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Interview: Jonathan Breck (The Creeper From Jeepers Creepers)

JEEPERS CREEPERS 3, the third installment in the iconic horror franchise, starring Jonathan Breck as The Creeper, along with Gabrielle Haugh, Stan Shaw, Meg Foster, Chester Rushing and Gina Philips.  The film will premiere in movie theaters nationwide for a special one night only event on Tuesday, September 26.” The legendary Jonathan Breck, The Creeper himself took time to talk to me for a Horrornew.net exclusive.

Jonathan- Janel!!!!

Hi Jonathan, How are you?

Jonathan- I am doing good. How about you?

I am doing good! I am really excited to talk to you because The Creeper is a favorite of mine since 2001 so we have been waiting a long time for part three.

Jonathan- Alright, I like to hear it! Have you seen the movie?

Yes, I watched it about four or five times. That’s all!

Jonathan- Awesome, awesome. It is kind of a fresh take. It has its own fresh appeal I think you know which is good.

“Jeepers Creepers 3” does feel really fresh. It almost feels like you are watching a new version of part one. For example like it was a new version of this franchise and completely different.

Jonathan- I am glad to hear that. You are really the first person that I’ve gotten feedback from that’s seen the movie. Let me put it this way, you are the first person that I’ve gotten feedback from that has seen the movie. Let me put it this way, you are the first person that I’ve gotten feedback from that is familiar with the first two movies so it is interesting to get your perspective on that. I appreciate it.

One thing I wanted to ask you about is did you ever think of The Creeper as anything other than a monster? We have had some serious conversations about this (Don’t laugh, Horror is serious) but maybe as a creepy old man that is abducting people but then when you actually see The Creeper, he freaks you out!

Jonathan- Well, Janel you know I really prepare it and it sounds kind of crazy

(We got cut off at this point and they called right back due to fun phone issues)

Jonathan- Janel are we together again.

Yes, Hi again Jonathan!

Jonathan- I had a really great answer to that but I forgot what I said.

That’s okay, just tell me a new answer. How did you prepare to play The Creeper? (Lots of Laughter)

Jonathan- I really kind of prepared for it the same way I do and it sounds kind of crazy. The same way I do for any acting role. I thought it in terms of who is he, where does he come from, what does he want? What drives him, what is his behavior? It’s usually all that kind of stuff. Of course it was a bit of a challenge with The Creeper because he doesn’t speak right!

Right!

Jonathan- So he communicated through his behavior and that was really fine but also a real challenge because you had to say what you wanted to say with the unspoken. A lot of times you we forget about that and the unspoken behavior really tells the story. It was fun to kind of explore this character and to go back and think where does he come from? I had so much fun just imagining who he was and what he’s learned over the hundreds or possibly thousands of years he’s been around and what I found in playing him is that a lot of what Victor had written on the page we have discussed personally. There are a lot of things about The Creeper that are much more universal than anybody would care to admit so I really enjoyed playing that aspect of him. Really toying with the humanity or the possible humanity of The Creeper right!

Right, now would you like to see a full on back story about The Creeper? Would you like to go more into that or do you feel you already know?

Jonathan- I know where he is from and I know how he came to be. Victor and I have had conversations you know starting fifteen years ago when we made the first one where Victor came up with the original idea so we talked a lot about it so I did know his backstory. That’s something that from an audience perspective we have let out a little bit here and there in the movies as you noticed. I think the unknown is much scarier than the known so as soon as you define exactly what a character is you build a fence around him so to speak right!

Right, yes!

Jonathan- It is okay. He can’t do this but he can do that. We are carefully and strategically were letting out more details of The Creepers background and who he is, what he can do, what he can’t do and because of that we are continuously able to surprise our audience or at least that is our intention. You think you know who The Creeper is and what he does but all of the sudden we’ve got another movie and he’s doing something you’ve never seen before. That is what keeps the franchise fresh and what keeps the character fresh. I really appreciate that about the way Victor’s developed the character within the franchise. He can preserve the right to continuously surprise you. That is what our full intention is.

What was it like working with the Director Victor Salva again?

Jonathan- Awesome, absolutely awesome. First of all you get the opportunity to work with the writer, director and the creator who is directing the movie it is such a treat. Those conversations, you can go a lot deeper with those conversations. You know the fact that this is the third movie a lot of the additional foundation work on the character has already been done. So you get to come back and do a sequel and you just pick up where you left off but it push it even further and go deeper and that’s a real treat because certainly I’ve some time to think about The Creeper consciously and subconsciously and you know the fact that we had so many years between sequels and we were really able to take everything we’ve done before and just take it to the next level. Victor and I have worked together long enough to where you kind of develop a short-hand and all he has to do is pretty much give me a look and he knows what I’m thinking and I kind of know what he’s thinking and he is a great collaborator. He lets me do what I want to do and then helps me shape it. I really like working with directors that will let you work that way. More than anything try to help shape your performance instead of trying to put too much of their spin on it. Victor, he works that way so when we got back together for this movie I think we spent the first couple of days just giggling together because we were going to be able to work together again.

Now besides yourself, there is an amazing cast including: Gina Phillips, Meg Foster, Stan Shaw, Joyce Giraud, Carrie Lazar, Gabrielle Haugh, Chester Rushing and more. What was it like working with everyone and having them see you on-set as The Creeper? Some of the cast also look kind of freaked out when they see you as The Creeper in the film.

Jonathan- Oh yeah! As a matter of fact those are some of the best times I’ve had when I am shooting in the movie. I am in character, not in character but in make-up and effects and in wardrobe. But when the camera rolls the character really kind of comes to life inside of me so even though they might see me on-set you know going to craft services, having a cup of coffee or having a piece of pizza whatever. When it is in the setting of the action of The Creeper it’s on about ten times.  I think they are great actors and I am lucky enough to work with great actors on this particular film. Because they are great actors but it’s also because they are probably seeing some of that stuff for the first time. I like to think I bring that kind of intensity to it when the cameras are on.

Playing The Creeper now for the third time. The kills you do are classic and original. Do you have a favorite kill scene out of all the films or even from part three?

Jonathan- You know I get asked that a lot but I can’t point to one that’s really a favorite of mine. I really enjoy all of them. I know that sounds creepy but I am The Creeper right but no it’s really true. They all have a different element to them. I really have enjoyed all of them in their own way.

I loved all the different things The Creeper does and to see him evolve. What do you want to say to the fans that will be watching “Jeepers Creepers 3?”

Jonathan- You know we make this movie for people like you, for fans like you Janel. That’s no bullshit there. I know that sounds like a cliché and every actor says Oh we do this for the fans but there is no way that we would be able to come back fifteen years later and make a sequel. Who does that? We would never have been able to do that without the little fan base that has loyal and supportive all these years and created a whole new set of fans, a whole new generation of fans. So I just want to say to all the fans that your support really does matter. I don’t think it’s an overstatement saying we got this movie made. “Jeepers Creepers” never went away. It has continued for all these years. As an actor, I know Victor felt this way as the director and the writer and I felt this way as the actor. Everybody felt this way, we kind of felt this way as a responsibility to really put our heart and soul into this. We wanted to give the loyal fans, the fans that deserve it, the very best that we had in us and it was cool.

It’s a real motivation knowing that you have a fan base like ours out there. Believe me there has been a lot of late nights out there and a lot of long days and not that anybody is going to feel sorry for me but it gets pretty grueling and it really pushes you through knowing that people are going to be able to appreciate it. It is really humbling. I have fans and they’ll notice things I did that I will have intentionally played but even after I did it I said well nobody is going to pick it up and they pick it up. The fans of this franchise are amazing so there is a lot of gratitude from me and the whole creative team for the loyalty and the passion, the continued support for “Jeepers Creepers.”

Amen to that! Now because you are in full wardrobe, effects etc. Did you guys face any challenges because of you having to be in full on costume and effects?

Jonathan- You know everything is just more difficult. The practicality and it doesn’t seem like it but you think about it. Running in a long jacket. I don’t know if anybody has tried to run in a floor-length jacket anytime lately? Or women out there try to sprint in a full gown right. There are little things that you learn along the way and you think about it, wait a minute, how the hell am I going to do this? So it’s actually a pretty good question Janel because we were uncovering limitations as the make-up and the wardrobe and everything is amazing and over the top as it is. It does make sometimes the simplest things much harder. But I’ve always thought that the best creations come when you are faced with limitations right! You find creative solutions and you’ve got to push through. The make-up though, I want to give a hats off to the make-up and effects creator for “Jeepers Creepers 3”, Elvis Jones who we lost in May of this year actually only two months after the film wrapped.

Oh wow, I am so sorry about that.

Jonathan- Yes, he passed away and we really miss him. When fans see this film they will see his work all over and we never could have done it without him. Great story, he was an assistant on the first “Jeepers Creepers” and just starting his career. He did an amazing job. For me he made my life a whole lot easier because the advancements of make-up have come so far in fifteen years. What took five or six hours in 2000 took three hours to put on in 2017. So they put it on a lot quicker and I think it even looks better. I want to say to him buzzing around up there wherever he is that we really appreciate what he did for us and I hope the fans recognize that because he did a great job.

I agree. You make it seem effortless. The movements you do, the stares. It seems like no effort. Will there be a part four because if there is a part four you need to be involved because they cannot do the film without you?

Jonathan- (laughter) I appreciate you saying that. There was something about the character. The very first audition that I had when I was preparing for the very first audition that I had when I was preparing for the very first audition back in 2000 and never even met Victor or anybody. I don’t know what this is but it just made sense to me. Every now and then you’ll have something that makes sense. I never thought I was him or anything ridiculous like that but the character really made sense to me. Every step of the way it gave me more confidence in that as they started building the make-up around me and that started evolving and wardrobe got built. New scenes that got added, it was just a momentum and by the time I got on-set I was this character. So for me as an actor it’s so nice to feel like I am not having to do anything because I am the guy, I am the character. Especially for this third movie I knew instinctively what to do and how to do it and when to do it. It is great as an actor that you don’t have to second guess yourself. Everything is with purpose and it’s hopefully honest. That is a really good feeling. The question about will I do a fourth movie and will there be a fourth movie. I hope so on both fronts. There is a lot of talk about doing a fourth movie. As a matter of fact, story lines are already being bounced back and forth. I am really excited about it. I hope we get a chance to do more movies. There is even talk of spinning this off a TV series.

That would be amazing! That would be cool.

Jonathan- It would be really cool because you would be able to explore the character in a completely different way. I am really excited about that and as far as working on other things I am working on. I am always working on other things. I had a movie come out this past year. I had a lot of fun doing. It was not in the horror genre. It was with Richard Linklater and it was his follow-up to “Dazed and Confused”, I don’t know if you ever saw that movie?

I did see “Dazed and Confused” and I love that movie.

Jonathan- It is one of my favorite old movies and this is his follow-up to that. I had a nice little part in that movie. It’s called “Everybody Wants Some” and it came out this last year and I’ve got a couple of other projects right now on my desk that I am thinking about doing as well and Jeepers 4 we are talking about if it happens we are talking about doing it very soon. It won’t be another fifteen years I wouldn’t be surprised if we aren’t doing another movie and it wasn’t out in theatres in the next eighteen months.

Did you grow up watching Horror movies and do you have any special Halloween traditions?

Jonathan- You know I have to say I haven’t talked about this in a while. When I got the first movie, I was just an actor that was looking for my next gig when I got the very first “Jeepers Creepers” movie. I wasn’t an actor that had grown as a big, rabid horror fan. I come from a pretty conservative household so truth be told we didn’t really watch a lot of hardcore scary movies. I remember when I first got the movie and I was out doing press I sort of felt embarrassed that I don’t have this wealth of horror knowledge like everybody else. But I think it really worked to my advantage because I didn’t approach the character performance on or any reference and there were no subconscious thoughts about how other characters have been played. I didn’t have that knowledge so it helped work in my favor. I could look at with fresh eyes. Since I’ve done the movie I’ve become a big fan of a lot of a lot of the franchises just because the horror actor circle is pretty small I can appreciate what Robert’s doing, what Doug’s doing and all those guys. I am a big fan of what they do. There is not necessarily one that I watch every Halloween and now I’ve got little kids so my watching is going to be clean this Halloween. I do love the classics. Who can’t watch “The Exorcist”, who doesn’t love “The Shining?” I love all those movies. Every time they are on I can’t move past them on the screen, I got to stop and watch a few scenes so now I am much more of fan than I ever was in the beginning. It is hard to be able to appreciate this and you can probably speak on this more than I can. People don’t realize how difficult it is to make an original, a truly original monster movie!

Yes it is!

Jonathan- That is why I think “Jeepers Creepers” has resonated for so long which is so hard to do. We don’t have very many original monster movies. We see a lot of horror movies but they are being made by people who aren’t really story tellers either.

Yes, exactly, that is true.

Jonathan- They go okay we are going to put a few effects on the screen, we are going to use digital effects, use blood and market it then package it and people will come. You know Victor the guy I work with he is a fan. He grew up watching the Universal monster features and on top of that he is a really good story teller so another reason these creeper movies work is they are not just monster movies, they are stories and the chracters are three dimensional and there is drama happening between the characters and you can kind of put yourself in their shoes. You don’t find that combination a lot of times in horror movies. That’s why the really good ones are kind of rare. That is why I am really proud to be associated with this franchise because it does have all those elements. This third movie goes into more than the first two movies and even more emotional parts, you start to see the collateral damage and the human toll taken on the characters. We have never really seen that before in Jeepers Creepers movies so it’s a whole other element to it. So I think it’s hard to make a really good horror movie.

I agree!

Jonathan- That’s my two cents. 

You have basically created The Creeper. You made him the way he is on your own. You feel the fear. My mom is an artist and she let me watch horror movies when I was little and she looks at them as art.

Jonathan- I love your mother by way! Tell her I said hello! We are kindred spirits! I love it.

When you talk about “Jeepers Creepers” and the The Creeper, you just know that it is such an original character and when we talk about really cool monsters we always bring up The Creeper in the horror community and with friends.

Jonathan- I really appreciate you saying that. I remember after the first movie I got a call from Victor when they were still screening the movie for test audiences. They give the audience a little questionnaire and then take the feedback from the audience and if there are any changes that need to be made they will make the changes before the actual release. I got a call from him and he said he was totally blown away because the character everyone was pulling for was The Creeper.

Yes!!! You do root for The Creeper though, because he tends to be ten steps ahead of the other characters.

Jonathan- You want to see the kids get away but the character that they are drawn to really seems to be The Creeper. That really turned everything on its head for us. That was an interesting moment for all of us. We created a character that people were responding to despite all the shit he was doing on the screen.  If it seems like The Creeper is ten steps ahead it is because he is.

The Creeper is such an amazing character and you are amazing, The Creeper is amazing so thank you for taking time to talk to Horrornews.net

Jonathan- Thank you very much. It really means a lot to us that you appreciate it at the level that you do. I am glad that I had the time to sit down for a few minutes and I really appreciate the support and the attention that you are going to continue to give us because we are going to need it to get that fourth movie made!!!

Yes, we need a fourth one!

Jonathan- Keep pushing for it! Thank you.

Thank you so much Jonathan!

(Side note: Thank you Jonathan for the awesome shout out to the horror community, my friend Andrea, my mom and my cousin. –Jonathan kindly whistled the “Jeepers Creepers” song and I almost fell on the floor- I was in my car for this interview so it is probably lucky I was because I probably would have fell over LOL – He is truly amazing! Make sure to watch “Jeepers Creepers 3”)

ww.jeepers3pers.com

JONATHAN BRECK IMDB

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