DEVIL-RAPIST-MADMAN & ACTOR: Talking With Tony Simmons by Owen Keehnen

If you've ever engaged in a heated debate about the level of acting (or non-acting) in low budget horror just pop in the DVD of Christopher Alan Broadstone's work and you will see three performances that will positively knock your knickers to your knees. Tony Simmons stars in all three of Mr. Broadstone's short horror masterpieces - 'My Skin' , 'Scream For Me' , and 'Human No More'. The films are amazing and a large part of that is the result of Simmons' completely believability in these three divergent roles. He's simply one of the finest and most mercurial actors in horror (and I'm assuming anywhere) that you'll see. You've gotta wonder why this guy isn't flooded with mainstream offers - is he part of the witness protection program and eager to remain anonymous? Is he shy? Does his agent suck? Is Hollywood run by morons (no comment)? I'm convinced it's only a matter of time until this guy busts through the fame membrane and once he does back off Freddy Krueger and Sir John Gielgud. Tony is GRRRRRRRREAT. (For the youngsters reading this that was a reference to a Frosted Flakes ad back in the dark ages!) Anyway, the really GRRRRRRREAT part is Tony Simmons is here for an exclusive interview.

Hi Tony, hope you are doing well. Can you start everyone off at with a quick visual and describe the room where you are answering these questions?

Whereas my usual abode involves lounging about a personal sized cell with simply upholstered walls (padded), smartly attired in a tasteful, canvas, wraparound blazer (strait-jacket), donning iron ankle bracelets a little too closely attached; today I find myself sitting naked in a glass house with a big pile of rocks at my side.

I am so impressed - I saw your amazing acting in the 3 Christopher Alan Broadstone shorts 'My Skin', 'Scream For Me', and 'Human No More'. All are horror, but all 3 are such divergent roles - what part of a character is the first thing you put in place when it comes to wrapping yourself around a role?

What acting? Christopher Adam Broadstone simply came by wherever I was living at the time and brought his camera and crew. It was all improvisation based on my temperament that day. That said; please know that almost everything I say is a lie, so it's going to be difficult to get a good interview outta my ass. If you think it's tough, try being me; I can't believe a thing I think!
Actually, thank you for the compliment. It really depends on the project about how the character kinda evolves. Sometimes, it comes externally as in the case of Death in My Skin. Christopher Alice Broadstone had a very specific look he was going for. The emaciation, and hairlessness and tatteredness. The bird mask also helped define qualities in the character. As far as Madman in Scream For Me was concerned, it really was a matter of who could say and do the things he does that created this guy. He really is pretty much out there for all to see. I think he really does speak his mind and that mind is just a little off center. And then for Human No More, Nemo is really kinda similar to me, I think. It was the most intimate and least theatrical role.

How did you first hook up with writer/director/editor Christopher Alan Broadstone?

I met Broadstone outside an elementary school where he was selling crack cocaine and heroin, we hit it off immediately. (I very simply submitted my headshot-resume to a casting notice found in theatrical publication called Back Stage West (formerly Dramalogue). Christopher Albert Broadstone thought I had that leading man quality that he was looking for, I suppose and...)

Have any Hollywood powers that be seen you in these films, noticed the awards you've received for your performances at various festivals, recognized the sheer horrific power of your performances (for me especially 'My Skin') and thrown offers at your feet?

No one has seen anything I've ever done except for friends who dread the possibility of me saying something like "Hey, check out this new thing I worked on!" Even my agent seems not to know my fucking phone number! It's a sad state of affairs. Luckily, Black CAB Productions has gotten some really good press and feedback from the horror community.

You play Madman so convincingly in 'Scream for Me'. What was the first thing you wanted to get down when it came to portraying a rapist who rapes the man who kills the woman he was intent on raping? Not quite sure if that made sense, but you know what I mean.

I think Madman simply believes in the motto about making lemonade when life gives you lemons. As an actor, I figured that since we only had one actor to work with and if I was going to actually kill him, I'd have to at least have my lines down so we could try and do it in one take. Gabriel Sigal was such a talented actor it was a little sad to have to kill him during the filming of that movie. Of course, with all the competition in Hollywood among actors, I suppose it really was kind of a good thing. But offing Lora Cunning ham really was a waste. I mean she and I probably wouldn't have been in competition for that many roles. Oh, well. An actor does what an actor must do. The show must go on, ya know!

I've read in a previous interview that you are a gay man. Me too! I must ask -- was the portrayal of gay sex (or at least male sodomy) as a horror element in the film a concern of yours?

Whereas the violence that occurs can be viewed in the context of sex, I see it more as an alpha male teaching a smaller male a lesson, while at the same time getting a semblance of his original intent. And without a pretty girl on his arm, or his fancy car to show off, or a pocket full of cash to impress, and of course, being just little emotionally touched, Madman uses his own technique in communicating. Sometimes, touching someone with steel can get a point across the way a limited vocabulary just can't do. Although one has to admit that Madman does have an eloquence all his own!

And I must hear what was running through your mind when it came to your amazing work as The Grim Reaper in 'My Skin'?

While working on My Skin, my biggest concern was whether the lights were catching the glistening pools of limpid delights that are my eyes. An actor really must develop a good relationship with the Director of Photography and the lighting designer (as well as makeup and hair) or else they came make you look pretty unattractive. Luckily, my connections with those talented individuals, allowed for me to come across as handsome and charming as I truly am in my regular life. It was actually long hours, hard work and a lot of fun working on that movie. Broadstone uses a very active camera in his stuff so it can be quite methodically choreographed and timed. It was very theatrical and over-the-top and allowed for a bit of a ham-fest. There's nothing like a ham-fest to bring out the worst in an actor! Thank you Christopher Agnes Broadstone!

What was the main thing about Death you were hoping to convey?

I think anger and unbridled fury were key elements. If you've ever seen an angry bird going after a cat that's attacked its nest, you can almost see the rage on the bird's face. Of course, birds have pretty expressionless faces, so maybe I'm projecting a little bit. Maybe I should talk to my therapist about this and not you. Maybe, JUST MAYBE, this in none of your goddamn business, thank you very much! Next fucking question!

Congrats on your various honors for acting in 'Human No More'. What was the toughest part about making that long monologue of the detective so convincing without being overwrought or boring?

In all honesty, the monologue really was all about the writing. Plus, there was the director there to pull me back if I was too big and broad and loud. The words were there. If the words hadn't said something, it would have really sucked. I will take this moment to say that Christopher Alfred Broadstone's writing really is some good shit. When I first read the Madman stuff, I fell in love with his writing. That said, please feel free to edit out what I just said since this interview is supposed to be about me and not about that fucking asshole Christopher Alex Broadstone!

Mr. Broadstone is so skilled at creating mood in the films. Is that creepy finished product we see on film apparent in a certain creepiness during filming?

When shooting, at least from my perspective, there's not much creepy about it. It's all technical. Can the sound guy hear what's going on? Is the makeup right? Do I know my lines? Am I in focus? Is the light catching the glistening pools of limpid delights that are my eyes? However, I do know that when we were shooting Scream For Me, there were a couple of people in the other room hearing some of the dialogue who were creeped out by what they heard. I am assuming that they were creeped out by the lines and not the crazed raving of Christopher Edna Broadstone. I'll note here that editing is extremely important in filmmaking. It's one of the skills that Broadstone excels at. Bad editing can really make some good shit look terrible and the reverse is also true. The general public doesn't realize the huge influence editing has on the final film. What he does in the editing process really makes a movie.

Why do you think you are so adept at playing horror? What about it makes it a unique challenge for an actor?

Until I met Christopher Elmo Broadstone, I never worked in horror. It's not a genre I'm that knowledgeable of. I do think that a lot of horror is theatrical and creates a reality different than your standard melodrama. And therefore, bigger, hammier performances are often needed. In the same way that a lot of those Star Trekkish TV shows often rely on Shakespearean actors, horror is another world that demands a certain suspension of disbelief, not unlike a stage performance.

Do you have any other projects in the offing you would care to tell the readers about?

In a few days, I'll be doing some work on a movie called Carnies directed by Brian Corder of I'm actually going to be a victim instead of the more demented character. But, it's still a hammy part, so it'll be lots of fun. As long as they can make sure to capture the glistening pools of...

Okay - we're pulling the car into the Tony Simmons Drive In. What three horror movies are going to be on the triple bill?

Assuming that Lucille Ball's performance in Mame, although a horrific moment in cinematic history, does not particularly fall into the category of horror, I would have to say that my faves are the original Dracula with Bela Lugosi, the Sixth Sense, and Rosemary's Baby. Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? While not normally considered traditional horror is without a doubt a great movie on so very many levels.

What makes you go psycho in real life?

People who wear too much cologne, people who have cute cat collections, and fundamentalists of any religious belief, drive me fucking nuts!

What scares you in real life?

What really scares me are former beauty queens without a wrinkle on their faces, cat eyes, lips that look like unnaturally swollen labia, cheeks like golf balls, eyebrows that can't move, and talons instead of hands! Especially ones who tout beauty tips. I'm also very frightened by born-again Christians and recovering alcoholics or addicts. Practicing alcoholics are usually a lot more fun. I know! Also, looking in the mirror is a frightening experience. There is only so much denial in which I can wallow.