Larry Laverty is a veteran American character actor who has appeared in over 100 films. Whilst known for having played a small role in Gus Van Sant’s top film at Cannes in 2003, Elephant he has also appeared in over a dozen horror films. On television, Larry has appeared in numerous primetime and daytime shows including The Practice, Judging Amy, All My Children, Days of Our Lives and The Tonight Show. He began his professional career on-stage performing in plays by Shakespeare and Broadway musicals.
Silly me, I have no memory of the first time. I was young. I watched a lot of horror movies as a kid, usually late at night and at the weekend. So, as I think back, I come up with this collection of images from the classics of the 1930s and 40s, Lugosi as Dracula, Karloff as Frankenstein, Chaney Jr. as The Wolf Man. I was transported into their black and white world, a long time ago, and was more fascinated by these takes on humanity than scared by them.
What was it that first attracted you to horror?
I’m into peace, love, and happiness, so I’ll say up front that I’m not a slasher or a splatterer. I’ve seen enough violence in my life, in person. For me, right out of the gate, I watched horror movies because they were looking at life in a different way than Walt Disney was. The monster movies led the pack. In each of the monsters, especially The Wolf Man, Frankenstein and Dracula, I saw people I knew or had seen, or aspects of humanity. I was curious. I am curious, about what being human is all about. The horror genre boldly goes where no man has gone before.
What achievement are you most proud of?
Eagle Scout. Boy Scouts of America. 1974. I’ve tried a lot of things in life, from embarking on this acting career to my attempt at making the U.S. Olympic Team but it was in the Boy Scouts that I set out to achieve something and I got to the top of the mountain. And I did it during a time of my life that I lived the largest. I was near the top of my class academically in school, I had a job, I was a star athlete, I was an outdoorsman–camping, backpacking and rock climbing, and, I was making the scene with the wild bunch – doing drugs and playing like a daredevil.
What are you working on now?
I’m about to begin prepping for a comedy film about this German guy who dreams of taking a road trip on Route 66, the iconic highway in the States. His life is dialled in to the Nth degree as a nerdy scientist and devoted family man, so he longs for this adventure but there’s a whole lot of crap in his oatmeal–funny crap. The movie’s tentatively going called Route 66 Experience.
I have high regard for Mr. Stanley Kubrick. Through his movies and the characters in his movies, we’re given a good, fat, look at horror in this world of ours. His movies: Paths of Glory, Spartacus, A Clockwork Orange, The Shining and 2001: A Space Odyssey top my list.
I highly regard Alfred Hitchcock too. As a kid The Birds scared the crap out of me, especially since I grew up near San Francisco where the film was shot.
My sentimental favourite horror performer is Vincent Price. He had such a way about him – his voice. I always thought he was from the U.K. but it turns out that he grew up in good ol’ St. Louis, Missouri.
Do you prefer gore or psychological horror?
Well, to add to what I said about what attracts me to horror, I watch movies to think. If I wanted entertainment, there are other human pursuits I’d engage in. I love it when a filmmaker tells an original and well-developed story that leads me to think about things in a new light. I’m not much of a book reader so it’s through movies that I take a look at this world of ours, size things up and continue growing.
How important is it to unsettle a viewer?
Isn’t that what horror’s all about? Whether a person’s into being creeped out, dazzled by blood, or drawn into the back-roads of our minds, it’s all about sitting on the edge of your seat. That’s what we want, and have come to expect from horror.
How do you evoke fear?
I’m not really known for being that kind of guy. I’m usually the guy who has his wife kidnapped or his house torched in the horror movies I’m a part of. Vulnerability, that’s my stock in trade – the Underdog. But on the other hand, I’ve played quite a number of whack-jobs who’ve killed lots of people in a large number of movies so going to the dark-side is far from foreign to me.
What scares you?
I’m scared by how insensitive many human beings are. If you follow the daily news at all, you know what I mean. In fact, ‘sick’ might be a better word. I don’t remember there being so many sick people in the world when I was a kid. I fear for our world. There are too many people in it and we’ve made a mess of many things. I love animal life, wild and domesticated, and cry inside when I hear about how humans continue killing elephants in Africa, whales in the ocean, and deer in the mountains. I shudder to think at how many animals are put to sleep in animal shelters each day. How we humans interact with the natural world, now that’s horror.
Wow! That’s some serious questioning there, your honour. I can only parrot what audiences and the actors I work with say about me and that’s that I’m real. I create characters who are believable, no matter how crazy they may be, and I’m interesting to watch.
How far is too far when it comes to horror cinema?
And I’ll respond by asking, how much farther can we go? Horror, like we talked a minute ago, is by definition unsettling. Well, I think we humans have pushed the envelope on that one. At the push of a button, we can view women’s breasts, a rape, murder, torture, blood, guts, and psychological agony, all in the same scene. How do new horror releases reach notoriety and popularity? By presenting even more intense or differently-dressed versions of these acts. Oh sure, what I’m saying is a generalisation with a good dose of sarcasm, but this brings me back to the accomplishments of Kubrick and why I don’t need to electro-shock my nipples while watching a movie in order to be satisfied.
How do you think horror cinema will evolve in the next ten years?
Oh, I don’t know what to say. All I can think of is the saying ‘less is more’. Please.
Recommend a film.
If you’re a Horror fan and haven’t watched The Shining in a dark room, late at night, well…
And if you care to see what I’ve done recently, I can suggest Joe Hollow’s 2011 film Cut. I’m particularly proud of what I did in that film along with many other great names in today’s horror.