Read our exclusive interview with actor Drew Powell, who plays Bic in the upcoming thriller film ‘Straw Dogs,’ which is set to be released on September 16, 2011. The movie is based on the 1971 thriller of the same name, which starred Dustin Hoffman and stirred up controversy when it was released for its violent sequences. Powell discusses with us, among other things, how he feels about violence in films, and how he prepared for the role of Bic.
ShockYa (SY): You portray Bic in the upcoming remake of the thriller ‘Straw Dogs.’ The movie follows L.A. screenwriter David Sumner, played by James Marsden, as he moves with his wife Amy, portrayed by Kate Bosworth, to her hometown in the South. Once settled, the couple experiences trouble with some of the locals. How does Bic factor into the Sumners’ conflict?
Drew Powell (DP): Bic is one of the proverbial “Straw Dogs.” Along with Charlie (Alexander Skarsgard), Chris (Billy Lush), and Norm (Rhys Coiro), Bic is hired to fix the Sumner’s damaged barn. These guys are the typical small town jocks whose life peaked as seniors in high school. They were the football hero’s in a town where football is a religion and their former coach (played by James Woods) has fallen from grace just as they have. Bic is the laziest and goofiest of the group. I think it’s fair to say that Bic is the comic relief in an otherwise pretty intense film.
SY: ‘Straw Dogs’ is a remake of Sam Peckingpah’s 1971 film of the same name. Did you watch the original film while you were preparing for your role? If so, what was your reaction to Sam’s version after you finished watching it?
DP: I saw the original for the first time in my hotel room the first night I got to location. It made an impact on me as it has anyone who has seen it. It was such an interesting film in it’s moments of pure intensity and it’s moments of frenetic energy. I heard somewhere that Peckinpah wanted to make this movie as a commentary on the violence of the Vietnam/post Kent State America. If that is true, I think he achieved his goal.
SY: The original film is known for some of its violent sequences, and critics feel it’s an example of Hollywood’s degradation of women. Has your film received any criticism for its use of violence, and how do you feel about the increased use of violence in films in general?
DP: Well, as far as I know, no one outside of Sony has seen our film yet so I don’t think it’s received any criticism yet. Rod Lurie definitely did not back down from the violence in the film but it is by no means gratuitous. I’m not a fan of the horror-porn type of movie, but if violence has an organic place in a film, then I’m all for it.
SY: Do you think filmmakers’ increased use of violence in movies have desensitized audiences?
DP: Hard to say really. I think the impact of the original ‘Straw Dogs’ was just as strong when I saw it in 2009 as it was in 1971, but I certainly wouldn’t be able to speak for someone else who might feel like nothing fazes them anymore.
SY: You also starred in the stage revival of “Pee Wee’s Playhouse” at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles. Is your preparation for a play different than for movies and television shows?
DP: The ‘Pee Wee Herman Show’ both in LA and in New York City (where we performed on Broadway at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre) was a lot of fun to do. It was a much different experience doing a Broadway show for three months than doing a film for three months. It’s much more of a regular schedule than film and TV. I love both but they are very different in terms of lifestyle and schedule.
SY: You’ll also be appearing as Dwight Pearson in the upcoming family drama ‘Touchback,’ which chronicles a man reflecting on an injury that ended his high school football career. How did you change your mindset from starring in ‘Straw Dogs’ to appearing in ‘Touchback?’
DP: I have to say that there were some interesting similarities between the two films. For one, in ‘Straw Dogs,’ I play a former football player from Black Water, Louisiana and in ‘Touchback’ I play a former football player from Cold Water, Ohio. The tone of these films couldn’t be more opposite though. ‘Touchback’ is a feel good film and ‘Straw Dogs’ is an edge-of-your-seat thriller. I am a goofy guy in both, but Bic is a sinister goof and Dwight is a good natured goof.
SY: What advice would you give to kids whose dreams are disrupted by things they can’t control, such as an injury?
DP: Press on. I’m lucky in that I’ve never had an injury or some catastrophic event to deal with in my life, but I’ve certainly had things disrupted by events out of my control. All you can really do is carry on. Detours happen all the time in life, but in the end, it’s not about how you get to your destination, it’s that you get there.
SY: What was some of the best guidance you received while you first started your career as an actor?
DP: Early in my career I had a few mentors who had been in the business for a long time. Universally they told me that, no matter the success or failure in my acting life, it is most important to remain true to myself. Don’t take the failures or missed opportunities too hard and don’t let the successes go to my head. And above all, be kind to people…that one I got from my Mom and Dad!
Written by: Karen Benardello