Michael Bailey Smith
"Can I believe how lucky I was?
Conducted by Phil
April 3rd, 2006
Michael Bailey Smith is currently
terrorising audiences with his excellent portrayal of Pluto in the remake
of The Hills Have Eyes, yet he is already a familiar face amongst genre
fans, thanks to his work on Charmed and Buffy, as well as a sinister turn
as the titular beast in the 2003 cult hit Monster Man.
Read on for an in depth discussion on life as a working
actor and hear what Michael thinks of the petition to make him the next
An even longer version of this interview (which will
confirm if Brenda Carter was raped or not) will appear in issue 8 of
GOREZONE magazine which will be on sale towards the end of April.
I would like to thank Michael for taking time out of
his very hectic schedule, to talk exclusively to me, in the week that The
Hills Have Eyes was at the top of the UK box-office.
You reportedly went along to
an audition with a friend and left after securing the role of “Super
Freddy” in A Nightmare on Elm Street 5. Can you believe how lucky that
I think the different events that happen in your life steer you in one
direction or another. When you're taken on a path and a positive
opportunity is presented, then I think you should embrace it. That's what
I did with "A Nightmare on Elm Street 5." When the casting director asked
me if I wanted to audition too, I could have said no, but I didn't. I
don't know why, but something inside of me said I should do it.
Can I believe how lucky I was? Hell, yeah. Every time
I do a movie or a TV show or a commercial, I feel damn lucky.
The film was made just around
the time that Freddy was at his peak. What was the atmosphere like on
set? Was everyone under pressure to meet fan expectations?
Not really. I didn't know what the hell was going on. Remember, it was my
first film, first everything. I was pretty nervous. I look back on that
performance and cringe. I wish I could do it over again. I was pretty
stiff. But it was fun as hell. I got to wear the famous prosthetics, the
glove and the hat. I even got to sit down with Robert England and talk to
him for a while. Talk about awesome.
Did you know that it's my body in the beginning of the
film when you see two people making love? When I was getting ready to do
Freddy one day, the producers came up to me and asked if I wanted to get
naked with the body double for the lead girl. They explained the whole
scene to me and I was like, “Where do I sign up”?! You gotta love
You caught the acting bug
whilst shooting ANOE 5 and continued to work on a number of projects,
before being cast in the abandoned Fantastic Four movie. What can you
tell us about the production which never saw the light of day? I actually
noticed looking at your pictures that you resemble Michael Chiklis which
is weird in a roundabout way.
When I did the "Fantastic Four", I had hair. So, it is kind of strange
that they cast an actor in the new film that's bald, like I am now.
Shooting F4 was very fun. It was my second film and I
was the new kid on the block, compared to everyone else. The characters
portrayed in the movie were pretty much like the actors in real life.
Alex Hyde-White, who was Reed Richards, was the leader, the most seasoned
of the actors. Jay Underwood, who played Johnny Storm, was the young
fiery actor. Rebecca Stabb, who played Sue Storm, was the sexy
intelligent type. Joseph Culp, who played Dr. Doom, was the brooding
quiet type. And me, well, I'm the jock, a bit sensitive but can kick ass
when I need to.
Unbeknownst to all of us, it was a production that was
doomed from the start. We all thought and were told that it had a chance
to get to the theaters. Alex and I really promoted the film, going to
conventions and such. Then a few weeks before Christmas, we were told
that it was shelved.
I was pretty devastated. But things like that happened
everyday in Hollywood, deals are made and films get shelved. It's all about the money and how much you can make. Someone felt that they could make more money
with the fancier high budget film.
I haven't seen the new one. I don't know if I ever
will. I just don't have the desire. But I hear it looks great. But I
also hear that the story told in the first one is better.
The funny thing is that with the film being shelved,
we've received more publicity from that happening, than if they were to
have released it.
I still get people asking me about the film and when
I'm at a convention, I see bootleg copies everywhere.
You worked incredibly hard for
the next 10 years with parts in many of the nation’s favourite TV series
and cult films before playing in Buffy. How did the role on Buffy come
Like with most of the roles I get, I had to audition. The character I
played was Toth. It was a cool role and I got to wear some pretty cool
I'm a good fighter but when they hired me, they didn't
know that. So, they brought in a stunt double for me to do the fight
scenes. I was a little upset about that because I like to do my own
stuff. I tried to tell them that, but they wouldn't listen. So, I kept my
mouth shut. I figured they knew better than me so that's why they brought
in a stunt guy.
On the day, when they had to do the big fight with
Buffy, the stunt guy came in and started doing the scene. I was there for
the close-ups. Well, when the stunt guy was doing the fight, things were
not working out with the shot. You could really tell the difference
between the stunt guy and me. So, they brought me in, really explained
the fight scene as if I had never fought before. Again, I kept my mouth
So, with everyone all nervous, not knowing if I could
do this, they called, "Action!" I then proceeded to execute the fight
scene to perfection. When I was finished with the first take, the
producers and everyone came up to me and said, "Wow, that was awesome! I
didn't know you could fight." Without saying, "I tried to tell you”, I
just smiled and shrugged.
So, for the rest of the day, the stunt guy sat down and
watched as I did the whole fight scene. It turned out pretty well.
What was the show like to work
The show was fun. It's always great to work with people who are on a hit
show. I got to do "Desperate Housewives" and "My Name is Earl", in the
past few months. Both are top shows, so it's cool to be a part of it.
You also worked on an episode
of Roswell. Do you enjoy working with young up and coming talent? There
must be a great energy to work off of?
Did you know that before HILLS, Emilie De Raven and I worked together on
"Roswell"? Pretty cool. When I got back from Morocco filming HILLS, I
went and looked at the episode of "Roswell." Man, she looked so young.
This business is very small. There's not a show where
I don't run into someone that I've worked with, either crew or other
"There's not a show where I don't run into someone that I've worked with".
You found fame amongst fans of
Charmed when you played Julian McMahon’s alter ego. What was that
particular show like to work on?
Did you know that that gig started out as just a Co-Star? I was playing a
Grimlock named Janor and doing pretty well. On the last day, the
producers came up to me and said, "Hey, the guy that's playing Belthazor
is not working out. How would you feel about taking over?" I'm like,
So, I had to go back and re-shoot the scenes the other
guy did and then continue from there. Then for some reason, they had me
playing all of these other characters as well. I got to play Shax who
killed Prue off the show and the Source. Plus another Grimlock. It was a
great gig. Everyone was nice.
The stuff they said about Shannon, well, from what I
saw, she worked hard and is darn good actress. I respect that.
Was it intimidating to have to
work with three very powerful women who are instrumental in the decision
making which goes on in the running of the show?
No. Not at all. I just came in, did my job and went home. It was cool to
hang out with Julian. He's a great guy. It's funny how I was in the
original Fantastic 4 and then he was in the new one.
Many of your roles have
required you to wear prosthetics and or special effects make-up. Is it
uncomfortable to work in/with and do you feel it hinders or helps your
For me, it doesn't bother me to wear prosthetics. I guess if I had a
choice, I would choose not to wear it, but if the job calls for it, then
I'm all in. I’ve seen some actors get all weird and start pulling the
stuff off. Man, talk about making the producers mad. But for me, putting
on the prosthetics puts me into another world. It really allows me to
become the totally different person. The funny part is that once I take
the stuff off, people that recognized me on the set, don't recognize me
without it. They just walk right past me. It's like I have to
re-introduce myself again.
Many of your roles have
required you to be evil or a big bad ass. Do you one day hope to play a
role such as Michael Clarke Duncan's John Coffey in The Green Mile, which
would show a softer side to you as an actor?
Yes. I know roles like that don't come very often. And waiting for
"that" role will just drive you crazy. So, in the past 3 years, I've been
screenwriting. I've just finished my 4th screenplay and it's getting a lot
of attention. 3 out of the 4 screenplays I would sell, no problem. But I
have one, called, "The Promise", which I want to do. It's a little like
"Of Mice and Men." It shows my true self and it's a great role. But I
have to wait a bit, sell a few scripts and hopefully get a chance to make
I've gotten to show a sensitive side a few times. It's
always great to show that side.
Horror fans know you as the
titular beast in Monster Man which was something of a cult hit back in
2003. How did you first hear about the project and what was it that
attracted you to the role?
Again, I auditioned and got it. I came in and I guess I floored the
director. After I read, he actually hugged me. I guess I did a pretty
good job. It was a fun role to play. I had to do all of it with only one
eye to see with, much like Pluto in HILLS. Then at the end of the film, I
get both eyes knocked out. So, I was acting totally blind. That was an
What was Michael Davis like to
work with? He is a seriously underrated talent in my humble
Michael is a great guy. When he's in front of the monitor watching the
scene unfold, he's actually acting out the scene as the actors are doing
it. It's pretty cool. He's a real passionate guy. I have a lot of
respect for him.
When an actor books an
audition to play a monster or a mutant what happens when you go in? Do
you introduce yourself and chat briefly before auditioning, or do you just
burst in and try to scare the shit out of the casting
If an intense part, playing a monster or even a bad ass, you have to walk
in with some of that. Well, at least I do. When you walk in, the casting
director, producers and director all have to feel that tension.
I walk in very professional, all business, simmering
with rage just underneath the surface. There's not much chit-chat going
on. You introduce yourself but that's about it. It's serious. And then
when they call "Action", it's time to let it go.
When I finished auditioning for HILLS, the casting
director and producers all stared at me. When I walked out, I thought to
myself that I either sucked so bad that they were in shock, or I scared
the piss out of them. I'm glad they pissed their pants!
You are currently starring in
the remake of The Hills Have Eyes which is number one here in the UK just
now. How does it feel to be in a number one movie?
Great! I love it! I hope everyone sees the movie and it stays #1 for a
How did you first hear about
the project and how did you become involved?
Not to sound like a recording, but I got the audition, went in and read
and the rest was history. I actually didn't read for Pluto. I read for
Lizard knowing that I was auditioning for Pluto. Strange? Well, Pluto
does not have a lot of dialogue, so they had us all read for Lizard. I
just made Lizard like Pluto; intense and dangerous with a touch of
Had you seen the original and
if so, what were your thoughts and feelings towards it?
I thought the original was great. I thought Michael Berryman was great
too. I purposely did not see the original until after I finished filming.
I didn't want to be influenced with the way Michael did Pluto. I wanted to
bring a fresh approach. Plus, I had to match the director's vision. That
meant something totally different than what was done in the original.
I actually met Michael Berryman at the premier. He's a
real great guy.
Are you a fan of horror
It depends on what kind. To tell you the truth, I get too scared. I'm a
big baby. It's true. My wife loves them. She laughs when I jump. I
loved "Alien" and the first "A Nightmare on Elm Street" the most.
Pluto is probably the most
widely recognised character from the original films thanks to Michael
Berryman. Were you worried about comparisons between the two
Yes. But I knew my performance would be totally different than what
Michael did. It had to. I think I made Pluto pretty cool. It fits the
mood of the film.
I've scene some posts on IMDB saying, "He's no Michael
Berryman." Well, I'm not. And I don't what to be. I'm Michael Bailey
Smith. Different kind of actor and Pluto is a different kind of
Michael Bailey :
"During filming, I knew he was digging what I was doing".
How much discussion went into
how the role should be played? Was Alex clear on what he wanted to see or
did he want to see how you were going to play the role?
Yes, very clear. But he wanted me to bring a lot of my stuff as well. He
was a little worried about what I would bring. I guess all directors are
like that to a certain extent. Because Pluto in the original was so
iconic, he was a little more worried.
During filming, I knew he was digging what I was doing.
At the end of the shoot he hugged me and said that I exceeded his
expectations. He said that people would love the new Pluto. That made me
What was the process of
getting moulds made and make-up tests and things like?
We had three make-up tests in LA. Photos and video were taken to show the
director. They had to do four life-casts. One of my entire head and
neck. One with the make-up on, I forgot why. They had to do one of my
teeth and one of my back for the hump.
The guys at KNB are great. The best I've worked
It was several weeks before the whole process was
It's fun going to these make-up effects shops, because
they're always working on several shows simultaneously. Plus they have a
whole museum like collection of past projects they've worked on. It's
really a "house of horrors." Very cool.
How did you prepare before
To me, there was no extra preparation. I just went to work like any other
actor. You know what you have to do and you get ready. It's just that
for me, I have to spend 3 to 4 hours a day in the make-up chair as they
put on the prosthetics. You're normally at the set before everyone, even
the crew. And you are the last one to leave. It makes for a long day.
Robert Joy is wonderful in the
movie, what was he like to work with?
Robert is awesome. He's been to my house a few times since filming for a
BBQ. My wife is a great cook. We hung out a lot in Morocco, probably had
dinner together almost every night. The family members and the mutants
hung out in their own separate groups. It's weird how it turned out that
way. It's like we were bonding in our own little groups.
Robert has some great stories about the movies he's
In later scenes Pluto was
especially terrifying thanks to the way you made him move. He was
relentless and frenetic. Was this because Alex wanted the fight between
Pluto and Doug to be so fast paced, or did they just have to keep up with
the action as it were? I'm guessing it would have been rehearsed for
blocking and so on?
I rehearsed with the Doug stunt double for two weeks before we shot that
scene. But all of it was pretty much just walking through the different
actions that needed to be made.
The Doug stunt double did all of the crazy stuff and
then Aaron stepped in for some of the safer stuff and the close-ups.
I don't know what they were expecting when they hired
me, but when I have to do action stuff, I'm pretty quick and agile.
Remember, I play a lot of football and went as far as Dallas Cowboys. You
don't make it to that level without being pretty athletic. I guess
because I'm big, everyone assumes I'm slow. But I'm very fast. Very
When I did the Van Damme film, "In Hell", everyone
thought the same thing too. But the moment we did our first fight scene
and I came at Van Damme, everyone was shocked as to how quick I was.
Well, for this film, it was almost the same thing. The
moment I blasted through the glass door, they knew they were in for a
I told Doug (Aaron Stanford) that I was gonna come at
him. I don't know if he believed me or not, but he did when we started
shooting. I kept it safe, but I pushed it to the edge.
The director, the producers, the crew, everyone loved
From what I understand, they're going submit that scene
to the MTV Movie Awards for Best Fight Scene. That would be cool!
Of all the mutants, I felt
that Pluto and Lizard were the most effective. Have you had a positive
reception from people who have seen the movie?
Some people on the Internet, before the movie came out, said that I looked
like some muscle bound guy who probably couldn't act. They kept comparing
me to Michael Berryman. But now that the film has come out, I don't get
Most people really like what I did. Some even say that
there should have been more of us. I agree!
Many people have been
outraged, disgusted, horrified and even mortified when watching the film.
Do you take this as a sign that you all did your jobs
Yes! If they're cheering when I die, then I did my job. I've even heard
that some people felt a little sympathy for me. Deep down inside I wanted
a little of that as well.
Pluto was famously resurrected
for the sequel after having most likely been killed in the original.
Would you like to return to the role if a sequel was made?
Yep, in a heartbeat. I loved Pluto and I miss playing him.
I see that some of your fans
are hoping to start a petition to have you be the next Jason Voorhees in
the new Friday the 13th film. Is that something you would be interested
It's really nice that I'm included in that petition. I'm flattered. I
would be interested. It might be fun.
What's next for Michael Bailey
I'm doing a film right now called, "Careless" with Colin Hanks. He finds
a severed finger in his kitchen and he thinks his creep neighbor, that's
me, is the one responsible. It's a fun role. I'm also doing a new TV show
called, "Pepper Dennis" and another movie in April.
I've also been writing and I hope to get one of my
projects off the ground.
Other than that, just auditioning and hanging out with
"Thank you ever so much for taking part in this interview
Michael Bailey .
And we wish you the very best of luck in the