Joel Moore is probably best known for his role in the recent box office smash, Avatar. However, Joel is set to prove that there is a lot more to him than running around in a loin cloth and blue make-up.
Beneath the innocent exterior is a creative mind capable of writing, directing and acting in far darker movies, such as forthcoming DVD release, Spiral.
Co-directed by Adam Green (Hatchet), Moore plays the creepy and unnerving lead Mason, a reclusive telesales worker with dark psychological undertones. Is he a harmless recluse? Or perhaps something far more sinister?
Love Horror managed to catch up with Joel to talk to him about this chilling release, which has our reviewers feeling satisfyingly uncomfortable.
You’re a pretty multi-skilled person. A string of major acting roles (more recently, Avatar) and writing, directing and producing credits.
Which part of the process do you enjoy most?
The nice thing about this industry is that you can enjoy working on both sides of the camera. Of course, my bread and butter is acting, but I have extreme passion for writing/directing, and I see myself getting into more of that as I grow in this career.
And was Spiral the first feature where you played all four roles (actor, writer, director, producer)? How did you find that?
It was tough, it’s tough to wear so many hats. But I had a great team, and a great co-director in Adam Green, we worked so smoothly, and made sure the process was always creative, and efficient.
Where did the inspiration from Spiral come from?
I had written a short film, my friend and writing partner, Jeremy Boreing, said he really liked the short, and we decided to write a feature length version of it. It was our first feature, we had to educate ourselves on writing as we were writing! It was a tough process, but I believe the end result allowed for a great movie to be made.
How long did the project take from start to finish?
Well, we shot for 20 days, in Portland Oregon, my home town. But it took another year to finish, get it sold, and released in theatres here in the states. Once I locked the cut, we submitted to festivals, and the picture ended up winning the Santa Barbara Film Fest, which helped launch much more interest in a distribution deal for the film.
Mason was a very uncomfortable person to watch. What techniques did you employ to make him so edgy?
I integrated a lot of my personal ‘ticks’ into the character, which helped make him a bit off, and also humanized him. One of the tricks of the film is that you have to be endeared to an off-putting, neurotic, possibly violent lead character. That’s hard to do, so we had to find ways to keep him “likeable”, so an audience can be interested in following the character.
Did you find that a lot of people were particularly impressed with how well you play such a dark character (since seeing you playing lighter characters such as Norm in Avatar and Owen in Dodgeball so naturally)?
It’s one of the reasons I did it, I wanted to do something that was 180 degrees different that other characters I’ve played in the past. Part of this was to help bridge the gap for people to be introduced to my serious side. It’s my left side, the serious side, if you’re wondering.
To say that the film was tense is an understatement. What was the atmosphere like on-set?
Never tense. We kept that for the acting. We needed to keep things light, so we could let steam off between takes. But there was always a respectful amount of time to allow the actors to get into the ‘mood’. Especially for the very heavy scenes. We’d keep less crew wandering around, so we could focus on what we are doing in front of the camera.
I suppose Mason is a child that never grew up, and his workplace is little different from a high school. Was your experience of high school good or bad?
In ways, he is a child, there’s a few times he has a tantrum when he doesn’t get his way. They are dangerous tantrums. My high school experience was good, and that’s what makes playing these types of characters fun. They are different that you; what you experience, what you understand. They make you reach. That’s the fun of acting.
Why Jazz? Are you a Jazz lover, or was just that you felt that the intensity of the music suited the character?
My writing partner Jeremy was the gun behind getting the jazz in. He had it all planned out. His friend Todd Caldwell is an incredible musician, and created the jazz score from scratch, we are proud to say it’s a fully organic, real instrument soundtrack. That is something to be proud of in this digital music age.
Would you say that Spiral was your most disturbing role/creation to date?
Yes. It’s still disturbing to watch, for me. It’s been long enough now that I don’t remember why I made some of the choices, which helps me separate from the project, and just watch as an audience member. I’m really proud of it. It’s my baby, in many ways.
Is this type of film (horror/thriller) the sort of direction that you would like to continue in with your work?
I really do want to do another in this genre as a director. I’m excited to get back behind the camera again.
What else can we expect to see from Joel Moore over the coming months?
Lots. Be prepared…
Spiral is released on DVD and Blu Ray on May 24th. You can expect to see our review in the very near future.