Corin Nemec – Rottentail
Come with me on a journey to the sleepy little town of Easter Falls where we run into mild mannered, geeky Peter Cotton who is the local fertility expert. One day, as he is running experiments, he is bitten by a mutant bunny and slowly starts to turn into the half man/half bunny creature named Rottentail. Getting intrigued? Well, you can find out all about the new Source Point Press movie Rottentail, based on the graphic novel from Source Point Press, from Rottentail himself, Corin Nemec.
Q) Can you tell our readers a bit about Rottentail?
A) “Rottentail” is a graphic novel that’s been out for ten or so years. It’s published by a company called Source Point Press, which also produced the film. So, this is a launching pad for the publishing company to start doing some of their graphic novels in a film format. Similar to how DC or Marvel does, just on a much bigger scale. It’s a really cool opportunity that I think some of the other companies may follow suit because there are some really great stories told in the graphic novel world beyond DC and Marvel.
This particular film, Rottentail, it is a dark comedy. I guess you’d call it a horror comedy. Sort of in the same vein as the original Chucky movies. It’s very tongue and cheek.
Q) What was it about Rottantail that drew you to this role?
A) Really the director Brian Skiba is just an awesome, awesome director. I mean, I love the genre as it is. It’s a very fun genre to play in as an actor. I’m not so much interested in the genre from a viewing standpoint. I don’t really go out of my way to watch horror films so to speak, but I do like portraying characters in the genre because a lot of times there’s some really great characters that are developed in the horror/thriller genre. Having spoken with him about it, because when you first get pitched the idea of a man who turns into a half man, half bunny and it’s done on an independent film budget there’s obviously concerns. What could this turn out like? The director, he’s just such a solid, solid guy and the script was very well written and the graphic novel was a lot of fun to read as well. That was what really made me most excited about the project. It was how fun the graphic novel was to read and how much trust I had in the director.
Q) There is quite a transformation from Peter Cotton to Rottentail. What was the process like for you?
A) Peter Cotton is a very kind of withdrawn victim type of character in life. Rottentail you can say is his alter ego. He’s kind of very strong, very direct kind of character and Peter Cotton is used to being picked on and is used to things not really used to things not really working out in his favor and being down low on the rungs of the ladder of life. He finds himself basically a victim in life. So, when he starts to transform into Rottentail, it is sort of along the lines of The Fly. The Fly slowly evolves into the fly. We spent a good amount of time at the beginning of the movie following that transition and how the personality of Rottentail slowly begins to manifest and Peter doesn’t really know what’s happening. He kind of thinks he’s going crazy and, obviously, he knows there’s something physically wrong with him. Once the final transformation occurs and Rottentail takes over his life, he becomes a hero or what would be called an antihero.
That [makeup] was so much fun to do. It was a tough process as well because it was about an hour and forty-five minutes or so in make up every morning and about another hour and fifteen minutes every evening getting it off. It’s very hot in the full costume with the suit on and the hands, the feet and the full prosthetics of the head. There’s not a lot of breath-ability to it. It certainly becomes uncomfortable to wear at times, but the character is so much fun to play. It’s so much fun to think to think like the character thinks. A lot came out of that. The director Brian Skiba again was really, really open to my development of the character and my coming up with different types of dialog that he would say and also contributing to the relationships play out with the other characters from the point of view of the Rottentail character because sometimes when something is written it may not, to an actor, play exactly how they imagined the character would behave or how the character would interact with certain other players in the film or TV show. Plays are different. In plays you can’t change the dialog. Brian was very open to it and allowed for some very organic moments to come out of that. I think it added such a huge amount to the character development and interplay between Rottentail and the other characters. It’s going to be so far beyond what any of us expected. I really think it has an opportunity to be very successful in whatever market it finds itself in. There is no distribution. I’m also a producer on the film. There’s no distribution for it currently and that’s intentional because we believe in the product so much that we think once we get the rough cut together and we take it and show it around that we’re going to potentially end up with a much better home for it. Then, if we had decided to try and resell it ahead of time to a distribution company they may not see what we see for it.
Q) Did the physical transformation help you in creating Rottentail?
A) I think what helped most in creating the character of Rottentail was when we did all of the makeup tests. Far before we went into production we had to create the prosthetics. So, we shot a makeup test. We did the head mold and all of that and they came back and we tried the entire outfit on and the entire costume on for the first time and the teeth as well. Having these half man, half rabbit teeth that really helped also because there’s a certain way that I have to speak in order to speak somewhat clearly with the teeth in, which changed some of the dynamics of the character. Then, obviously, in the full wardrobe and trying to maintain sort of an animalistic type of behavior with some quintessential rabbit type characteristics, some of the facial ticks. It was when we did the makeup tests and filmed a small mock up scene that I realized exactly who this character was. From there it really took on a life of its own.
Q) You’re more known for playing nice characters. What were some of the new challenges playing an eviler character?
A) Generally speaking, I think a lot of people remember me for roles where I play a nice guy. But I’ve actually played a lot of dark characters over the years, really starting out with the character of Harold Lauder in The Stand. After I did that character I ended up getting a lot of darker roles. Like I did a number of TV movies. One was called Black Out. From there I did the Ted Bundy movie and then playing Richard Spec, who was a mass murder in the 1950’s and some darker characters on episodic television. From the reoccurring character on “Supernatural” and also “Smallville,” I played a darker character and then even playing the ghost of Jennifer Love Hewitt’s father in “Ghost Whisperer” for four episodes. That character was quite dark, too. I’ve done quite a number of darker characters, which are a lot of fun to delve into from an acting standpoint. Normally, there’s more interesting options as a character actor to be able to sink your teeth into than sometimes there is with the nice guy on the block.
Q) Rottentail the movie is based off of a comic book. Did you read the comic book before you won the role?
A) Again, I’m a producer on it and Brian Skiba was already really familiar with my work and we had a number of creative discussions leading up to both of us agreeing for me to play the role. He just kind of saw me as potentially the right guy for it and also because I had worked successfully as a producer on a number of small films in a similar genre. So, our working relationship stood beyond just actor/director, but we were also problem solving to get the best film we could get on a daily basis from a producorial standpoint. The working relationship with him was just fantastic.
I did read the comic previously. I was already kind of sold on the idea before I read the comic. I was almost like, “I don’t care what the graphic novel reads like. This just sounds awesome!” Just based on my conversations with Brian. Once I read the graphic novel I kind of saw what the world was like and also the film is set in the 1980’s, which is a lot of fun too.
Q) Did you feel a responsibility to the readers of “Rottentail” while filming the movie?
A) From a writing standpoint the writers of the graphic novel wrote the screenplay. Brian also did some rewrites on it because generally speaking the graphic novels are not in the same kind of format as screenplays in terms of how things play out. A lot of times there’s not as much development in some respects that you need in order to tell the story, cinematically. Graphic novels can get away with a lot because it’s just a different way of telling a story. So, the overall idea and certainly enough of the actual scenes from the graphic novel are in the film. Where the fans of the graphic novel will surely be happy with is how it was translated into a movie. A lot had to be developed to make all of the relationships make sense.
Q) Your acting career has spanned thirty years. If you could go back and relive one moment from your acting career what would it be?
A) I had a really, really good chance getting the Edward Norton role in Primal Fear and I completely blew the audition and I didn’t have to, but I just didn’t approach it the right way. I didn’t prepare the right way. I think I was feeling a little too egotistical as an actor during that time period because I had so much success leading up to that. I believe the casting director was April and I actually sent her flowers and apologized for how badly I blew the audition. I felt really, really badly about it because I just did not commit and I really wanted the role. I really, really wanted it and it was just all my wires were crossed and I blew the opportunity. It changed me fundamentally, that time period forward, because I put my own ego in check hard core with that missed opportunity. I never behaved or operated anywhere close to where I was at previous to that calamity of an audition. From that day onward I really went back to being a far humbler. Just a far humbler actor and much more of a team player. I mean, I was always a team player on set. I just had gotten to a point, career wise, where I felt more important than I really was.