25th Oct2013

Exclusive Interview: Sean Whalen

by Chris Cummings

This month, knowing that The People Under the Stairs was getting such a wonderful treatment and release from Arrow Video, I spoke with Sean Whalen, the actor who plays “Roach” in the film. We talked about the movie, his experiences and his life after Roach…


To begin, I suppose it’s easier to start at the beginning, how did you get into acting and what was your first role?

I got into acting because I was the youngest of four and didn’t want to help clean up after dinner. If I could entertain my brothers and sisters while they did all the work, they wouldn’t even realize I hadn’t lend a hand. Finally, they got wise and the gig was up, so I performed elsewhere. My first substantial role was directing and starring in my fifth grade production of Rumpelstiltskin.

“The People under the Stairs” came early on in your career and has a cult following among horror fans. I for one love the film. How did working on the film come about, and what was it like working with Wes Craven and the cast?

I came to the role like all other roles in town. I got the call and auditioned. I worked hard on it with a coach, crawled, giggled, cackled, and cried on Wes Craven’s floor and the rest was history. Wes, and the entire crew, were so nurturing, mellow and supportive of me in my first feature film role. It was a great experience.

Arrow Video, a fantastic film distributor here in the UK are releasing “The People Under the Stairs” on Blu-ray in November, are you excited to see the film in HD with the new features?

I don’t have an international player, so I won’t be able to watch it, sadly.

(I later informed Sean that the Arrow BD release is region-free and therfore he was able to watch it if he chose to)

 Could you share an interesting story about being on the set of “The People Under the Stairs” for our readers?

My most interesting story is that I kept talking by accident during takes and Wes reminded me that I couldn’t speak. I ended up taking the prosthetic tongue (the one that made me look like I had not tongue), slipped it on during takes, and then couldn’t talk clearly any more. Problem solved.

Moving on from there you’ve worked on some major films, such as Men in Black, Charlie’s Angels, That Thing You Do and recently Hatchet 3. Which have been your favourite movies to work on and why?

The People Under the Stairs because it was my first film, didn’t have to learn lines, and was the first fully realized character I’ve ever done; Never Been Kissed because Drew Barrymore let me create and write my own character which got bigger and bigger as the shoot went on; Employee of the Month because I knew most of the cast and it was like Comedy Summer Camp, and Twister because it was cool being on a huge film and it helped me buy all my furniture!

You’ve done a lot of television work as well as your work in films. Do you tend to prefer working in one rather than the other, and if so, is there any particular reason why?

It doesn’t matter if it’s TV or film, I prefer working in comedy most. I love hearing the crew laugh when you finish a take.

You must have met and worked with hundreds upon hundreds of talented performers throughout your career thus far, are there any moments where you were, as a fan, star struck by anyone?

People? No. I’ve always wanted to seem professional so I never allowed it to happen. Places? Yes. When I saw the LOST beach I kind of flipped out.

I see you’d directed a short film titled “Turkey. Cake” in the late 90’s. Do you have any further interest in moving into other areas of the business, such as screenwriting or directing?

I love to do punch ups on scripts and write when I have a partner. Writing alone just isn’t me. I am producing movies though. That’s working with a lot of people, which I love doing.

Finally, what does the future hold for you? Are you currently working on any projects that we should keep our eyes peeled for?

Acting wise – I have a recurring on a Soap (which I’m not allowed to talk about… Stay tuned! LOL) and I am going to be shooting a few days with Clint Eastwood’s Jersey Boys. That will be great to work with him. I am also a lead in the sequel to Jason Trost’s All Superheroes Must Die. I am the star of a short called M is for Michael. Producing wise – I am producing the sequel to All Superheroes Must Die. Writing – I am working on a horror film with a couple of friends.

Thank you so much for your time Sean, it means a lot to us.

Thanks for asking me to do the interview!

I would like to thank Sean Whalen for taking the time to talk with me for this exclusive interview for Nerdly, it was a pleasure and an honour. Thanks for reading folks!

The People Under The Stairs is available on Blu-ray now, directly from Arrow Video. The film hits other retailers on November 4th.


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