My good friend Marc Lougee, the creative filmmaker behind The Pit and the Pendulum, recently attended a horror convention to promote his film and he returned with a new group of contacts that he introduced me to so that their work might be shared in the blogosphere. With this post we meet Jed Rowen, a very busy actor who has done quite a bit of work in independent horror films.
TheoFantastique: Jed, welcome to TheoFantastique! You are the first actor to be interviewed here, so thanks for plowing new ground. Before we get into specifics of your career and your extensive work in horror films, would you classify yourself as a fan of this genre, and if so, how did you come to be a fan and so involved as an actor in this genre?
Jed Rowen: I have always been a fan of horror films. think it started years ago when I first saw The Exorcist as a kid. But later on I really fell in love with the genre after seeing the more horror/comedy/absurdist films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre II and Evil Dead II. Those two films in particular hit a chord with me because of their over-the-top, farcical romps. I like absurdity.When I moved to Los Angeles about eight years ago from the Bay Area where I did theater, I only had one film credit. It was a great credit…I played a homeless guy in a Hong Kong film with Maggie Cheung that was #1 in the box office over there and was theatrically released all over Asia…but it was only one credit. I realized after butting my head against the wall trying to get cast in big Hollywood productions that low-budget horror films were actually a more realistic way for a no-name actor to get in real films that got distribution that were in stores that were seen by the general public. So I set my sights on that.
TheoFantastique: How many films have you been credited in, and what are some of your favorites?
Jed Rowen: I have credited parts in 62 films. A couple of those are Internet web-series and one television credit. But 62 sounds better than 59, so I’m padding it a little. My favorite features that I’ve been in are Attitude For Destruction, Werewolf in a Women’s Prison, and Zombie Farm. My favorite horror shorts I’ve been in are Serial Killer Scavenger Hunt, Terror Toons 1.5 and Cry of the Mummy. I have been in a lot of other great films but these three features and three shorts I truly adore because they fit into my love of the absurd, and to me they actually transcend the regular horror genre and have become iconic film statements all on their own.
TheoFantastique: You appeared at Starland Convention as part of the Horrorfest two years in a row, last year attending the premiere of Zombie Farm, and this year for the screening of Attitude for Destruction. What are your feelings about being a fixture in the independent horror film community, and how have fans responded to these two films in particular?
Jed Rowen: The horror community, ironically, is by far the most nurturing and supportive of all the film communities for an actor. The fans and the filmmakers in the horror world are the most open to new talent, and there are countless websites and magazines and conventions that support not only the big movies but also independent horror films and the people involved with them. I feel very lucky to be a fixture in the indie horror community and hopefully, if things keep going well, will remain there for the rest of my acting career.
The Starland/Horrorfest convention in Denver has been one of the very best things that has ever happened to me. It is a thrill to be an official guest at such a prestigious convention whose past guests include Tom Cruise, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and Francis Ford Coppola. But it is also run by very classy and wonderful people who make me feel like royalty and who are very much in my corner. I was surprised at how many fans at the convention this past April actually remembered Zombie Farm from the year before and were still excited about that film. This year’s screening of Attitude for Destruction at the convention received a ton of enthusiasm and positive feedback from fans at the convention as well. I’m pretty much 2 for 2 with screenings there. I can’t wait to go back next year.
TheoFantastique: You have also done some non-horror films. Can you tell us a little about these?
Jed Rowen: I have been in some real non-horror gems that have won awards and have screened at many film festivals around the world. At the top of the list is definitely The Wright Stuff series in which I played a bunch of different characters. My favorite is the second Wright Stuff called Chinese Take-Out where I played Dr. Fu Man Chu. The Wright Stuff series won Best Comedy at the DragonCon Convention in Atlanta, GA, and has been in film festivals from Germany to Canada to all over the States. Everyone’s crazy about them. You can see them online. I was also in an amazing art-house film about a ballerina called Tiny Dancer. This is a beautiful short film that actually screened at Cannes and also in festivals all over the country. I played a very effeminate stage manager in that one. I was also in a real experimental film called Cineme Fabrique #1 that won for best experimental film at the Bare Bones Film Festival in Oklahoma, and I won an acting award for that film at Bare Bones as well. All of these films I just mentioned were directed by Ford Austin. He also, of course, directed the horror feature I was in, Attitude For Destruction. And he just finished shooting another drama called Grappling with Your Demons, and I had a small role in that one as well. Ford is a amazingly talented filmmaker of extraordinary range who can do it all very well. I’m ecstatic to be in his films. While we’re on the subject, I’ve also done a couple of other non-horror films worth mentioning. Ulli Lommel, who directed me in the horror film Black Dahlia, recently made a drama called 17 with David Carradine. It was a real thrill to work with Ulli again and to be in a film with someone like Carradine. Another movie I was in worth mentioning is called Beauty Sleep Symphony with Dee Wallace-Stone, a quirky drama directed by Carl Darchuck. And, finally, later this year I’m finishing up Paul Bunnell’s sci-fi musical extravaganza, The Ghastly Love of Johnny X, an amazing black-and-white 35mm film that is going to blow everyone away. I’m real jazzed up to be in these films. While it’s great to be in horror films, it’s nice to branch out from time to time.
TheoFantastique: What projects do you have underway?
Jed Rowen: I’m starring in another horror film called Dead Friday with the incomparable Randall Malone which Dennis Devine is directing. Dennis directed me in Sawblade, in which I played the main killer starring alongside Reggie Bannister. Sawblade came out great and I’m very psyched to be in another Dennis Devine film. Dave Sterling is producing this one, and Dave has been a big supporter of me and my acting career. I’ve been in more than a dozen of his films and
it was a real stroke of good fortune to become involved with him and his, as he terms it, ‘movie factory.’ I just wrapped another one of Dave’s films a few weeks ago called Xmas with Felissa Rose. Dave thankfully keeps me very busy.I’m also acting in a web-series directed and produced by Freddy Nager called The Worldwide Scoop. I play world-adventurer/investigative reporter Theo Chuckerson. We’ve shot the first episode already and will be shooting the next one in late May. The series is hilarious, and is going to premiere online imminently. That is pretty much it for right now. To sum it all up, I’m really glad I’m acting with such an assortment of great filmmakers and great projects and there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing.
TheoFantastique: Jed, thanks again for taking some time to talk about your work and career. I look forward to your continued successes in general, but particularly in the indie horror niche.