David Howard Thornton: «Art the Clown likes pineapple pizza»

We talk with David about his role in the new cult saga Terrifier.

Hi David, thanks for your time!

Just to locate you in time and space, this is an interview for Argentina, a public that LOVES horror movies. And also Terrifier! And so, because we became such avid fans of Art the Clown, I wanted to chat with you about the character and the new movie.

Chiri: When I saw the short and then “All Hallows’ Eve”, I said to myself: “This clown has what horror movies need.» And then came “Terrifier”, which was where you, as an actor, appeared. How was the process of appropriating “Art, the clown”? Because we know that he is not an ordinary villain… Where does the inspiration come from and what was the personal imprint that you wanted to give him?

David: It was a daunting task taking over the role after the original Art. Mike Giannelli played him so well. I was worried how fans would receive my portrayal, which I decided to make more physical than his but still retain the essence of what he originally brought to him. I figured that since he was a silent clown, that he would be using his body and face to convey his emotions and intent but in the way a clown would. I found inspiration from the many great silent film and physical comedian actors that came before me such as Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harpo Marx, Jim Carrey, Rowan Atkinson, Doug Jones, and most importantly, my dear friend Stefan Karl who I understudied for 5 years as the Grinch on tour with the musical version of the tale. I was happy to see that the fans enjoyed my different take on the character.

Chiri: What physical challenges does the character bring to you? It occurred to me to ask you this because, for example, I see that you are showing your teeth the ENTIRE movie.

David: Well, the biggest physical challenge is emoting using only body language. That is hard! Luckily, I had many great actors to learn from, that I mentioned earlier, to help me accomplish this task.

As for the teeth, those can be a pain. I wear prosthetic teeth over my real ones, and they can start to hurt after a while. Plus, they make me drool which can ruin the make up some causing us to pause filming so we can fix it. We deal though!

Chiri: Now that I think about it, would you like to tell us about how you came to the role in the first place?

David: I simply responded to an open call audition notice that was looking for a tall, skinny male with experience in physical comedy and/or clowning. I then had to improvise a scene where I gleefully decapitated a victim, which you can find online if you want to watch it!

Audition tape

Chiri: Art is pure evil and does not seek to generate empathy with anyone —despite the fact that he is adorable—. Do you think he’ll ever get a girlfriend?

David: I view Art as asexual. Intimate relationships of that nature are beneath him. However, he has no problem having a willing accomplice to join him in his fun!

Chiri: Whether he has a partner or not, he does very well with the public. Did you imagine that such a sadistic character would gain so many fans?

David: I had hoped he would, but never imagined he would garner this many fans! I thought he was a fun and charismatic character that audiences would enjoy. However, I realized that we were a very low budget independent film that probably would never be shown in theaters, so I did not anticipate him reaching a large audience base. Boy, was I pleasantly surprised how wrong I was!

Chiri: Ever since the pizza restaurant scene in the first movie, I’ve always told myself that Art has good taste in food. What is his favorite pizza flavor? —P.D.: You guys should totally film a cooking segment with Art. Like Mr. Bean, but sadistic and who eats the presenter—.

DAVID: Ha! I love your idea! He is a cannibal, after all, so I imagine someone’s «sausage» or «pepperoni» would be a choice topping for him… as well as pineapple and anchovies… He IS evil after all!

Art the clown loves pineapple pizza

Chiri: And now, let’s talk about the new movie, Terrifier 2. I guess when you read the script for the first movie, you said, «This is twisted.» What impression did the script of the second one gives you? Because, just by seeing the trailer, we already realized that there will be blood in seas… —By the way, do you keep track of the liters of blood you spent?—.

David: When I read the script for the second film, I instantly knew we had something big and special on our hands. I loved how Damien took everything to a higher level, from the characters to the kills. I was especially happy with the new protagonist of Sienna that he brought to the story. After part 1, we talked about how he really needed a Batman to his Joker. Someone that could really go toe to toe with him that they audience would cheer for. This is her origin story. I also knew that I would not be able to carry the film alone and that we needed a truly talented and capable actress to bring this character to life. I wanted audiences to actually cheer for her in their seats.

We really lucked out when we found Lauren Lavera. Her performance, as well as the rest of the cast’s, brings this film to a whole new level. I am excited for everyone to meet her! As for the amount of blood… There was too much to count! 

Chiri: Can you tease anything about Terrifier 2? Perhaps something really interests you. I don’t know, something like “pay attention to this or that scene, it’s going to blow your mind”.

David: The scene that everyone is talking about is the biggest kill scene that happens during the film in a bedroom. We went overboard with this kill since we wanted to surpass the hacksaw scene of the first film. Oddly enough, Covid was a boon to us in this department because it gave Damien much more time to create all of the practical effects used in this scene. It was originally conceived from a photograph of one of Jack the Ripper’s victims, Marry Kelly. He wanted to deconstruct that kill in some creative ways. Apparently, he succeeded since this is the kill that has been reported to make some audience members pass out and vomit from seeing it. I have actually witnessed several audience members leave the film because they could not handle it. It’s gory, but also entertaining at the same time because, despite the horrible acts happening during it, Art is still joking around. We might have made slasher film history with this one kill!

Chiri: Will there be more of Art the clown in the future?

David: Most definitely! We tease part 3 with a mid-credits scene. We still have many more stories to tell about Art and maybe Sienna in future films!

Chiri: Any words for the Argentine audience?

David: Thank you! This film would never have been possible or even funded without the fans. We made this film as thanks to you all for your support. We hope that you love it!

Chiri: Thanks for your time!

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