The Undaunted Pilgrim: Henry Rollins
by Amy Humphries
Don’t fuck with Henry Rollins
This D.C. native has a professional range like no other. His multi-tiered talents include being a musician, writer, journalist, publisher, actor, motivational speaker, television/radio host, spoken word artist, comedian, and activist. To be stagnant would dismantle the life-experience-seeking appetite of this venturer. This innovator stays in a creative state of mind; constantly moving forward. Henry, armed with his remarkable mind, has graciously stopped by for a few minutes to explore his role as Jack, the immortal cannibalistic loner forced out of isolation to save a woman that claims to be his daughter, in HE NEVER DIED! It’s a privilege to dialogue with Mr. HenryRollins.
Terror Time: Henry, thank you for letting me pick your brain just a bit! I’d like to jump right with your film, HE NEVER DIED. You once described your character, Jack, to be a monotone, dry, Hemingway-esque, declared of sentence “evil” just trying to cut down on any expenditure with humans. How did you prepare for a character that is so counter intuitive to who you are?
Henry Rollins: I had a long time to prepare and I found that it took quite awhile to think through all of Jack’s movements, cadence, facial expressions, or lack thereof. It can’t just be acting blank. There has to be a reason anyone does anything, so there was a lot to consider. I felt that one of the things that plagued Jack was crushing repetition. If your life has ever been a grind, add seven hundred years of that to how you asses your life presently. This to me, is Jack’s hell. Humans are very dynamic but if you read a little history, you have basically read all history. War, peace, ambition, genius, corruption, etc. After one thousand years, you might be a little burnt on the whole “life’s rich pageant” idea. This is every moment of Jack’s existence. Everyone else around him has a life/death rationale. Jack has really nothing in common with anyone. It doesn’t help to explain to anyone. Eventually they just die anyway, so why bother? This is what I tried to bring to the role.
TT: What was your methodology when a scene wrapped and your character “Jack” was done with scenes for the day and Henry was back in his own skin?
HR: During the workweek, I would try to stay on routine. Set, back to the room, prepare, sleep, back to the set. On the days off, I did all the other things I had to do, which was voice over work, writing a screenplay for a film called Gutterdammerung, which is out this year, LA Weekly and Rolling Stone Australia, radio show work, etc. It was a very vigorous stretch.
TT: You stated once that when the movie concluded, you found yourself missing “Jack”, the set and crew. Is it mastering the challenge of that character or the comfort in his skin that grew on you? Or something else?
HR: I liked the story we were telling. I liked the energy of the people on set. You put everything you have into these things. When they’re over, there is no slowing down. There is full speed and then no speed. It’s not easy to just walk away. Not for me anyway. This happens to me coming off of tour as well.
TT: There has been talk of a possible TV show about Jack. Have you been involved in writing any of his back story or storyboard ideas?
HR: I read two episodes of a proposed mini series and they were amazing.
TT: You have been in a handful of great horror movies like FEAST, WRONG TURN 2: DEAD END and THE DEVIL’S TOMB. What is the appeal for you in doing horror roles?
HR: They hire me. That’s it, really. I just like doing things. I will say that the Horror genre allows one to be very full-on, intense and committed. All this holds great appeal for me.
TT: Would you ever do a film with Crispin Glover since he was the catalyst in challenging you to keep an open mind and try acting?
HR: To work with Crispin in anything would be an honor. He’s an amazing actor and a truly unique individual.
TT: You’ve expressed your passion for picking a headline, book the trip, grabbing a backpack and discovering its story for yourself. Is it the thrill of the hunt that instigates the adventure or the distrust in 2nd hand information?
HR: That’s right. I make a headline, put myself in it go out into what Mark Twain characterized as “the territory” and see what happens. I reject much of the fear mongering that goes on when another part of the world is described. To hear it from some people, if you leave the US, you will be attacked, robbed, what have you. I live in Los Angeles. I can have all that happen to me in a grocery store parking lot. So, I choose not to fear the world. I am not saying that you have to be careful but where should you not be careful? I have been to almost 100 countries and all seven continents and so far, I have found people all over, from Tehran to Pyongyang to be quite friendly.
TT: Your decompression action of choice is a caffeinated drink, the turntable and speakers. What is your “go to” vinyl that gets you back to self?
HR: I engage in two kinds of listening. Protein and carbohydrate. During the week, I listen to new music. That’s the protein part. On the weekends or the occasional day off on tour, it’s familiar music, that’s the carbohydrate part. As far as the latter, I like records I grew up with. Buzzcocks, Damned, Adverts, Fall, Ruts, Cramps, bands I first heard when I was a late teenager. This music is in my DNA at this point and it’s good to visit it now and then.
TT: I can’t thank you enough for this. A follow up together is definitely in order since we have only just scratched the surface.
HR: Yeah! Thank you for your interest.
Catch HE NEVER DIED on Netflix!
“If you give me any pool, I’ll find the coldest, deepest part to jump into and we’ll see what happens.” – Henry Rollins
You can follow Amy @Amy_HumphriesDC