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Parry Shen

Parry: "I’ve always had good instincts
and a sense of comedic timing".

Conducted by Phil Davies Brown
September 05th, 2005

I'm not looking forward to many horror movies lately, but one which I have eagerly been anticipating for next year is Adam Green's Hatchet. I almost died and went to heaven when I was given the opportunity to interview Parry Shen recently, as he is a fine young actor who is very confident and aware of his craft. Despite starring in some critically acclaimed projects and working alongside the likes of Eliza Dushku, Parry isn't afraid to take risks on genre projects and with a number of fan favourite horror movies already on his CV, he is sure to become an even more recognisable face to horror fans as he is hunted down by the one and only Kane Hodder in the very near future. Read on for all the details on the shoot, the cast and crew and the first mention of an expected release date. If by some miracle Parry gets Adam Green to read this (or Kane, or anyone else involved) please, please, please e-mail me at phildaviesbrown@hotmail.com (Hey, I ain't afraid to beg).

How did you break into acting?
In High School and college, I’d always write sketches and cast my friends in talent show forums or videos I’d shoot. But I never thought I could do it as a profession because it was always instilled that I had to do something “practical”: Doctor, Lawyer, Accountant, etc. But in the middle of my junior year at a marketing internship, I met so many people who felt stuck at their jobs and were just miserable. They looked dead coming into work everyday. So after college, I decided it was now or never, flew out to California with my life savings and began working towards professionally acting.

Did you struggle or did you have success early on?
I’ve always had good instincts and a sense of comedic timing honed from years of watching tons of films and TV shows but I never had any formal training. So yes, I did struggle in the beginning but I had no one to blame but myself – I had no formal training. Natural instincts only get you so far. You have to be able to do it on cue time after time and know how you did it—not only when you’re inspired to.

So once I got into a slew of classes and learned various techniques over a 3 year period coupled with my natural instincts – I started booking work. First a Stouffer’s Lasagna commercial, then a guest star appearance on “Caroline in the City”, then a horror movie “Shrieker”… and then things began steadily building upon each other as I gained more experience and confidence over the next 6 years in TV. Then when I did “The New Guy” and “Better Luck Tomorrow”; I gained more notoriety in films.

You began your feature film career in the horror genre and have made constant appearances within the genre ever since. Are you a fan of horror movies?
I enjoy all genres of film. But I think that I’ve booked more horror films than any other genre for two reasons: 1) since I’m not a big name, I tend to work more with newer filmmakers and/or lower budget projects. Because let’s face it, if a studio was involved and had more money, there’s no way my name’s on a wish list to sell a movie, despite how good of a performance I can give — that’s just a reality.

And the horror genre has always been kind to smaller budgets/newer filmmakers -- being capable of bringing in larger profit margins than they were made for. So that’s one reason I’m exposed to the horror genre more through available work and 2) No matter what the genre, I’ve always been taught to give a fully realized performance. When someone dies in front of me, I’m gonna really freak out like any regular person would if a dead body just plopped in front of them and not just give a “ho-hum” desensitized attitude that you see in a lot of other films.

I think directors appreciate that when I audition because ultimately the truth of the scene is always key and transcends all genres. Too many actors ‘play’ the genre.

You were recently seen in 'The Hazing' which I thought was brilliant. How did you enjoy working with Rolfe Kanefsky?
Rolfe was great to work with because he was such a fan of the horror genre and this film was more of a tongue in cheek homage – taking stereotypical archetypes and then going in a different direction to give it a fresh take –- the ditzy blonde who has sex… isn’t the first to die, the young, likeable, WB good-looks male in the film is the first to buy the farm, etc.

You also had some great moments with Tiffany Shepis. Did you enjoy working with her or did you find her intimidating? She's quite an extrovert and some people would perhaps find that hard to deal with.
On face value alone, Tiffany falls into that tough/bitchy/sexy character and she plays it very well. But the other side that I don’t think she’s yet portrayed on film is her sweet side. She’s a very endearing and caring person. She’s extremely professional yet fun on the set. I didn’t find her intimidating at all. She’s one of those actors that you’re relieved is on the set because you know you can always count on them to be ‘on’ when “action” is called and not waste time screwing around.

Parry: "I was impressed with the way
she kept sticking up for herself".

You have worked with many excellent young actors in your short career, who have you most enjoyed working with so far?
Two people. 1) Zooey Deschanel on “The New Guy”. She was only 19 when I worked with her but I was impressed with the way she kept sticking up for herself in front of the director about not wanting to “overdo” and force the comedic expressions. She was very aware that her performance was going to be blown up 40 feet tall in the theatres and it would just be “too much”. Just her self-assuredness, subtlety and just believing that she was “enough” at such a young age was amazing --- she firmly believed that it didn’t matter how it “sounded” as long as it was true to her. Her subtlety and conviction is something that I’ve stolen from her and has helped me out so many times. And then 2)Ethan Cohn (Huff, Gilmore Girls, and the upcoming “Cry Wolf”) – I had so much fun improving with him on a Sci-Fi flick I just shot called “The Gene Generation”. He’s obviously a funny guy and great to bounce stuff off of but we have this one dramatic scene in the film in which I was able to really, honestly cry in a scene for the first time and it was only because of what he was bringing to the scene. We had great chemistry together.

On a rather gushy and unprofessional fan level, can I just ask how you enjoyed working with Eliza Dushku and John Cho on some of your previous projects?
Both are very solid actors and I enjoy watching them both work. But with Eliza, I really didn’t get a chance to interact character-wise with her much on either “The New Guy” or Tru Calling. On our third outing together, I hope that changes but she’s always on the money with her takes on the character.

And it was just nice to get to work with John because we used to always be pitted up against each other for various Asian roles around town. Sometimes he’d get the part. Sometimes I would. And eventually you’d just wonder, “What makes this guy so good?’ So getting a chance to work together was a rare opportunity and I got to appreciate and respect what he brought to the table as an actor instead of being a competitor.

I'm very excited to ask about one of your most recent projects, the horror movie 'Hatchet'. How did you become involved with the project?
Just a regular audition and I just clicked with the character and director’s vision from the start. Adam was cracking up so hard during my audition that I almost started to laugh. When you receive that kind of a reaction to something that they’ve heard a million times already – that’s a good thing.

Was it really as scary to film as the cast have stated?
Yes, because the director, Adam Green, never let us see Kane in the “Hatchet” makeup until we were being chased by him. And Kane kept his distance from the actors, not wanting to “pal around” with us too much. Otherwise we’d be desensitized to the makeup. So we really didn’t know what to expect; only that a huge muther-f***** with a hatchet would be barreling towards us once “action” was called.

What did you think of Kane Hodder?
He’s a really nice guy and a pro. When he got into character off set, we’d hear him banging on walls, screaming at the top of his lungs –which helped us get freaked out. But even despite that, he always made you feel safe doing double duty as our stunt coordinator. Even though he was menacing while in character, if an actor slipped and fell during the middle of a scene, you know he’d stop the scene as opposed to: go psycho, continue with the scene and trample on top of the actor.

How was Adam Green as a Director?
He had Rolfe’s enthusiasm –- which gets contagious. His real strength comes making the cast & crew feel like a team, which is really tough for anyone to do. People have to want to follow you as opposed to directors who force people to do their bidding. And he distinctly knows what he wants as opposed to waffling around and figuring things out on the fly—something newer directors sometimes lack. Even though it’s his first full feature, it seemed like he was on his tenth film.

Parry: "No divas or egos on this set at all".

He also trusts the actors to do their thing. And being a horror genre fan-boy really helped infuse new legs into the slasher horror category – because as an actor, no one wants to do the same old stuff someone else has already done.

Did you get on well with the cast and crew? The shoot seemed to be a fun and memorable one for all concerned?
No divas or egos on this set at all. Although I’m probably the wrong person to ask about the fun part. My daughter was born two weeks prior to shooting and I went immediately home after shooting every day to see her. Meanwhile, the cast and crew were staying in a nearby tract of condos and I know that they had a ton of fun together. But I did have a great time with the cast and crew while shooting it.

What can you tell us about Shawn?
Shawn is a Haunted Swamp-Boat tour guide. He hasn’t been on the job for a long time and is more of a con-artist than anything else. Oh yeah and he also speaks with a Southern Black Accent.

What was the hardest aspect of the shoot for you?
Practically the whole film was shot at night. So basically: I left my house in the middle of rush hour traffic at 5pm, showed up to work around 7:30pm. Finished work at around 5:30am. Drove back home in the middle of morning rush hour traffic. Fed my baby daughter. Slept from 8am to 4pm. Woke up to drive back to set. I did that everyday for 3 ½ weeks straight. I felt like a vampire never seeing the light of day.

Any news on when we can see the finished film yet? Or even the trailer?
From what I’ve heard, I think the earliest the film might be out with distribution and getting the marketing in place would be March ’06. I personally think this October 31st would be a great time but I think Saw II’s got a lock on that spot.

I’m sure the trailer’s going to be available on the website as soon as it’s ready.

But Kane Hodder’s letter in the journal section of www.hatchetmovie.com probably sums it up best. The guy’s seen it all and he’s staked his reputation by stating it’s the best film he’s been a part of after a screening. I’m looking forward to catching some glimpses when I go in this week for some ADR (sound looping).

What are your thoughts on all of the Hollywood remakes of Asian horror movies? I personally liked The Grudge as there was a real mix of cultures going on, but movies like Dark Water seem to be made purely for ignorant audiences who refuse to watch a foreign product.
I think it’s great because Hollywood is recognizing new voices. On the other hand, I have a problem when it’s redone entirely with a different cast/director/producers. I mean, if the film was good enough originally to merit recognition – why get rid of the original storytellers entirely? At least reward the key figures that made the storytelling work by bringing them back.

There’s something to be said for Joss Whedon sticking to his Firefly cast for the feature film version, “Serenity” as opposed to Martin Scorsese totally replacing the cast of “Infernal Affairs” for his remake “The Departed.”

Would you like to work in the horror genre again?
Of course! As long as it’s something a little different each time.

What can we expect to see from you in the coming months?
I’ve got a small part in NBC’s “Poseidon Adventure” Mini-series and then “The Gene Generation” with Bai Ling and Faye Dunaway.

"Thank you ever so much for taking part in this interview Parry.
And we wish you the very best of luck in the future."

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