the film!
We have a tiny amount, like 1% CG, and the rest is practical effects. Like at the end when you see the blood trickle out of my eye after I shoot myself, that’s CG. That’s basically the only time it’s used in the film.
LAZG: As an actor, how did you prepare for the character?
DHT: I’ve prepared my entire life for this character. I grew up watching the old silent comedies, especially Keaton, Chaplin and was a big Mr. Bean fan. So I brought a lot of that. And I brought my knowledge of other horror villains in — and just combined all that. It has been a lifelong preparation for this character.
LAZG: Were you surprised that the film has become such a hit?
DHT: All of us that made Terrifier are horror fans ourselves and we just made the movie that we wanted to see. We had no idea it was going to explode like this. We thought we made a fun film, and we hoped it would be successful. But I didn’t expect so much love! I am a realist, and I was very surprised since we are just a small indie film. We had very little mainstream coverage, so the reason we are so successful is due to the fans loving it and spreading the news!
I am blown away and am so grateful to the fans that have made this possible by simply getting the word out. Thanks!!!!
LAZG: So, the rumors about the upcoming Terrifier 2 and 3. How much truth is there? (Note: Terrifier 2 is now officially confirmed by Damien Leone!)
DHT: They’re happening, they’re happening! I have so much more that I want to do with Art’s character, and I can’t wait to don this tiny hat again! (holds up hat) The script is already finished for number two. And right now as we speak, we are trying to secure funding for it. We’d love to have a big studio behind us this time. If not, we’re hoping to get some good investors, or we might have to go to crowd funding. No one has come to us yet. If you are out there listening, we’d love the big studios to come to us! Damien (Leone) would too!
But most importantly we want to keep doing what we did with the original and we want to give the fans what they’ve come to expect from us. We don’t want to pull back. And we’d love to find someone who will give us the proper funding, but also the freedom to keep doing horror the way we want horror to be done. I hate to say it, but a lot of horror films in the last decade have lost what people loved about horror, and they are afraid to take those risks. We want to keep taking risks and pushing the envelope when we can. We need to find someone who will work with us on that.
We want to keep the fans happy, live up to what we did in the first film and then surpass it! Part two is upping the ante, it’s going to be crazy. We have a lot of cool ideas for part three also and the plan is to hopefully make this a trilogy. More after that if we still have stories to tell with Art, but we’ll see.
LAZG: Any other projects in your near future?
DHT: At this point I’m just doing the cons. I’m really enjoying this right now. It’s so much fun and such a great way to meet the fans. I do have a few people throwing some scripts at me now, so we’ll see where those go. Who knows? What can I say, I’m just enjoying the ride. I can’t complain!