Keep repeating to yourself: he is only an actor, he is only an actor, he is only an actor…
The most dangerous actor ever committed to celloluid, David Hess speaks!
Interview by Christer Persson
You think Brad Pitt is a badass in INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS? Or wait! You thought that John Lithgow was scary in RAISING CAINE or you might even have thought that Robert De Niro was really naughty in CAPE FEAR? Let me tell you, there is a guy that are scarier, more bad-ass and more naughty than all of them tied together on a stick… his name is David Hess! And when he´ll tell you to piss you pants, you better do it right away!
Or wait… was that the characters he played? David Hess has been cast as a badass in movies since that infamous LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT got people repeat to themselves that it was only a movie. The sheer presence of Hess in movies since then sort of makes you really dislike the guy. He has played bad guys in AUTOSTOP ROSSO SANGUE, THE HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK and SWAMP THING. Of course, there is more to the story. Do you for instance know that he has a couple of Grammy awards at home? Did you know that he wrote the hitsong Speedy Gonzales and even wrote a tune for that guy from Memphis…what´s-his-name… Elvis Presley?
So, what more is there? Mr. David Hess was kind enough to answer a few questions for you to find out!
Christer: You are most famous for your character Krug, from Wes Cravens classic LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. A film that was influential to many of the violent movies of the seventies. Today there is a new wave of these violent and misogynic movies (and remakes as you most certainly know) what do you think is the main difference between the older movies and the new ones?
David: More Hollywood control, more interest in the all mighty buck and less interest in making a movie. Hard to repeat something that's seminal to begin with!
Christer: AUTOSTOP ROSSO SANGUE, in which you played against Corinne Clery and Franco Nero, is a very special and well made movie. What do you think makes it so special that it even today finds new fans?
David: It's an ensemble work and in order to work trust is the most important element. We all loved each other and because of that were able to dig down into that untapped part of who we all are at root level.
Christer: One of the funniest roles you’ve made is in Ruggero Deodato´s BODYCOUNT, which is a sort of FRIDAY THE 13:TH rip-off. It seems like you had a lot of fun on the set with Mimsy Farmer and Charles Napier. Was Ruggero Deodato a more relaxed director than when you were making HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK?
David: Not really! Ruggie is always pretty intense and the consummate perfectionist. He had problems with english early on in his career, so the producers asked me to direct the english ensemble part of the movie, but we worked together and we have remained friends to this day.
Christer: Is it a different spirit in today’s “up and coming” filmmakers, than the spirit filmmakers, for instance Wes Craven, had in the early seventies?
David: I don't know if it's much different, but there are so many more things available. The computer editing systems for one. Better special effects, blue screen techniques etc. We had to work from film and be able to visualize everything right through to the final print. Now with the new equipment, it makes covering mistakes much easier and maybe that's made the new breed of directors a little lazy and somewhat careless. But a good filmmaker will always be a good filmmaker and a good story is just that! As for Wes, I think he got caught in a time warp because of his early success and never really overcame his reputation as a B horror film director. He's better than his films!
Christer: What do you want to be remembered for, when you (god forbid!) pass over to the other side? Your music, your acting or do you have something else up your sleeve that I don´t know of?
David: My essence is music. That's what I've always been about! Everything I do from writing to acting to directing has a musical base. When I act I think in musical terms as do I when I write. I'm at my happiest when I'm composing or performing whether on stage or in a recording studio. Without my songs I'd be a shell of man. My music is what keeps me alive.
Christer: Does people get surprised when they find out that you’re musician and not only that, that you also is a Grammy award winner?
David: A little bit. It's always interesting to see their reactions when they find out I'm more than just KRUG from LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT.
Christer: What movie that you have starred in, are you most proud of?
David: Hard to say? I think that the last film I did...SMASH CUT, is pretty interesting, but I'm not much of a self rater. I let the work do my talking...but I must say that the 'trilogy', ending with AUTOSTOP ROSSO SANGUE was as good as it gets.
Christer: Is there anything (apart from this interview) you really regret doing or not doing in your time in show business?
David: I would like to have done more Broadway. I turned down a lot of musicals, for what ever reasons and then the offers just stopped. Singing and acting on Broadway would have been a high point, but I have a wonderful family and that, too, is a high point. Most importantly is not what we regret not doing, but that we live with the choices we make.
Christer: The final question is the one I ask every prominent interviewee: What is the meaning of life?
David: That answer would take knowing the meaning of not-life. Maybe the Buddist have it right in the end. The striving for Samadhi...cleansing one’s mind of all thought, is the answer. I just don't know, but then that's a good definition of life, also.
Make sure to check out Davids website: http://www.davidhess.com/