Voice over actor, screenwriter, director and actor David Hayter has been in the industry since 1979, some thirty five years. We at Examiner sat with him to talk about his latest project “Devil’s Mile” and his hopes and aspirations.
Thank you David, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to speak with us.
DH: Well, thanks for having me. I’m a big fan of the Examiner in general.
AL: You have done everything from television sitcoms like “Major Dad” to TV series, voice over in animation, video games voice over roles, directing and screenwriting of all of this what has been the most challenging and what has been the most rewarding?
DH: The most challenging work is producing. The physical act of getting a production up and running is extremely taxing, and you never have any guarantee that your years of work on any given project will ever bear fruit. That said, I love all aspects of this business. Voice acting is probably the most fun, but I find writing creatively rewarding, and my recent turn at directing (On WOLVES, coming November 14th) was an incredible amount of fun.
AL: “Devils’ Mile” heralds your return to an acting role which is primarily live. How did you feel transitioning back into that? Did you need to any extra prep work to acclimate yourself back into live acting? (Sans voice work).
DH: The only prep work I needed was to lose a good ten to fifteen pounds. I’m at about the average weight for a guy my size (6’1” 185lbs.) But for on-camera acting you have to be much thinner than average. At least, that’s where I felt I needed to be for Toby, who is a dangerous, and very handsome, killer.
AL: Did writer director Joseph O’Brien ask you to help him punch up the script given that you have had a lot of experience in that realm?
DH: He asked me for my thoughts, and of course, I can’t help myself. I suggested a few ideas here and there, and I would occasionally make up some of my own dialogue with Joe’s approval. But Joe didn’t need me to do that. The script was in very good shape when I got there.
AL: From your own point of view, why do you think horror films have a higher gross and are more successful than say a an action flick or even a teen summer romance?
DH: Movies are designed to tell us stories, engage us on an emotional level and keep our attention. This can be done with a wide range of emotional triggers – Love, adrenaline, comedy. But fear is a highly potent sensation. If you can get an audience to identify themselves with a character, they will subconsciously feel that their own lives are in danger. People tend to pay attention in situations like that. I think fear is the easiest, and most visceral, emotion to activate in an audience.
AL: Looking over your background how did you go from being voice over actor mainly to the go to guy for comic book- to screenplay adaptations?
DH: That is a very long story, which has been recounted in a number of documentaries and books on screenwriting. Suffice it to say, that the number one rule in Hollywood is to maintain relationships with successful people, and you may find yourself involved in some very cool projects.
AL: Given this propensity for creating great scripts from comic books how did you feel reading that Allen Moore stated that "David Hayter's screenplay was as close as I could imagine anyone getting to [a film version of] Watchmen. That said I shan't be going to see it. My book is a comic book. Not a movie, not a novel. A comic book. It's been made in a certain way, and designed to be read a certain way."
DH: I was really blown away by that statement. Despite Allen’s intense disdain for Hollywood, he could not have been more supportive of me as a writer, and we spoke on the phone a few times so he could advise me on a few WM elements as I was writing. He’s a true genius and a gentleman.
AL: Did you feel that the writing of “Devil’s Mile” took up a lot of time in which you could have been working on other projects? Or were you able to structure your time to compensate for both?
DH: Not at all. I’m sure I was writing a couple of things at the time, but my time shooting on “Devil’s Mile” only took up about a week, so it wasn’t a huge impact on my deadlines.
AL: Given your wide array of talents, which do you see yourself most keen on? (Writing, directing, acting) and where you see yourself in headed in the future?
DH: I really do love all aspects of this business. Acting is the most pure fun as far as jobs go, but it can be limiting in terms of freedom of expression. You are never the master of the story, just a part of it. But writing and directing give you the power of the gods. You control the world, and really, isn’t that what every artist wants? As for the future? I’d like to create a singular, badass TV show (or two), continue to direct features, and pop up in surprising cameos now and again. Not a bad life, in my opinion.
AL: Are there any projects you have not done that you want to? Or stories you have read you are eager to make into a film?
DH: Too many to mention.
Thank you David for taking the time to speak with us and we look forward to hearing more from you in the near future!
DH: Thank you examiners! Right back atcha.