Nick Damici discusses 'Hap and Leonard,' werewolf movie 'Late Phases'
How did actor Nick Damici prepare to play a blind army vet in the new werewolf movie Late Phases? Painfully, it seems.
“I originally started doing the acting thing, you know,” he says. “I blindfolded myself at home, made my coffee blind—burned myself! After a while, I realized, there’s no way I’ll ever know what it’s like to be blind. Then it became a matter of, How do you appear blind? That was a much easier approach. That was literally just learning not to really focus your eyes. If you look peripherally, then you realize your eyes actually don’t focus on anything. Our eyes see in the center but if you constantly pay attention to the peripheral, you get this stare.”
In this English language debut from up-and-coming horror director Adrián García Bogliano (Penumbra, Here Comes the Devil) Damici’s character moves into a retirement community with, let us say, an outsized pest problem. “For a low budget movie, they really went for the effects,” says the actor. “At one point, I lost count of the werewolves—and that’s a lot of werewolves for a low budget movie.”
Late Phases, which debuts in cinemas and on VOD Nov. 21, also boasts an impressive cast, including Ethan Embry (Cheap Thrills), Tina Louise (The Stepford Wives), horror director Larry Fessenden—who is also one of the producers—and Tom Noonan, best known for creepy roles in Manhunter, Last Action Hero, and Ti West’s The House of the Devil. “I was always a little intimidated by him, because he’s a very quiet guy, and he’s, like, like six-foot-12,” laughs Damici of Noonan. “But he just loves to tell dumb jokes and I’m a joke teller. My father was a bartender, so I could tell a million dumb jokes. And that’s all we did—we sat around telling jokes. He does all this weird, horror creepy stuff and you start to think he is that. He’s just an actor!”
Damici has done his own fair share of “weird, horror creepy stuff” having both appeared in and co-penned a clutch of big screen terror tales with his frequent collaborator, director Jim Mickle, including 2010’s Stakeland and 2013’s unforgettable cannibal remake We Are What We Are. The pair were also responsible for this year’s Michael C. Hall-starring Cold In July, a terrific adaptation of the Joe R. Lansdale thriller of the same name. Earlier this month, Sundance announced that the cable network had green lit the Damici and Mickle’s long-in-the-works TV show Hap and Leonard, based on Lansdale’s hugely entertaining series of noir-drenched novels about a white, straight conscientious objector named Hap Collins and a black, gay Vietnam vet called Leonard Price. “I’ve never done television—it’s completely out of our realm,” says Damici. “Me and Jim, we just kind of do our own thing. But you now have a deadline, outlines have to be handed in. I’ve never outlined. I keep all my notes in my head! But now I have to do that, so it’s kind of interesting.”
Do he and Mickle have any ideas as to who they might cast in the lead roles. “Jim has some good ideas,” reveals Damici. “I can’t say names right now. I’m not allowed to say shit like that!”
You can check out the trailer for Late Phases below.