By MICHAEL GINGOLD
A familiar face from TV’s FRINGE, the JOHN WICK movies and many others, Lance Reddick has one of his most intriguing roles in the new release MONSTER PARTY. RUE MORGUE got an exclusive chat with the actor about the movie, and the upcoming JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3.
In MONSTER PARTY, written and directed by Chris von Hoffmann, Reddick plays Milo, who attends a dinner bash hosted by wealthy Patrick and Roxanne Dawson (Julian McMahon and Robin Tunney). A trio of young caterers (Sam Strike, Virginia Gardner and Brandon Micheal Hall) plotting to rob the mansion get a big surprise when it turns out that the Dawsons, their college-aged kids and their son’s friends turn out to be vicious killers—and Milo, a sort of guru for the group, tries unsuccessfully to keep their violent impulses in check (see our review of the movie here). For Reddick, who has also taken part in AMERICAN HORROR STORY’s COVEN and its current APOCALYPSE series and Adam Wingard’s THE GUEST, Milo is a vague cousin to his JOHN WICK franchise role of Charon, the concierge at the Continental hotel, where he mediates between assassins enjoying neutral ground within its walls.
How did you become involved with MONSTER PARTY?
When the script originally came to me, Milo was supposed to be a man in his 70s; he was kind of imagined differently. But I think when my name came up, Chris really liked the idea. I read the script, and I loved it and the role, because it’s kind of different from anything I usually get the chance to do. So I jumped at the chance to do it, especially given that Automatik Entertainment was producing it. I’d worked with the producers before on a film called LITTLE WOODS that should be coming out soon; it premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival this year.
One of the interesting things about Milo is that he’s presented like a villain, but he’s also trying to keep the younger characters from giving in to their violent instincts. Can you talk about that side of the role?
Well, I don’t think that side of the role makes him a good guy [laughs]. They’re all really close to the top of the scale of being psychopaths, so for me, I think Milo has…I don’t want to say a God complex, but almost. He has such a self-image of being able to control anything and everything, including himself and other people, so for me, that was part of his psychology. It’s not like DEXTER, where that character actually has some sense of morality, and is trying to be good. With Milo, it’s more about having an opportunity to live his life a certain way. There’s a line that he has with Julian McMahon’s character Patrick, where he says, “The only reason you are living the good life in sunny-bunny Malibu, and not in some prison somewhere, is because of me.” So the movie doesn’t just explore addiction and obsession, it also explores class. Milo is about protecting all the good things about their status, and not putting it in jeopardy.
Milo feels like a cross between the head of a 12-step program and a cult leader. Did you look at any real-life cult leaders for inspiration?
I didn’t, and it’s interesting; I didn’t really think of him as a cult leader—though that’s actually an accurate description—until Julian’s character says it to me. I didn’t think about it that much when I read the script. It wasn’t until I saw the film that I went, “Wow, he’s kind of right. Milo’s like a cult leader.”
How was it working with your co-stars, including the young actors playing the characters under your sway?
I feel like I didn’t do a lot with the younger actors. I had one moment with the actress who plays the daughter, Erin Moriarty, who was great. I was a fan of hers from her work in the first season of JESSICA JONES. And I had the scene with Kian Lawley [as Elliot], but my tense interactions were mostly with Julian as Patrick. It was great watching the younger actors work, though, because they were so good.
How about Chris von Hoffmann?
Chris was a hoot. He’s so smart. I had never read anything like this before, and I would really like to work with him again.
Are there any memorable moments you can recall from shooting MONSTER PARTY?
There were two. One was a moment that didn’t actually get into the movie. It was the scene I just mentioned, when I have that line to Julian about “The only reason you are living the good life…” There’s a moment right before that when he tries to confront me and I shoot him down, and Julian’s a director as well as a great actor, so he’s always looking to try different stuff. At one point he grabbed me and caught me by surprise, and I actually had to muscle him against the wall. So that was cool.
The other one was during the scene at the beginning of the dinner party, where we’re all sitting around the table. Diego Boneta as Ollie pulls out his guitar, and the string’s broken and he goes off on Chester Rushing’s character Cameron: “Did you do that?” Well, that was actually an accident. Diego was supposed to start playing, but on that particular take the string was broken, and he started ad-libbing. Chester went with it, and the camera kept rolling and then I went with it. And before we knew it, that was the take, and that was the one that ended up in the movie!
I’ve read on-line that your character Charon will have a bigger part in JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3. Is that something you can speak about?
I can only say yes, he will, but I can’t really say anything about it, because I can’t give spoilers. I can only say that it’s gonna be really good [laughs], and I’m not saying that to be funny. It was a great script, and if what was on the page is going to be on the screen, this could be the best of all of them.
How has the overall experience been acting opposite Keanu Reeves?
He’s actually one of my favorite actors I’ve ever worked with. For someone who’s such a big star, he is as low-key as it gets. When I say low-key, I mean as a personality. When it comes to the work, he is as serious as a heart attack. He’s very, very focused, and in addition to how focused he is in his work, and how serious he is about making it great, he’s a very thoughtful, sensitive guy. I love him as an actor, and I love him as a human being.