I got the chance to talk with the fantastic actor Richard Brake about his role in the the hotly anticipated new film from director Rob Zombie, 3 From Hell. 3 From Hell is the third outing of the Firefly clan in the series that began with House of 1000 Corpses, followed by The Devil’s Rejects. The third film is just as gory and wild as you would imagine for this series. Richard Brake talks all about it here. Tickets for the September 16th/17th/18th nationwide release of 3 FROM HELL are available at FathomEvents.com/3FromHell
3 From Hell marks your third collaboration with Rob Zombie. What keeps you coming back to work for him? And how did you get involved in this film?
What keeps me coming back is the fact that Rob is a creative genius — uhm, without doubt [he’s] my favorite director to with. I absolutely adore him. He’s, he’s incredible. And uhm, [he’s] just like a creative force of nature, unlike anyone I’ve come across, to be honest. So uhm, anytime he calls, I’m ready. I absolutely love working with him. Uhm, I’ve enjoyed every time and hopefully there’ll be many more. Uhm, and how I came into this project is the same as with 31 — what I love about Rob is — you know, I won’t hear him for a little while, he’s off touring and I’m off filming different projects and one day, the phone will go BING and there’ll be a message from Rob saying, “Hey man, so like, what are you doing in 3 months time,”or “What are you doing in June,” or whenever it might be with these planning of the next projects, and uh, inevitably, I write back, “Absolutely nothing, if you got something in mind,” because like I said, I just absolutely love working with him. That’s how this project came about, I got one of them BINGS from Rob. And uh, we spoke on the phone and he told me what the project was, and of course, I was beyond excited because I loved the other two films. Uhm, the game before in the series and when he told me the characters, I was even more excited. Amazing, AMAZING characters he’s created for me. So uhm, that’s how that came about.
Was there any anxiety about joining an established and beloved horror franchise like this? Was there any feeling like the new kid in school?
Uhm, none whatsoever. Uhm, I was uh — the only feeling I had was just pure joy and excitement and anticipation to get started. I love working with not just Rob, but Sheri as well, she’s a fantastic actor. And I was excited to work with Bill because I hadn’t worked with him before, but I knew his work close and uhm, you know, the idea of doing a film with the two of them, and of course, Jeff Daniel Phillips is a close friend, another brilliant actor. And Pancho, and you know, all these other people who did the work before, or the huge fans of, including Richard Edson, who I love the work he’s done in the past. I was just incredibly excited to be a part of it.
3 From Hell is a more playful film than The Devil’s Rejects. How did you guys walk the line between playfulness and horror when shooting the film?
I think that comes a lot down to how great a writer Rob is. I think he’s often underestimated as a writer. Uhm, he really — he just has a natural instinct to create characters and get tone right from the script level on up to the filming, and editing, and everything. So that really again, really comes right down to Rob. I think it’s instinctive with him, uhm, the way he approaches things. I mean, that’s just my feeling. ‘Cuz he just really just gets it right. So that real sense of tone between playfulness and horror is really unique to Rob. I don’t think it’s just in this film, I see it in other things as well, I think 31 has really funny moments and I think that’s one of his darkest. And the same with Devils Rejects and of course, definitely with Houses. Uhm, yeah.
That said, there is still a lot of gore and brutality that the fans come to expect in the film. Was there anything that was “too much” for you while you were making the film?
No (laughs). — Uhm, no, I never had that feeling. It was always like more more more, how can we make it even MORE disturbing. It’s just great fun. One of the things I remember when we were shooting, one of the most brutal parts of the film (it was about halfway through the shoot) and all kinds of chaos, madness, mayhem and brutality was going on. And I looked around and realized, both Rob and Sheri were staunt vegans and I’m a vegetarian (I can’t seem to give up the cheese just yet). And Bill and I were long time sober people and uh, Jeff Daniel Phillips has got to be one of the sweetest, biggest-hearted people I know, and I just laughed because we’re making this incredibly dark, brutal film, and it’s being made by some of the loveliest and most gentlest people I know. I think there’s something to be said in that. I think you can’t go into that darkness freely unless you’re very very comfortable with who you are as a person and I think that says a lot about Rob and Sheri and everyone else who’s involved in Rob’s films. So uh, no, I don’t think of any point we would think, oh that’s too much.
You play a not very nice guy in the film (laughs). Did you study any mass murderers or anyone like that before diving into your role as the Midnight Wolfman?
Uhm, I’ve just played many characters like this so I’ve done a lot of studying of these types of characters. And they vary really, some are VERY sociopathic. I played a serial killer in a TV series that’s coming out in the near future. I did a lot of research at the time on very special serial killers like Ted Bundy. Loads of them actually. So, I’ve done a lot of research in the past. And Foxy’s his own kind of manic. He has aspects of that, but he also has a very unique outlook of the world and uh, unique vision for the future for himself and those he loves. So, I’m molded in more on what was on the page from Rob, and as we develop the characters throughout shooting, he kind of found his own voice, which I fell in love with. In fact, so much so, months after filming, my girlfriend would sometimes say to me, “Alright, put Foxy away,” because he would sneak out in the midst of some conversation. Or something would be going on and Foxy would appear. I couldn’t keep him under the bed, I loved it so much (laughs).
How much wiggle room do you have on set to improv, or is the script strictly adhered to?
Uhm, Rob’s very — he encourages improv, very much. But it depends,with Doomhead, there was very little need to really — desire to improve. He was written in such as specific way, Rob had written an amazing character, that was so very controlled and rigid that it was there on every word. So improvisation didn’t really lend itself to that character. However, with Foxy, he’s much looser and uh, [he’s] a very different human being. And I found improvisation was very very helpful with him and we had a lot of fun doing that. Rob always films what was written first, so we always have THAT version. And then, what I love is, he’d come up afterwards and say, “Okay now try this” and have all these crazy ideas to give to me, then walk up the camera and say, “ACTION.” uhm, and i have about 4 seconds to pull myself together and then have to walk over to Bill or Sheri or whoever I was working with in that scene and have to improvise some madness Rob had inspired to me, and that was a lot of fun to do as an actor and I think through that, we really found some assets of Foxy’s character that developed throughout the shooting. Yeah, so there was quite a lot of wiggle room, as you put it, this time. And Rob, really encouraged it, and enjoyed it
Did you and any of the other cast members of the Firefly family get any time to bond before shooting? You interactions feel very familial and you all have great chemistry together.
I’m really pleased to hear that you felt the chemistry, I really felt it when we were shooting. Uhm, great bond. I loved it. I think it may have been the most fun I’ve ever had shooting a film, second only to 31 (laughs). and I can’t even tell you which of those two I enjoyed more. They’re both had their incredible moment, I love both of those experiences. And the big part of the enjoyment was between Sheri, Bill, and I throughout the shoot. And you never really know when you shoot if that chemistry is going to appear on the actual film. You can feel it but it doesn’t mean that transports onto the celluloid or whatever the hell we use today. So it was great you said that, I’ve heard that from a few other people as well. So I’m really excited to see how going to play to the fans. Uhm. We didn’t actually have time to bond, I love Sheri, she’s like a sister, she’s an amazing woman and so I knew her well before shooting. Uhm, my favorite parts of 31 is the work I do with her, especially the end. She was so amazing and that’s really why it worked — the whole last section of the film. But with Bill, I hadn’t and actually, I was shooting another movie prior to this in Europe and I literally flew home, got to London, where I live, changed my pants and underwear and got a plane and came to LA and began shooting pretty much right away. So there wasn’t a lot of [time], that shows how quickly we got gelled, from the moment we shot our first scene. I remember everything just clicked. And that also shows how great the cast is, he casts his film so well. And he knows his actors so well and creates an environment that’s so open and free for everyone. That kind of magic happens.
Do you see a continuation past his film for these characters? Has there been any discussion of another sequel?
No, no that’s all in the mind of Rob Zombie. Who knows. People often ask, “will there be a sequel to 31, I want to know what happens at the end” and I say, “it’s all up to Rob”. I mean, he has so many different projects he works on, he’s like a modern renaissance man. He just does so many different artistic things that uhm, who knows. One day, he’ll get an idea potentially for 31 sequel or something that does with this, and then BING, my phone will go off, and hopefully I get a message that says, “Hey, what are you doing in a few months time.” Who knows. Well have to wait and see what the future has in store in the mind of Rob Zombie.
What’s up next for you?
Uhm, just busy as always. I’d like to say I’m a pop-up actor, I pop up. I usually do something bad and something bad happens to me. I have a lot of projects coming out this year. I did a film called “Perfect Skin,” which I was very proud of. It’s now on DVD and VOD. Like I said, I have a lot of projects. I’m shooting Brave New World at the moment every year in England, which is a TV Series. So tons and tons. Here and there. Popping in.
Tickets for the September 16th/17th/18th nationwide release of 3 FROM HELL are available at FathomEvents.com/3FromHell