Ted Raimi Interview at Twisted Nightmares Weekend

It’s the Twisted Nightmare Weekend and I am hunting for Ted Raimi. But lo and behold, every time I visit the dealer’s room, he’s nowhere to be seen. So I decided to recruit my minions, fellow writers, Vyeto and Tom with the orders of seize and detain a one Ted. We sat down under the bright sun outside the local Panera Bread near the hotel.

Ted Raimi:
You mind if I smoke?
Diane:
No, go ahead.

(Ted lights up)

D:
So you’ve been very busy. What’s the current project on your plate. I mean, what’s going on?
TR:
I have been busy. Well, these last two years I’ve mostly been doing movies — almost exclusively. I had time to do 1 TV show which was CSI:NY
D:
Which I loved…
TR:
Thanks! Yeah, yes, you would have liked that character. That was interesting, interesting playing that guy, and other than that I’ve been working almost exclusively for the Sci-Fi channel.
D:
Is that like a paying gig with them, obviously, do they just call you up with roles or what?
TR:
Well, it’s a paying gig, there’s two different people who produce movies for them, I’ve been in that sort of circuit. I enjoy working for the SciFi channel there, I happen to be big fans of theirs; also I think they’re very fair with the budgets they allocate, you know, for making movies so I think it’s pretty cool.
D:
I notice there’s a movie called “Freezerburn”…
TR:
Yes, yes there is.
D:
So what’s it about? Pitch it.
TR:
Freezerburn is about, um…best way to describe that movie. It’s about the making of a movie sort of a … it’s an indie movie about the making of a movie. This has-been actress comes back after many years to make a movie and she’s just a horror, and it turns itself into kind of a bizarre movie where she finally gets so crazy on the set that she winds up killing the AD’s and set decorators and…you know, it’s a fun silly movie and I play an FBI agent, I play a lot of FBI guys these days I don’t know why, so anyways I get to be in my late 30’s and I stop playing SciFi, I stop playing like computer geeks and all of a sudden I’m these heavies.
D:
You’re not 25 anymore?
TR:
No, I’m not 25 anymore. Thank God for that, I’m pretty much if I ever play another guy in front of a computer it’ll be too soon. I didn’t mind it, I’ve just played them my whole life so this has been much more fun to do.
D:
With the movie “Kalamazoo”, what’s the Michigan angle on that?
TR:
Well, yeah, obviously it was shot in Kalamazoo by Dave O’Malley who directed me in “Easy Wheels” which was a million years ago, and Dave’s from Detroit and Josie Bisset’s in it and she’s cute and good and everything and I play an angel, I’m like this…I’m an angel I have a white suit and heaven and these old ladies who are near death are dying and need someone to talk to so I come and visit them; very bizarre. It’s really offbeat casting, obviously.
D:
When’s that going to be coming out?
TR:
I don’t know. I don’t…[I] Have no idea, y’ know. All these indie movies, it might be tomorrow, might be next year; God only knows.
D:
If you look at all the roles that you’ve had, which are many…
TR:
Yeah.
D:
Which one of those has given you that “I’m satisfied with myself, performance feeling”, the ones that give you substance as an actor?
TR:
Good question. What a good question that is. I’m thinking about that one.
(A long pause)
Still thinking.
(A long pause)
Well, I’d have to say that question is hard to answer because it’s not any individual role or movie I’ve done, but only moments I’ve managed to capture when doing those parts and the criteria for that feeling is this: If there is a scene or moment that is number one; serving the movie number two; fun to do, and number three, also really hard to work on, it’s probably going to be a really good scene and any scene that is performing those functions are the best moments in my acting life because when I’m performing I’m doing what I do best, you know.
D:
How about favorite characters?
TR:
I think I like Joxer — he was fun to play.
I think my best acting work was probably in this movie I just shot. Produced by Danny Trejo called “Nice Guys”, it’s a comedy, and that’s coming out next year. I play another FBI guy — you know — another actor posing as an FBI guy so it’s really fun and that’s been the most fun. I think though if I had to, I suppose if there’s something missing in my acting life it’s that I’ve never… my dream is to be able to work with David Mamet someday.
D:
Do you choose your roles as an actor, or do they choose you?
TR:
Both, some of them I pick myself, some of them I read the script and go “I wanna play that” and I’ll call them, I’ll chase down a part. Other times I’ll get calls and they say “Hey, you know, you wanna do this?” and I’ll think “well that’s not really me, you know, I don’t know if I can play that” so in the second instance it picked me and I didn’t pick it.
D:
It seems you’ve got a soft spot for “Lunatic: The Love Story”, Why?
TR:
Because it’s a solid drama. It’s a solid drama with good solid characters and it’s well directed. Josh Becker did an excellent job with that picture, and there are very few movies like that. I think I probably would, maybe, dismiss it a little more if all stories had good stories and solid characters but very, very few do — and that’s one that does.
D:
Of course I want to ask the Evil Dead thing…
TR:
Sure
D:
What was it like working on the series? You were probably… well, I was 12 when the movie came out…
TR:
Yeah, you were probably really young. I was 12 when they made evil dead, so I was just a kid. I didn’t have that much to do with it at all, but Evil Dead 2; I was 20 and that I do remember pretty well. It was a great introduction to making movies, because in those days there were very few independent films at all. Not everyone and their brother wanted to be a director so it was highly unusual for someone to be making an independent movie.
Let me quell one misconception: Evil Dead was not an independent, Evil Dead was not a college student movie. A lot of people think that it was just “fly by the seat of your pants” grab a camera and just ran into some abandoned cabin somewhere but it’s not that at all. It was a feature film with a fair, low budget — but a budget that was bonded and insured. The cameras and things were rented so, it’s the real deal.
D:
Well the first movie must have been an eye opening experience for you. Was it at that moment, or before, or after, that you realized you wanted to be an actor?
TR:
That movie had nothing to do with nothing for me. Really. I was just a kid going to visit my older brother while he was working really. So that wasn’t anything. I didn’t’ have a moment where a lot of actors say “You know, I saw this in a movie and I had to be like that I had to do that with the rest of my life”
I never really had that moment.
I picked up acting because I had no desire to work in an office. If I sat behind a desk I’d be dead. I’d kill myself, or just take an Armalite powered shotgun and blow away everyone in the office.
D:
Sounds like my life.
TR:
Yeah, so I couldn’t possibly, possibly, do that. So it was the one thing I knew how to do well, I thought I was pretty good at it so I approached it from that angle and thought “well, you can work in an office or be a salesman”, both are fine to do but they weren’t for me so I chose acting, and it’s been good to me. It’s been fun. I love to travel to a degree. I mean I got a lot of wanderlust. I’m in L.A. for two weeks and I want to get out of there, you know, if I’m anywhere more than two weeks I want to go, so it still feeds that within me and it’s good work.
D:
In your role as Henrietta, in makeup or something similar to that where you are covered head to toe in makeup, would you do it ever again, play a “Henrietta”?
TR:
If I was paid enough. But you know when I was 20 and eager and stupid you didn’t have to pay me anything hardly. I’d do it in a heartbeat. You know now, in my late 30’s, I’d be like “no way”.
D:
You did a play called “The Foreigner” at Meadowbrook Theatre (in Michigan).
TR:
Yeah
D:
Would you go back to theatre?
TR:
Oh yeah! Oh absolutely I’d go back. I loved doing theatre. Love it, love it, love it, love it, love it, love it. I’m much more a theatre actor than a film actor. Theatre isn’t paying shit, so…I’m a film actor. If theatre, I think, if theatre paid as much as film did, I would seriously consider changing up and just do plays.
D:
So your passion is theatre, but for the money to pay your bills it’s film.
TR:
That’s right. I love movies too, don’t get me wrong, but I like plays even better.
D:
Why do you think Evil Dead is still so popular, even after all these years? I finally watched it not too long ago. My editor was like “You haven’t seen the Evil Dead?” Sorry I watched Star Wars, Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles a couple times over again.
TR:
It’s a good question. I honestly don’t know, I can only speculate; I think the first thing is those movies are well made, they’re all well made. They have a tone in them that I think is often imitated and often seldom successfully duplicated. There’s a tone in them…there’s a tone of “we’re half kidding and we’re half not kidding” but it’s still thrilling in a way. It’s a delicate mix, which is tough to do. Anyhow, I think the movies kind of win by default a little bit because there’s a tone of horror movies and not so many good ones and I think those are pretty good.
D:
Anything about the remake? Evil Dead 4?
TR:
Yes, I have this to say about it: there won’t be one as far as I know. That’s all I know. I mean there might be, there might be one but as far as I can tell there isn’t. Nothing’s going on with it at the moment.
D:
I notice on IMDB you’re doing a video game of it? Evil Dead Regenerations?
TR:
Yes, that’s right; Me and Bruce (Campbell) do voices for Evil Dead 4: Regenerations and I’m his half-deadite sidekick, who goes around with Ash killing other Deadites and it’s a really fun one. It’s been given a great look and it’s pretty cool, cool technology and I’m excited to play the darn thing, I have only the samples of it but it should be pretty cool. It was fun to do, I love doing voiceovers…one of my favorite things to do. I had a great time with it.
D:
What else have you been doing, besides…
TR:
Um, I shot a new sci-fi movie called Raptor Planet.
D:
I saw that.
TR:
You saw the movie?
D:
No I saw that you did that on IMDB….
TR:
Right, Raptor Planet and it’s me and Peter Jason and Vanessa Angel, and I’m the bad guy again. Lot of bad guys lately. It’s fun. It’s good fun, I like playing bad guys. It’s much more interesting than playing good guys. So that was a good picture. We shot that in Romania, earlier this year, in Bucharest.
Same studio they shot Cold Mountain in. The crew kept saying (adopts a Romanian accent) “You seen this Cold Mountain? We made this movie here. You no have seen the Cold Mountain?” I said “Yeah, yeah, I’ve seen Cold Mountain, shut up already”…so they were very proud of that one. Yes, that was cool to make and that’s gonna be on SciFi next year and of course Man With the Screaming Brain is coming too. (Editor’s note: this movie has already premiered on the SciFi Channel and should be out on DVD by Halloween).
D:
Where do you see yourself in five to ten years?
TR:
Five to ten years, let’s see. Well, getting in my 1963 Cadillac as I leave my studio, which is mine, that I started five years earlier…I look at the floor of my Cadillac and I see a 500 dollar bill, which I left there. I also see five bagels that were five years old, and I drive to my girlfriends house, who is 5 years younger than me, then I look at my bank statement and that’s got 5 million dollars in it and then I look in the mirror and I’m 5 years younger. Pretty much that’s where I’d like to be. I’d also like to be making TV because I think that’s, but I want to be producing it I’m sort of, I love acting and acting’s become a little more of a side thing for me these days and producing is becoming more important.
D:
So you’re exploring different roles, looking to be a producer / director?
TR:
Not a director — don’t want to direct. No desire to direct. I do want to direct to a small degree, but it’s mostly production. I think TV is, it’s so…it’s got a wonderful untapped potential that’s so … … Mined and most TV is just, you know, awful.
D:
There’s a lot of garbage out now and I’m actually kind of glad to see some SciFi or Science Fiction coming back on the mainstream channels. TR:
Me too!
D:
All three prime time channels have got some kind of an alien invasion series, and then on the WB there’s something called “Supernatural” and I don’t know what it’s about but I want to watch these kind of shows.
TR:
Yeah absolutely, and also you have to remember SciFi which is of course as cyclical as horror generally thrives in a time of stress and fear, we like to watch it because it relieves it. In these days of subway bombings we all like shows that depict some kind of aliens coming to earth and America and then defeating them. It’s very comforting, I think, to us Americans. But yeah, there’s good stuff and I hope to make good stuff, that’s what I’m about.
D:
So would it be like a genre, fiction type of…
TR:
Comedy.
D:
Comedy?
TR:
Raw Comedy. Comedies are the hardest ones to make and that’s slapstick. Very hard to pitch a show like that, networks don’t understand what to do with slapstick. They go “well how do we build on that, how do we sell that?” But people like that, you know. I like it. Gags, sight gags, stuff like that; some of my favorite stuff.
D:
Conventions, you do a lot of conventions, or you try to.
TR:
No, I don’t actually. I used to, but I don’t anymore. I like seeing fans, I love visiting fans, but it’s very time consuming for me these days and I don’t’ have time to fly out. Every time I can I like to get out, meet fans and stuff if I can.
D:
Anything else you want to add?
TR:
No, other than depending on when this is coming out “The Man With the Screaming Brain” is coming out next month on the SciFi channel and it stars Me and Bruce Campbell and Stacy Keech, and I hope you see it and like it, and I think it will be out on DVD too at, sometime in October I think, Halloween it’s coming out on DVD. Halloween’s coming up. It’s hard to believe in this heat, but it is.
D:
Well they’re selling winter stuff in the stores.
TR:
Hello! The heat wave? Hello, wake up.
D:
Yeah I went to the store recently and they’re selling winter clothes and I’m like “what the hell, who’s gonna buy it now?”
TR:
Yeah, it’s really retarded.
What else?
D:
I don’t know…Drink recipes! My editor wanted to know if you had any drink recipes.
TR:
Drink recipes, yes, I have one that I created it’s called Christmas In July and here’s how you make Christmas in July: You take Vodka, one part vodka, a splash (and I mean a splash) of peppermint schnapps, just a splash, you take six mint leaves, put all this in a shaker, mix it up, put a splash of vermouth in there, add one teaspoon sugar, ice, shake vigorously, pour out, serve over rocks and a lime, and you have Christmas in July.
D:
Sounds good.
TR:
Yes, it’s a good summer drink.
D:
You like Martini’s…
TR:
Oh yes.
D:
Are you a shaken person or stirred?
TR:
Well, a shaken really… I think that a lot of booze experts will tell you don’t stir it because you bruise it, they say you bruise it and all bruising means is you’re shaking too much water in it, you wreck it, you have to have some water in your martini or in your cocktail but as it […] I like shaken because it makes it a hell of a lot better. You know? So some people like to stir it…enhh…it’s all about shaken.
D:
Last question: If you have time, what do you do? What do you like to do?
TR:
Good question! No I, yeah I do but I don’t. I wish you didn’t have to sleep at all. I wish we had a pill that enabled you to be awake all the time. I hate sleeping. When you’re sleeping it’s basically like you’re dead and I don’t like that. We’re all going to be dead soon enough. I think we should just…too bad we can’t be awake all the time; we can’t. I remember there was this book you could buy, one of the things where it was like “life’s little questions” one of those books you buy at borders before you leave one of them was this: If you could take a pill that would enable you to stay awake forever, you could sleep if you wanted to but you’d never have to, so in other words if you felt like sleeping you could sleep but you never need sleep again and the only trade off, the pill’s free, and the only trade off is that whenever you were “scheduled” to die, you would die six years earlier, would you take it? Interesting. I’d take it in a second. I’m a candle that burns twice as bright, half as long kind of a guy.
That’s the way I want, but to everybody his own. Sorry, I got off track….
My spare time, sorry. I like to ride my bike, I’ve got a big ol’ cruiser bike I poke that around LA a lot and I go to museums, I like the museum of Jurassic technology, my favorite museum in the world it happens to be in Los Angeles, not many people know about it, it’s a great museum. I like to read history, like Greek literature and roman literature, I enjoy it very much. I like reading great plays, watching great movies and I like Horror movies, I like seeing that. I like taking walks though I hate the beach, like the mountains so long as I don’t have to walk around the mountains. I like my city live, you know, I like concrete. I don’t go to clubs very often but I like jazz, I listen to jazz a lot. What else do I like to do…I like to collect vintage clothes, I have lots of those, I go out and buy tons of different clothes. I like late 50’s, early 60’s clothes the best. So it’s just fun, there’s a lot of people to shop for that stuff. Goin’ out to lunch, dinner, havin’ fun in LA.
D:
When you’re home, you used to hang out in Ferndale quite a bit.
TR:
Yeah, how’d you know that?
D:
Telepathy?….
TR:
Oh, did I? OH — that’s right, that’s right. I do, I love Ferndale.
TR:
I forgot, I love Ferndale. Love to go to, when I’m in Ferndale I go to Record Time, blow a million dollars in Record Time then walk right over to Xhedos, sit in the back drinking coffee. Poking on my computer, I love it. Man, I love their Istanbul coffee. Best…Man, I buy that stuff by the pound…I brought 3 pounds of that stuff back to LA, love that blend. Can’t get enough of it, highly recommend it. And the library bookstore across the street…
D:
On Woodward?
TR:
Oh yeah — you’re thinking of Paperbacks Unlimited. Yeah, they’re going out of business. I think they’re, they’re a good store the problem is they weren’t specific, little book stores can’t be general anymore. Unless you live in a small town you can’t be just a general little book store. You gotta be specific. You gotta be like “this bookstore is little but it specializes in every kind of, you know, every mouse, every rat and mouse and rodent, we have every book on every rodent ever written from the go”.
D:
That’s unfortunate because it’s a Mom and Pop store.
TR:
Absolutely, but there’s another one across the street from Xhedos and I can’t remember the name of it but that’s a very good one too.
D:
Before we melt completely away….
TR:
Yeah, yeah…
D:
I’m getting really sunburned.
TR:
Oh, I’ll switch with you! Oh my God, oh you should have said something. You poor thing. You wanna go inside?
D:
Naw, it’s ok…are you having a great time so far at the con?
TR:
Had a great time so far. I’m excited to do some more in Detroit though, I’d like that and Chicago.
D:
Thank you Ted for your time and insight, it was a pleasure….
TR:
Thank you, this was fun!

For more info on what Ted is up to and to read his blog, go to