That’s How I Roll: Jeffrey Dean Morgan on The Possession and Magic City
Boy, whenever Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s your dad, monsters come to get you. Morgan played John Winchester in an arc on “Supernatural” and The Possession is his first horror movie. He plays Clyde, a divorced dad to two daughters, one of whom picks up a Dibbuk box (look it up, Jewish myth) which possesses her just like the Catholic demons to. We got to chat with Morgan on his way to the airport to return to the set of “Magic City,” and we dropped a Watchmen spoiler just in case you’re sensitive to those things.
CraveOnline: You’ve gotten to do all different genres – comedy, drama, romance and action. Are there different demands for being the lead in a horror movie?
Jeffrey Dean Morgan: I never really thought of this going in as a horror movie. I’m not a huge fan of the genre. I’ll go on record saying that I think this genre’s been kind of f***ed with so much in the last 10 years that it’s more about gore and the big jump scares and no story. I thought when I first read this script that this was a movie that had a story. In talking to Ole [Bornedal] before we started shooting and before I even said yes to the role, what interested me most about this was the family dynamic and there being an actual story of this family trying to find their way through a divorce which is something a lot of people can relate to, including myself. I was the same age as these girls when my parents were divorced and I remember being shuttled back and forth. That interested me more than anything. Other than that, I think the demand is showing fear. I haven’t shown a lot of fear in the characters I’ve played before. I usually play tough guys and stuff like that. Showing fear is like having comedic timing because I think actors have a tendency to go way over the top with it and that sort of loses steam for what’s going on. The audience sees right through that and laughs at you, so it is something that I’m aware of.
There are still jump scares in The Possession.
There still are. You know, I saw the movie for the very first time last night at of course the premiere because that’s how I roll. [Laughs] I’ll be blunt, I’m disappointed that the MPAA made us take out a lot of stuff. There was a lot of stuff that we shot that wasn’t in the movie I saw. The story is still there, but if we’re going to do a f***in’ horror movie, let’s do a horror movie is my feeling on the whole thing.
If they put out an extended cut on DVD, what extra things would be in it?
It’s just a lot more scariness and evil in the original cut, in the original script. Not having seen the original cut, I’ve heard about it. We wanted a PG-13 movie. We wanted people to be able to see this and a core audience for movies like this is likened to that audience of a PG-13. But it’s a f***in’ creepy movie. I think there’s things there. I think there’s a great story there. I like scary sh*t too.
Were you able to read any Hebrew?
No, Clyde was not the Jewish guy.
But the passages you did read, was that just phonetic?
Oh, I was reading out of the Hebrew bible. I just was reading it.
How do you do with bugs and moths?
I’m not a big fan. Moths are okay. Actually moths don’t bother me near as much as, say, spiders do. That being said, we did have probably, I don't know, maybe 1,000 moths on set, but they weren’t dumped on my head. They were dumped on top of Natasha’s. I just had to get in that room and pull her out of it. And this moth wrangler made sure we were aware that we didn’t want to hurt any moths in the making of this movie so that was a little bit tricky but I was okay with the moths. In saying that, if I walked into a room and I saw 2000 moths flying around, it would freak the sh*t out of me but I was okay working with them.
Is this somehow the first father you’ve played in a movie?
I’m trying to think in a film. On TV, in “Supernatural” and “Magic City,” I’m a dad in all that stuff. In film, I’m trying to think.
Well, spoiler alert, The Comedian was a dad but we don’t know that going in.
He was a dad. [Laughs] For a moment, absolutely. Maybe on film this is the first time I’ve been a dad. I never thought about that. That could very well be true, which by the way, was sort of my favorite part of this movie in particular was getting a chance to play a father that I think was sort of in so much turmoil with his divorce but getting the opportunity to work with these two little girls, Madison Davenport and Natasha Callis was kind of the greatest part of this movie for me. In forming that kind of relationship, actors will always talk about, anybody in this business will talk about working with kids and animals is a nightmare and is the trickiest thing to do. For me, it’s also the greatest thing to do. Especially in a film like this where Natasha is an unknown and really one of the reasons I did this movie is because I saw her audition. What I saw her do in that audition blew me away. I think it’s such a joy being able to be around these kids, and then also getting them to trust me, so that relationship on screen I think really played well. That’s what I walked away from the premiere with last night was the father and daughter stuff I think plays really well and very believable which made me happy.
Was there any similarity in tone on the set of The Possession to the set of “Supernatural?”
A little bit. I love this director of this movie, Ole Bornedal. I’m a big fan of his work. It was cool because for one, we were shooting in Vancouver. Two, I shot at some of the very same locations that we shot some episodes that I did of “Supernatural,” so it was little bit like going to old home week for me. I’d have dinner with Jensen [Ackles] and Jared [Padalecki] at night while I was filming it. It’s that genre. It’s the creepy, scary kind of world so you’re filming a lot at night. That takes me right back to those “Supernatural” days. I don't know how many episodes of “Supernatural” I actually did. Twelve maybe. What I remember most about it was shooting all night. I’ll never forget, that was just the schedule. We were shooting at night and a lot of our movie was shot at night. And more so than any movies I’ve ever done. I think that harkens back to the horror genre and “Supernatural” certainly has it down. The Possession as well, you have to be in the dark when you’re making these movies.
Is there room for you to return on “Supernatural?”
I think there is always room. We’ve had not any kind of official talks. I think most of the talks that go on with “Supernatural” is through the press. I get asked, “Do you want to go back?” I say, “Yeah, I would love to go back for the last season and do something.” Someone asks them, “What about Jeff? Is he coming back?” They say, “We would love him to come back for the last season.” So that’s been the kind of relationship that we’ve had for the last couple years. I’m very good friends with Jensen in particular. I talk to him quite a bit. I think there’s a story there that needs some closure with John Winchester and his kids. I would love the opportunity to go back and work with those two boys. I adore them and that’s a great show, I’m happy to be a part of it.
So you have another year to make that happen?
Yeah, well, from “Supernatural,” I think they’ve threatened it to be the last year for the last three years, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that show went a couple more years, but we’ll see. I mean, every time they’re like, “This is our last season,” they tack on another season. Until then, I’m going to wait for the phone call and hopefully that’ll come and I’ll go up to Vancouver and we’ll close out the chapter of the Winchesters. I hope I get to be there when that happens.
Do you have ideas for what that closure should be?
I don’t. I don’t. They’ve got great writers up there. To be honest with you, I don't know what’s going on in that show anymore. I just don’t have the time to follow much series television at this point because of my schedule. So whatever it is, I’m sure it’ll be cool. I trust the writing staff up there and I certainly trust Jensen and Jared so whatever it is I’m sure it’ll be cool. I mean, if they’re going to bring John Winchester back it’s going to be for a good storyline, I have no doubt about that. So if and when that happens, I know it’ll be cool.
What’s going on for Ike Evans in “Magic City?”
That’s interesting. I go back to work there, kind of the minute I hang up the phone with you, I’m on my way to Miami and we start shooting next week. A lot of stuff. I’ve read the first three scripts. Now if you watched last season, we kind of saw my character starting to get into a lot of trouble. I think what we’re picking up in season two, my character’s in jail and the problems are rising quickly. This season is going to be a lot faster if that makes sense to you. It’s going to be really hard on Ike. I don't know if he’s going to survive it to be honest with you. My great friend and creator of this show is rather cryptic about where Ike is going other than to say, “You’re in a lot of trouble.” Things are going south quickly so I’m excited. The more conflict I get to play, the happier I am. I think every episode got better last year and if we start with that momentum on episode one in season two, I can hardly wait to see where we are at the end of the year, whether or not I’m alive.
Would that be a bummer if Ike died in the second season of your new show?
[Laughs] Well, you know, if it works for the story, then I’m okay with it. I like being there because I think television is kind of the new greatest medium, cable in particular. I feel like all the great storytellers are going there and I think our show is a handful that it’s just exceptional writing and directing and yeah, it would disappoint me. That being said, I don't know what’s going to happen. I know that I’m the lead of this show and if they kill me that would be a whole new show. But, if it’s for the better of it, and if it makes the story move and I die, then yeah, I’ve died on a lot of shows. I’m okay with it.
I saw the trailer for The Courier which looks pretty interesting. What do you get to play in that?
I’m trying to think about what I want to say about Courier. That was a script written by a guy called Michael Brandt who did Wanted and 3:10 to Yuma, one of I think the greatest writers for these kind of genres there are. It was this great script and that being said, I showed up and the script had been completely rewritten when I got to set. So I don’t have a lot to say. I haven’t seen the movie. It was a battle so I don’t want to bash it, but it wasn’t the movie that I signed up to do if that makes sense. I haven’t even seen the trailer for it, man. I just knew that it was a hard movie for me to do because it wasn’t the movie I signed up to do.
So does it not surprise you that it went straight to DVD?
No, doesn’t surprise me at all. Doesn’t surprise me at all.
Red Dawn is finally coming out though!
I’m very happy about the fact that it’s coming out. It was a shame that all the stuff happened at MGM and it sat on that shelf because I think we had a movie. We shot it in 2008 and 2009 and the fact that it’s finally seeing the light of day is great. The timing couldn’t be better with Chris [Hemsworth] and Josh [Hutcherson] becoming who they’ve become in the last four years. I was a huge fan of the original Red Dawn. America and brothers, you can’t beat that in my world. I think there’s nothing greater. We had a lot of fun making that movie. I think Dan Bradley, the director who comes from the hardcore stunt background world, really had a great handle on what he was doing. It was just a bunch of great kids at that time who’ve now blown up and are movie stars. When we shot it it was kind of a bunch of f***in’ unknowns. I may have been the biggest name attached to it at that point and now it’s kind of exploded. The fact that it’s coming out is really exciting and I’m happy for the producers and those kids. I shouldn’t say they’re kids. They’re adults and I think it’s going to be a fun movie. I think it’s going to be a really fun movie. I think it’s going to be Red Dawn times 100 action-wise. It’ll be a movie that I think the audience responds to.