Mick Ignis is a prolific character actor who you may have seen in the popular Harry Potter short “Serverus Snape in the Marauders”. His latest works include several demons on the hit IFC show “Stan Against Evil”.
I had a chance to catch up with him to talk about his latest movie project that will air on the SyFy channel October 14th 9pm/8 CT called “The Sandman” .
AQ: Hey Mick! thanks for talking with us. Tell us about your upcoming project “The Sandman”? What is it about?
MI: “The Sandman” follows a young girl named Madison (Shae Smolik) who has a powerful and uncontrollable ability to manifest a murderous, supernatural guardian whenever she feels fear. After being taken in by her aunt Claire (Haylie Duff), Madison becomes the target of an agency, lead by a shady character called Valentine (Tobin Bell), looking to use The Sandman for their own gain. It’s a terrifying introduction to this new horror monster that I can’t wait to unleash on audiences.
AQ: How did you get involved in this project?
MI: I was recommended to the film’s writer/director Peter Sullivan by my good friends George Troester and Cig Neutron, who’s studio TroTron FX, handled the creature effects for “The Sandman“. I met with Peter at his office to discuss the role and we immediately had a blast talking about the script and all the terrifying directions we could take the character in. Peter is clearly a huge fan of the genre and managed to create a character that resonates the energy of past horror icons while bringing something completely new and horrific to the table. I was already excited about the project when I first read the script, but that excitement continued to grow after every shot we got in the can. As horror nerds, this was a dream film for us all.
AQ: Did you have any creative input into the final look of your character?
MI: The creatures look was all the work of the talented FX team who designed him. Creature concept artist Adam Milicevic did some amazing designs of “The Sandman” and the suit really came together with the sculpt and finishing texture that truly gave the appearance of a being made from dark sand. The added visual effects that complete the characters transformations will be the icing on the cake.
I noticed that it was executive produced by Stan Lee. Did you ever get to meet him on set?
I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting Stan, but I hope to soon! I’ve been a HUGE Marvel fan since I was a comic book devouring child, so I just about lost my mind after finding out that Stan signed on as Executive Producer of the film. It’s beyond an honor to share a project with someone who’s work has had such a profound effect on my life.
AQ: What was the casting process like for this movie?
MI: This being such a small community, so many of the roles that come my way are by referral. Which I’m grateful for, as I (like many actors) HATE auditioning. I had worked with George on several projects before this and have been good friends with him and Cig for years, so we already had a strong working relationship. For creature roles like this, having a strong team around the character is essential. I’m playing The Sandman, but it’s the entire fx team that truly brings him to life. It’s a very collaborative effort.
AQ: What was the makeup process like when suiting up for your scenes?
MI: This project was MUCH easier on me than others I’ve been on. The suit and mask were custom sculpted to my body cast, so I have an excellent range of movement with it. It takes two people about 20 minutes to get me in the suit and pop on the mask. Significantly less than the hours spent gluing me in to prosthetics!
AQ: Tell me a little more about your acting background. Where did you get your start? Did you always want to be an actor?
MI: I feel like, while I didn’t have the confidence to be an actor until my early 20s, I was always finding some way in which to tell stories. I started in entertainment as a stop-motion animator on shows like “Robot Chicken” and “Moral Orel“, where my focus was on studying movement and transferring that over to the puppets I was pushing around. That itself is a sort of acting performance. While I loved animation, it didn’t feel like THE thing I was meant to be doing with my life, so I took what I loved most about the animation process and furthered it by going to school for acting and makeup artistry. Playing monsters wasn’t my initial pursuit but, with my physicality and connection to the makeup fx world, it was an inevitable path and I love the diverse range of characters I’ve been able to portray.
AQ: How did the practical fx make up come into play with your acting career? Was there some intensive training involved?
MI: The first person to really start throwing me under prosthetics was my fx teacher Rob Burman and I took to it quickly. From there, I worked at a studio called Amalgamated Dynamics, where veteran fx artist Alec Gillis cast me in projects like “The Evil Within” and “Harbinger Down”. This being such a small industry, word traveled fast between FX studios and film producers and I’ve been steadily building up my rogues gallery ever since. There wasn’t any specific training for this, just experience and learning more and more from each role.
AQ: You came from a theater background. Do you think you would go back to it?
MI: I absolutely would! I love performing on stage. It’s a completely different feeling from doing something for film and the immediate audience response is intoxicating. It’s a bit of a time commitment but, if the right role opportunity came along, I would definitely jump back in to doing a theater production.
AQ: Which do you prefer TV /movies or the stage?
MI: In a perfect world, I’d be performing on stage whenever I’m not shooting on film. Being an actor for movies and television will always be my dream and number one priority, but live performance is something I’ll always be passionate about. I get a bit of that feeling from dressing up and performing at conventions, but nothing beats a well-oiled stage production.
AQ: One of the big things we know you from is “Severus Snape and the Marauders”. Rumor has it that it’s developing a possible sequel. What can you tell us about that?
MI: The rumors are true! As “Severus Snape and The Marauders” closes in at 3 million views, the entire cast has decided to reunite to keep the story going with “The Great Wizarding War”. This will be a new medium for me, as we’ll be telling this ambitious magical war story as a 12-part radio play series. I’ve read the first few episodes and, if you thought the stakes and intensity was high in the film, just wait to hear what’ll be unleashed in this tale set in one of the wizarding worlds most dangerous times. I’m very excited to jump back in to playing Snape and take his story down this spiral. We’ll be announcing more details about the project soon!
AQ: We also have seen you as that awesome goat demon in “Stan Against Evil”! What was it like working on that show!
MI: “Stan Against Evil” is one of the greatest joys in my career and I’m beyond grateful to series creator Dana Gould for bringing me on. I’ve now portrayed 4 different demons plaguing Willard’s Mill, which has given me a lot to play with. The entire cast is an absolute joy to work with and the show is only getting better as the blend of horror, comedy, and heart finds its perfect balance. It’s great to work on a show that has so much love and respect for monster characters. Rather than just being a “be scary from Point A to Point B” sort of production, the creatures really drive the story forward and give me something good to dig in to. And getting to fight John McGinley each summer doesn’t suck!
AQ: We’ve seen you in many forms. You are a great chameleon. We can never tell what you will show up in next. What’s your favorite character you have portrayed so far?
MI: It is SO hard to pick one character that I’ve enjoyed the most. Every one of them has been a different game. For Stan, the Baphomet is definitely close to my heart after seeing his scowling face around LA on bus stop posters and billboards (at the moment I’m wearing him as a lapel pin!). There’s a character I play in the season 2 finale that had such a fun, sinister personality to play with (and possibly one of my favorite kills in my career), so she’s definitely up there in my faves. Tomorrow night I’ll be seeing The Sandman for the first time and that’s going to be a majorly impactful experience, as it’s the first film I’ve been featured in to this extent. I don’t know…I’m terrible at picking favorites. I don’t really have favorites!
AQ: During the San Diego Comic Con you showed up in a wild WAHLUIGI cosplay. Do you always go dressed up to cons and what are some of your greatest costumes?
MI: Waluigi was something my buddy Cig and I have been talking about doing for YEARS! I saw a previous Wario makeup he did on himself and was immediately like, “dude, PLEASE do that again and turn me in to Waluigi so we can cause some chaos at Comic Con!”. He and Rannie Rodil did an amazing job putting the character together. Nintendo really loved it and it got a great viral response. This was my fourth year of doing these crazy, massive cosplay projects. In the past I’ve been Apocalypse, Thanos, The Vulture…now I’m looking for ways to raise the bar higher for next year! They’re a unique sort of “live theater” opportunity and I have a great time spending the day interacting with convention guests in character.
AQ: Do you have any advice for new actors wanting to do what you do?
MI: I’m all about character study. Get to know your characters as best you can. Learn what makes them tick, what their backstory is, why they do what they do. And remember to enjoy yourself. Be kind and supportive to those you work with. This is a hard and often times painful industry to navigate (I’m definitely still learning) so, if you’re not having fun doing what you love on set, what’s the point?!
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Midnight Mass: The Blood of Life
The isolated island community of Crockett receives a mysterious new head priest, full of secrets and a brand new testament under a very unusual Messenger of God.
Meet poor Riley Flynn (Zach Gilford), freshly released from prison and wracked with guilt over what got him there, a stupid drinking accident that caused the death of his ex-girlfriend. The last thing he wants to do is go back to Crockett and the judgment of the mostly religious community there, his disappointed family, and the nightmares of his ex’s death that plague him. But where else would have him? Resignedly on the ferry, he goes.
Riley’s dad Ed (Henry Thomas) isn’t the kind of man who talks very much at all, much less about his feelings, or his very real disappointment in his elder son. Riley’s teen brother Warren (Igby Rigney) has no idea what to say to him either, and just generally keeps mum. Riley’s mom Annie (Kristin Lehman) is accepting and loving, hesitant in how to help her eldest son but never wavering in her faith in the help of our lord Jesus. Mom seems to think a good heaping dose of the Church would set Riley right but is surprised to learn that the old priest of the Parish, Pruitt, has taken an extended leave of absence from the island, and his newcomer replacement Father Paul (Hamish Linklater) is young, charismatic, and bursting at the seams to tell the whole island about the gifts he brought them, most especially what he claims as a new testament under a messenger of God.
We’ll get back to that whole ball of issues in a moment, the other interesting characters of Crockett Island. Bev Keane (Samantha Sloyan) is the nightmarish overly polite and gently, almost lovingly condescending neighbor Christian woman you’ve ever loathed, the kind of person who explains away every last thing her Church may do wrong or contradictory because, after all, God works in mysterious ways. Pfft. Of course, Bev immediately ingratiates herself as the second to the new Father Paul in their services and is the first to start covering up his transgressions as they become more rampant.
Newcomers to Crockett Sheriff Hassan (Rahul Kohli) and his son Ali (Rahul Abburi) present a burgeoning problem to the plans of Father Paul and his shadowy companion, for they are both practicing Muslims. The practical side of investigating these so-called ‘miracles’ and strange happenings falls on Hassan’s shoulders, as he already struggles with barely-concealed racism and suspicion from his fellow islanders, and of course his son is being wooed away from him by the promise of actual, tangible miracles, but from a different whole faith and God. Father Paul definitely does not practice a traditional Christian faith and relies far too much on making use of the eucharist, the ceremony of the blood and flesh of Jesus Christ turning into bread and wine and, well, consumed.
Wade (Michael Trucco) and his wife Dolly (Crystal Balint) are lifers of the island and both in general interested in one thing, the advancement of their own family, specifically their daughter Leeza (Annarah Cymone), who happens to be in a wheelchair. And that happens to be the canny Father Paul’s first real miracle-with-a-cost that he demonstrates to the astonishment of the parishioners, after a heartfelt and rousing sermon, Father Paul commands Leeza to rise, to stand, and to walk. And lo, she does. What parents wouldn’t wholly dedicate themselves to a cause after seeing this happen to their beloved precious daughter? The fringe benefits of healing, and power, the ones that come at a mighty, currently unnamed, cost, are simply a nice bonus.
Joe Collie (Robert Longstreet) is the town drunk, and while his reasons for drowning his sorrows in the sauce might be understandable, absolution wears a very different face when it comes from Father Paul. While Leeza might be willing to forgive Joe, and even as Joe begins attending the newly-formed Al-Anon meetings on the island of course hosted by Father Paul, redemption might’ve been better sought from medical professionals, and not this newfound method of religious worship.
Dr. Sarah Gunning (Annabeth Gish) is the islands’ kind of all-around medic, and this is how she and Riley’s old friend Erin (Kate Siegel), also newly returned to the island, a few months pregnant but traveling quietly alone, met when Erin comes to the Doc for obstetrics. Sarah’s older mother Mildred Gunning (Alexandra Essoe) has many medical and mental issues, and Sarah struggles in their shared home, to take care of her addled mom and balance her own life. Then Father Paul takes it upon himself to visit one of his oldest parishioners, bringing the sacred host and wine with him to give directly to Mildred, who starts looking and acting so much better under his loving care.
The show is very much a slow slow burn, with a lot of the actual action taking place in the last two episodes. Much of the beginning and middle episodes feature two people just sitting alone, having quiet and seriously in-depth conversations about heavy subjects – grief and repentance, what happens when we die, the disasters that come as a result of addictions, how our actions’ consequences reverberate to those we love around us, faith and the foibles of man, and of course, the giving of oneself over to a higher power, for strength, and guidance, and love.
Except, for the higher power that Father Paul brought back with him, to share with his beloved flock of Crockett Island, while it may be extremely powerful and full of what could be considered miraculous magic, everything comes at some kind of a cost. And when the Messenger of God is finally revealed to the shocked denizens of Crockett at Easter Mass, with Father Paul rapturing on about rebirth as the bloody massacre begins in earnest, it’s faith, not in any kind of God or religion, but faith in each other, that may save a few hardy souls.
Question the wisdom of your religious leaders along with the rest of us in a fine slow-burn addition to the Flanaverse, Midnight Mass is on Netflix now!
Saw X: It ain’t brain surgery!
Legendary executioner Jigsaw returns to exact revenge on a cadre of scam artists who promised him a bogus cure for his cancer!
First off, be aware, that this is what I call an interleaved sequel, a movie set between previous films in the franchise. In this case, Saw X occurs after the events of the very first Saw film, and before Saw II. Everybody got where we are? Good! Into the madness, we dive!
So, as we all know, John Kramer’s been diagnosed with cancer, very aggressive brain cancer, and likely doesn’t have much time left. And he’s tried everything under the sun, doing a ton of meticulous research, we’d expect nothing less from our master of the art of murder, and not one thing has worked. Yet one man from the support group for cancer sufferers, Henry (Michael Beach), offers an off-the-books supposed miracle cure, and John jumps at the chance.
Why does this nonsense always sound too good to be true? Because it is. Deleted scenes from the first Deadpool movie already told us why traveling to Mexico for any kind of medical cure is a sublimely stupid move, but Kramer is desperate. And while he might be sick and dying, John Kramer has never been what anyone could call stupid. So the villa out in the Mexican countryside, the affable cab driver Diego (Joshua Okamoto) professes surprise at Kramer being highjacked for his good, the nervous muttering from assistant Valentina (Paulette Hernandez), the side-eyeing from little housekeep Gabriela (Renata Vaca) and her tequila, and most especially the smooth and smarming reassurances of head “doctor” Cecilia Pederson (Synnove Macody Lund), all leave a kind of sour taste in John’s mouth.
The whole cluex4 scene is done in the style that the Saw films are known for, where we the audience are treated to cut-together explanatory scenes in a flip-flash fashion of usually about two minutes, for poor John when he realizes he’s been hoodwinked and just how badly, seems a little contrived. But then it’s entirely possible that we the audience truly expected our genius mastermind of the infamous Jigsaw murders to have realized what was happening sooner, and got enraged along with Kramer. And cheered as he prepared to take his bloody and ultra-violent revenge!
First up in our grand guignol of executions is the return of Jigsaw’s first protégé, Amanda (Shawnee Smith). And despite her avowed reverence for Jigsaw and his proven “therapy”, Amanda does waver a bit when the scammers are put through the paces of their specially-made Saw traps, and they shriek and blubber and bleed out. The appearance of the ringer of the bunch, Parker (Steven Brand), doesn’t even slow our beloved engineer of the damned down, because we knew Jigsaw would have his other apprentice waiting just off stage, the deliciously vicious Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor). Even the monkeywrench of involving little-boy soccer fan Carlos (Jorge Briseno) in the traps, is just another cog in the machine that is the brilliantly plotting mind of John Kramer.
A fine addition to the Saw legends, showcasing a return to the beloved style and panache of the original Tobin Bell-starring Jigsaw films, Saw X is splashing gore and gallons of blood in theaters now!
Scott Pilgrim Takes Off
“Scott Pilgrim Takes Off,” Netflix’s latest series, is a rollicking journey through the world of video game culture, blending nostalgic references with a fresh narrative twist. Centered around Scott Pilgrim, portrayed with magnetic charisma by Michael Cera, the show skillfully integrates gaming elements into its storytelling, creating a delightful homage to the video game subculture.
The series cleverly employs pixelated graphics, power-up animations, and game-like sound effects to bring the virtual world to life. These visual cues, reminiscent of classic video games, enhance the storytelling and resonate with audiences familiar with the gaming landscape. The attention to detail in recreating iconic gaming moments is commendable, creating a visual and auditory treat for enthusiasts.
The exploration of video game culture goes beyond mere aesthetics; it becomes an integral part of the characters’ identities and interactions. The script intelligently weaves gaming terminology and tropes into the dialogue, effectively blending the real and virtual worlds. The series navigates the challenges and triumphs of the characters through the lens of gaming, making it a unique and engaging experience for both gamers and general audiences.
The ensemble cast, including standout performances from Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ellen Wong, and Chris Evans embraces the gaming theme with infectious enthusiasm. The chemistry between the characters is palpable, adding emotional depth to the series.
“Scott Pilgrim Takes Off” successfully taps into the zeitgeist of video game culture, offering a nostalgic yet contemporary take on the gaming phenomenon. It’s a must-watch for those who cherish the pixelated roots of the gaming world while providing an accessible and entertaining narrative for a broader audience. The series takes off not only in its title but also in its ability to soar within the ever-expanding realm of Netflix originals.