Vernon Wells is an Australian actor who is very active in the independent film world, lending his talent to a smorgasbord of inventive and off-the-wall films. At Carolina Fear Fest back in May, I was lucky enough to get to talk with him about some of his many upcoming projects and the types of films he loves.
Emma Gilbert: It looks like you’ve got a lot cooking in means of different roles, are there any ones you’ve been especially excited about?
Vernon Wells: Uh, yeah! There’s a couple. There’s one, which I’ve finished, which is coming out, called Jack Be Nimble. […] I actually play an older version of Jack and the Beanstalk who is now in an old peoples’ home and has forgotten that he was Jack and the Beanstalk. And we have to find a demon, who sits just there in that chair [he points to Bai Ling’s booth next to him]. And that’s a really cool film. And I’m doing one in September, which is called Geek, which is a kids movie about five kids that find this little alien robot that’s been sent to earth to sus out what’s going on [there] and whether they should take it and all this kind of stuff. But he crash lands […] And I play this scrap dealer who’s obsessed with the fact there’s aliens coming! And I actually get an alien, and I have no idea what to do with it. But in the finish, I kind of give it back to the kids to fix it and let it go back to its mothership. It’s just a fun kids’ story. And there’s a couple of others which are back in my action-adventure realm, one in Australia […] And I believe another one which I love called Ghost Light, which is a love story. I play a lawyer. It’s basically about an actress from Hollywood who is in her late 40s who can’t get roles because she’s a drunkard and she’s into drugs. So she buys an old [place] way up in Cincinnati to get away and try to get her life back together. And she has no intention of doing anything, just getting […] the hell out of dodge. [She] discovers there’s a ghost in [the house] […] and [he] is there because he never got to tell the woman he loved goodbye before he was accidentally killed by a falling light. So, the story’s about her getting to know him and trying to figure out who the person he was so in love with [was], and trying to get [them] together, and figures out that it was a lady she worked with […] And at the end, they get back together. So that’s kind of a really cool, y’know, soppy one.
EG: Yeah, that sounds nice! […] So, you’ve done a lot of different stuff in your career. What are some of your favorite types of roles to portray?
Wells: The ones I get paid for […] They’re the best, they’re great, those are really cool. Um… I really don’t have favorite types, I have favorite characters. […] [Like] the film they [Jaysen Buterin and Mad Ones Films] premiered last night, Kill Giggles. I did that because I loved the character and I loved the idea of the story, not because of the genre. It was more because of the substance of what it was, which is how I base my choices. I don’t look at it and go, “Oh, it’s an action-adventure,” “oh, it’s a sci-fi,” “oh, it’s a horror movie”—I don’t care! As long as the role and the character appeal to me, then I do it.
EG: You’ve been in some movies that have some very strange, outlandish themes. What are your thoughts on, like, super peculiar ideas being made into films?
Wells: I think it’s great if people think outside the box. Y’know, the biggest problem I have with Hollywood and filmmakers is that nobody seems to be able to think for themselves. Like […] if somebody does a movie that becomes really big, really makes a lot of money, suddenly everybody’s doing a version of that movie because they’re not prepared to actually put the time into coming up with a concept that’s different. So, I love it when people [make movies like] Kill Giggles.
EG: Yes, I was at the Kill Giggles screening last night, I thought it was wonderful.
Wells: Yeah, it’s just…outta the box! It’s just so different.
EG: Yeah, there’s so much creative freedom there, and it’s just so cool to see those things brought to life.
Wells: Yeah! And that’s what I love. I love it when people think about what they’re doing. And whether it’s a little budget or [something] major, just do something that’s different.
EG: Yeah, absolutely. I have just one more; what is one of your favorite horror movies of all time?
Wells: I watch a lot of Chinese and Japanese movies because I love what they do. The original—I can’t think of the name of it for the life of me—the original [Chinese] movie where if you sat in front of the television and you watched…the thing, then you’d get possessed. And then they did an American [version] that ruined the whole content. I think that was one of the better films that I really, really like. And there’s a Korean film called Oldboy. The original Korean film is just one of the most amazing films. And the other side of that is […] The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I love the Swedish version of it, and the other two that went with it. I thought they were just unbelievable, and they’re in that realm of horror and science fiction, however, you wanna take it, because they’re so twisted in their own way that you don’t get a, “oh, this is a ‘that’ movie.” […] And I always hate the fact that they take them and do a remake, and then they forget what made the original so good. One thing that made the original of [The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo] so good was her killing the guy that rapes her, and you understand why, and you accept it. In the remake, they made that look like she was a murderer, that she didn’t really have a reason to kill. And I think that ruined the whole movie, because suddenly her character [was] tainted, whereas in the original, her character was a very strong female who went through hell, and this was, like, the final straw. And she retaliated and you were yelling “YES!! Do it!” So, um, I love that stuff. That’s me.
I truly love talking to people who are passionate about the small films, the ones that are unrestrained and unconfined and can really go all out without a care in the world. It’s all well and good to prefer movies that tend to get branded as “sophisticated,” but that stance so often comes at the expense of the more quirky features. I know I wrote such a statement in one of my first published interviews, but it bears repeating that it’s refreshing to have conversations that are celebratory of more zany ideas rather than treating them as jokes. I’m glad there are so many actors like Mr. Wells out there putting in the effort to get these movies out there, and giving them the respect they deserve.
For more great interviews, check out the following: