I had the definite joy of speaking with Damian Maffei from the new Strangers: Prey at Night but also from such films as Closed for the Season, Christmas With the Dead, Wildfires, and I’m Dreaming of a White Doomsday.
The new Strangers is about a family’s road trip taking a dangerous turn when they arrive at a secluded mobile home park to stay with some relatives and find it weirdly deserted. Under the cover of darkness, three masked psychopaths pay them a visit to test the family’s every limit as they struggle to survive.
I really enjoyed the film and Damian’s performance in it but he does not consider that acting and he should know. He was born in Queens, New York on June 27th, 1977 and went to school for acting at William Esper Studio in Manhattan where they teach the Meisner technique and the “Reality of Doing” with such notable alumni as Christopher Meloni, Steve McQueen, and James Caan. So lets ask him a few questions :
Why do you love horror?
~Who knows. I’m sure there’s some psychological reason for it. I just know that when I’m searching for a new movie to watch, I’ll immediately browse the horror genre. Or if I’m trying to get something going creatively, push a project, it’s in the genre. Dark, brutal, most of the time. I just know that when I was a kid, and I was sneaking downstairs to watch something on TV… I’d try to find a horror movie.
So I wanted to find out about some of his favorite horror films, films, and the actors and actresses in them.
~Fave Horror: Alice Sweet Alice (1976) with Paula Sheppard as Alice and also starring a young Brooke Shields, Jaws (1975), Alien (1979), Alien III (1992), Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981), Christine (1983), and all time favorite is the original Black Christmas (1974). He is huge fan of the slasher sub-genre in horror.
He also for TV shows loves House of Cards and Glow.
Some favorite actresses- Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim VS the World, 10 Cloverfield Lane), Sigourney Weaver (Alien and Ghostbusters franchises), Amy Adams (Sharp Objects, and Nocturnal Animals).
Actors- Kane Hodder (Jason X, Victor Crowley, Hatchet , Jason Goes to Hell), Guy Pierce ( Memento, LA Confidential), Jake Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko, Zodiac), Christian Bale (The Dark Knight Rises).
The Most fun I had talking to Damian is when he said Weekend at Bernie’s was his favorite horror comedy, I had never thought of it that way but he is right it was a very macabre film when you think about it. But we both agree it is actually time for a reboot of the film and in this day and age we would flip the script so that the roles played by Andrew McCarthy and Johnathan Silverman from the 1989 version would now be played by Melissa McCarthy and Kate McKinnon with Damian as the new Bernie! I would definitely pay to see that!
What do you want people to know about you?
~Oh, I don’t know. That I’m out here just trying to do some quality work, make the most of whatever time I have in the things I’m lucky enough to be in. And when I’m not menacing people onscreen I’m usually being overpowered by my 3 sons and 10 pound dog. My favorite decade for movies, particularly the genre, is the 70’s. By far and away.
Any funny stories from sets?
~On Prey at Night I charged Lewis at the pool and swung so hard I lifted my entire body into the air and fell on my back. I was embarrassed, and pissed off, so I just laid there for a couple of seconds not moving or saying anything. But… I had the sack on my head, so everyone thought maybe I had knocked myself out. I’ll do another Strangers one, there’s a scene in a van where I get in, and the other character is sort of pinned to the seat via this wood plank that’s gone through the windshield. So I get in, and there’s all glass on the dashboard. Fake glass though. Looks real! Movie magic. So I sit down, and I get the idea to just… Play with the glass a little bit before I turn my attention towards the radio. Wipe some glass and blood off the dashboard. Little cleanup. So I do it. Johannes liked it, told me to keep it in. So I did it again on my next take. Take after that, I sit down in the car, start to wipe the glass off, and I feel my skin being penetrated and let out a yelp like a sleeping puppy being poked in the ass with a knitting needle. Apparently, during the other character’s shifting in his seat, the wood plank had shaved off a sliver of actual glass from the window, and it landed in the glass pile. You can tell the difference if you give it a real good look, but not when you’re in the zone, man! Anyway… For all that, the bit didn’t even make it into the theatrical cut. And to think I bled for it…
Do you have a personal mantra?
~A personal fave is Ray’s “I’m not going to listen to this, I’m not going to hear this now.” from The Burbs. I trot that one out often. Otherwise I like to bastardize Dylan Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night” and appropriate Galaxy Quest’s “Never Give Up, Never Surrender.
I want to thank Damian so much for taking his valuable time to speak with me. I am a fan of his and as I look on IMDB there is an upcoming film that he will be in called Haunt by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods both known for being writers for A Quiet Place and Nightlight. Damian could not tell me much about it except that it was one of the most fun times he has had shooting a film. IMDB’s description is as follows: On Halloween, a group of friends encounter an “extreme” haunted house that promises to feed on their darkest fears. The night turns deadly as they come to the horrifying realization that some nightmares are real. The film is still in post-production but it sounds like a lot of fun and I for one am looking forward to it and Damian’s performance in it!
If you would like to learn more about Damian I have included some links: