The Return of Michael Pare by Owen Keehnen

New York native Michael Pare has been a in movies for over two decades. He started on television with his work as Tony Villicana in the series 'The Greatest American Hero' ans soon transitioned to the big screen with starring roles in films like 'Eddie and the Cruisers' (and the sequel), 'Streets of Fire', 'The Philadelphia Experiment' (one of my sci-fi faves), etc. Then he was back on TV with his own series 'Houston Knights' as Sgt. Joey La Fiamma. Then it was back to film...all in all he has made over 70 features with roles in films like 'The Virgin Suicides', 'Into the Sun', 'Killing Streets', 'Moon 44', 'Hope Floats', 'Lunarcop', 'Dragonfight', 'Raging Angels', and 'Deadly Heroes'. His forte is primarily action films, but given the chance he can more than hold his own as an accomplished actor. (Michael trained with acting guru Uta Hagen).

For Racks and Razors readers we are also pleased that this former chef is also no stranger to horror with roles in scare flicks like John Carpenter's 1995 remake of 'Village of the Damned' (wht Christopher Reeve and Kirstie Alley), 'Bad Moon' (1996), 'Gargoyle' (1994), 'Sarurian' (2006) with Tracy Scoggins and Nick Mancuso, 'The Furnace' (2006), and Uwe Boll's 2005 all star fright flick 'BloodRayne'.

After several years in France, Michael Pare is back stateside and busier than ever with roles in SEVEN (yes 7!) upcoming films including David Lynch's newest effort the mystery 'Inland Empire' (which also stars Laura Dern, Harry Dean Stanton, Justin Theroux, Jeremy Irons, and Julia Ormond) as well as Uwe Boll's next horror movie 'Seed'. Michael was also cool enough to take a few minutes from his very busy schedule to chat for a bit.




Hey Michael, ready to have a chat with racks and razors?

Oh yeah, I've done a lot of monster movies. It seems to be an international seller.

Okay Michael for the benefit of the racks and razors readers would you tell me where you are answering these questions?

I'm sitting in the car. I just dropped my son off at his karate class.

First off I really want to hear about your work in David Lynch's upcoming film 'Inland Empire'.

I was only on it a couple of days. I did a movie with one of his protegees who was directing the movie ''The Perfect Sleep' (Jeremy Alter). Anyway, he introduced me to David who said, "Hey, I know you -- I'm shooting a movie, you want to do a couple days?" And I said, "Absolutely man". Very unique movie.

Yeah, his movies are always that way to watch, That makes me curious about the mood on the set, what was that like?

He's surrounded by people who recognize his genius and it's a very artsy environment, but a lot of fun.

In addition to 'Inland Empire' you have several new films coming out - the thriller 'Dark World', 'The Perfect Sleep', etc. as well as two new horror flicks.

'Dark World' I'm very excited about. It's a thriller and not your typical cop movie. Theresa Russell and I work very well together. James Russo is a thrill to work with. It was a great script. It was low budget which is great too because you have to be prepared to shoot anything.

More like theatre more than film?

Definitely. It's what made me fall in love with acting. You get to do everything you've been trained to do. If you look at my resume you'll see I've done a lot of action movies and that's pretty much about being in shape and not getting hurt. They're fun to make but not what you would call beautiful crafty roles.

Tell me a little something about your role as Detective Michael Turner in William Butler's horror movie 'The Furnace'.

Right, with Billy Butler. That was a pleasure too. I think we had 20 days to shoot. He's an actor as well as a writer and director so he knows what you need on a short schedule with a complex script. The man was very prepared. His shot list was set two days in advance so every department could prepared. We shot in Nashville and everyone there dreams of working on a movie and they worked very hard. Knowing the scenes you'll be shooting that far in advance really helps with less experienced actors like that because they're not that good at winging it...and you need that preparation time, that's magic time. It was a good experience. Also in that movie are Jenny McShane was a prison psychiatrist and Danny Trejo.

You've also completed the role of Jace Randall in the horror movie 'Saurian' with a cast that includes Nick Mancuso and Tracy Scoggins. What about the role or the film made you want to commit to the project?

It was supposed to be a series. Peter Davy (the producer) has two or three movies in the can that he's doing CGI graphics for.

What made you commit to it?

I've read about a reptilian race that may be manipulating humanity since the beginning of time. I've read other things about DNA experiments with primates that created the human race. Anyway, it seemed like a fun thing to do and since in the project I was going to be a hybrid myself. It was a great role because there was a lot of self-loathing. My mother was killed by a Saurian who raped her and I was born. It's kind of a mythic backstory that seemed like a great idea. I'm looking forward to seeing it when they get around to finishing.

Somewhat along those lines what is usually trhe predominant factor what it comes to choosing your film roles?

A lot of it has to do with them choosing me. I've been doing this a long time. For a long time I was taking what my manager was sending me. He'd send me the script and the ticket and I would go shoot it. Not being in town kept me from meeting and greeting and auditioning and all that other stuff you have to do to stay in the mainstream. I've been back in the states about three years now and I've finally got my representation in line and I hope to be in situations where I'm choosing better roles instead of taking what I'm offered and what I can get.

Earlier this year you also had a role as Iancu in the vampire opus 'BloodRayne'. Do you have a predominant memory from the set of filming that feature?

That was a very small role but I've worked with Uwe Boll about four times before that in some of his first movies. Lately his career has taken off - they gave him 20 million to make 'House of the Dead', 30 million to make 'Alone in the Dark', and 50 million to make 'BloodRayne'. Anyway, he called me up and said, "Hey Michael, want to come do a cameo in Romania?" So I said "Sure, I'll come over." So I went over and shot for two days -- no big deal.

Do you have a predominant memory of filming that?

Well, it was in Romania on a back lot. Ironic that you go to Romania to shoot on a back lot. Mostly I remember the dogs there, always always barking. It was ridiculous.

Another director you've worked with is John Carpenter. You starred with Christopher Reeve and Kirstie Alley in his remake of 'Village of the Damned' in 1995. What was that experience like for you?

That was a lot of fun. We shot it in upstate California, north of San Francisco. It was interesting. I got to be friends with the sheriff and went fishing with him a few times. I was playing a kind of happy go lucky cowboy type. It wasn't a tough role. John is another one of these guys like David Lynch where nobody questioned or added or had anything to say except "Yes John." That's very comforting for an actor to be working for a director who knows exactly what he wants. It was fun -- we were all up in bed and breakfasts in this little town and there was one restaurant so we all ended up there. Also Christopher Reeve was much larger than I anticipated, he was a big fucking guy. Linda Koslowski (Paul Hogan's wife) played my wife and it's always weird to meet the husband of who you are about to do a love scene with. I did that with Casper Van Dien and Catherine Oxenberg in the first movie I did with Uwe Boll called 'Sanctimony'.

You've had so many great roles in addition to the ones I've already mentioned -- Eddie in 'Eddie and the Cruisers' and the sequel, 'The Philadelphia Experiment', 'Hope Floats', 'The Virgin Suicides', 'Into the Sun', 'Streets of Fire', 'Moon 44', 'Heart of America', Charlie Evans on the show 'South Beach' and so many other film and TV roles. What has been your favorite moment on screen?

I always say it was 'Eddie and the Cruisers' because the director had come to me and said, "Listen, if you fuck this up we're gonna fire you. We'll get Rick Springfield, he's waiting to do the role." So there was a tremendous amount of pressure. I had never sang before, I didn't play guitar or do any of that stuff. I had a secret weapon though and that was Helen Schneider who played Joann Carlino. Her boyfriend spent a lot of time with me talking about what it meant to be a rock star and it all came down to that first time they started the playback and I did the first song and the audience went fucking wild. That was it. I was in. Also in 'Streets of Fire' when I was dared to step in front of the bus. It was coming at me at 40 mph. They didn't think I'd do it. They called action and I stepped out and it stopped at just the right moment and I gave it a little push. I could have gotten run down or we could have spent all day trying to get the shot...but boom, we got it in one.

That's an awesome story. Thanks so much for taking the time to chat and all the best to you in the future Michael.

Thanks Owen.