Clancy Brown has one of the deepest, most instantly recognizable voices in the business that he has put to use in numerous animated films, TV series and video games over the years, but he is probably best known for his live-action roles as the Kurgan in Highlander and Byron Hadley in The Shawshank Redemption. In the new horror movie Hellbenders, which is available in limited theatrical release and 2D and 3D on VOD this Friday, Brown plays Father Angus—one member of a group of blasphemous ministers called the Augustine Interfaith Order of Hellbound Saints who live in a constant state of debauchery in order to be able to drag the worst demons back to Hell. The horror comedy is directed by J.T. Petty and also stars Clifton Collins Jr.
With his bass voice and nearly six-foot-four frame, 54-year-old Brown could be an intimidating presence, but he's actually one of the most genuine and friendliest guys you'll meet in Hollywood. We sat down with Hellbenders' top sinner and asked him about keeping his ticket to Hell punched, if he'd play Lex Luthor in a Man of Steel sequel, and what movie scares him more than any other.
Fandango: In the Augustine Interfaith Order of Hellbound Saints, what is Angus' sin of choice?
Clancy Brown: Oh, who the hell knows, man? It's back there; it's deep. I always thought it was some kind of horrible warlike experience. His sin account was flowing, so he doesn't need to do more than whack off, get drunk and sodomize something every now and then. There was nothing spelled out like that in the movie… it's just the image that I used. He knew his way around the Seven Deadlies.
Fandango: Father Angus says that his group must be "looking for every opportunity for sin." For people who are into sin, what are some handy go-to sins people can commit easily and quickly?
Brown: I mean, you tell me. It all goes to taste. There's nothing that you can't get access to these days. It's not like the '50s when you had to skulk around. Now it's all right there on your monitor. Everybody knows what a sin is—sins are about appetite and indulgence. They're different for everybody.
Fandango: The vortex, the gateway to hell in Hellbenders, looks like "a flaming vagina with teeth" according to Angus. Should women be offended?
Brown: Only if they have teeth! Vagina dentata… you don't want that!
Fandango: You've worked with Hellbenders director J.T. Petty before in the horror Western The Burrowers. How did you two meet and will you continue working together?
Brown: I hope so. He had this movie The Burrowers that he was carting around and I said, "I don't want to be in a monster movie." Then I read the script and it was so smart and everything a monster movie should be but more. It was also a great Western. So I said, "I've got to meet this guy." He absolutely knew what he wanted and how he wanted to do it, so I was anxious to do it. He was as good on set as he was on the page. So when J.T. called me up for Hellbenders and said, "I've got no money and I need you out here in three days for a month," I said, "You motherf****r, why do you do this to me?" I read this script and it was great. I had a blast doing it. He needs more money, more time and a bigger canvas… he's that good.
Fandango: Both in Highlander and in the TV show Sleepy Hollow, you lost your head… literally. Why do directors want to behead you on-screen?
Brown: I don't know. That's like 30 years in between the two beheadings. Sleepy Hollow was kind of a one-off thing. They asked me to come out for a couple of nights, and I knew Nicole [Beharie] from another movie, so it was kind of a lark. I don't know what episodes they are shooting now, but I only did the pilot and one more episode.
Fandango: You've starred in horror movies like Pet Sematary Two and in the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street as one of the parents responsible for torching Freddy Krueger. What is the scariest movie you have ever seen and why?
Brown: The Exorcist. Back in college there was a screening in a big auditorium and it just scared the s**t out of me. That came out when I was in grade school, it was rated X and it was a big deal—the forbidden fruit—so I was anxious to see it. The uncut version is still pretty terrifying, and so is The Exorcist III.
Fandango: Your list of credits on IMDb is formidable. Of all the characters you've played in your career, which one would you like a chance to play again on-screen and why?
Brown: I'd like to do them all over again and do them right the next time! I would play just about every character again if I could, but no one wants to see an old, grey Kurgan [from Highlander]. That's just not going to work.
Fandango: You do an incredible amount of voice-actor work for animated shows, movies and video games, including voicing Lex Luthor several times in various animated movies over 12 years. Should Warner Bros. give you a call to play him in the next Man of Steel movie?
Brown: Oh yeah. I could do a bang-up Lex. To me, Superman really lives and breathes in the animated world—in comic books and in cartoons. You can go timeless stylish. I think it's hard to do a [live-action] Superman movie. They've done a good job, but they kind of hold out just because it's so fantastical. I remember Tim Burton's Batman seemed so edgy at the time and now it's just kind of silly. It's still brilliant because it's him, but it doesn't have the same impact. That's just the thing about movies. The bright colors and comic book action in an animated series live forever.
Fandango: Do you remember your very first paid acting gig that started your career?
Brown: [In an old man voice] Oh, I don't know, son. It was so long ago… It doesn't feel like a long career, let me tell you. The first thing I did was Bad Boys in Chicago. I forget how much I got paid, but it sure seemed like a hell of a lot. I just tried to learn my lines and not bump into the furniture.
Fandango: If you didn't become an actor, what do you think you'd be doing? Did you have a plan B?
Brown: I'm a college-educated white man in America, so there are any number of plan B's that I could have pursued. Making a living and living to old age was never going to be a problem! [Laughs]
Fandango: How will you be celebrating Halloween this year?
Brown: They are talking about having a screening at USC for Hellbenders, so that would be great. But usually I'm out trick-or-treating with my kids.
Check out the red-band trailer for Hellbenders below.