I recently got the chance to talk to Dean Armstrong about his role in ‘Wrong Turn 4’. Here, Dean talks about what it was like working with the cast and crew on-set and about his stint in the ‘Saw’ franchise…
Hey Dean. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me about your new film, ‘Wrong Turn 4’.
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
I’ve always referenced the ‘Wrong Turn’ installments as ‘Deliverance’ on crack. The plotline in ‘WT4’ is, well, consistent, with the rest: beware the fucked up cannibal hill-billys — ‘cause, well, they’ll kill you and then eat you — or, eat you and then kill you…believe me, I know from experience. The difference with this particular installment is that it predates the original film; providing access to where it all began. What’s cooler than having access to the lives of cannibal hill-billy’s? Obviously the same access to cannibal hilly-billy children.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
If you’ve ever found yourself frustrated by the retarded decisions made by the characters in horror films that inevitably lead to those same characters’ deaths — well, then, you might appreciate the efforts of my character to steer the group away from peril. Daniel is pragmatic, observant and level-headed — a med student and the oldest of the group. Unfortunately, his end is the same as everyone else. Clearly it doesn’t matter if you are smart or not – as ‘WT4’ will prove, you can’t outsmart the company you keep.
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
Well, it is no secret that I am a little older than my other cast mates. Apparently the casting team was having a difficult time finding someone who was able to sell Daniel’s death scene — I was then brought in to the second round of auditions for consideration. I’ve got a bit of a representation for ‘dying well’ — 8 times between 2011 and 2012, in fact. I guess they liked what I did – and I kinda like dying in cruel and unusual ways…
How would you say this film is different and unique?
It’s not really. Audiences will get what they expect: gratuitous blood, guts, nudity and a little tongue in cheek humor. The film doesn’t take itself seriously – you have to understand that going in to it. There is a pretty hot dyke scene – has that been done before in this genre? Not sure…
The film stars Sean Skene, Blane Cypurda, Dan Skene, Tristan Carlucci, Scott Johnson, Bryan Verot and your good self – with Declan O‘Brien onboard as director – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set? Any good anecdotes?
A lot of new actors in this film – it made for an interesting dynamic. The cast definitely bonded pretty quickly – in part due to the isolation of our shooting location in Brandon, Manitoba. In the spirit of the film, there weren’t many options but to promote and participate in a form of inbreeding. In all honesty, both Kaitlyn Wong (now Lieb) and Jenny Pudavick have become two of my closest girl friends. I’m grateful for that. As far as Declan is concerned, he’s really good at what he does and he has a sense of humor. He knows what he wants – he tells you when it works and when it doesn’t. I would welcome any opportunity to work with him again.
Let’s talk a bit about you Dean. What made you want to get into the industry in the first place?
In the words of Lady Gaga, ‘‘I Was Born That Way’’????? Yeah, that was pretty lame. But truthfully, it’s kinda like that. I got in to the industry pretty late, after many years of post secondary education. I originally went to University to pursue Environmental Law. I never finished that – but I did complete an honors degree in Theater Arts and a degree in Education. Everyone told me that I was too old by the time I graduated – that the industry was too competitive. I’ve been very lucky. The industry has been kind to me. I really like what I do and fortunately, people pay me to do it.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to pursue a career in the industry?
Expect nothing and you may, in fact, get everything. It’s a really tough industry, but there is always room for great talent.
You’ve been in a number of different films and TV series – which actors/actresses have been your favourites to work with and why? Any good stories?
Cary Elwes. Cary and I met shooting ‘Saw 3D’. At the time, I was a soon to be a father. Actually my daughter was born during the middle of the shoot – the producers were very accommodating of my unpredictable schedule. My daughter Ryan Kiera, born March 10, 2010, was the youngest ever to spend time on the set of ‘Saw’. I believe she was 4 days old. It was pretty cool. To make a long story short, Cary and I bonded over being new fathers. He gave me some pretty great advice. I’ve got a lot of respect for his ability to sustain a balance between being an actor and dad. He is truly inspiring – that, and we share a pretty similar sense of humor. He remains a dear friend to date.
We should probably mention that you’re also an acting coach on film and TV sets in the industry, and have been for a number of years. For anyone not in the know, what does this job consist of, and what made you want to get into this part of the industry?
Yeah, I’ve been coaching actors in film and TV for close to 16 years. I’ve had a decent track record of launching some pretty cool careers – so, it’s been a huge part of my life and celebration of talent and the industry. Truthfully, I would rather not elaborate much more than that, as I try to keep both my acting and teaching worlds as far apart as I can. It would be a different interview. 😉
We should also mention that in one of your roles, you got ‘hung’ – (‘Saw 3D’). If I remember correctly you played the part of Bobby Dagen’s publicist – what was it like working on that film?
‘Saw’ was awesome. I mean, it’s ‘Saw’ – I’ve been a fan since its inception. I had auditioned for at least two of the preceding films without result. I was grateful that I finally made it into the franchise – just under the wire – a wire that I eventually got hung by.
If you could have dinner with three guests – (living or dead), who would you choose and why?
Wow. My sister for one, as I believe that she gave her life for me (that’s a long one). She passed at 16 back in 1975. My daughter, for the aforementioned reason, and Bob Proctor – that guy helped define the way I think today.
What’s coming up for you in 2012?
I’ve got a film that’s just came out called ‘Hiding’ – playing a hired killer within a storyline similar to that of ‘Witness’, circa 1985 with Harrison Ford. The character is a total chameleon, so it was like playing four different characters in the same movie. I’m really happy with my work. Other than that, TV audiences can see me in the last couple of episodes of ‘Flashpoint’ this fall.
Thanks for the interview!