Exclusive Interview With The Cast And Director Of Hellbenders

Hellbenders Clifton and Clancy

Did Hellbenders actually start off as a graphic novel? We kept hearing that it was but weren’t entirely certain.

J.T. Petty: It’s obvious that our most dishonest producer thought it made the movie sound cooler (laughs).

The Hellbound Saints were made up of preachers from different religions or faiths. It was said that some Catholics got a big kick out of this movie, but have you heard from other religious groups as to their thoughts on it?

J.T. Petty: I don’t know. I never asked the audience what denomination they are, but if you look at exorcism in America it’s a cross denominational thing. But I’m sure percentage wise that it’s the southern born again Baptists that are doing a lot more exorcisms than anybody else. Pretty much every faith has a version of it.

Clancy and Clifton, you have had long and varied careers as actors in movies. You are able to go from playing good guys to bad guys with relative ease while others get pigeonholed very easily. Is there any kind of role you prefer to do over another, or do you just take whatever roles come your way?

Clancy Brown: I think this role is a very nice period to my career, so I don’t really expect to do anything anymore after this comes out (laughs). I think it’s over.

I beg to disagree…

Clancy Brown: I’m always looking for the final one and I think this is it (laughs).

J.T. Petty: Are you trying to make us cry? (laughs) I love seeing Clancy do comedy. I don’t think that happens often enough.

The trick with a role like Clancy’s is to not play the comedy too much, and you did a very good job at that.

Clancy Brown: Well he’s pretty extreme, old Angus, he’s very extreme.

But you can’t accuse Angus of being dishonest or a liar?

Clifton Collins Jr.: He’s tired and pissed off and tired of fucking with the devil…

Clancy Brown: I know, he wants to retire and give it to you. But you, you gotta do more than cheat your wife and drink a little. C’mon (laughs).

How about you Clifton, what makes you choose the roles that you choose?

Clifton Collins Jr.: Well obviously if you’re having a little dry spell you’ll take what comes along, but in general I like to pick those roles that allow me to grow or do something I haven’t done before; something that challenges me. This was certainly a challenge in a lot of different ways. I’ve never played a priest before, especially this kind of priest, and I don’t know if this kind of role will ever come up again unless we do a sequel. I’m just a huge fan of the subject matter and the material and how it was addressed.

There has never been a priest like this in movies before.

Clifton Collins Jr.: It was an original voice.

Clancy Brown: It’s about time that he’s (Clifton) a leading man for crying out loud, to give him that vehicle that lets people know what he can do.

J.T. Petty: I feel like you could have been in those Howard Hawks comedies too. You can do the dialogue, you can do that kind of pacing and stuff and just watch all the words bounce around.

This movie was done on a low budget, and the general sense I get from filmmakers is that working with less money forces you to be more creative. Would you say that was the case on Hellbenders?

J.T. Petty: I wanted it all to feel intimate and small. We shot on location in New York and that was an actual church and that was a real rectory, and it had to feel like it was all there and handmade. Also, we could shoot in a church because the church is just fucking poor now, right? Like no one goes to church, nobody gives. They’re the second biggest real estate owner in New York City but they got nothing except for the fact that they don’t have to pay taxes. I love the idea that the movie sort of feels in the same kind of vein, right? We don’t have enough money to fight demons well, but we are going to do the best we can.

Clancy and Clifton, do you have a favorite role that you’ve played so far?

Clancy Brown: Father Angus for sure, and the next one.

Clifton Collins Jr.: I can’t think of one. I’d have to look at my resume. But this one was fun though. This was a blast. I would’ve liked to of had an extra week to shoot for fun. The stuff that we did in between takes, the energy was going. I’m a huge fan. I saw it again last night and I was just laughing my fucking ass off. I love this movie so much.

J.T. Petty: Shooting this movie was just a dream. It would’ve been awesome to have a 23rd day.

With movies like this, the cast seems to come together in a way they wouldn’t on any other film.

J.T. Petty: Yeah. We talked about the camaraderie the whole time because that was always important. People working together get like an energy and people working and living together have got to have that feeling.

Clifton Collins Jr.: And we laughed a lot in between takes. There was a lot of laugher.

Clancy Brown: There’s no time for anyone to be a prima donna.

J.T. Petty: I felt bad about the rooms we were holding you guys in.

Clifton Collins Jr.: But they were perfect…

J.T. Petty: It was perfect for the role, but they were definitely small, aesthetic cells. We had like three heaters for these five cast members that were sharing rooms.

Clifton Collins Jr.: I would have liked to have vacuumed my room out, but I was totally down with the smallness of it.

Clancy Brown: We all sort of picked them too, didn’t we?

Clifton Collins Jr.: Yeah. I think I picked the blackest, dirtiest one.

This strikes me as the kind of movie where you don’t go back to your trailer in between takes.

J.T. Petty: Trailers?

Clifton Collins Jr.: Trailers?

Clancy Brown: Trailers you say?

Clifton Collins Jr.: We had a tent on our last day because it was so cold and we needed that. It was cold as fuck and I had three thermals on. That was the only hard day for me, that blatantly cold night.

That concludes our interview but we’d like to thank J.T., Clifton and Clancy for their time. Be sure to check out Hellbenders when it hits theatres on October 18th.