Interview with Louis Herthum

Louis Herthum plays the protective father in this summer’s horror film “The Last Exorcism”.  Louis is also currently co-starring in the television show “The Gates”.  Movie Mikes has the chance to talk with Louis about his role in “The Last Exorcism” and his experience during the filming.

Click here to purchase “The Last Exorcism” DVD or Blu-Ray

Mike Gencarelli: Tell me about your role in “The Last Exorcism”?
Louis Herthum: The character I play is a father whose lost his wife a couple of years before the film takes place.  He notices some very peculiar behavior coming from his daughter.  He contacts this reverend who, he understands, performs Exorcisms.  My character feels that is what is needed to deal with his daughter.  He’s a fundamentalist Christian.  He doesn’t believe that much in the outside world.  Ever since his wife died he’s been home schooling his daughter.  He’s very protective of her.  He doesn’t believe in modern medicine because eight doctors failed to save his wife.  I don’t want to give too much away but when the reverend comes out he tells him that she needs to have an Exorcism.  My character is pretty persistent in the treatment he thinks his daughter needs and it tends to go against what the reverend thinks.  He’s a pretty stern guy but it’s all about his daughter.  It’s all about his daughter and the saving of her soul.

Mike Gencarelli: When got the role how did you prepare? Did you look at other films that dealt with Exorcism?
Louis Herthum: Well, I had seen “The Exorcist” in high school.  And it really freaked me out because I was born and raised a Catholic.  You know, in schools they taught us about God and the Devil.  So seeing the Exorcism scene in “The Exorcist”…it freaked me out!  But it really got me interested in the subject.  I read the book after I saw the movie.  And I started reading about other Exorcisms.  And then one night I had a dream that I was possessed and it freaked me out so bad that I quit reading the books.  So I didn’t do a lot of research as far as watching other films but I did do a lot of research about the type of character I was playing.  Fundamentalist.  Christian.  Blinders.  Bible.  And I don’t want to make that sound derogatory.  Plus I had some friends who were very religious and I went and talked to them.  And I would jot down passages in the Bible that I thought were pertinent to the film. So the majority of my research was about the type of person I was playing.

Mike Gencarelli: Was there anything spooky or creepy happenings during the shoot?
Louis Herthum: The creepiest thing that happened to me was…the girl who plays my daughter was not on the set that day and I was in the back yard getting ready to shoot a scene that they would film through the house window.  All of the crew was inside on the lower floor.  The upstairs was empty and dark but I could see a faint light coming through a window.  The curtains were slightly sheer and open in the middle.  I had a walkie talkie so they could cue me when they were rolling and I looked up towards the window and I saw a figure in the window.  I’ve got goosebumps now just saying this.  And it looked like the girl who was playing my daughter.  She had on a bloody dress and it was moving eerily and dancing and I was like “what the f*** is this?” (laughs)  So I get on the walkie to our head production assistant who we called Darkness.  I’m like, “Darkness, go to two” So he goes upstairs and I ask him who is upstairs?  He asks me what I mean and I ask again “Who is upstairs?”  “Nobody.”  I tell him that SOMEBODY is upstairs in the window dancing in Nell’s dress and he says, “I don’t think so.”  So I tell him to get outside.  And when he comes out he tells me that he couldn’t tell me on the radio that they were getting ready to pull a prank on another actor who had a scene upstairs.  It was one of the costume girls in the dress.  The scene had the actor go upstairs and look out the window to see me outside.  So the girl pops out dressed like Nell and they scare the hell out of him!  That was the creepiest moment for me because I didn’t know they were doing it.  But other than that there wasn’t a lot of scary stuff happening.

MG: Did the movie actually scare you when you saw it at LA Film Festival?
LH: Yeah it did.  In all honesty it did.  When you’re making a film, as an actor you have such a completely different viewpoint.  You’re doing your takes but there’s no music.  No editing.  The other elements that come into play are not there.  I jumped several times because I had no idea what was coming.  And that’s a credit to Daniel (Stamm) and his editors.  And of course the people around me are jumping and screaming as well so that adds to your reaction.  There were certainly some surprises there.

MG: “The Last Exorcism” has received a PG-13 rating which usually sets off a red flag for horror fans.  How do you feel about this?
LH: I’ll be honest with you, I’m not a huge horror fan.  But being an actor who has done a few…in fact this will be the biggest one…it doesn’t concern me.  In fact, I was talking to Eli Roth about it and he felt it would be better for us because we’ll get a wider group of people that can see it.  Plus, we can advertise it on television before 11:00.  Plus we may pull in some fundamentalist Christians, who I think if they see the film they might actually like it the way they liked “The Exorcist.”  And for the same reasons.  I was reading some comments on the Internet and I found out that the people who were worried about it, after seeing the screening, found they had nothing to worry about at all.  To me, it’s such a smart movie…much different than your typical slasher horror movie.  I don’t think it’s going to be an issue at all.  In fact I read a comment from someone who had seen the film but didn’t know we had already gotten the PG 13 rating.  And they wrote “I hear they’re going after a PG 13 rating.  I doubt they’ll get it.”  And this was after seeing the film.

MG: Did you get a chance to work with Eli Roth during the shoot?
LH: I didn’t meet Eli during the shoot because he was busy shooting “Inglorious Basterds” so I didn’t meet him until post production.  I can’t say enough about that guy.  They type of genre’ he does…horror…extremely violent…this guy is extremely intelligent.  He’s the nicest guy in the world.  About as nice and personable as anyone you’ll meet.  I mean if you met him and didn’t know who he was you’d think, “wow, what a cool guy.”  He has a very clear vision about this genre’.  Not only the “Hostel” films and “Cabin Fever.”  He was very hands on in the making of this film and the final product.  I believe…I truly believe that he has created something different in this genre’.  He’s a really, really intelligent and smart guy.  I think he will continue to surprise us in the years to come.  Because it’s so clear that he’s very excited about this business.  It’s such a joy to see him get excited about this.

Click here to purchase “The Last Exorcism” DVD or Blu-Ray

MG: Tell about what you got planned for the future?
LH: Well, currently I’m a recurring character on a TV show called “The Gates.”  It’s exciting and fun.  It’s a thrill to be a part of the whole vampire world, though I play a werewolf.  Right now I’m back in L.A.  I’ve been working a lot.  I’ve got a film coming out called “Seconds Apart.”  It’s a part of the “After Dark” series.  Right now I’m taking meetings.  I’ve been offered a role in a film that I haven’t read yet where I’ll play a serial killer.  I’m not sure if I want to go there (laughs).  But life’s good.  I’m keeping busy.

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