Oliver Robins (“Poltergeist”, “Poltergeist II”, “Airplane II: The Sequel”) is an actor, writer and a director. He took time to speak with Horrornews.net for an exclusive interview about his new film that he wrote, directed and stars in, “Celebrity Crush” (I was in the parking lot at the gym and it was really amazing to speak with Oliver about movies, Netflix, “Poltergeist” and more. He is so talented.)
Hi Oliver, first off, I have to say you are awesome and this is an honor to interview you for Horrornews.net!!! So, thank you!
Oliver- Oh, thank you so much! Yeah, I am glad I could be interviewed!
Tell us about this movie you wrote and directed! “Celebrity Crush”
Oliver- This is how it all started. I started making films when I was ten years old. I always loved acting but my real passion was film making. Steven Spielberg gave me a super 8 camera years and years ago when I was a little boy. So I started making films and he kind of advised me. So I said, I love making movies Steven! What should I do? He said, go to U.S.C. Film School so I applied to U.S.C. and I got into film school and I began making films after that. I’ve written Hallmark title movies and it kind of moved behind the camera. I recently wrote a movie called “Devil’s Whisper” which was released to Walmart by Sony. I actually co-wrote it and the actor on the set said to me, Oliver! You should act and I said, no I don’t really do that anymore. He’s like, no, no you never lose it. So I wrote this script called “Celebrity Crush” based on my experiences and other crazy experiences that I have had going to signings for Horror conventions. At first I was like maybe I should direct it and not really act in it because I realized you know we couldn’t afford to really pay anyone. All my friends worked on at very minimal rates and just too basically get it into the can. I said, I need to act in this thing and I know well I haven’t done it for years and I was kind of outside my comfort zone because I haven’t done it in so long but it was so much fun and it came back to me. I had a blast on this movie. Acting again and it brought back so many fantastic memories from when I was a kid acting. It kind of rekindled that joy I had when I was little.
You wrote and directed this film. Did you face any challenges because of having to also act in the film?
Oliver- Yes, every film has its own unique challenges and this one, it was the fact that we shot it in nine days. That is very fast for a feature film. It was harder to direct myself because I was in tuned to filming. It was challenging to guide my own performance as well as everyone else’s. It really make you appreciate people like Clint Eastwood!
I love Clint Eastwood!
Oliver- Yes, I was amazed that we got some great performances. The main challenge was that we had to shoot it so quickly. We had to shoot from the gut and hoped that it worked and it seems to be playing really well. I worked with an actress who played my crush… Alissa Schneider who is just fantastic and so natural. It was a really challenging role because she is the lead and she has a lot of different elements to her character and she has a lot of lines to remember. She was fantastic to work with. She was my first, I had stop acting right before I had done grown-up kind of parts so she was my first on-screen kiss. I had never done anything like that before. I said, Alissa, she is kind of the aggressor you know because she is coming after me. I said just go for it and we will see how it works out. So it made me appreciate what actors have to do in more adult roles because I had never done it as a kid.
Now, was it difficult for you working with this cast and then having to direct them?
Oliver- No, not at all. I had a great relationship with them from the start. I gave them direction and then when I became the actor and I was no longer the director. You almost have to be schizo frantic to some degree because once you enter director mode you are no longer the actor and then when you are an actor in the scene you are no longer the director. You are performing. You have to switch between both worlds. I am very method in terms of my acting. I like to live in the part very much so. It was hard to sometimes come out of that world. Filmmaking is extremely technical so I had to talk to the crew and the camera people outside of character. But then you shift gears the moment the camera begins to roll again.
Why did you stop acting? Because of becoming a filmmaker? Did you get tired of it?
Oliver- I always loved acting but I wanted to become a filmmaker and at the time I was applying to U.S.C. film school and U.S.C. had very rigorous standards in order to be admitted so I had to choose what I was going to do. At the time I was going to a local prep school in Los Angeles and in order to achieve the GPA I needed to get into U.S.C. I had to focus all my attention to my education and when you’re acting you have to give it 125% because that is what’s required because there is a lot of competition and you have to give it your all. I couldn’t do that if I was also studying my academics. I made my decision that my acting will stand-by for now and I love filmmaking so much I never really went back to acting until this last film and this actor on the set, Rock Ravanello was the actor. I began thinking about it. I thought I would be perfect for this role. The producer Michael Baumgarten said Oliver you were great as a kid, you could easily do this. It just all came back to me the moment the cameras started rolling. I loved it.
I grew up watching Horror movies and “Poltergeist” was a prominent movie in my life and my mom is an artist and I was not restricted to what I could watch (Horror-wise) because my mom sees them as art. How do you feel because the film is still so relevant and that the fans still love the films?
Oliver- It is really true. Steven Spielberg wrote the original draft of the script and he tapped into all his childhood fears. He summed them up with “Poltergeist” and the clown doll, the trees outside and all the shadows. I was scared of all those things as a kid. I grew up in New York City up until the age of eight years old and we lived in this old townhouse that was built in the 1860’s and I swear till this day that it was haunted. So when I was actually in “Poltergeist” I tapped into all those fears. I was afraid of the sound I used to hear of these footsteps walking up the stairs. My parents always said, it was the townhouse settling. But I always swore even till this day that it did not sound like the house was settling, it was footsteps so when I was on-set of “Poltergeist” I was able to tap into things that were very real to me. So when people tell me I was afraid of this and all the various things that happened in “Poltergeist” I appreciate that because I actually experienced it myself, the real deal. It is interesting in “Poltergeist” everything was laid in later afterwards. The special effects. When we were acting we didn’t even know what the special effects were going to look like? I asked Tobe Hooper who was directing and I said, Toby what am I looking at? What am I afraid of? He said, we don’t yet but just think of the scariest thing that you could possibly think of. So that’s what we were acting at and they had sticks in front of us. They would wave it at our eye lines and they said look here, this is where the ghost is coming at you and be terrified and I really credit JoBeth Williams to for really helping me get to where I needed to be. I had very little experience before I did “Poltergeist” and I had never really acted except for a couple of commercials. I asked her, I said JoBeth, how do I get to that place. She was very motherly and we would run in place and get into character. She would talk to me about the part. She was great to have her play my mother in the movie.
What kind of experiences have you had at Horror conventions and with the fans?
Oliver- I’ve had a blast at all the horror conventions I’ve been to and that’s the irony is that I never had anything happen to me like that. I have a vivid imagination and I was thinking to myself what if this did take place? Fans have been wonderful and they just love movies in general. It is a wonderful experience. When “Poltergeist” came out I always wondered as a kid, what are people’s experiences like watching the movie. I never got any of that when I was growing up because we didn’t have the internet yet but occasionally I got letters from people saying this is my experience and I loved you in it and I loved the movie. I really didn’t have that interaction so all these years later it is wonderful that people go to these events and people tell me I went on my first date and saw this movie. It is wonderful. It is something special. I’ve talked to people in England, in Russia. For me that is what I really love.
Do you plan on attending any conventions this year?
Oliver- I would love to go to Horror conventions. I have not been invited to any as of yet so if there are any horror convention people that want me to attend definitely reach out to me because I would love to be a part of it.
I have to ask you about working with Julian Beck who portrayed Reverend Henry Kane. He is one of the greatest characters ever. Were you guys scared of him when you were filming?
Oliver- Julien Beck, he was a gentleman and such a fine actor. This is the thing, people look at him like oh, I am so afraid of him. He is terrifying but he was one of the sweetest actors I had ever met. He was such a gentlemen to me. Everything you are seeing on-screen is all performance. He was a wonderful spirit and so uplifting (He passed from cancer) so when people ask me, were you scared of him? I say yes I was and the moment the camera rolled I was terrified of him and he did scare me and I wasn’t really acting but the moment the director called cut he was the kindest man on-set.
What are you working on next and will there be a sequel to “Celebrity Crush”?
Oliver- We definitely have talked about doing a sequel. This is a universal story and there seems to be interest in that since the dawn of time. Especially since pop culture has exploded due to social media. There are so many different aspects and angles you can tell.
What do you want to say to the fans?
Oliver- I want them to all watch the movie first of all and watch it wherever it goes. Whether it is iTunes or Walmart and I want them to have a great ride while they are watching the film. I want everyone to write me however they can on Facebook or Twitter and tell me their thoughts. I love getting feedback whether it is good or bad. I like to know what people think of my work.
I have to ask you since you starred in one of the greatest scary movies of all-time! Do you have a current favorite scary movie?
Oliver- I love all genre and I love horror movies! I think “The Conjuring” is so effective. I am addicted to Netflix. I think it is good to watch everything. I was so much more judgmental about movies in general before I went to film school because whether you make a good movie or a bad movie. It is such a difficult process. Sometimes you just want pure entertainment. I think my favorite horror film, even till this day that I’m still chilled by is “The Exorcist” and I think William Friedkin did such a stellar job with that. I just love the way there is a very slow burn in terms of the way the story is told.
It was such an honor to speak with you! You rock Oliver!
Oliver- Thank you so much!
Facebook: Oliver Robins
Oliver’s IMDB http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0732319/
INDIEGOGO CAMPAIGN LAUNCHES FOR OLIVER ROBINS’ THRILLER FEATURE “CELEBRITY CRUSH”
The Indiegogo Campagin launches for the feature thriller “Celebrity Crush” which will be used to raise additional funding for post production. All funds raised will be used to upgrade all elements of post production, including sound, color, and special visual effects.
Oliver Robins, best known for starring in “Airplane 2” and the original “Robbie” as Robbie, “the kid eaten by the tree” and “attacked by a clown,” returns to the screen in the up-coming thriller.
Robins stars opposite actress Alissa Schneider, (“Paying Mr. McGetty”) who plays a sociopathic fan obsessed with a fictional 80s ‘B’ horror cult classic called “Chain-Face Clown” and its star — Jonathan Blaklee. After meeting Jonathan at a horror convention, she imprisons the ex-child actor with the misguided hope Jonathan will one day fall in love with her.
The film’s teaser and campaign can be viewed at:
Robins explains, “All contributors will receive some really awesome gifts and perks, such as a personalized autographs, digital downloads, and replica keychains, as seen in the movie.”
“Celebrity Crush” is a personal film for Robins as it encapsulates much of his own life after shooting POLTERGEIST.
Robins shares, “It was an amazing experience to have the opportunity to act again and work with such a talented cast and crew.”
Robins directs from his own screenplay. Robins, a graduate of U.S.C Film School, has previously written the award-winning Hallmark Channel Film YOU’VE GOT A FRIEND and co-wrote DEVIL’S WHISPER — released in 2017 by Sony.