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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