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“TERRIFIER”: Meet The Man Inside The Clown

Wednesday, May 16, 2018 | Interviews

Brought to us from the mad mind of director Damien Leone, TERRIFIER stars David Howard Thornton as Art the Clown, a silent psycho killer who turns Halloween into a nightmare for several unfortunate victims. The movie takes the clown horror sub-genre to a whole new level with a grease-painted maniac hell-bent on not only killing his victims but torturing them in the worst ways. Hands down Art is not only one of the creepiest looking clowns in horror, but he’s also one of the most violent… 

I had the opportunity to talk with Thornton, who did an incredible job at bringing this new age slasher icon to life.

1. After all the positive feedback about the movie and your character, how do you feel about it now?
Great! It has all been a pretty overwhelming and surreal experience that I am still wrapping my brain around at the moment. We knew we had something special, but we were trying to be realistic with ourselves on how it might be received by the public. I don’t think we expected to quite get this kind of reaction from the horror community though! I’m just so incredibly happy that the fans enjoyed what we made. We set out to bring new life into the horror slasher genre, and it looks like we accomplished our goal. I’m just grateful that people love Art so much and can’t wait to give them more of him in the future!

2. How did you get the role? And how did you prepare for it?
I had my reps submit me after I saw a posting on a popular actor audition notice site looking for a tall, lanky man with clowning and physical comedy experience to audition for the “role of a life time”. The audition was fun and different since Art does not speak. I was asked to improvise a scene on the spot where Art decapitates a victim. I ended up cartoonishly sneaking up on my victim, knocking him out, sawing off his head, tasting the head, not liking the taste, taking out a salt shaker and properly seasoning the head, liking the new taste, throwing the head in my bag for a late night snack, and then skipping away. They must have liked what I did since I was immediately asked to come in for a makeup test and the rest is history!

As for prepping for the role, I watched Mike Giannelli’s portrayal of Art in “All Hallow’s Eve” several times to get the basic nuances of the character in my head. I then basically blended my previous experience with physical comedy and clowning with my deep knowledge and appreciation of great physical actors (Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harpo Marx, Jim Carrey,  Doug Jones, Rowan Atkinson, and my friend and mentor Stefan Karl) and horror legends like Robert Englund and added them to what Mike had already accomplished to create this murderous frappe of fiendishness that is Art. In my head, Art is like the love child of Harpo Marx and Freddy Krueger. I love playing him!

3. Do you have any interesting/crazy stories from on-set? Or some trivia/Easter eggs?
 My favorite involves this crazy night in New Jersey. We had this funny one moment one night on set where there were these women having an argument outside of my makeup/ holding room while I was waiting to go to set. I was bored and went over to the window over looking them to watch the events unfold. I completely forgot how I looked in full makeup and blood. At one point, they noticed me, screamed, and ran off. About 15 minutes later, the Damien and our producer, Phil, come in telling me that there were some people outside of the garage we were filming in that wanted to meet me, but I was not to come out until they told me to. I patiently waited, not knowing what was behind the rolling garage door. I hear them ask me to come out and meet my new friends, so I roll up the garage door and am greeted by about 15 police officers in full gear, like they were ready to go to war. I offered up a “What’s up guys?” and waved. They broke out in laughter. It turns out that the ladies called in saying they thought something crazy was going on at our location and that people were dead. The cops came up to me and told me that I better be glad that I had not been the first to step outside when they arrived, or I would have been shot looking the way I did. I believed them. I ended up taking a bunch of pictures with them, except for one of them who was afraid of clowns. I had to remind him that he was the one with the guns. One of them ever offered to bring a dead body in from the station in case we needed one. I still don’t know if he was joking or not. Fun night!

As for a fun Easter Egg, Mike Leavy, who is the exterminator that I decapitate, is the original Staten Island Clown that started this whole scary clown craze a few years ago. He and his crew from Fuzz on the Lens created that character and helped out of the film as well near the end. His brother Jason Leavy, and his friend Steven Della Salla play the cops that try to take me down. 

4. Do you think we will see Art again? If so. Would you reprise your role?
Definitely on both accounts! We are already in the early stages of coming up with the sequel! Hopefully a bigger studio will help us out this time so we can really deliver and hopefully put it in theaters nation wide!

5. Where would you like to see the character and franchise go from here?
I’d at least like to see a complete trilogy, if not more. We definitely want to expand on the character more and slowly reveal who Art is eventually. We also want to bring in a true adversary that can go toe to toe with him. The Clown Prince of Carnage needs his Dark Knight after all! The challenge is keeping it fresh and not getting too campy with the character and franchise. I think we broke a lot of new grounds with this film, the challenge will be in bringing more surprises and newness to the genre. I look forward to taking on that challenge! We definitely have some ideas planned though!

6. Anything you would like to talk about that you have coming up? Where can we find you?(fan-pages etc)
Besides a few convention appearances later on this year, I don’t have much planned at the moment. Though I am working on a new animated series debuting on Hulu this fall that I can’t announce yet where I provide the voices on random characters in a few episodes. I’m also wrapping up filming the final season of the web series “Nightwing: Escalation” where I play The Joker. I’d definitely love to work on more film and tv shows though! If anyone out there is looking to hire me, call me! As for where to find me, I’m on both Twitter (@DavidHThornton) and Instagram (@DavidHowardThornton) as well as have a Youtube channel where I occasionally add a video. Feel free to follow me there!  

Aran Doyle
Horror addict hailing from the Emerald Isle under the brand FirstClassHorror. Lover of the slasher genre and anything 90s. Aran has worked for many websites in recent years along with hosting a horror podcast, curating his own horror crate and writing scripts for horror shorts.