It has been three years since Art the Clown peddled his tricycle into cinemas in the film Terrifer. If you didn’t see it in theaters, you surely have seen it on Netflix by now. Art the Clown, then played by a different actor was first introduced in a short film titled The 9th Circle; then again in a short of the same name Terrifier, ending in 2013 with an anthology titled All Hallows’ Eve. Then David Howard Thornton stepped into the huge clown shoes of the dreaded Art the Clown and wrecked havoc in the 2016 feature film.
Terrifier 2 has been announced and the filming begins soon. David Howard Thornton was nice enough to take a break from his busy schedule of filming and guest starring at cons to sit down with AiPT! and answer some questions!
AiPT!: Terrifier is what you are best known for, but when did you first begin acting? Is acting something you always wanted to do?
David Howard Thornton: Oddly enough, considering the nature of what I am known for acting in, I started acting in church children’s choir shows, then graduated to school productions, followed by community theater productions before moving to NYC. Acting is something I have pretty much always enjoyed doing. What really helped me realize this was when I was in the 8th grade. I was bullied a lot during middle school and ended up getting cast as Mickey Mouse/Bob Cratchit in my school’s production of Mickey’s Christmas Carol. We had a mishap on stage where the set fell apart, so I started to improvise on the spot and had the audience laughing and eating out of the palm of my hand. For once, people were laughing with me instead of at me, and I loved that feeling and decided that entertaining people is what I wanted to do. However, I did not get a degree in theater but elementary education when I went to college since I was trying to be pragmatic. My mother’s death from cancer during college caused me to reevaluate my life, and I decided that life was too short not to do what I wanted to do with it, so I decided to give up teaching and pursue acting. The rest is history!
AiPT!: Terrifier is a solid horror movie! Congrats on getting the green light for the sequel. What can you tell us about Terrifier 2? Will we learn more about Art the Clown’s background?
DHT: Thanks! I can’t reveal much about the sequel, obviously. You might learn a few things about Art’s background if you pay attention, but we want to keep a lot of that a mystery still. However, I can say that this one will be more ambitious than the first. One of the main complaints Terrifier got was a lack of plot. This one has more of a narrative element to it, especially surrounding our new protagonists, who I am sure you all will enjoy. It’s bigger and better in every way.
AiPT!: What do you like about playing Art the Clown?
DHT: I’ve always loved playing comedic roles as well as villains, and Art is both! I’ve also always wanted to play a silent clown type of character like Harpo Marx, Chaplin, Keaton, or Mr. Bean. I’ve always loved those types of characters and thought it would be a fun challenge to convey meaning and intent through physicality alone. Being able to do that as the villain is the cherry on top! He’s such a fun character to play since he is so mischievous and revels in his evil ways.
AiPT!: Do you think Terrifier could become a franchise and make Art a household name in the likes of Freddy or Jason?
DHT: I do and hope it does! There is something unique about Art both in looks and in mannerisms that separates him from most of the horror villains that have been out this past decade or so. I hate saying it, but most horror villains lately have been pretty bland and devoid of any real character that makes them stand out the way Freddy, etc did. In a sea of remakes and reboots, we need new blood to continue the genre forward just like Freddy and the crew did for the original monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein, etc. I think Art fits that bill. In my eyes, Art is a love letter to horror villains. There is a little bit of every one of the greats in him, and I think that helps him stand out from the rest.
AiPT!: Art the Clown is silent, so you must rely on your facial expressions and body language to get your “words” across. You do an outstanding job! Was it hard to play a silent, sadistic killer?
DHT: Yes and no. It certainly is a challenge having to convey meaning and purpose without words! I’m a voice over guy, and have the ability to do over 200 voices, which is a skill set that I have always relied upon as an actor. So that was a challenge having my greatest skill set taken a way. However, I also grew up doing a lot of physical comedy, especially doing children’s theater. Children are more into physical rather than verbal comedy, so I had decades of honing this skill. I also learned from the greats that came before and had a great mentor in Stefan Karl (Robbie Rotten from Lazy Town) when I was his understudy for 5 years as the Grinch. He was a master at clowning and taught me a lot during those years. I have taken what he taught me and have applied them to my portrayal of Art.
AiPT!: I have to ask about the most gruesome scene in Terrifier and you probably know which scene I am referring to! What was it like filming the scene with Catherine Corcorcan hanging upside down nude and you cutting her in half?
DHT: That was a difficult scene, for sure, to film. Though I think it was more difficult for her than any of us. It was extremely cold that night and we had no heat. She had to hang upside down like that in 30 second spurts for several hours in such uncomfortable conditions. She was a real trouper and handled it like a true professional with no complaints. She’s the MVP of the film in my eyes.
AiPT!: Going into Terrifier I didn’t know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised. I see it hitting cult status. You are even hitting conventions now! How do you feel about the film’s growth in popularity?
DHT: We didn’t know what to expect either! We thought we had something fun but were trying to be realistic about it all since we knew we were a very low budget indie film with only a small following of fans at the time of the original film All Hallow’s Eve. We just made a film that we though would be fun for the fans of the original as well as what we thought would be a fun slasher film in general. We definitely did not expect the reaction that it has gotten by the horror community at all! It still boggles my mind. We are definitely grateful to the fans for spreading the love of the film. It is because of them that it has reached the status it has!
AiPT!: When you aren’t working on films; what other interests do you have?
DHT: I’m an entertainment junkie. That’s my vice! I love a good story, so I spend a lot of time reading, listening and playing music, watching films and tv shows, and playing video games.
AiPT!: After Terrifier 2, are there any other projects coming up that you would like to share with us?
DHT: There are! For one, I am still working on the fan made series Nightwing: Escalation where I play the Joker. Plus I should be filming, what we hope will be, a new horror franchise called tentatively Stream next year. It’s a fun concept and I wish I could say more.
Thanks again, David for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk with us. You can catch Terrifier streaming now on Netflix!