BRWC Exclusive Interview: Marshal Hilton

BRWC EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Primal Rage's Marshal Hilton

TV and Film star Marshal Hilton plays the cigar-chomping monster-hunter in this year’s equal to Predator (1987), Primal Rage.

We caught up with Hilton to speak about the highly-publicised horror-thriller, as well as find out what else he has coming up.

From the Bunnyman to Bigfoot, hey!?

lol… Yeah, quite the creative leap wouldn’t you say? Two very different critters, angry as hell, covered in fur, and out for blood so to speak.

What film or films would you say Primal Rage is a close cousin to?

Arnold’s “Predator”, only in the forest with angry fur and carnage.

How did you decide how to play your character? Hard for it not play too hammy and yet not super serious?

Well, by his nature BD was a bit of a blowhard, and a certain hammy appeal comes with the territory. I really didn’t have a lot of details on B.D. as far as scripted elements. There wasn’t a lot to go on. I just tried to look at the actions of what the character actually did, his scripted actions. In life, people are what they do, not what they say. B.D. is most definitely an enigma. We don’t know much about him, but we certainly get a sense about him. His pace, his style, his cigar, his jewellery, they all say something about him. I think what says even more about B.D. is how his crew reacts to him.

Know one ever challenges him, so you never know for certain if he’s just a narcissist, or a guy that could possibly be dangerous. And that’s the key to B.D., the element of uncertainty. The only person that dares to get in his face is Ashley. And there’s a moment when he doesn’t take kindly too her attitude, and he puts his foot down. But in another moment he also offers her his coat as a sign of grace and empathy. And yet another moment when he feels kind of like he’s a pervert. He’s just hard to figure out and that’s his power. So that’s how I took him. Unpredictable…

Was there anything about B.D that wasn’t on the page that you yourself brought to the part?

Well, B.D., the character on paper, is very different than myself. I’m a relatively reserved guy and fairly quiet. I don’t need to draw attention to my self to feel balanced. B.D. on the other hand was the complete opposite. He was the “big fish in a little pond” kind of guy and definitely full of himself. Kind of like a Politician. He’s the mouthpiece of his crew.

He wasn’t a “Bad Guy” per say, he just found pleasure playing mind games with people. Patrick and I figured that he was the kind of guy that probably owned the local Hardware Store, the car dealership, the liquor Store, and his band of merry men were most likely guys that worked for him. I’ve been an entrepreneur almost 30 years. I’ve been around plenty of characters like BD.  It was really more about finding his rhythms.

Did you sympathize with B.D at all?

Well, I’d say in the context of this story, BD probably got what he deserved. B.D. served to be the antagonist to our Hero’s, the “Bad Guy” so to speak. I really do enjoy serving as the obstacle in a story. It’s fun to challenge and do battle with an adversary. But in my mind, my character is always “the Hero”. A villain never sees himself as “Bad”.

They are convinced that their path is righteous and just. They are driven to accomplish something that is important to their dream and they are committed to achieving their goal. What makes them “Bad” is how their actions juxtapose to a moral standard. In their minds eye, they just move the moral boundaries to fit their objective. I don’t think B.D. was an evil person; he just met his demise before we had a chance for him to show his “compassionate” side.

Where was the forest that you shot in – great location!

We filmed the movie in the majestic and breathtaking old growth Redwood forests of Northern California and Oregon, on a 1,200-acre private reserve. It was the perfect location to tell the story. We were based in Crescent City California, a sleepy little fishing community about 20 miles from the Oregon border.

It was an amazing experience that I will never forget. One of the most enjoyable shoots I’ve be on in 20 plus years. I mean, what’s not to like about marching around in the majestic old-growth Redwood forest under the canopy of ancient trees 200 feet tall and hundreds of years old? It’s tough to beat that. It was an amazing experience that I will cherish for life.

Do you ever have any issues doing any of those heavier, more demanding scenes?

If you’re talking physicality, likes light stunts, I’ve always enjoyed getting rough and tumble. It feels good to be physical and get the blood pumping. Getting down and dirty is a lot of fun. As far as “heavier” from an emotional sense, I’ve always been able to tap into emotional pain.

Characters that have endured pain, and are struggling to manage the anger of pain, they seem to fit my spirit. I’m not afraid to dig into the dark places that we all have and bring them to the surface for display. It’s a cleansing process for me, both creatively and emotionally. In life some people are genuinely happy people. Their lives are a history of balance and love.

Some folks, like myself, come from a different condition. We constantly have to work on ourselves to quell the darker sides of our selves. We have to knock off the patina of guilt and envy from time to time of those who live blissful and balanced. I’m fortunate I have the craft of acting to give me that place of exploration.

What’s the secret to making a good horror-thriller in your opinion? Has Patrick mastered it here?

It’s all about tension and release, the anticipation of disaster rather than the act. I’ve never been a big blood and guts kind of guy. I can’t watch that kind of stuff. It gives me the creeps. But in the genre movie business sometimes you are called upon to “get your blood on”.

Filming carnage is very technical and not a big deal. But watching it after its been edited and with sound FX and a crazy sound mix?… Not this guy. Now with that said, Patrick is very adept at the genre. He’s been making monsters and Practical FX for many years. Patrick is a Master creature creator. The list of superlatives for his work in my eyes would be endless. I knew when I saw the Creature in his studio that it was special.

The level of detail was insane. I think it took him and his team like three years to make it by hand. His Bigfoot creature had actual fingerprints on the fingers and toe’s. Know one in the audience would ever see that detail but it didn’t matter to Patrick; he knew it was there, and that’s all that mattered.

But when I saw the Bigfoot actually sneaking around in the woods on the first day of filming, I knew it was going to be revolutionary with regards to the Bigfoot myth. It was just plain freaky. I mean, we all knew it was Patrick in the suit, but there is such a suspension of reality when a 6’10” snarling beast is coming at you in full stride that its hard to explain. In my humble opinion Patrick no only mastered it in Primal Rage, he set a new bar for Bigfoot films in the future.

It’s been a pleasure and thank you for reaching out. Speaking on behalf of the cast and crew of Primal Rage, I just want to say thank you for supporting this film. It was a passion project for everyone involved. I hope you and your readers enjoy the film. And remember; be careful when walking in the woods…

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Alton started BRWC as a bit of fun, and has grown into what you see today, and he can only apologise. Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.


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