Doug Bradley has scared the crap out of you for decades, but you probably wouldn't recognize him in person. You'd have to cover his face in white makeup and drive pins in his skull to get the full effect, since he played the otherworldly Pinhead in all but one of the Hellraiser movies. Now he joins another horror franchise as Maynard, the previously unseen puppet master behind the psychotic cannibal rednecks in Wrong Turn 5, on DVD and Blu-ray today. Bradley joined me via phone to talk about his new horrifying creation, the strange appeal of the "psycho hillbilly" subgenre, and Nightbreed: The Cabal Cut, which is restoring the mangled theatrical version of Barker's most ambitious film and just may include Bradley's actual voice, which was originally re-recorded by a different actor in post-production.
CraveOnline: Had you seen the other Wrong Turn movies before you’d been approached for Wrong Turn 5?
Doug Bradley: I was aware of the very first movie, but it would be wrong of me to say I’ve been following the franchise closely. So two, three and four I have not seen at all. But that kind of worked for me because Maynard is an entirely new character and has absolutely no awareness of what’s been going on in the other movies. Also, of course, we’re not in chronological sequence in the sequel, so Wrong Turn 4 was effectively the first film. It was the first prequel. We’re kind of doing a Star Wars here, in a way. And the movie I’ve just done, Wrong Turn 5, is a sequel to the prequel. So it’s effectively “Wrong Turn 2.” So he’s roughly aware of what his three relatives, who I referred to throughout the shoot as “The Three Stooges,” is roughly aware of what they’ve been up to in the first film [Wrong Turn 4]. Of course everything in the subsequent three movies hasn’t happened yet. Sorry, all of this gets very confusing. But so my ignorance of the franchise kind of dovetailed neatly with the character anyway.
It’s an interesting character to introduce in a franchise this late, because at this point, the main villains are established as this threat, and here you are ordering them around.
Yes, he’s kind of the spider in the middle of the web, Maynard. That was one of the things I liked about the character. He’s a plotter. He’s a schemer. Although I spend a large amount of the film sitting in a prison cell, he’s calling the shots because he knows what the Three Stooges are going to do. Indeed, he keeps on telling everybody what’s about to happen. […] And then he plays mind games with anybody and everybody who’s within earshot of him, whether it’s the kids in the cell next to him, or persuading Lita to release him from the cell, or particularly with Sheriff Angela. I liked that kind of trying to get inside people’s heads, screw with them, you know?
Was that a refreshing change of pace, just spending an entire movie sitting around in a room, just acting?
[Laughs] Well, yes! But it also has its frustrations, because a lot of the time I was literally locked in the cell. Otherwise the cell door would have a tendency to open of its own accord in the middle of the shot if somebody banged the cell railings next door. Then the door would open. So I was literally locked in, and I’d often just be sitting there on my own, on my bed, while the rest of the action was being blocked and rehearsed. There wasn’t a great deal for me to block and rehearse because [Laughs], “Okay, I’m in the cell!” And that was it.
Did they ever forget to let you out of there?
No, I made sure that they didn’t forget that. I pretty eager to be let out of there at any available opportunity.
I imagine so. You’ve done so many films. Is this your first “psycho hillbilly” movie?
[Laughs] Absolutely it is. It is, yes. My psycho hillbilly debut. I figure everybody’s got to play a psycho hillbilly at some point in their careers, right?
I think it is. I think it’s required. I’m always fascinated that we have an entire genre of just “psycho hillbillies.” What is your perception of that genre? What makes it interesting to play?
Yeah, it is, isn’t it? I guess it goes all the way back to Deliverance, probably before that surely you can find examples of it, more erudite film historians than I, and through movies like The Hills Have Eyes and certainly seems to be an explosion of it recently, I suppose. I tried to approach it without just playing straightforward, hick-y hillbilly. Whether I succeeded or not will be for others to decide when the movie is released, but I was kind of aware of that tradition approaching the movie, and it was a fun prospect for me to be approaching. Playing, as you say, the psycho hillbilly.
It’s such an urban terror. It’s always city guys who couldn’t handle themselves, they always go out into the wilderness and run into these backwards… I guess that goes all the way to the Universal films, with the villagers being scared of Dracula.
Yeah, that’s a good perception. Certainly here, as well, with the added backdrop of the mountain man festival […] So it’s city kids, but it’s also educated college kids suddenly taking the wrong turn into the woods. I guess it’s part of what makes the genre so powerful, is it is that notion of the trappings of civilized life utterly becoming very quickly stripped away when you’re suddenly stuck in the middle of the backwoods, with people who are intent on murdering you. And of course no cell phone signal.
[…] Which is also a given in this genre.
Have you seen the new “Cabal Cut” of Nightbreed yet? And if so I was wondering what you thought.
I have! It’s changing all the time, the Cabal Cut, because they’re refining the edit all the time. The version that I saw was a couple of months ago, and I know that they’ve done a pace from there, but I haven’t seen the most up to date. It’s a very exciting thing, and I hope it comes together, because I’ve always said that Nightbreed in many ways was a flawed masterpiece, and if the movie can be restored back to the movie we shot at Pinewood – I possibly shouldn’t say this, should I? – with Fox’s meddling hands removed [laughs] from the movie as it was released, then so much the better. I also stand to get my voice back, because that’s not my voice. I certainly didn’t do Lylesberg with a German accent. I just got a phone call in London telling me that it was going to happen. I think what they were saying was, “We need to ADR the character, and we’re not about to fly you from London to Los Angeles for about two hours of work in the studio.” I think [that’s] what was lurking behind it. Not that I’m calling Fox cheapskates, you understand. Far be it from me. But I hope they get it finished and it comes out on DVD. I think it deserves to see the light of day.