Michael Welch is a brilliant actor and has starred in everything from “Z Nation”, “Twilight”, “Star Trek: Insurrection”, “Day of the Dead” and so many more films and television shows. He is starring as Tyler in Director James Cullen Bressack’s new film, “Blood Craft.” Michael took the time to speak with Horrornews.net for an exclusive interview and he talks about everything from “Blood Craft” to the devoted “Z Nation” fandom.
BLOOD CRAFT IS AVAILABLE ON DEMAND ON APRIL 9TH.
First off, you did a great job in BLOOD CRAFT. What can you tell us about your character Tyler and why did you decide to take on this role?
Michael- Well Tyler is a very layered and complex character. You could almost say he is like six characters in one. He starts out as kind of a bland government bureaucrat, very straight-laced and then he reveals himself to be this kind of puppy dog with a case of unrequited love. Then he has this very violent and abusive streak in him and then it turns out he is also very heavily abused and then later on ends up being possessed by someone who is really abusive. In reading the script, there is so much going on. I thought, man what a fun and interesting challenge to take on a character who is all over the place. I mean from one scene to the next he’s almost a totally different guy. I found that be unique and I wanted to take it on.
You sort of get that in the film. You wonder what is going on with him. You don’t really root for him or you are not sure if you should? And then he is all over the place but you do feel for him and the characters in BLOOD CRAFT. It is sort of like holy crap there is a lot happening!
Now you have portrayed so many different characters and they are always different. Did you do anything different than you would normally do to prepare?
Michael- Yeah that’s interesting. What you just said was kind of a desired result. We wanted the character to be ambiguous in terms of how the audience felt about him. Usually my goal as an actor, generally speaking is to find some universal human quality that people can empathize with. So even if I am playing you know, I don’t know… a killer or something crazy like that. I try to find something that is going to make the audience not sympathize but at least empathize. At least understand how this person was formed and why they do the things they do. With this character I did not have that goal at all. It was just, as I said he was all over the place and it’s such a high concept, unique horror film to begin with so we didn’t necessarily take a lot of conventional routes.
What was it like working with this cast? You are obviously amazing but what was it like working with everyone? (The film includes, Madeline Wade, Augie Duke, Dave Sheridan, Mark Rolston, Dominque Swain and Ryan Francis and director James Cullen Bressack.)
Michael- Thank you. Madeline and Augie who play the sisters in the film really anchored this thing. I mean they brought a real depth and quality to their performances. I though the relationship was really special in the film. Dave Sheridan (plays Minister Hall), I thought absolutely killed it. He’s so creepy and it’s interesting too because I believe he is a stand-up comedian. Somehow there is that old idea about how stand-ups deep down are these super dark people and maybe there is something to it because thinking back to some of the creepier performances in the history of film a lot of them come from stand-up comics. I think Dave certainly fits into that mold. And it’s funny because Dominique Swain is somebody that is one of these people in the industry that everybody knows or they know somebody that knows her. She just tends to run in all the circles so it’s great to have her onboard. I got to speak to Anna who played little Madeline in the film for a bit. I always like talking to kid actors because I was a kid actor and I can relate to the journey. Yeah she’s got a great head on her shoulders. All around it was a great group of people to work with and we had a really great time.
Michael- Yeah, I started when I was a kid so you know I was very fortunate in the sense that a lot of the groundwork was done for me in terms of creating the initial inertia to kind of push you into the business. It is difficult for me to tell people what to do who are coming out here in their twenties, let’s say and trying to start from scratch. The good news is there are plenty of resources available and there’s always different ways to get in if you have the passion, talent, the persistence and work ethic to do it. It happened differently for me and I don’t know if I’ve ever heard two stories that are alike in terms of people who established some of career for themselves. The only thing I can say in a more broad strokes kind of way is you know in your heart if this is what you have to do. If that is the case, you can’t let anyone stop you.
Did you always know that you wanted to be an actor?
Michael- I mean, basically. As a kid I knew I loved to perform and I loved to play. When I was nine years old I had a lot of energy and I did impressions around the house. Luckily my parents, instead of trying to shape me into something else, they fully embraced who I was. They found a little, local acting class for me to go to. After going there for about a year I really started to get a feel for it and develop an instinct for it. I approached my parents and my acting teacher at the time and said, I think this is worth a shot. As soon as I got my first taste of life on-set I was hooked. I got into it for the right reasons and my parents were really supportive.
What was it like for you working on-set with the director James? He is very talented and I have pretty much seen most of his films. How did the directing process go with him?
Michael- Oh yeah James is absolutely fantastic. He is super passionate about film. I don’t know if you’ve ever met him but his whole body is tattooed with iconic, primarily horror film characters from over the years. He is all about discussion and rehearsal and digging in and pulling out as much as we possibly can. We went and talked to a specialist in abuse to get a deeper sense of how people get to that place where they can do unimaginable things, particularly to children. James ran an efficient set which the experience that much more enjoyable. I love James. He is hustler too. He is an example of a guy who I think by 23 has a more prolific career than most people who try this. The reason James found me in the first place was he had seen some stuff over the years I had heard that I had done. I thought maybe he saw, “Z Nation” or “Twilight” but it was none of those things. It was a bunch of super obscure little films that hardly anybody had seen. He is a real film geek. He eats it and breathes it. It is a lot of fun to work with somebody like that.
Do you feel it is easier to work with a director who sort of understands all of that and does the research, watches the films and did you grow up watching any horror films?
Michael- I think there are directors who are more interested in technical elements. There are directors who are more interested in working with actors. James is interested in all of it. He understands filmmaking top to bottom. So, yes and not only that he understands the industry too. I picked his brain because I wanted to learn from him. Growing up I didn’t watch a ton of Horror films. I am sure I came across “The Shining” at a young age. I kind of found my fandom for horror in particular years later. The horror films I enjoyed as a kid, I loved the old black and white stuff. I loved all the Vincent Price stuff.
I agree with you on the Vincent Price movies, they are all so amazing. I always love his films.
Michael- Yeah. So much fun.
I have to ask you, what are you working on next?
Michael- Oh absolutely, thank you. This has been a really good year for me so far. I’ve seem to have gotten to a place where I have cultivated enough relationships to be able to work in a pretty consistent way, which is such a blessing for an actor. I’ll be in an episode of “Station 19” which is an ABC show and it’s a “Grey’s Anatomy” spin-off that’s coming out on Thursday. In addition to “Blood Craft” I have a film coming out called, “The Grounds” which we shot many years ago but it’s finally being released in some film festivals and it should be out later this year. Then later in the year I’ll be in a Western currently called a “Soldier’s Heart.” I also have a couple of films to work on and another Lifetime movie. I always post whenever anything is going to air so if anybody is interested they can follow my social media.
Follow Michael @MichaelWelchAct
I do have to ask you what you think of the “Twilight” following and the “Z Nation” fandom. You were so amazing on “Z Nation.” What do you of the following and how some people still follow “Twilight” and also “Z Nation” has a strong fandom.
Michael- Well, “Twilight” I think is surviving because it’s being passed down through the generations. I am finding that eleven and twelve year old girls are just as into it now as they were ten years ago when those films first came out and not just that age group by the way. Primarily women who grew up with those films are starting to have kids of their own and they are introducing them to their daughters. I feel it’s going to live on for that reason alone. It is great. I love it. I always love running into “Twilight” fans. I really love the discovery too. It is really fun where someone thinks they recognize me and I mention, “Twilight” and I see the eyes light up. It is a fun little thing for me. I am incredibly grateful to have been a part of something that has been to affect people in that way for so many years.
And with “Z Nation,” gosh, I think you can tell the popularity of the show based on the reaction of when the show goes off the air. In our case with that #SaveZNation for months after it was announced it wasn’t going to be returning it feels good to be a part of something like that. It is humbling and I am very grateful. I will say for “Z Nation” fans you are not going to want to miss the spinoff that’s happening on Netflix because I know the people involved and I know the quality of work they are capable of. It is going to be amazing. Don’t worry you are going to continue to get your fill, it’ll just be in a different form.
Do you think you will be involved at all?
Michael- No one has approached me about that yet but I would love to be. Mack was one of my favorite characters to play. It’s rare that this happens but every now and then you will get to play a character that helps reveal something about you that maybe you didn’t know about yourself and I actually while playing that part I was walking around with more confidence in my real life. I was a zombie slayer. You know what I mean. So I would love to reprise Mack and especially with what I think they are going to do. It would be a lot of fun to explore where Mack was at that point in the journey. But, we’ll see. I would love to do it.
I sure hope you are involved. My last question is what do you want to say to the fans that will be watching, “Blood Craft” and to your fans?
Michael- I think horror films work best when they work on a few different levels. I think genre work in particular is best when it is trying to say something or explore something deeper than what’s on the surface and it is being presented in an easily digestible form. I think that’s what “Blood Craft” does. I mean on the surface this film is a supernatural, revenge fantasy. It works purely on that level but there is something deeper than that going on. I think it is a deep dive into the long-term effects of sustained abuse. Hopefully it can provide a cathartic experience to people who have gone through some level of that and otherwise I think people who enjoy genre work will dig it as well. I am proud of the work, proud to be a part of it. I hope people enjoy it.
I think you did an amazing job. You are always so great in all of your films. You always play such different characters and you are fascinating. So, thank you.
Michael- Thank you. That means a lot. I really appreciate you saying that.Thank you.