The new season of Syfy’s horror anthology series Channel Zero, subtitled The Dream Door, has unleashed an unforgettable monster in the form of Pretzel Jack. This clown creature escaped from the basement of an unsuspecting couple (played by Brandon Scott and Maria Sten) to wreak homicidal havoc, while also contorting himself in a manner that would appear to be beyond the capabilities of a human being. But not so! Pretzel Jack is played by an actor named Troy James, whose remarkable limberness allowed him to portray the role unassisted by CGI.
“Troy James is a pretty extraordinary physical performer,” says Channel Zero creator and showrunner Nick Antosca. “We actually wrote the season around him after we saw what he could do in a small role in Butcher’s Block [the previous installment of the show]. None of it is CG. Pretzel Jack’s contortions and bizarre behavior are entirely the performance of Troy James.”
Antosca continues: “Basically, on set, the script would say, ‘He does a bizarre contortionist dance,’ and Troy would say, ‘Well, I’m going to try this,’ or ‘I’m going to try that,’ and he would do these incredible twisting things with his body. We’d all be standing there going, ‘Oh my God!’ There’s a whole bunch on the cutting room floor, because we couldn’t use all of it, of just him doing these crazy pretzel contortions with himself. I have to assure everybody that it’s not CGI because there are moments when his behavior is so bonkers, you’d think a person couldn’t really do that — but he did. It’s crazy.”
Channel Zero: The Dream Door is screening nightly on Syfy through Oct. 31. Watch a trailer below.