J.D. Dunn, played by Dean Chekvala, is the latest wedding guest to fall victim to Harper's Island. The dark, brooding, tattooed brother-of-the-groom was positioned to be a prime suspect, even though we know he was way too obvious. So it was a surprise to no one (at least not to any FEARnet readers) that J.D. was found on the docks, gutted like a fish. We spoke to Dean about his role, keeping secrets, and how much of his entrails ended up on the cutting room floor.
Note: To take part in a live chat every Monday with each week's victim, be sure to check out Fancast.com.
How did you come to get the role of J.D. on Harper's Island?
It was just one of those normal auditions. I went in, didn't really know what it was, and auditioned once. My "follow-up" audition was actually a meeting with Jeff Bell and Dan Shotz, the producers. I wasn't sure how that went. I thought it went well, but I didn't hear anything so I thought I had screwed it up. I finally got a call after quite a few days, and they said, "Oh you got it. And by the way, you are leaving tomorrow."
Were you signed on for a set number of episodes, or were you week-to-week?
I think most – if not all – of us were week-to-week. The cast wasn't told anything, and the killer wasn't even told anything. We were all under the impression that anyone could go tomorrow, or anyone could stay the whole time.
So the killer didn't even know they were the killer until the very end?
I know, how wild is that? Part of it, I think, was for secrecy's sake. But I think part of it was so that the killer didn't play it like the killer… I don't know. Maybe the producers just didn't even know! I thought I was just on for the pilot, but then it got picked up, and when I came to set, the producers said, "Look, here's the deal: you could be here the whole time, or you could be gone next week. We don't know."
Is it hard to plan your life around that kind of uncertainty?
Not for me particularly. I don't have much planning in my life! But I'm sure for some, it was a little hectic. I love just picking up and moving, and being on the job for however long it ends up being. That was great.
The show set up your character, J.D., as a prime suspect from the very beginning. Did you ever believe that you could be the killer, or did you realize you were just a red herring?
There were moments where I thought I was the killer – actually, from the every first moment. At the start of the show, the producers met with the cast – individually – and asked us all, "If you were the killer, would you want to know?" I didn't think I would really need to, but then I thought, "Wait, are they really asking me because I am the killer?" But no, I found out later that they really were asking that of everyone – just for the producers' curiosity. I eventually realized I was the red herring, but a great character to bounce those suspicions off of, cause there is no other character like that.
How did the producers tell you that you were the next victim? Was it a surprise?
It was a big surprise. I found out from Karim "The Assassin" – you know he does a blog called "Notes From an Assassin" – he was given the job of telling people every week that they were the next victims. He was heading to the airport, so he had to tell me over the phone – normally he tells people in person. He called and was really casual, "Hey Dean, how ya doing?" that kind of thing. I asked if he wanted to hang out later and he said, "Oh, actually, you're not going to be around much later." It was a surprise because when he called, I thought it was about something else. But it wasn't a surprise in the sense that it was time. It was time for them to kill off some characters they had invested some more time with.
Who do you think the killer is?
I actually asked them not to tell me because I wanted to watch the rest of the show and guess along with the audience. But I've always felt it could be Abby. I don't know why, if I made that up based on no evidence, but going through all the characters, she seems to be the most unlikely suspect. Maybe she is schizophrenic or has a split personality or something. But [the cast] would talk about this every week, when we would get the script, so now I have kind of been convinced against that, and thought Jimmy might be a good suspect. He's very unassuming in a sense. I don't think it is the sheriff – I feel like the sheriff already has a lot of secrets.
What ended up airing of your death scene was basically just you laying there. Were you gutted? Was there more to the scene that was later cut, and could we see it on the DVD?
Yeah, I was gutted. We shot several versions – including one with my guts hanging out – and some cleaner versions. I think they ended up using the cleaner versions because they weren't as graphic. We didn't shoot anything else leading up to that scene, that would explain it, so I am led to believe it was a stabbing, or a machete or something like that. They might put the more graphic versions on the DVD. I know they also filmed a more graphic version of Malcolm's death last week. With him, they had to cut out scenes where his body parts were being thrown in to the furnace, but I think I did hear them say that the extra scenes would be on the DVD.