Actor Marc Senter, who came to horror audiences’ attention with his starring role of Ray Pye in Chris Sivertson’s 2006 indie darling The Lost, and who subsequently has appeared in Darren Lynn Bousman’s The Devil’s Carnival and Simon Rumley’s Red, White & Blue, caught up with us last night to chat the SXSW feature premiere of Starry Eyes, in which he stars.
Co-written and directed by Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kolsch, Starry Eyes stars Alexandra Essoe, Amanda Fuller (Red, White & Blue), Fabianne Therese (John Dies at the End), Noah Segan (Looper), Shane Coffey (The Originals) and Senter, and revolves around aspiring Hollywood actress Sarah Walker (Essoe), who spends her days working a dead-end job, enduring petty friendships and going on countless casting calls in hopes of catching her big break. After a series of strange auditions, Sarah lands the leading role in a new film from a mysterious production company. But with this opportunity comes bizarre ramifications that will transform her both mentally and physically into something beautiful, and altogether terrifying.
Having shot last May in Los Angeles over the course of three weeks, Senter said of how he became attached to Starry Eyes, “The producer and my friend, Travis Stevens, reached out to me about it. Travis is one of the hardest working and most talented genre producers in the business today, so when he sends me something, I trust there is something there. I don't think there was even a role in particular that he was reaching out to me for and I believe that at this point, a lot of the film had already been cast, except for a few supporting roles. I thought the script had some cool elements to it, but, more importantly, I understood what Travis envisioned for it, and was most attracted to that.
“Of course, when I met directors Dennis [Widmyer] and Kevin [Kolsch], it seemed clear that they were in tune with Travis' vision and had the passion to back it up,” continued Senter. “Also, when I read the script, the role that I would ultimately choose to play really popped out at me. I had an idea for something different and fun, and wanted to try it."
"Some of my favorite psychological horror films are from the 1970’s,” mused Senter, when queried regarding the comparisons currently being made of that decade’s horror entries and Starry Eyes. “Rosemary's Baby is one of those, with The Shining being my favorite.”
As for his character known simply as 'The Assistant,’ Senter illuminated, “I play the assistant to the casting director. It's so funny. I’m smiling and laughing a bit at the memory. When the lead girl (Essoe) gets her big shot to audition for the role of her dreams, it’s me and the casting director she must impress. Of course, there is a real twist to this character, as well as the casting directors, but I probably shouldn't mention that.”
While he remained coy regarding narrative points, Senter was more than happy to chat about his ‘method’ approach to the role. “I know a gentleman who is a casting director. He was one of the casting directors who cast me in an earlier horror film I did, and from the second I read the character he popped into my mind. I went and had lunch with him to see what in my memory could be refreshed, and what new things I could pick up. The moment I sat down with him, I knew that he was definitely the choice for this character, and that was awesome, because I knew it would be a lot of fun bringing him to life.”
Regarding his working relationship with Widmyer and Kolsch, “They are great dudes and I like them a lot,” offered the actor. “I am grateful they thought of me, along with Travis, for this film. I had a lot of fun working with them.”
As for his thoughts on the SXSW premiere (it premieres tomorrow at The Alamo Ritz; see details below), “I really dig the fest, and am excited to get back down there to celebrate this film, and hang out with new and old friends,” stated Senter.
“My first film, The Lost, premiered at SXSW, and it is one of the most memorable moments I have in my career. I was also there with Red, White & Blue a few years back, which was a total blast. It's been a minute, so I am excited to get back down there. Oh, and I decided to take a few extra days and do a little road trip with my friend and co-star Noah Segan. We are hitting the open road at 6am manana! Still wondering if this was a good idea, though I know it will definitely be an adventure.”
We asked Senter, given his genre-heavy filmography, what audiences may expect from him the future, to which he replied, “A lot of diversity in genres and character. While things are a little secretive at the moment, there are a few projects I can mention. I have a movie in development about an extremely influential Los Angeles band, in which I’ll play the lead singer. There is also a New Orleans crime thriller, where I will play a cop, and there is a high-concept comedy I am working on as well, where I will play a pretty hilarious character that makes a bit of fun of my actual career.”
Not content to rest on his laurels and having been bitten by the producing bug on his 2011 flick Brawler (which he produced and starred in), Senter concluded, “Six months ago, my producing partner and I joined forces with two industry heavyweights and launched a new production company. There will be a formal announcement very shortly with the company name and details, but we already have some very exciting things going on. While I am an actor first, I love producing. It gives me the opportunity to work on multiple projects at once, which is necessary for someone like me, who does not like to sit around and wait for the phone to ring.”
SXSW screenings of Starry Eyes are as follows:
World Premiere: Saturday, March 8th, 11:59pm (Alamo Ritz 1&2)
Public Screening #2: Monday, March 10th, 11:59pm (SXSatellite: Marchesa)
Public Screening #3: Wednesday, March 12th, 11:59pm (Stateside Theatre)
Public Screening #4: Friday, March 14th, 1:30pm (Alamo Ritz 2)