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Nerdlocker Interview: Thomas Dekker

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Have you ever been afraid of something that it has affected your life? Have you been afraid to turn the lights off late at night, feared tight knit areas or been afraid of heights? Most of you will probably answer yes and are indeed a human being. Phobias and fears are those traumatizing visions that play endlessly in our minds that never seem to disappear. Some go away over time and some linger until it can bring that person to the brink of insanity.

So how or what could turn these fears off for good? Fear Clinic answers a lot of these questions with a revitalizing concept that was started in the web series back in 2009. We pick up with Dr. Andover (Robert Englund) and his haven of curing phobias that we hold deep inside, the Fear Clinic! The good doctor has had a successful run with his own practice and with his invention, the Fear Chamber. Deep in the dark and musty basement sits the coffin-like chamber that awaits patients. The chamber is only operated by the doctor, himself and is designed to cleanse all of the fears away. With a pretty promising track record for the past twenty years, the chamber finally has a hiccup and leaves a patient dead. This fatality compromises the future of the clinic, Dr. Andover’s reputation, and his sanity. As former patients start to show up to the clinic after their fears are surfacing again, Dr. Andover is in no shape or mindset to help anyone else out. As the patients start to share the same haunting memory of a café shooting, the audience soon realizes these characters are connected.

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Fiona Dourif, Angelina Armani, Corey Taylor and Thomas Dekker bring a realistic and convincing performance that will make their fears becomes your reality. Throughout the rest of the film, each character must battle their own dread and overcome the Fear Chamber that opens a portal to something more menacing than anyone could ever imagine; pure evil. This entity transforms one of the characters into a creature that closely resembles John Carpenter’s The Thing mixed with a ghostly apparition. The monster injects a black, liquid residue, which infects the patients like when an octopus squirts ink at a sea serpent. But the stand out performance of the film was Blake’s (Thomas Dekker) character, which portrays a gunshot wound survivor that has more issues than meets the eye. From his first introduction to the final sequence of the film, the audience feels a sense of pity for his character and that he needs more professional help than a Fear Chamber can supply.

Fear Clinic was a superb and authentic take on the phobias that humans must face in the real world every day. The sets were on point, the acting was top notch, and the premise grabbed me before this film was ever released. Newer horror films tend to fail on originality these days, but the director, Robert Hall provides an imprint on the genre once again with his newest cinematic concoction.

I briefly spoke with the star of the film today, Thomas Dekker, about his acting career, current projects and life outside of acting. You may have seen him in such Fox shows as Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles or the new hit series, Backstrom. You may think he’s a new kid on the block, but he has been in the TV/Film business for over twenty-two years. He is a former Las Vegas resident like myself and had some stories to share about living under the glimmering lights of Sin City. But it’s not a bad thing, his upbringing in this environment fueled his passion for many mediums of film, music and art. It was my pleasure speaking with Thomas about his role in Fear Clinic and am looking forward to all of his future work in the entertainment industry.

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Nerdlocker (NL): How did you get involved with this project?

Thomas Dekker (TD): My involvement with the project came about with the director, Rob Hall, and this is our third feature together. Rob and I have been friends since I was nineteen and also collaborated on video art that I have directed and he has directed. Basically, he wrote the character Blake for me, and he wanted me to be in the web series, but I was shooting something else, so I couldn’t do it. I had December free thankfully and was able to jump on board with this film.

(NL): You were in the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street film back in 2010. Although he wasn’t in the remake, Robert Englund is obviously most famous for being Freddy Krueger. What was it like working side by side with such an iconic actor in this genre?

TD: I will tell you this, obviously, he’s legendary and known for Freddy Krueger, and I love the Nightmare on Elm Street films. The great thing about Robert is that he is a brilliantly trained, passionate and caring actor that you forget after a few minutes of talking with him, he’s Freddy Krueger. I felt like I was working with a kind and supportive actor and he is a living Wikipedia for art, music, films, actors, etc. He is all around a great person and fun to work with.

(NL): As an actor, what is your process when going into a film, especially a horror film like this?

TD: Usually, for me I spend a lot of time on that story and figuring things out for that character. But for Fear Clinic, when you have a really close working relationship with the director, you have an unspoken language. We both had a very shared perception of the Blake character and what his role was in the film. Since I know Rob, I knew the overall tone and feel of the movie. In past projects, I wrote the score, and with this project it was a collaborative process where two friends make a movie. The weirdest thing about Fear Clinic was that it was Rob’s highest budgeted movie and I am use to scrounging around to put the movie together. When we got to Ohio, we arrived to a massive set and crew that was overwhelming in a great kind of way.

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(NL): You play Blake in this film and are confined in a wheelchair after a shooting, was it difficult to play a character like this?

TD: It was challenging and as an actor when you sit there, react and listen. I also love when an actor who plays an arc, where you start out one way and you end a different way was a thrilling experience. The brain damage and physicality was worked on with Rob and myself and was great to play five characters wrapped into one.

(NL): This film has a tremendous line up with Robert, Fiona Dourif, Angelina Armani and Corey Taylor from Slipknot/Stonesour. How was it filming with these actors? Did you guys have fun with the Fear Chamber when you weren’t shooting?

TD: I have known Angelina for sometime and met Robert Englund once and I knew he was a fan of my show, The Sarah Connor Chronicles and had been very complimentary of my casting in the Nightmare on Elm Street re-make. He and I had spoken about working together in the future, so that was a thrill, even though we didn’t have many scenes together. The few scenes we did have together was fun and had to play with the characters. I never met Fiona Dourif before, but we hit it off and I love that girl to death. It was a very segregated experience because I have worked with Rob so much, we had joining hotel rooms, and was very team oriented experience. But it was a typical, horror film shoot, which is why I love doing them. We were in Ohio in December freezing our asses off playing with these crazy characters and had a great time doing it. Ironically, my personal phobia is claustrophobia, so I fucking hated that chamber. That one scene where I am in the chamber was the most unpleasant scene that I shot, because you can open it up from inside, but the door was extremely heavy. So I was basically trapped in this coffin and didn’t take too kindly to that, but after a few shots of whiskey, I powered through the scene. You could see the fear in my eyes and overall it was very unpleasant.

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(NL): You have had quite the career starting as a child into your adult years from television to movies. What made you try different mediums?

TD: I have always done TV and films side by side for almost twenty-two years and did not expect that. At the age of seventeen, I just wanted the normal life and work at a record store. But that didn’t pan out and got suckered back into acting. They’re really different experiences and what it really comes down to is the character, the people you are working with and how well written it is. When I finished the second season of The Sarah Connor Chronicles, I was offered three leads in three major studio movies that I didn’t take because I didn’t think they were good. Instead, I took a 500,000-budgeted movie in San Francisco that was directed by a drag queen with Natasha Leone and Elvira. This was my type of movie and other than a few times, I either took the movie because I needed the money or I thought it was the smart thing to do. For the most part, I like to take parts that are interesting and just aired the second episode of Backstrom on Fox. It’s a rare occasion, where it’s a massive TV show that brought an interesting part and a great group of people together. That’s what matters to me, why I continue to work with Rob and do these crazy movies. Also, I am a very genre nerd myself, there are so many movies I hate and don’t want to be a part of as much as I can, but also have to make a living. I want to be that selfish artist that only works on projects that interest me.

(NL): You are starring in the new hit show on Fox, Backstrom, starring alongside Rainn Wilson. How is it working with Dwight Schrute and are you done filming the first season?

TD: The ultimate joke on set with Rainn is that I have never watched The Office. Somehow I live under a rock and don’t have a TV, so he punishes me because I have never seen his work in the show. We bonded immediately and the crew have asked us how long we have been working on our on-screen chemistry and the answer is none. We just hit it off from the beginning and you will see as the Backstrom show progresses, our relationship and character arc together. We are horrendously cruel to one another each day on set, but we really do it out of love and friendship. I would be happy to be on this show for many seasons, because it’s unheard of for actors to collaborate with studio executives, but we do that and it’s a great group of people.

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(NL): You lived in Las Vegas. Did the Vegas lifestyle shape you personally or as an actor? I lived in Vegas for three years and was an experience to say the least.

TD: It absolutely shaped me and I have been developing a screenplay for a few years called My Vegas. It’s set in Las Vegas and never stepping foot on the Strip. I think it’s a very interesting place with this small desert town surrounding this epically famous street of bad behavior. It’s the joke that how could people grow up in Vegas, but people do. I think it is a bit of growing up in a fantasyland and I also had two very eccentric parents that helped with the bizarre upbringing.

(NL): Besides acting, you are also a musician. Do you ever tour with your bands? And any new music in the works?

TD: I do and work under the name, Zero times Zero. My first album was released in 2009 under my own name and basically I started collaborating with artists of all mediums and ended up in the same tone, which is industrial dark-toned music. We have this collective project and I am in charge of the music end of it. We have a music video coming out in a couple of weeks before the record comes out and I was not involved in it. The artists from Texas threw it together and what I wanted it to be. We have a done a bunch of concerts and when this album drops and after we sign with the record label, hopefully it will grow and we can tour. The shows are harder to put on because there is a lot of multimedia, video images and electronic music. So it’s harder to coordinate compared to bands that pack up their gear and play at a bar. Until we get more recognition, we will be playing shows until there is a larger fan base.

(NL): Do you have any films or TV shows in the works for 2015?

TD: I have Backstrom on Fox and have a film premiering this Friday that I am very proud of. We showed the movie at SXSW and is called Enter the Dangerous Mind with Nikki Reed, Jason Priestly and Scott Bakula which is a dark and intense thriller based on a schizophrenic dub step musician. We finally get a theatrical run for it and highly recommend it. Last, I am directing my first budgeted feature called If Only I Could in May.

Special thanks to Thomas Dekker for taking the time to sit down with us. We’re really excited to for Fear Clinic as well as all of his upcoming projects.

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For the movie itself, I am giving Fear Clinic a 4 out of 5 Nerd Skulls.

Check out the trailer below:

Fear Clinic was released on DVD and VOD on February 10th, 2015.

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I have been a horror fan since the age of two with the introduction of Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors on the old VHS tape. Ever since then, I have seen most movies in the horror genre at least twice and surrounded my home with a plethora of slasher memorabilia, movies, and comics. I am a musician, artist, student, tattoo enthusiast, traveler, and IT professional solving all of your technological issues one floppy disk at a time. If John Carpenter, Martin Scorsese and Pat Benatar were to have a ginger kid together, it would look something like me. Oh yeah, you may run into me in downtown Vegas checking out the local scene, watching any Chicago sports that are on, or writing my latest Nerdlocker review while enjoying a frothy beverage at a local coffee shop. I am looking forward to being doused with the buzzing spectacle of the nerd community for many years to come.