“I play a deliciously villainous guy. I like psychological drama, dark, complex characters whose life or choices have forced them into a position of doing things that they wouldn't do. And then they realize they enjoy it.” And with those words, I was hooked.
John Schneider, best known for starring as Bo Duke in The Dukes of Hazzard and Smallville's Jonathan Kent (Superman’s dad), was talking about his current dramatic role in Tyler Perry's weekly show The Haves and the Have Nots on OWN.
But there’s something even closer to Schneider’s heart: the first feature to be released by his Louisiana-based production company, Schneider’s new film, Smothered.
The genesis: “I was at a horror convention in Dusseldorf, Germany sitting at a bar with some horror icons who weren't having the best show,” said Schneider a few Fridays ago during our interview. “I said to one of them, 'If I gave you $1000 right now to haunt an RV park and blow off this convention, would you do it?' He said, 'Absolutely.' And that's precisely why a bunch of actors who play serial killers in movies get together and go camping during a weekend.” Spoiler alert: two people die at the hands – ahem – at the bosom of the busty ingénue.
An admitted horror fan, Schneider, who wrote and directed Smothered, was able to see fan reaction at a screening. “The audience went from laughing hysterically to holding hands with someone because they were scared. Well, it is a horror film and there’s gore,” he said. “But, it's not a typical horror film. It’s unique because the audience empathizes with the villain. It’s funny, but it’s not a spoof. We really show the heart and humanity of the characters. You end up caring for them.”
What’s also gotten Schneider so excited is his new year-old production company, Fairlight Films. The plan is to produce two films a year. When I asked him whether he’s a producer type or a director type, he told me he’s the writer-director guy. “I love to go from a blank screen to popcorn. In the creation process two plus two can equal six. Not so much in producing,” he said, smiling. “Ultimately, the team is where the efficiency lives.”
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