CASTING MY CHILDHOOD HERO - RODDY PIPER
by Peter Simeti
Even if you don't like horror thrillers, comic books, supporting indie creators, or all of the above - get a ticket to see The CHAIR because Roddy Piper was freaking brilliant in it and the performance deserves to be seen.
Let me take a step back a bit and explain that, for the sake of full disclosure, The CHAIR is based on a comic book I wrote back in 2006 to 2008. But don't see it because I wrote it. After all, who even cares about who the hell I am? I'm just another comic creator working a 16 hour day - who I am hardly matters at all to the point of this story. I was fortunate enough to be able to cast the film and I immediately knew that I wanted to cast the actors that I loved as a kid.
Of course, I started out the traditional way - by sending letters and emails to agents.
Well, that got nowhere fast.
After being tired of playing the waiting game, I took matters into my own hands and contacted people on facebook and twitter. Some responded, some didn't, some said yes, and some said no. Some of the rejections were from ridiculously nice folks like Tony Todd, Doug Jones, Mark Hamill, Viggo Mortensen, Brian Thompson, Loren Lester, Phil Lamarr, Kevin Conroy, Lew Temple, Clint Howard, Billy Drago - the list goes on and on. Everyone that responded was kind and courteous and every rejection blew my mind because these were all people I loved when I was growing up. The people that said yes, though - the ones that actually are IN the film - that's the special stuff.
Now, everyone did a fantastic job on this film, there are strong performances all around especially given the deep, thought-provoking, and disturbing high tension subject matter in this old-school style horror film. It's not a torture porn film - there isn't gore for the sake of shock value here. Deaths of characters MATTER to the plot and characters aren't just complete throwaways that are fodder for cheap scares. The reason I mention Roddy - is because this was the last feature film he did before he unexpectedly passed away.
Roddy cared so much about this role and we had multiple phone calls going over the character as he took notes and offered his own spin on things as well. But the absolute best part about those calls was the fact that they'd turn into longer talks about family and life and our experiences working against the odds and following a dream. He was a great guy and due to an awful snowstorm in Boston at the time, I wasn't able to fly out during filming and shake his hand and thank him for his time and friendship. Texts and phone calls, as great as they were, just aren't the same thing. It's something I'll always regret.
As a child I loved Roddy's energy and his larger than life presence, he was a hero of mine even when he was a villain. As an adult, I loved how humble and approachable he was and how he made you feel like he knew you his whole life. You don't often get to meet your childhood heroes and sometimes when you do, you wish you hadn't - but Roddy went above and beyond expectations.
Just like he always did.