Levi Kreis: Clicking Heels with Frailty's Frightening Fenton by Brian Kirst

Until recently, multi-talented Levi Kreis has mainly concentrated on his musical career. He has, thankfully, delighted us with several high octane acting performances, though, including the psychotic Fenton in 'Frailty'. 'Frailty' , beautifully directed by genre favorite Bill Paxton, was that rare horror film praised by both Stephen King and Ebert and Roeper who called it one of 2001's best. Kreis - reachable at www.levikreis.com - can also be considered one of our very best and most unique talents, as witnessed by the fascinating interview below.



Brian: What led you down the slippery slopes of show biz? Freddy Fender playing at a neighbor's BBQ? Bullwinkle cartoons on Saturday morning? The Bay City Rollers on tour? Princess Leia's buns?

Levi: I was eight years old, sitting in the basement of my dad's house - watching "The Wizard of Oz." The minute Dorothy opened her mouth and - sang "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", I clicked my mamma's heels three - times and repeated over and over, "There's no place like the stage!" "There's no place like the stage!"

Brian: You're both a musician and an actor. Does one trump the other or are they equal in importance?

Levi: Music has been demanding more attention lately as I've embarking - on my 3rd year of touring extensively; at least 150 dates a year. Now that I have a team to help manage things, I'm full force on the acting side again. - Started the auditioning again this week, actually.

Brian: How did you get involved in 'Frailty' ? Was it a random audition or did you know someone involved in the production?

Levi: I had just wrapped on an indie film where I played one of the leads. It was being talked about in a positive way all through the industry. Casting directors began to hear my name and I think they contacted my agent to audition. It was pretty overwhelming being that I had never set out to act before. Within a years time I had been thrown into a short, an indie that won 2 film festivals, and then a Lions Gate Film. - Pretty random.

Brian: What was Bill Paxton\rquote s process as a director like for 'Frailty'? The film has such an assured tone and style - was that apparent from working with him?

Levi: I know that Bill wanted to take a bit of an old school approach; incorporate a bit of a Hitchcock approach in some scenes. On a personal level, though my involvement in the film wasn't more than a few scenes, he was very engaging and made you feel welcome, centered, and free to create. I definitely left the set with a great impression of him.

Brian: Your first appearance as "Fenton" in 'Frailty' is pretty intense emotionally. Was it difficult to get to level performance wise?

Levi: Bill was a good coach; really brought my energy up. - Had me doing push-ups even to get my heart really racing. He works well with actors.

Brian: Did you do a lot of research to get into the mind of "Fenton" - who is at heart (if he had one) a serial killer?

Levi: Here's where my history with radical Fundamentalism came in handy. Brian, I started evangelizing when I was 12 years old, watching people get healed by the Spirit, falling out unconscious from the hand of God touching them, handling poisonous snakes as a display of faith, often hearing the audible voice of God. And in all sincerity, in my little country town in Tennessee where I was born, that was just as normal as a cup of coffee in the morning. So, rather than doing a lot of studying on the mind of a serial killer, I refreshed my own memory of how one will do absolutely anything if they believe that God had spoken it to them. Rational disappears quickly when an action is justified by faith and that can take you as far as you are crazy.

Brian: Lastly, (Got to ask it!) do you have any specific memories of working with Matthew McConaughey?

Levi: I'll admit a little man-crush here. And I should, because the first thing I think of after hearing that question is what he was wearing at the premiere. LOL! There is a reason he is known as the sexiest man alive. I don't care if your straight, gay, cylon, or pink polka dotted, there is a level of beauty that simply can't go unrecognized. He's got that, for sure.

Brian: In my book, you are totally the most punk rocking kid on the playground because you worked with Katharine Ross in 'Don't Let Go'. I LOVE HER! (And it looks like she maybe played your mom, too! I'm faint.) Any thoughts about her or working on that film which sounds very cool, focusing on rockabilly?

Levi: Yeah, man. Katherine is refreshing. Talk about beauty; she is an ageless one; inside and out. She and Scott Wilson were so willing to reach out to this rookie and coach me along, answer my questions, give to me in a way that brought out the best possible performance. I would love to work with her again one day. She and Scott both.

Brian: You had one of your most beautiful songs, "I Should Go", used on 'Days of our Lives' and you got to appear on 'Soap Talk' (Lisa Rinna rocks!). Do you know for what scene/characters that the song was used for on 'Days'?

Levi: 'Days' used I Should Go for the reuniting of Austin and Carrie. I think it was the first time they had seen each other in a long time. Old flames die hard; and apparently they are rekindled quite quickly.

Brian: Your CD One of the Ones is gorgeous. As songwriter do you find that you write best when inspired or do you try to work at it everyday?

Levi: I try to work at songwriting every day; but instead of it being like I'm punching into work, I make it an exercise of trying to tap into what's going on with me at any given day and write about it. And that's more like therapy to me, than it is "song-crafting".

Brian: Lastly, any current projects or words of wisdom (IE: Don't chug whiskey, chew bubble gum and play a Southern Baptist Sissy all at the same time) that you'd like to leave us with? And - thanks for doing this - it's been an axe - e-r-r- blast!

Levi: Yes, If God comes to you in a vision, don't hide the porn, and stuff the bud under your pillow. God is way more liberal than you think; he may even want you to oust somebody that took his name in vain... (Probably while stuck in L.A. traffic) Whatever it is, just say, "F@8% Yeah, God! Hand me the f@#king axe!" Onward Christian Soldiers!

Brian: Um-m - Thanks again, Levi - I think. (And folks - Do check out his CD- it rocks!)