Keven Meets the Zombies of THE WALKING DEAD: Part 4
Published: September 29, 2010 - 1:12pm
EXCLUSIVE: Steve Warren is not only hilarious if you ever get a chance to speak with him, but he loves portraying pure evil and scaring people. You can check him out in the upcoming AMC series The Walking Dead where he hopefully does both to viewers.
Warren has played some creepy characters before his stint as a zombie on The Walking Dead. Make sure you take a look out for Scarce, a film in which he stars and like his recent work, eats people.
Keven: Your main claim to fame, as you've said before, is Scarce, where you play one of the two main villains. How was that experience and what's it like playing a cannibal?
Steve: It was a dream come true: my childhood dream of being a movie star! I'd been everything from an extra to second lead in features and the lead in several shorts, but Scarce was my first feature with top billing. I shot for a month in Canada during a record cold winter, and even though I generally prefer a warm climate, I fell in love with the country and its people. I keep hoping to be invited back.
As for playing a cannibal, it's like any other role. You can't take it too seriously or you'll wind up in therapy. It's certainly more fun to play a villain. Most heroes are boring, and Ivan in Scarce has some great lines to deliver that fit my personality so well they could have been written for me. I'm not sure what I actually ate in some of the scenes. I was afraid to ask, especially when the assistant sound men kept disappearing.
I played another kind of cannibal - a cross between a cannibal and a zombie - in a horror comedy called Lynch Mob, which comes out on DVD in the U.S. October 26. It's about a small Southern town that's been under a curse since the Civil War. We can't die and we eat unsuspecting travelers to survive. I don't have a major role but I get killed four or five times.
Keven: You seem like a pretty funny guy, do you prefer comedic work as opposed to the horror genre?
Steve: I like mixing it up. I'm surprised my sense of humor hasn't gotten me killed yet, or at least fired. I'll play serious when I have to but I've had filmmakers let me write my own comic monologues into their scripts. I'd like to do more outright comedy but combining comedy with horror or other genres is fun too.
Warren went on to reveal a couple scenes that he was directly involved in for the upcoming Walking Dead series in which he not only gets to eat a large animal, but also gets a shot at the show's leading actor.
Keven: How many zombies on the show did you play?
Steve: I think I'm in four episodes in the first season. My makeup changes so you may not recognize me from one episode to the next, but that may also be because these zombies deteriorate over time.
Keven: Can you talk about any scenes that you're in and which episode(s) we can expect to catch a glimpse of you so our audience knows to keep an eye out? Can you speak on which scene(s) you were involved in?
Steve: I think everyone's read about the scene where Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) rides into town on a horse and zombies end up eating the horse. Depending on how it's edited you may see me with a mouth full of entrails.
My big individual moment comes when I chase Rick and Glenn (Steven Yuen) up a fire escape ladder. It was 95 degrees and I was sweating too much to grasp the rungs. I couldn't have done it as myself but as a zombie I could. Now I'm proud to say I did my own stunt.
Warren answered his questions after a 17 hour day and although he says he may regret everything that he said, he was not only honest and hilarious, but he was open about his past and current love for films. Warren is also a movie critic and used to be a full-time entertainment journalist, that is, when he's not pretending to kill people on your TV. He was hooked at the age of five after seeing a double feature of Tarzan and a Blondie movie. "I knew then I wanted to be on that screen someday, not swinging through the jungle or eating sandwiches with my family in real life," said Warren.
Keven: Do you have any specific actors/films that may have been an inspiration for you?
Steve:The films that inspired me most would be those that helped shape my political views: antiwar films like Paths of Glory and Dr. Strangelove; I Want to Live set me against capital punishment (although I'm not as firm on that as I used to be). I got my civil rights training more from real life than the movies.
As for actors, I admire a lot of the younger guys - Ryan Gosling, James Franco, Andrew Garfield, etc. - but my current favorites are those in whose more immediate footsteps I'd like to follow: Robert Duvall, Morgan Freeman and Clint Eastwood. I'll never act like Olivier or dance like Astaire, but I can squint like Clint. And let's not forget the women: Meryl Streep, Helen Mirren, and for her lovability, Betty White!
Niceness is inspiring too. Some of the nicest people I've interviewed over the years - and I've done hundreds, thousands even - as an entertainment feature writer (my full-time career before I got into acting) are Lena Horne, Burt Reynolds, George Clooney and Ann-Margret. Vincent Price, who was the King of Horror when I was a kid, was nice too. Robert Mitchum was cool, and decades ahead of the curve on marijuana.
Keven: What was it like working with the incredible make-up crew for the show? Greg Nicotero is one of the best – if not the best in the horror industry right now. Did you get to meet him?
Steve: Greg was my teacher in Zombie School in addition to supervising our makeup and some of our action on the set. He's a cool guy, never showing the incredible stress he must have been under; and I couldn't believe how many of this summer's movies his name showed up in the credits for!
Different people applied my makeup, including Toby Sells and Bill Johnson, two great guys I've worked with before.
Keven: How long and how uncomfortable was it wearing that makeup in the humid weather in Atlanta?
Steve: It was a really hot summer, going up to at least 90 every day I worked. I wore a suit with extra layers of stuff on it to make it look funky, and that bothered me more than the makeup. The worst thing about the makeup was that I was afraid to eat or drink for fear of messing it up. Of course I made an exception for horse entrails.
Keven: Did you work with Frank Darabont closely? If so, what was he like on set and did he give you any tips on how to look or act?
Steve: I didn't have a lot of direct interaction with Frank, but he was more accessible than most directors, especially given the number of extras in some of those scenes. I've worked on a lot of films where assistant directors took care of the extras. I wouldn't have blamed Frank if he'd stayed in an air conditioned tent all day watching video monitors, but he was out in the trenches with us a lot of the time. Of course his Hawaiian shirt was cooler than what we wore, but still...
Frank only directed the pilot. The other director I worked most closely with was Michelle MacLaren (Breaking Bad), who was equally hands-on.
Keven: Where can fans look out for you in the film Zombieland?
Steve: In the DVD extras, which I actually haven't seen yet. I know there are clips from a zombie training video I worked on in pre-production. I was originally cast as the zombie who attacks Mike White in a bathroom stall, but the schedule changed and I had another commitment the day they shot it. They put me in another scene that didn't make the final cut, but maybe they'll use it in Zombieland 2.
Keven: You tried out for Zombieland before The Walking Dead. What has drawn you to playing ghouls as opposed to other jobs in which you're playing someone with a pulse?
Steve: I guess I should say I enjoy scaring people - and there's some truth in that - but the real answer is, God gave me a face for horror. I have to choose from the roles I'm offered - looking at the script, the pay, the director, the locations, the time commitment - and lately a lot of them have been in the horror genre; but I've also played presidents and priests, policemen and homeless men, and a variety of more or less ordinary people.
Keven: What was the most difficult part about playing the undead and in the end what's the one thing you'll take away from this experience that you'll always remember the most?
Steve: Getting in and out of makeup is the most difficult, time-consuming and sometimes painful part. The acting itself isn't so difficult, although I guess not everyone has an aptitude for it.
The best is yet to come, if the series turns out to be anywhere near as awesome as everyone expects it to be; and from what I observed during the filming I don't see how it could miss. The anticipation has been amazing, with websites like yours coming to us for interviews just because we played a small part in it.
Warren also worked on the upcoming cartoon network film Neverfail as a ghoul, along with fellow Walking Dead zombies, Larry Mainland and Christoph Vogt, both of whom you can check out in their interviews right here on The Daily BLAM.
From left to right in this behind the scenes shot from the upcoming Neverfail are Steve Warren, Larry Mainland and Christoph Vogt.
Keven: You're working on a Cartoon network film called NeverFail. Now, this is quite new to me, but what's the story about – if you're allowed to of course talk about it?
Steve: It's a typical story of high school boys, online gaming opponents, who have to band together to save the world from evil.
Keven: What – or Who – do you play in NeverFail and do you know when we can expect the film?
Steve: Duh, I'm part of the evil they save the world from. I'm one of three Ghouls who attack them, but they also face Orcs and other monsters. The latest release date I've seen is November 11, but they'll have to do a lot of FX work really fast to make that.
It's live-action, like another Cartoon Network movie I worked on, Ben 10: Alien Swarm. There will be plenty of CG effects. I can't wait to see how my final scene turns out. I shot it in front of a green screen so anything can happen.
Warren wrapped up his interview with some great advice for the new generation of actors and actresses who are trying to break into the hardcore world of the entertainment industry even though he admitted earlier this is the only thing he would do even if he couldn't.
Keven: When you're not acting, what do you do? What would you be doing if acting became illegal?
Steve: If acting became illegal...it wouldn't be the first law I've broken. When I'm not acting I'm looking for work and getting depressed if I don't have anything else lined up. I still do journalism work too, mostly reviewing movies.
Keven: Do you have any advice for aspiring actors/actresses?
Steve: The usual: Don't do it unless you really have to. You've got a better chance of winning the lottery than becoming the next megastar, if that's what you're after. Do it because you enjoy the work, the process, watching a movie come together; and let whatever happens happen.
The unusual: It's never too late. I meet people all the time who started working as extras when they retired from their careers. That's enough for some of them while others get bitten by the acting bug and pursue it further. I was in my 40s when I started doing extra work and didn't start playing speaking roles regularly until ten years later. When I was younger I wouldn't have had the patience for all the waiting around you do on set, and I couldn't have dealt with the rejection even the best actors face on a daily basis. Also, I think I had to grow comfortable in my own skin before I started putting on other people's.
Check out Steve Warren's Facebook page here and watch out for him in AMC's upcoming zombie apocalypse saga, The Walking Dead, debuting this Halloween.