featured Interview

Interview: Jay Baruchel Talks ‘Random Acts of Violence’

July 25, 2020Ben MK

Best known for kid-friendly films like the How to Train Your Dragon series and co-starring roles in comedies alongside Seth Rogen and James Franco, Jay Baruchel is perhaps the last person you would expect to make a horror film. But in his latest, Random Acts of Violence, the Canadian actor and writer-director has done just that — leaning on his own love of the genre to bring to the screen the story about a pair of comic book creators named Ezra and Todd (played by himself and Jesse Williams) who go on a road trip in search of inspiration for their final issue of Slasherman, a character they based on a real-life serial killer. But when the killer begins turning to their comic for inspiration in turn, they, Todd's girlfriend Kathy (Jordana Brewster) and Ezra's assistant Aurora (Niamh Wilson) find themselves in danger of being the next victims.

I caught up with Jay Baruchel to chat about Random Acts of Violence, and to find out more about his comic book and horror movie influences.

There's often a fine line between comedy and horror, but your film ventures all the way into some pretty gory territory. How do you go from movies like the How to Train Your Dragon trilogy and Tropic Thunder to something as dark as Random Acts of Violence?

Baruchel: It comes down to [the fact that] I'm very, very proud of, and honored to have, the acting career that I've had. But that's what I do for a living. And I hate saying that because inherent in that it sounds like I'm dismissing it to a degree, which I really am not. I have been lucky enough to live off my acting for quite some time, and as a result have gotten to be part of some pretty special films. But the movies I was watching at home and the stuff I was reading, and everything I was interested in myself has been pretty much consistent the whole time.

I was always interested in and [am] a fan of horror movies and action movies, and I was always reading a [ton] of true crime. And so, for whatever reason, I was just always interested more in strong medicine as an audience member. So if ever I got lucky enough to have the chance to create an articulate a vision in a movie, it would probably be something like that.

You've worked in the comic book industry a bit and you're obviously a fan of the medium. What are some of your biggest comic book inspirations and influences?

Baruchel: Alan Moore's From Hell, I think, is as good a use of the comic medium as ever been created. I would also put everything Garth Ennis did in Preacher up there [and] everything Garth Ennis did for the years that he wrote The Punisher — [they’re] really, really, really important to me.

Last but not least, what horror films do you consider to be the most influential on you, personally?

Baruchel: It would be The Exorcist, the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre by Tobe Hooper and John Carpenter’s The Thing. And to be honest, I think The Exorcist is probably the scariest movie ever made. But I think what might be neck and neck with it is a movie people don't think of as a horror movie — but I would argue that 2001: A Space Odyssey is probably the scariest movie ever made. I would spend my life trying to recreate even a moment from that film.

Random Acts of Violence is available on Digital & Demand July 31st (in Canada) and premieres on Shudder (in the U.S.) August 20th.

You May Also Like