The humble, yet charismatic Zack Ward.
This man has a fascinating outlook on life, film and life in film so let’s get the basics covered. Born in Canada. Mom is an actress and his first film was a certain Christmas movie that is as much apart of holiday tradition as eggnog. With over 30 plus years of a resume checklist that includes: Movies…check. TV…check. Tied for #1 as actor in the most video game adaptations…check. Writer, producer, director…check, check, check. Copious in creativity with minimal boundaries; but also awareness of lessons learned in previous experiences that he applies to his current state! Charisma, honesty and an impressive work ethic! His favorite interview questions include “Were you aware that TBS has A CHRISTMAS STORY marathon on Christmas Day” and “Did you know that A CHRISTMAS STORY was going to be the hit it has turned out to be”. Mr. Zack Ward!
Amy Humphries / Terror Time: First off, you know I am a huge fan of your latest film, RESTORATION! (that just hit #8 on iTunes top 25 in horror movies list.) Congratulations! Few people can pull off writing, directing, producing AND starring in a film but ya did it! This was film #1 from your production company, Grit Film Works, which you co-found with James Cullen Bressack. BETHANY being the 2nd. I know you value “parts played” in a film equally; so how was it taking on so many jobs and their responsibilities for RESTORATION?
Zack Ward: It sucked. LOL. Seriously though it was an amazing challenge and not possible without the incredible support of my crew, producing partners and girlfriend. James Cullen Bressack and I spent every waking moment together, from writing to prep and shooting through both films and months in post. My girlfriend, Jen McMahan, supported me in every other way possible. It is completely true when they say, “It takes a village to raise an idiot”. The key was compartmentalizing the process and focusing on the task at hand; one thing at a time. It sounds easy but it’s mind numbingly frustrating with so many moving parts, especially when being in front AND behind the camera. But the only thing you can do is roll with the punches and trust your own decision making process. It’s like my Grandma told me, “Do one thing at a time, do it the best that you can, then do the next”. And none of that would have been possible without the team I had the honor to work with.
TT: The gratitude you have for your team, as well as your support system, is refreshing! One of our lost greats, Irwin Keyes, once addressed the question “What did it mean to him to be a supporting actor /character actor”. His response reminded me of you. He said “It’s not just supporting the lead. It’s a different kind of part. You may see us in one or two scenes, but we stand out. It’s like a punch in the face. You can’t forget them. It’s special. Unique”. Was there a particular film or TV experience for you that solidified the impact you do make as a supporting actor versus being lead?
ZW: I grew up watching my mother, Pam Hyatt, perform in films, commercials and the theater; her roles spanning all options. Being exposed to Shakespearean theater at a young age, I watched first hand how it was the caliber of the acting, not the size of the role, that defined impact with the audience. I never cared about being the star, I just wanted to do the best I could, to create that connection with the audience where we all shared the same moment and clicked.
TT: That connection you try to achieve, is very apparent in how your execute characters! This is one of my favorite stories you have! RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE, you and Milla Jovovich shared a rental cabin (for work folks) during filming, right, and you actually helped teach her stick fighting. And the stick fight sequence in the movie, those were your sticks, right? If you tell me you don’t still have them, you will be penalized by a deduction in cool points!
ZW: Actually, Milla gave me her assistants apartment to use and then an extra room in the house she stayed in while I was shooting RE:2. She’s truly one of the kindest and sweetest women I’ve ever met, outside of my girlfriend. As to the fighting sticks, yup, those were my sticks and nope, I don’t have them any more as I gave them to her as a thank you for all her support. They were an African iron wood, so super hard and super strong. Pretty kick ass.
TT: Amazing! Zack, you’ve experienced both big budget horror films and smaller budget horror films. What was the most significant difference between the two that still resonates with you?
ZW: No rehearsal time and bad food. You get stuffed on Transformers, but you better bring a bag lunch on the indie films. Seriously, they both have their pros and cons. I love all the crazy tech toys on the big budget films but I adore the sense of comradery on the low; they feel like you’re all pulling together to make a miracle happen and you might just get it done. Pretty heady stuff.
TT: You seem to make the best in both worlds! This I gotta know; when you got the call about doing a cameo in 2003 FREDDY VS. JASON, what was your reaction?
ZW: Hell yeah! And then I got naked in a bathtub filled with blood and turned hot pink for about a week. It was an amazing experience being taught by Robert Englund how to walk and talk like Freddy. As “Holy Crap” moments go, that was pretty epic.
TT: I can’t even pretend to know the magnitude of what that experience must’ve been like! When addressing “favorite genre to act in”, you stated that it’s not the genre by itself that makes an impact with you but the team involved in making the film that does. Is that a contributing factor in why you chose James to partner with for Grit Film Works? The chemistry you have with him is impressively organic! And does this also mean you will continue to be hanging around the undeniably awesome horror community for a while?
ZW: James is an Olympic level athlete when it comes to flexing the filmmaking muscles. He’s a fearless wonder boy, so it’s always exciting to see what he brings to the table. I love horror, because it can be drama, action, comedy, etc. As long as the stakes are high, the audience is committed to the cause. So yeah, I’ll be here for as long as you’ll have me.
TT: Zack, I can’t thank you enough for letting me touch on just a small portion of your contributions to the entertainment industry! Please keep me updated on all your horror endeavors. What can the community look forward to and how can they follow you and your projects?
ZW: Thank you for the opportunity. BETHANY should be coming out this September/October in theaters and look for another film I wrote called THE TERROR OF HALLOWEEN, a dark fairytale akin to “Pan’s Labyrinth” taking place in 1980. For anyone who hasn’t seen it yet,
RESTORTION is on iTunes and VOD now, coming out to Amazon next month. And please say hi on Twitter and Instagram @TotalZackWard or my Facebook which has a little verified sticker on it so you know it’s me. Thank you again.