Arnold Vosloo – The TMG Interview
Arnold Vosloo is back in a new movie as the head of a mental asylum. We at The Movie Guys love this. We’ll watch any movie where there’s an insane asylum. Throw in a plot where reality may not be all it seems – we’re in. I even remember loving a sub-plot to the ‘80s soap opera Santa Barbara involving Robin Wright’s character being trapped in an asylum by Ben Piazza’s Dr. Rawlings for weeks! Took forever to get her out…but I digress.
Vosloo, famous for The Mummy, 24, Blood Diamond and more, plays Dr. Franklin Whitney in The Harrowing. He runs a psychiatric hospital and at first is a very level-headed individual. But all is not as it seems, according to Michael Tompkins’ detective, Ryan Calhoun, who has gone undercover at the asylum to explore the mysterious circumstances behind a friend’s death. Probably his first mistake. The Harrowing is available on V.O.D. now – YouTube, Amazon Prime, Vudu and more – so we asked Vosloo a few questions about the film and his career.
Whether it’s Shutter Island or One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, the head of a mental institution always looks fun to play. In a head-scratcher like The Harrowing, your Dr. Whitney comes across level-headed, but there is certainly something mysterious about him. What were the challenges playing your character in a film that’s always questioning the story’s reality?
The challenge in playing Dr. Whitney in this movie was just to keep playing him straight and level. A good doctor, a good man filled with empathy for his patients. Little do they know! Hahahaha
What was the most fun about the role?
The “fun” part of the role is that I know the truth. I would look at other characters and think “you have no fucking idea”. Also, much “fun” can be had by hanging out with a dedicated crew and cast in Dallas, Texas!
You and Michael Ironside in the same movie answers the wishes of many horror movie fans. Your characters propel different parts of the plot, did you get much face time with him?
I did not have much action with Mr Ironside (great name/great actor). Jon Keeyes must fix that it in his next movie!
One of the more impressive aspects of The Harrowing is how it takes what is probably a small budget and gets big-budget look and feel out of it. What impressed you about director Jon Keeyes?
Jon is open to ideas but knows that the clock is ticking and takes charge when he has to. I like directors that are the boss and he is it! I will work with him anytime, anywhere, anyhow.
There’s also a scene or two where you’re loaded up with practical makeup effects. As Imhotep in The Mummy films, you were often made nasty by computer generated effects. What are the challenges in working with each style, practical and CGI? Is one more to your liking?
I must confess that I prefer real or practical makeup vs CGI, I like the craft and old school vibe of layer upon layer of latex on my face. You go through a process with the makeup artist and you emerge after a few hours and find yourself changed. Then its time to kick ass and take names. Makeup all the way!
Speaking of The Mummy. I interviewed Brendan Fraser at a live event in Hollywood, only to find out right before the event that he pronounces his last name “Fray-zer”. In the same way, I just learned your last name is pronounced “Fos-Loo”. That pronunciation’s the product of your upbringing in South Africa, yeah?
I am of German stock and my names, first and last, are pronounced very differently here in the States. Its all good!
The Mummy pushed you into the limelight, but you had other parts in plenty of other films before then like Hard Target, 1492: Conquest of Paradise and Zeus and Roxanne. What was it that landed you the game-changing role of Imhotep?
I had worked with The Mummy producers on Hard Target, so that helped, but in my initial meeting with [Mummydirector] Stephen Sommers, I let him know that I was interested in the love story more so than being scary. If the audience believes Imhotep is killing for love then it would make the story better. He hired me that day!
Looking at a few other of my favorite moments from your career, was acting in 24 a challenge? It seems like a struggle for the filmmakers to maintain continuity and keep things tight for the real-time construct. Was it tough for actors? Did you feel like you ever had to race against the clock?
24 was a weird experience in the sense that I had no idea what would happen from episode to episode. I was asked to come and do two episodes and then it became a season. The writers liked what they saw in my Marwan character and they would write accordingly until they had me throw myself off a building.
Also, I know Blood Diamond was nominated for some Oscars, but where were the wins?! I loved that movie. I imagine you’re proud of that one.
Anytime I am involved with a gig about or shot in Africa, my heart sings.
Lastly, I ask this of everyone – what’s your favorite movie of all time? If this question is a struggle to answer, you’re not alone.
My #1 movie of all time is Santa Sangre, directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky.
The Harrowing is currently available on V.O.D.