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Exclusive Interview With Wrestlemaniac Star Irwin Keyes
By James Whittington, Saturday 22nd November 2008

Irwin Keyes is one of America’s favourite character actors and has appeared in many of their favourite TV shows. His movie CV is just as impressive and this month on Zone Horror he stars in one of the best horror movies of recent years, Wrestlemaniac. We caught up with this in demand star for this exclusive interview. 

ZH: Did you always want to be an actor from an early age? 

IK: I didn’t find acting was the thing for me till I was in college Suny New Paltz, N.Y. That’s when I did the stage play The Lower Depths role Kletch and found out  I was actually good at something! Did Summerstock, then on to NYC to follow my dreams. 

ZH: Where did you get your big break? 

IK: I never had a big break. I just worked from day one. Extra work to bit parts in movies Friday the 13th and The Warriors to title roles in The Prize Fighter and The Private Eyes. Then I moved to LA and started over again in 1982. 

ZH: Was your family supportive of your career decision or did they think your enthusiasm would fizzle out? 

IK: My family thought I was crazy, but I come from a family sort of on the edge of showbiz. They always believed in me. 

ZH: You’ve appeared in some of America’s biggest TV shows, what’s it like going on a set on say Thirtysomething or CSI? 

IK: I didn’t work a lot in TV. When I did I was always great in very outstanding parts. The Jeffersons was my first TV role as Hugo the Bodyguard. They wrote six episodes around me. The #1 show in the USA! I had fun parts on Thirtysomething and CSI. You have to be professional, be prepared and do your job. That’s what it’s about. 

ZH: We know you in the UK mainly for your work in the horror industry in movies such as Tequila Body Shots, Tales from the Crypt, The Fallen Ones and more recently Wrestlemaniac, how do approach such intense roles? 

IK: Intense parts? Acting is fun for me. When I stop having fun, it’s time to quit acting! You must understand the part and most of all trust the Director and all the people you are working with. Acting is a collaborative art. 

ZH: Was it a fun shoot? 

IK: I couldn’t believe how nice everyone was to me when we shot Wrestmaniac. They just loved what I did with my character. I was making all the right acting choices. I was the character of the Stranger!!! 

ZH: It’s a pretty gory movie, where do you stand on movie violence and its effects on the public? 

IK2IK: I didn’t think Wrestlemaniac was a gory film. It was a well acted film by all of the other actors in it. I was very proud to work with them. Jake Schmidt the Producer and Jesse Baget the Director were both very creative.  I told then from day one what a great flick Wrestlemaniac was. The public will just love this film. Reading the daily newspaper or watching the news on the tube is more violent than any movie. 

ZH: Are you a fan of wrestling? 

IK: have been a fan of wrestling since I was a kid. I watched it every Saturday night on the TV. 

ZH: Do you ever fear of being typecast if you work too long in one genre? 

IK: I am typecast in life no matter what I play. When I can make people laugh like in the film Intolerable Cruelty or Frankenstein General Hospital. Or have people cry for me in Easy Streets or The Urn, I’ve done my job. I have grown as an actor beyond typecasting. I just try to be the best actor I can be in whatever part I play. I act for me. 

ZH: Are you a fan of the horror genre? 

IK: I love horror movies. Good horror and even bad horror. But I also love all kinds of movies. Comedy, romance, classic films. I am a film buff. I try to see a movie everyday. In the theatres or on TV. I had such fun working with Rob Zombie in House of a 1000 Corpses. Rob loved my horror laugh so much he used it throughout the film! 

ZH: At this point in your career do you still have some acting ambitions? 

IK: I enjoy meeting horror fans at horrorcons. They all have a lot to say. A lot for me to learn from. 

ZH: How do you relax away from a film set? 

IK: I paint watercolours, workout in the gym, do Sudukos and crossword puzzles. 

ZH: Is it true you did the conga with Liz Taylor? 

IK: In The Flintstones movies 1 and 2 I played Joe Rockhead. One of my tasks was to lead the dance to celebrate Fred’s success at becoming upper management at Slate Company. In the script it says I lead a dance. Nothing else. I told the Director of the film, “How about this…Bedrock Bedrock conga…Bedrock Bedrock conga. I lead a conga line”. Who was right behind me but Liz Taylor. She was incredible and had such a great time dancing. I will never forget her lovely violet eyes.  She IS THE BEST!!! 

ZH: What projects are you involved with at the moment? 

IK: I have  been doing a lot of cartoon movie voice work. Some new films coming soon. 

ZH: Irwin Keyes, thank you very much 

IK: Thanks to all of you and I can’t wait till I get invited to meet you all at the England and Europe cons, and thanks for loving Wrestlemaniac!!!

 


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