When EW recently spoke with Shiri Appleby about her new horror film The Devil’s Candy, the actress revealed that she had not yet seen the movie, which premiered at the 2015 Toronto Film Festival. “I’ve been on the move so much, I just haven’t had an opportunity,” said the UnREAL actress. “I don’t want to see it without an audience, because I know it’s the kind of movie that really deserves that.” But also? “I’m scared to see it!” Appleby admitted.
Appleby’s costar Ethan Embry, on the other hand, has seen the Must List-approved film and tells EW that the actress is right to be a little apprehensive about the experience. “You can feel the anxiety in the theater when people watch it,” says Embry, whose previous credits include Can’t Hardly Wait, Cheap Thrills, and The Walking Dead. “That last half of it is quite intense.”
The Devil’s Candy is written and directed by Sean Byrne (The Loved Ones), and finds Embry and Appleby playing a couple who, together with their daughter (Kiara Glasco), move into a remote house with a dark past. The family is menaced by a character played by Pruitt Taylor Vince, but equally worrying is the behavior of Embry’s heavy metal-loving artist Jake, who starts painting like a man possessed, and maybe in more ways than one.
“When he is in front of the canvas, he just gets lost,” Embry says of his character. “Time disappears, he goes somewhere else, and I guess one of the questions with the film is, ‘Does something else enter him or is he going somewhere?'”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I have to say I loved The Devil’s Candy.
ETHAN EMBRY: Yay! You’re a demented sonofabitch. That’s how I translate that.
So, how did you jump onboard the Devil’s Candy train?
Well, so Keith (Calder) and Jess (Calder), the producers over at Snoot [Entertainment], they were developing Devil’s Candy with Sean, and they brought me on to it. I read The Devil’s Candy and I immediately fell in love with it. The father relationship was the most important aspect of my work on it, to me, to convey that this guy loves his daughter more than anything. He’s a good dad. He makes a few mistakes here and there, but he’s just a normal dad, who happens to like metal, and has a couple of tattoos. I wanted to do it without it being a character, without going too far into the metal “cliché,” and have him be as normal as possible. But first and foremost [he’s] deeply in love with his daughter. That’s really what attracted me to it the most.
Are you a metal fan in real life?
I love metal. It’s so funny, there are so many different sub-categories of metal, and people who are really into the genre are very particular about what you label metal, and there’s death metal, and speed metal, and thrash metal. I just like aggressive music. I’ve tended to shy away from the super death metal, the dark metal. But there’s a couple of metal bands like Meshuggah, Sepultura, that I grew up with, and, yeah, I love it, I love it. I think it’s the most emotional music, outside of, like, folk. It’s funny, the two extremes. Like, you have Nick Drake, which is just this soothing sound of a rainy day, a melancholy rainy day. And then metal on the opposite [end of the] spectrum. I think it’s a very powerful art form and they don’t get the credit that they’re due, because they’re incredibly talented musicians.
Your hair in the film is amazing. What kind of discussions did you have about that? How long did it take you to put on?
Well, originally, Sean and I were thinking of doing straight-shaved head. Like, big long beard with a Bic razor-head. But with my tattoos and my build, I kind of ended up looking a little too skinhead. It was a little too harsh. Sean wanted to soften him up, and when we put that wig on, after they cut it, and they colored it, and made it match my beard and all that stuff, it kind of gave us this metal-Jesus look, which works really well with the rest of the film.
Funnily enough, I was going to say you look as if Jesus was the third drummer in The Allman Brothers Band.[Laughs] That’s good. But because I had my head shaved already it was easy. He just glued it on my head. It took five minutes to put on every morning. I love wigs. I’ve got to get some. Why get implants when you can buy, like, seven different wigs?
When I saw the trailer, I really didn’t recognize you.
I love that, I love that. I used to be able to trust that I would grow out of my previous role, you know? Like, I’d do a movie when I was 16 and by the time I turned 18, I don’t look like him anymore. But now I’m stuck! I’m going to be a middle-aged man for a long time and so I have to figure out different ways to make me look unrecognizable.
What was it like working with Shiri Appleby?
Oh, she’s great, man. She’s really great. She works really hard. She works fast, too. I’m sure she is doing a lot more work than she shows. But it seems like she gets there and turns it right on. Everybody’s process is different. Some people want to sit, and talk, and go over things, and work on stuff, and back-story, and this and that. And she’s like, “No, I don’t do any of that.” We went and got breakfast once and she’s like, “Yeah, I got some stuff.” And that’s it. And I think she nailed it. She killed it, man.
“I got some stuff.”
Yeah, yeah, it’s great. And there’s one scene in there where she perfectly conveys absolute terror! [Laughs] I don’t know how she does it. I don’t know how actors do that when they can immediately become emotional. I need to gear up for it weeks in advance, I need to psyche myself out the night before, I need to stay in a certain place all day. I’m so jealous. I wish I could [do what she does]. It would probably be a lot easier than what I have to do!
Watch the trailer for The Devil’s Candy below and an exclusive clip from the film featuring Embry and Appleby, above.
The Devil’s Candy will be available in select theaters, on VOD, and via digital platforms on Friday from IFC Midnight.