Yesterday we brought you our interview with stuntman turned horror icon Nick King, who plays the creepy Bughuul in the Sinister film series. Today we bring you our interview with the man behind the other original character returning for Sinister 2, James Ransone, better known to Sinister fans as Deputy So & So.
Ransone, who in the first film was credited simply as ‘Deputy’, gets a longer title as well as tackling the challenge of leading the second story as he steps into the shoes vacated by indie legend Ethan Hawke. First time around his Deputy was on hand to help stop Hawke’s true-writer Ellison Oswalt from going insane at the hands of the monstrous Bughuul. Those that have seen the first film will know that sadly things don’t quite work out for Oswalt and the sequel sees the Ransone’s Deputy, now ‘Ex-Deputy So & So’ trying to track down Bughuul and his entourage, hoping to stop his circle of violence once and for all.
Horror sequels are hard, we spoke to James about how he evolved his character to make him more of a leading man, what a change of director brought and just how difficult it is to work with children. We also took the chance to find out how Ti West‘s new movie In a Valley of Violence is coming along.
How did you come to play Deputy So and So?
They sent me the script and then the person who cast it Shelia Jaffe, I’ve known for a long time. I put myself on tape in LA and Scott [Derrickson] watched it and we then we met on Skype and he hired me over Skype. I flew to New York and we shot the first film.
And how was it that you came back?
Well I was in the first one, and I was the only surviving character that could press the plot forward. So it feels like necessity is the mother of invention.
What is it about So & So that you like, what made you want to play him?
Honestly it wasn’t even about the character because when they sent me the original audition pages they were like nine and a half pages long, of just one scene. Just two people talking and that’s just always going to be more fun to do as an actor because you get to make a lot more choices. Acting’s pretty some of brainless work, ‘stand there, look scared’, so whenever you’re given the chance to flesh it out a little bit more is really exciting. Nine pages of dialogue, you don’t get that everyday.
How has the character changed between the two films?
I think it has to fit into a mythological structure in terms of how stories are told to begin with. So he goes from being a clown / the voice of the audience to trying to transition into the lead role and it’s hard to do. You have to retain all the original stuff that was there but then add this other dimension. I honestly tried to make him as much like Charlie Chaplin‘s The Tramp character as much as I could. I used that because it was the best reference for a sad clown that is also the lead.
The two films are very different story and tonally, what do you think that Ciarán [Foy] added?
Their takes are different but complimentary. Ciarán’s first movie [Citadel] is scary, but its more psychological than it is metaphysical. He wasn’t worried about the scary elements, I mean you should be because it’s a horror story, but if we make the audience care about the characters first then the scarier stuff will be taken higher.
There’s a lot of children in the movie, how did you find working with them?
They were great. The only thing that was difficult is that when you work with kids there’s all these union laws, there’s like five hour days and we have to shoot around them. (Jokes) I’m a huge advocate for child labour (laughs). All my clothes are produced in sweatshops, so I was against that (laughs). But seriously they were really sweet, super easy. It can be a gamble sometimes because you don’t know if… they’re kids you don’t know they could be crazy.
Bughuul is one of the more recent horror icons along with the likes of Billy the Puppet and Annabelle, which horror villain was your favourite growing up?
Whose my favourite? When your growing up I don’t know if I had a favourite as much as are you asking my whose my favourite, or who scared me the most?
I guess they are interchangeable.
Well I don’t know about that because in the Nightmare on Elm Street movies they get funnier as they go on so you end up rooting for Freddy Krueger. I’d say when I was a kid it was probably Freddy Krueger, but it wasn’t so much being scared of him as much as I thought…he’s like a punk rock horror villain in the sense that he’s the anti-hero at a certain point in the franchise. You want him to succeed. I think around the third one you’re like ‘this dude is the shit! Fuck these kids, they’re assholes, they should be killed anyway!’
And then they made Freddy Vs Jason and you didn’t even register the kids as characters…
Isn’t that how awesome movies are these days, like it so doesn’t matter.
Who would you team Bughuul up with?
I don’t know, I’m an absurdest so I would think like Meg Ryan‘s character from Sleepless in Seattle. That would be funny. I don’t know who that would appeal to…
Which ‘kill film’ within the series unsettles you the most?
Shit I don’t know. It’s been a while since I’ve seen them, maybe the one with the car from the first film?
They’re all pretty grim, in essence they are a video of children murdering their families…
That’s what’s weird. I always look at things through a weird sociological lens, so I’m like ‘are people affected by this?’ because we’ve become so desensitized to violence that you can just watch a you tube video of – I mean Jesus the shooting yesterday they had pictures of dead bodies on the road. That’s what scares people about snuff films, it’s not the content themselves that’s so scary but just that we’ve become so desensitized.
If there’s a Sinister 3, are you coming back?
Dude you are asking the last person who would ever know that! I have no idea, it depends on how much they want to give me (laughs).
You’ve recently been working with Ti West on In a Valley of Violence, what can you tell us about that?
I saw a cut of it a couple of weeks ago and its funny and violent and idiosyncratic and weird. I think it’s his best work. I think his fans will super appreciate it because he is growing in the direction you’d hope or expect him to grow. I think whatever left turn he made when he made The Sacrament in terms of its realism, I think he went back to cinematic mythology. I think he realised he works better when he’s using cinema as a classic art form to tell the stories he wants to tell. I’m pretty excited about that.
And the film sees you star alongside John Travolta.
Yes! He was great, he played my dad. He’s the type of famous where I can’t even wrap my head around it. The entire world knows who he is. That’s a level of fame that doesn’t really exist any more which is kinda incredible.
See James Ransone step into Ethan Hawke’s shoes in Sinister 2, which is out to buy now on Blu-Ray and DVD.