An interview with :

Larry Fessenden

IMDB    Website
Larry Fessenden was born on March 23, 1963 in New York City, New York, USA.

He is an actor and producer, known for Habit (1995), Wendigo (2001), Session 9 (2001), The House of the Devil (2009), Stake Land (2010), You're Next (2011), We Are Still Here (2015) and Like Me (2017).

So Larry, I guess the first question I always ask is what got you into acting in the first place and did you have any acting idols?

Larry:  Since I was little I liked performing. I liked horror movies when I was young and so I was drawn to the actors who appeared in those old films I saw on television: Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. I saw a bio-flick about Lon Chaney starring James Cagney and I became a lifelong Cagney fan, branching into gangster films. I also liked Bogart and Cary Grant.

But of course when I grew up I liked Robert De Niro and Jack Nicholson.

DGE:  Your career so far has been amazing with around 99 acting credits, 70 or so as a producer and a further 40 as either director or writer - how in the heck do you find the time to fit so much in!

Larry:  Well I am over-extended and I’m not sure I do any of these roles to their fullest. I depend a lot on able bodied collaborators to get the job done.

Beyond that, I try to focus fully on the exact job at hand, tackling each deadline as it comes and nurture a philosophical approach to the work so it is all related, all one big project, with common themes, so it is not too jarring jumping from writing to directing to producing to acting to music and animation to hula hooping.

All the same!

DGE:  So whilst being a busy man doing several things at any time, is there any single one thing you love doing the most - such as acting maybe?

Larry:  I am perhaps an actor at heart but I am most fulfilled as a director because I have a big picture perspective, and the director gets to control the overall vision of a project and every detail.

That excites me.

And in the filmmaking process, my favorite aspect is the editing, because that is ultimately where a film is made.

DGE:  I have to admit that a lot of the independent movies I like, you seem to have had a hand in! Session 9, The Pod, Stake Land, You're Next, The Battery, We Are What We Are, Jug Face and one my wife loves is We Are Still Here - so I guess my question is - what is it with the weird and wonderful kind of movies that draws you to them?

You seem to be the `go-to-actor` for such roles.

Larry:  I am not sure how I have come to be a go to actor, and in fact that time may have passed, but for a while, kids that grew up seeing the early independent films that I directed and acted in (namely Habit) thought it would be cool to cast me.

And everyone seems to like to kill me in movies, and I don’t have a front tooth and I have funny hair, so there are lots of reasons I have been in demand.

Larry in Habit (1995)

I kinda guess this next question follows on from the last - and one your friend Lauren Ashley Carter picked up on and that is - why is the horror industry a seemingly small world? You have worked with some actors and actresses in several of your movies - Lauren being one.

Larry:  Horror is a small world for sure. We all go the same conventions and festivals, we all have the same references and idols (Romero, Cronenberg, Godzilla, Suspiria, Halloween, Frankenstein).

Of course within that community there is a lot of diversity of taste and opinion.

Larry in Jug Face (2013)

  One of your recent movies, Like Me, is insanely good! I read somewhere that this movie is based on the whole social media and kids transfixed to their phones kind of culture.

How did you become involved in this movie and is 'social commentary' the kind of genre you would love to revisit again sometime in the future?

Larry:  In fact most of the movies I produce or direct could be labeled as “social commentary” in that I believe movies should reflect the times and the struggles of the human condition.

And boy do we got problems nowadays!

Like Me came to us through my producing partner Jenn Wexler who also directed the forthcoming The Ranger.  Like Me seemed like a powerful statement about internet culture and I respected the director’s passion so we figured out how to make the flick.

DGE:  I think the one scene that had me hooked in Like Me was when you first meet Kiya (played by Addison Timlin) in her motel room and she 'force feeds' you whilst tied to the bed. That must have been a hell of a shoot!

Larry:  That was a crazy shoot. And right before, this doctor I had seen called me and said I might have a brain tumor so while we were shooting I kept thinking this might be the last thing I ever do!

Larry in Like Me (2017)

DGE:  A brain tumour!  Well I hope you have been given the all clear!  And speaking of scenes, are there any kind of you wouldn't like to be involved in? Perhaps anything that may be exploitive or unnecessary?

Larry:  There are plenty of scripts and films that just seem exploitive for no reason. That is a concern with the genre. I have never liked horror for horror’s sake, so I pick and choose.

Of course some stuff that is shocking is totally valid, like a HENRY PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER type of film. You just have to use your judgment and your inner guide.

You want to put the right stuff out in the world and not be part of the toxic sludge in our culture.

DGE:  Depraved - a movie I know nothing about other than its about a surgeon who builds a man out of body parts (thanks IMDB). I also read that you love Frankenstein - so I guess Depraved is kind of a homage to that character?

Larry:  Yes, Depraved is my Frankenstein movie. I will be finishing it in the Fall and then roll out to festivals. It takes a long time to get a movie out there.

DGE:  You already answered my next question but can you elaborate more in knowing more about the movie? Trailers, release dates etc?

Larry:  I’m starting a Depraved website and I’ll start dripping out info. Believe me, I am very excited to share everything with people, but you have to pace things out.

DGE:  Now, Ti West and Adam Wingard are two writers/directors whose movies I love to watch and people have said that you have been the reason why these two guys, and many others in the industry are doing so well today - that you influenced their careers. That must be an amazing feeling!

Larry:  Yep, it’s nice to have played any part in someone else realizing their vision.

DGE:   Whilst on the subject of horror movie's, it’s been questioned a lot recently, especially over here in the UK, that the horror industry seems to have gone a little stale or late with very little in terms of originality but with movies such as The Babadook, The Witch, It follows and two more recent ones - Pyewacket and The Crescent - I personally feel we are in a good place right now. Now, being involved in that genre yourself, what are your thoughts on where the horror genre is going?

Larry:  I think it is safe to say the genre is in a great place. People are finally seeing that horror is an artful genre that has much potential cinematically and thematically.

But pay attention: as soon as a film is successful, they try to call it something other than horror: “Psychological thriller” and so on.

There is a deep prejudice against the genre. It is still an outsider art-form.

DGE:  Do you have any favourite movies (not necessarily horror) that have either inspired your career to date or you just love to watch in general and can you recommend any that are currently doing the rounds now that may not necessarily be getting the publicity they deserve?

Larry:  That is a tough question. I love so many types of movies from Jaws to The Other Guys, Angst to Night of the Living Dead. James Cagney and Fred Astaire. I love Hitchcock and Werner Herzog and Polanski, Scorsese and Jarmusch. I loved Moonlight and I thought Hereditary was bold, though it overstayed its welcome.

As for more obscure films, I gotta say, I’m not the cinephile I would like to be, I don’t have time to watch movies any more, I am still responding to and nourished by the movies I loved as a kid.


Well, a huge thank you to Larry.  He is one talented man who puts his hat in the ring in terms of not only acting but also writing and directing (as well as producing) many a great movie.

Please check out his work by visiting his website and IMDB page.


Like Me (2017)

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