GTea Break

Interview: Jasper Cole on breaking the gay stereotype (part 1)

Hollywood actor Jasper Cole talks horror movies, The Purge: Anarchy and breaking the stereotype of gay actors.

If you’re a fan of film, Jasper Cole should be a household name. The 50-year-old character actor has over 100 films and TV shows under his belt. Expected later this year he’ll be in the film Model Home (see image above), but later this month you can see him in the sequel Purge: Anarchy.

One rainy afternoon in London, we called Jasper to chat as he enjoyed the morning sunrise in the US…

You’re getting known as “Hollywood’s go to bad guy” is that a title you’re happy to hold?

Oh absolutely! I actually make a joke and say it took me many years to get typecast! I’m very happy to be on the list of creepy dad, homeless, drug addict people of society.

You’ve really moved in to the genre of horror haven’t you?

Yeah. Someone said to me recently that I “ended up in horror,” and I said “No I’m happily moving in to horror.” Horror has a huge fan base and is massive on the box office. I’m very happy to do horror as well as everything else.

Is there anything about horror that appeals to you specifically?

Within the horror genre you have them sort of psychological thrillers. I like the stuff that could really happen. The psycho killer that you don’t realise, who turns out to be a guy you didn’t expect. I like that more so than the alien that comes down from the sky. It’s hard not to whine about working but, you know, horror itself can be grueling in terms of shooting. The technicalities of it can be tedious, that’s why when you see it in theatres put together its like “WOW”

Tell us about your role in new sequel The Purge: Anarchy (in cinema’s 25 July).

I play a homeless guy who lives in a big dumpster, during the night of the actual purge people are trying to hide. Especially the lower lives like myself, so I live in this dumpster fighting off people who try and hide in my trashcan. They built this whole mini apartment in this trashcan with mini wifi and my food. You’d probably get $1500 a month in rent for it! So yeah, I play the deranged homeless guy who keeps popping up and scaring people throughout the movie. I was thrilled to work with Michael Bay and everyone back at Universal Studios. I got to interact with most of the leads and add one more creepy character to the resume.

Do you ever find it frustrating that you don’t get that lead role?

I knew early on in my career that, deep down, I was a character actor. I didn’t always look like the character actor, that came much later. But all the stuff I did on stage was always character work. There’s more longevity being a character actor and less pressure in terms of fame and paparazzi. I do think for most of us we can save the stage for stuff we’d never get cast on in films.

In horror most bad guys end up with a gorey death scene, do you have one in The Purge: Anarchy?

I do not! It’s funny until you just asked that it never hit me. I’ve died in the last six or seven films I’ve done but I didn’t die in this film. That’s funny thinking about it. I’m so used to dying in the other stuff… like in the movie Hansel & Gretel last year I died, but I just found out recently that they’re writing the sequel. The writer emailed me saying to keep the month of July open and I thought, “Oh-oh, maybe they’re bringing me back form the dead?” We’ll see! I haven’t got an official call yet, I’ve never been brought back from the dead either but I do survive on the Purge.

Have you got any favourite moments from the filming of the Purge?

Just working with James DeMonaco the director. I’m a big fan of the first one, I’m a big indie film person. I love seeing a small film do really well, especially when the budget last year was like three million or something and it’s like thirty now. But the interesting thing talking with James was that he still only had 30 days to shoot it. On one hand its great to have the big budget but he still only had 30 days. In some ways it was almost harder for him. I try to just please the director. I enjoy when I can interact with directors, there’s nothing greater than feeling like you can help the director get what he wants with the character. So most of my stuff was like I said, literally brief interactions with the other actors but most of my work was with James the director. I do hope to work with him again, which is always the goal for actors.

You said you were a fan of the first film, did that make auditioning for the part exciting.

It would have... but the did a clever thing and in the audition it was called ‘The Zone’. They didn’t tell anyone that it was the sequel for The Purge, I had no clue. I didn’t know anything other than that it was a Universal Pictures horror film. Honestly it was just one of many auditions that week. I hate to say it but that sort of happens. You try and get to the point where you do it, leave the room and forget about it, so when my agent called me and he booked The Zone I was kindof like: “Okay which was one The Zone?” When we finalised the deal they were calling it the Purge 2 at the time. Sometimes it good to not know it means you don’t feel as much pressure going in.

There’s a generalisation that gay men are typecast in to comedic and stereotypically camp roles. Do you think you break the mould?

Jasper: I’d like to think…

Stay tuned to catch the rest of our interview with Jasper tomorrow.

See the trailer for The Purge: Anarchy below (out in cinemas 25 July)

Words Harry Dean, @harrydeansays

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