BY: DAKOTA DAHL
Shudder Original THE CLEANSING HOUR follows a complete dickhead “Father” Max who runs a popular online web series where he performs exorcisms. Predictably, he eventually bites off more than he can chew. Previously, we spoke with film’s immensely charming director, Damien LeVeck, but now we chat with the actual reprehensible star of the show, Ryan Guzman. If you like what he has to say, you’ll get even more of him in THE CLEANSING HOUR which is currently out on Digital, DVD and VOD.
Oh, and some spoilers below.
What attracted you to the script of THE CLEANSING HOUR?
It was Father Max, of course. That character alone attracted me, there were so many intricacies to that character that made me question so may things about myself. I needed to find some of my own resolution in him. So, I auditioned, met up with Damien (Damien LeVeck, the director), really fine tuned this character and gave him a little bit of depth. Outside of that, the whole script in general was a fun script to be apart of.
Did you draw on any personal experiences to portray Father Max?
Old versions of myself, that’s for sure. Old, egotistical, narcissistic versions of myself that were very vain. I was actually telling this to another interviewer, that Damien had actually asked me for pictures from my Instagram to use for Father Max’s Instagram. He said, “Get the ones that are the most in your face and you trying to look good.” And I really understood what he was talking about, because he wanted to use that as the vanity selling point of Father Max, and that was when I looked at myself in a reflective sense and was like “Whoa, hold on, I’m a little closer to this character than I’d like to be, so let me change some things in my real life because I don’t like that.”
What was the most difficult scene to film, and why?
I guess the switch overs from the VFX. We have to take some time, for the practical effects, we have to take some time to get the face on for Alix (Alix Angelis) or to work with the demon. You have to stay in it, but there’s these long durations between those takes that offer the opportunity to go somewhere else in your mind, and you have to stay focused. That being said, also being naked in front of a freaking fan with a bunch of people staring at me was not the funnest. I wasn’t fully naked for the scene, Damien promised me I could wear a sock. That was about it. There was a moment where me and another cast member, we clicked eyes at the worst possible moment, because I was bending over. I felt so bad for what she had to see.
What are some of your favorite horror movies, and did they influence your performance?
I don’t come from very big horror background. I was never really into scary movies because to me, my own life was kind of scary in its own sense. I was like “I don’t understand why people like to get scared.” That being said, I used to lean towards thrillers, more than horrors. If it was going to be a horror, it was going to be a Freddy, it was going to be a Jason, not Freddy vs. Jason, obviously. Those kinds of things. Something that was so outlandish that I knew it wasn’t going to happen in real life.
If given the opportunity, would you ever star in an actual faked exorcism show?
Probably not. I can check that one off the list now, for doing THE CLEANSING HOUR. I would be an audience member; I would definitely watch it. I’ve had my own experiences with spirits, I had one specific one that scared the living hell out of me, where I actually heard a spirit. Every time I talk about it, I get little chills, it kind of makes me feel a little crazy, to be honest. But I definitely heard somebody. And that experience is, I was in my room at one point in time, I was babysitting my roommates dog, he left the room out of nowhere, started acting weird. I went outside to try and bring him back in the room, as I try to get him back in the room, I hear a voice out of nowhere say his name. His name was “Wes”, so he said (in a creepy voice) “Wes” and it carried on and I was like “What the hell?!” So, I hit up all my roommates, I hit up all my friends, anybody that could be in close proximity, and EVERYBODY was out of town. To this day, I don’t understand, and to this day, any time I feel a spirit or anything like that, I’m the first one to be like “Hey, look, I’m on your side, we can party, we can do whatever you want, we can keep each other happy, but you don’t have to hurt me.”
Have you ever had any actual encounters with the supernatural other than that one?
Me and my girl used to joke around that my grandma used to follow me around, because she would play pranks on my girl. She would knock things over in random places where it’s not possible for things to be knocked over. Or she’d move things. That’s the only other thing, but I personally haven’t experienced any of those. The only actual experience is the one I just said.
As always, what projects of yours can we look forward to in the future?
Right now, I don’t have anything coming out except 9-1-1, a TV show on FOX on Mondays at 8. On 9-1-1 I play a character that is completely different from Father Max. other than that, over the next couple years, I’ll be coming out with me own stuff, and then I’ll be able to give you little hints of what I’ve been working on. I do want to give props to the people that were working on this film, because without them this film would be nothing, and it wouldn’t be as fun as it was. So Alix, Kyle (Kyle Gallner), Damien, Everybody. J.P. the DP (Jean-Philippe Bernier) the director of photography, all of them. They’ve got to get their credit, because Alix is an incredible person to watch turn into a demon, being such a lighthearted, easy going person. Kyle was a very comfortable character to live next to, and as a person in general he’s very collaborative and creative. Damien is by far one of my favorite directors that I’ve worked with, and I’ve worked with quite a few. Everybody came together so well. This movie is a very entertaining movie because of that. That’s why Father Max can be such a dick and an idiot at the same time, because everybody else holds their end of the movie so well, and there’s such a balance to it.
Shudder Original THE CLEANSING HOUR is out now on VOD, Digital and DVD!