why don't you start us off with a visual and
describe the place where you are answered these
Thank you so much for
thinking of me for your Racks & Razors
Interviews! I'm sitting in my home office/den and
it's not quite the dark, bewitching hour
yet......actually, it's a beautiful February
morning here in sunny, Southern California....one
of those really perfect days without a trace of
smog or haze to cloud my view of the tall, skinny
palm trees out back.........
I want to hear
about your starring role as Sam in the horror
flick 'Primitive Recall'.
What attracted you to the project and can you
give us a teaser that is going to make it
irresistible to all the racksandrazors.com
cast in 'Primitive Recall' in one of the film's
starring roles as Sam, an exciting, complex
character to play. According to Sam's
description, (and hopefully, portrayed by me too)
he was an archeology professor, and eventual
action hero....a quirky and off-beat leading man
who tried valiantly to save the life of a woman
on the run from her boyfriend...well, former
boyfriend actually, who was morphed into an
ancient Peruvian man-eating cannibal. I know that
some great scenes were shot, and you can view
PRIMITIVE's pretty cool-looking trailer on my
website at http://www.johnmichaelsonpresents.com/newsrecentprojects.html the script was
quite well written and captivating....my co-stars
Monique Barajas and Rob Simpson were wonderful
actors....the entire crew was super...... If the
script wasn't changed too much in the editing
room, you will see a scary, gory cannibal movie
filmed in the beautiful wooded canyons of Los
Angeles. Oh yeah, it's definitely fun getting
paid to run around with weapons and Incan
monsters at night in a modern day horror flick, a
genre I always love!
Tell me too
about your horror sci-fi series
'Star Child: The Chosen One'.
What attracted you to the project and to your
role of Fintan?
Star Child was an initially exciting project that
eventually just fizzled out. The producers
brought me in to audition for a role, and I was
contacted the next day after my try-out
performance had apparently inspired the head
writer to quickly script the additional recurring
Fintan character. Evidently, they really wanted
me in the series so Fintan was added as a
side-kick baddie to the series' main villain,
Maleodor. After three episodes Star Child's
executive producer and creator Nancy Criss was
diagnosed with cancer, and the project was
scrapped. I don't know too much about the
unfortunate and tragic details except that Criss
has obviously recovered from her illness because
she is currently producing TV and Internet
projects. I was hoping that Star Child might gain
a second life but I haven't heard anything so
starred as Dragus in the horror movie 'Stakes'
with Jamie Bell and George Stover and in the
David DeCoteau feature 'The Wolves
of Wall Street'. Any favorite
memory from filming either of those features that
you would care to put in a time capsule?
was really a fun shoot for me. It was my first
leading role in a film, and again, not the role
that I was initially brought in to read. I
auditioned for the detective Jake that Jamie Bell
wonderfully went on to play....yep, I got a call
from 'Stakes' co-director and producer Joe Ripple
saying that the movie's bad boy vampire Dragus
had been enlarged to a leading part. My larger
physical size and obvious psychopathic
tendencies, I guess, had also inspired 'Stakes'
creator and B-Horror legendary auteur Don Dohler
to dress me as the blood sucking villain. wow, as
I'm writing out this interview, I'm realizing
that I really need to continue to market myself
for nasty roles....if people only know how warm
and kind I think I am...... This was also an
interesting shoot because principal photography
occurred in 2001 during 9/11. I had been living
in New York City for a couple of years and I had
to travel down to 'Stakes' Baltimore filming
location for the shoots. I remember all of the
truly scary trouble at the time (a few days after
9/11) in taking Amtrak down to Washington DC's
Union Station, and seeing all of the
Army/National Guard personnel in full military
uniform, with guns in hand on every city street
corner. I'm sure those unsettling times added
some eerie magic to 'Stakes' finished product.
'Stakes' was an important project in my
professional acting development......being
treated with the utmost respect for my acting
skills, and actually being told how grateful
production was for my participation in their
movie totally increased my confidence and
self-worth. Wonderful experiences like this
thankfully taught me how professional and
successful films are made. I credit the late Don
Dohler (who also gave J.J. Abrams his start) and
executive producer Joe Ripple for the savvy I now
have about the movie business. My eyes were
certainly opened up for future, more primitive
worked for one day on 'The Wolves of Wall Street'
but it was a happy one!! I believe the entire 90
minute film was shot in 8 days! Director David
DeCoteau certainly knew what he wanted! Thank
goodness I had my lines down pat for the two
takes of my continuously-shot scene! Most of the
movie was shot in different rooms of this faded
mansion out in the New Jersey suburbs. This was
another job that I worked very hard to get. I had
somehow heard that David DeCoteau (whose Horror
films and career I was already familiar) was
coming to the New York City area to shoot one of
his horror flicks (this time with a bigger budget
and name actors like Eric Roberts and Louise
Lasser attached). Having fully entered the
internet world at that point, I had access to
DeCoteau's Los Angeles contact information, and I
proceeded to send him my acting reel.
Interestingly enough, after some time had passed
and I had learned of a fellow actor who'd been
called to audition for Wolves, I figured it was a
finished deal. Thankfully, DeCoteau actually
watched my demo, appreciated my due diligence,
and brought me in to read for the role for which
I was cast!! Yes folks, perseverance and honest
butt-kissing can pay off!!
John, you have
also had a costarring role in the John Waters'
movie 'Cecil B. Demented'.
I must hear about that experience and what it was
like to work with both Mr. Waters and Ms.
another Baltimore film directing legend, John
Waters hired me to play the role of Charles, the
much put-upon publicist character for Melanie
Griffith\rquote s difficult, A-List movie star,
Honey Whitlock in his film, 'Cecil B. DeMented'.
This film really was my first big movie break
and, it was equal parts thrilling and
intimidating to have real Hollywood royalty,
Melanie Griffith and Waters' veteran and A-List
TV Hostess Ricki Lake as my only two scene
partners.....give or take brief, but notable
acting moments with Maggie Gyllenhall (her first
movie after having recently graduated from
Columbia University) and Stephen Dorf (Cecil B).
Actually, it was Gyllenhaal whose character Raven
punches out my exit from the film during the big
Honey Whitlock kidnapping scene. A bunch of fight
takes were made, and Maggie unintentionally got
me good in the face on at least 2 of them! I
remember on one night shoot where we were camped
out in a limousine between takes, Melanie
Griffith exclaimed that she was proud of the 4
million dollar house that she and new husband
Antonio Banderas had recently purchased in LA,
Ricki Lake was elated to have her then-famous
talk show resigned for another 5 years, and I was
beyond ecstatic to actually be able to pay my
rent that month!!
hallmark of that whole experience for me was
attending the 2000 Cannes Film Festival to view
the world premiere of Cecil B. Demented (which
was being shown in honor of its largely French
funded budget). Never having seen myself on a
huge movie screen before, amid hundreds of
International filmmakers, no less, I was kind of
worried about how I'd look, sound, and if I was
even still in the film! Thankfully, both the film
(and my performance, I think) hit the mark.
Sadly, Artisan Production Company shot its huge
advertising wad on 'Blair Witch 2' which was
released shortly after 'Cecil B' . I really
believe that 'Cecil B. DeMented' could've been a
much more successful hit if it had been given the
wide release and TV advertising of the failed
'Blair Witch' sequel.
Do you have
any other upcoming projects you're especially
proud of that you want the racksandrazors readers
to know about?
two upcoming features (in editing at the moment)
that should be fun little gems. 'Searching for
Ron Ficus' , directed by Alexander Endberg is an
indie slated to premiere at the Aspen Comedy
Festival in which I play a West Hollywood, CA
john trying to pick-up a transvestite for a
little afternoon delight ....there's quite a
twist in store for my character in that one. The
other movie is Shane Woodson's second outing in
the director chair, 'Barracuda', in which I play
a sexually deviant submissive man to a 300 pound
dominatrix!! And I'm still hoping that '
Primitive Recall' will finally be available for
us all to see later this year.
werewolves, zombies, witches, creatures, aliens,
telemarketers...what does it for you horrorwise
John and why?
a horror flick about telemarketers.... now that
would be totally frightening!! You know, I just
really like to work on movies with fun,
laid-back, intelligent folks who remember that
they're making a movie to entertain people....not
finding a cure for cancer!! As for horror genre
characters (witches, werewolves, etc.) the
weirder and more original the story (getting very
hard to come by these days for some reason) the
more I\rquote m personally drawn into the
project. Yes, the not-so-subtle Saw movies are
high on the creepy scale, but so is something
like Robert Altman's eerie (and completely
un-gory) 'Three Women' .
What was the
first movie to scare the shit out of you?
the first scary movie to really scare the shit
out of me was 'The Exorcist'. I was maybe 10
years old (and I lived in the Washington DC area
where both the movie, and the real-life exorcist
story that the film is based on took place). I
watched it at my grandmother's house and I had to
finally run away from the TV at the vomiting
scene.....how I made it thru those horrific
hospital scenes where poor little Linda Blair is
shot with needles to the neck (with no Novocain,
it seemed) was beyond me. I thought sleeping in
the same room as my grandmother that night would
comfort me, but her constant snoring sounded
freakier than the demon inside of Blair!! And,
I'd have to say that the original TV film version
of Stephen King's 'Salem's Lot', and the
never-mentioned witch movie called 'Superstition'
(from the early 1980's) would both be scary close
seconds for me.
pulling into the John Michaelson Drive In. What
three horror flicks are on the triple bill for
tonight and what goodies are they going to be
serving up at the concession stand?
my three drive-in film choices would be
'Rosemary's Baby', 'Let's Scare Jessica to
Death', and 'Super Gator' (co-starring my sister,
actress Elizabeth J. Carlisle). And, hopefully,
they'll have something decadent like funnel cakes
at the concession stand.
What is your
dream (or nightmare) horror movie role?
it'd be a lot of fun and a super challenge to
play a horror victim along the lines of Ellen
Burstyn's character in 'Requiem for a Dream'
(outstanding performance although I hated that
movie for it's pretentious focus on the editing
and filming techniques, instead of simply telling
us the story). I do like being bad
though.....maybe an upscale killer like 'American
Psycho' (I thought that movie was deliciously
hilarious, and no one sitting in the theatre near
me could understand my guffaws!!).
best Halloween costume you ever had?
my birthday is on October 29th, I've had many,
many Halloween-Birthday parties....I think my
most creative costume was dressing up as a huge
box of condoms..........
you in real life?
life.....well, after living in New York City for
6 and half years which was a wonderful
preparation for anything life might throw at you
(and experiencing 9/11 up close and personal) not
too much scares me anymore. However, the thought
of becoming really poor (and any kind of
financial issue for that matter) frightens me.
Also, I've gotten quite scared of heights as I've
grown older....not airplane heights so much, but
tower and window heights.....I've been to Paris
several times, but I've never had the courage to
climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower!