Horror has been captivating audiences since 1986. Since then, actors and directors have brought more and more to the screen to entice audiences for that delightful scare. Some of these coveted actors from movies and series such as Tales From the Crypt, Candyman, Scream, and many more gave their fans a wonderful chance to meet them and ask questions at Lvl Up Expo 2019. These panels featured Mark Dodson from Gremlins and Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi, Felix Silla from The Addams Family and Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi, Roger Jackson from Scream, and John Kassir from Tales From the Crypt. During their panels, these coveted actors told their backstory as to how they got into the business and the characters that they played from their many shows and movie appearances.
Mark Dodson’s Story
Mark Dodson (from Gremlins and Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi) grew up as a huge fan of Charlie Chaplin and voices such as the Pillsbury boy. He practiced and imitated voices as much as he could. He wanted to be a producer, so when he graduated high school at the ripe age of 18, he went straight to Los Angeles. His first job was laboring out of Skywalker Ranch (yes, that Skywalker Ranch) but the word soon got out that he could do voices. Mark was asked to read some lines for a new movie coming up, Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi. The producer heard his talent and the rest is history. His legacy preceded him to Steven Spielberg who heard what a great voice he had. He was cast in Gremlins and is grateful and thankful for the help of the fans along the way.
Felix Silla’s Story
Felix Silla (actor from The Addams Family andStar Wars VI: Return of the Jedi) was born in Rome, Italy and came to the States by joining a traveling circus. On the tour of the US, his troupe was setting up in LA when he decided that he wanted to pursue his dream of being a public figure. Felix met up with an agent and started working as a stunt double for many small films. From there he worked his way up to doing many crazy stunts, including flying over a golf course for a couple of hours. His career started in 62’ and ended around 95’. During the time, he worked on Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom, Batman Returns, and Spaceballs.
What do you guys do to find inspiration for new parts?
John Kassir: It’s really based on what’s in front of us, sometimes that have artwork (like for the crypt keeper) but other times you just have to glean what they have on the script. Sometimes they just have storyboards for you to gather what’s going on. You try to get inspiration from that. It’s comes from all kinds of places for me. Including people that I know.
Roger Jackson: A large part of my technique was practicing impressions from classic cartoons on TV. I would simply borrow voices that inspired me. If you’re lucky you can get all you need (character personality) from the script. It’s a cat and mouse game of building it up over time. It’s pretty rare that you have it in the script what the producer wants from you.
Mark Dodson: I’m the same. It’s all different places. It depends on what I’m doing, but now a days with the commercials I’m doing they just tell me what they want.
What is one role that you turned down or didn’t get that you wish you did get?
JK: I was offered a a spot on The Tracey Ullman Show on HBO, and then get offered another offer on FM at the same time. I took the offer from FM but it only lasted one season. The Tracy Ullman Show also didn’t last, but it did spark The Simpsons, which took characters/voices from the Tracy Ullman show. So I missed a chance to work on Simpsons.
RJ: I’m not turning down anything. I’ll take anything that’s thrown my way.
Do you think you’d ever become a voice actor?
Felix Silla: I don’t think I want to do it because I can’t compete with these guys. I appreciate what others do but I liked what I did and I stuck with it.
*In the words of John Kassir, “A bad impersonation is just a new voice”*
What’s your favorite classic monster?
JK: Frankenstein’s monster, I had a six foot cutout of him as a kid.
RJ: Please don’t make a me pick a favorite monster, I love them all. I used to take airplane glue and make cobwebs all over the phantom of the opera set that I had. I loved them all.
MD: My favorite is Dracula. I always liked him, he’s kinda cool. I liked Vincent Price a lot (Dracula) and he’s a St. Louis guy.
Through the years, is the hype for the characters still there or has it faded?
JK: I certainly think the crypt keeper has gotten more hype. I read the comics as a kid and loved them. When the show came on I thought it was just going to be a cult classic, and it didn’t have a really following, but we didn’t know that other people were really watching it and loving it.
MD: I’ve made peace with the fact that my biggest career was in Return of the Jedi. My agent tries telling me differently, but I know that that was and will be the most memorable scene. I think that the throne room scene is the most memorable, and I’m so glad that I got to be a part of it. And I really think Salacious is a really cool guy with a great backstory.
Although the films these actors have starred in might have been years ago, their legacy is growing stronger every day. All of the actors are extremely grateful for their fanbase and their loyal viewers and hope to inspire the next generation of horror fanatics.