Never one to shy away from the macabre, having starred in such films as Final Destination and My Bloody Valentine 3D, Kerr Smith has returned to the beloved horror genre as an unattentive and preoccupied husband and father in Into the Dark‘s Thanksgiving episode, PILGRIM. To celebrate the holiday of appreciation and gratitude, PILGRIM centers around a family who find themselves at the mercy of re-enactors after inviting them into their house to produce an authentic first Thanksgiving.
For the release of the film, we had the opportunity to chat with Kerr Smith where we discussed everything from working so closely with the cast and crew to why he never wants to eat kale again. (Spoilers below)
In PILGRIM, you play the role of Shane, a father of two. What was it about the character that attracted you to the role?
Kerr Smith: It wasn’t so much the role that attracted me, it was the project. It was just kind of cool. I was familiar with Into the Dark‘s series and thought it was a neat concept where these guys are actually pulling off a 90-minute film every month. I decided to get involved and see what it was all about.
One of the things that the viewer learns is that the film is loosely based on writer Noah Feinberg’s experience as a child. Did that affect how you approached your role as the patriarch of the family?
Kerr Smith: No, not at all. [Noah]’s mom had invited in some actors that portrayed pilgrims and taught him about the first Thanksgiving. It was just loosely based on that and all the craziness just came from the minds of the writers. In terms of Shane, he was just a dad that was not aware enough of his family and what was important in his life. In the movie, we tried to say that he’s always buried in his iPad and he’s not paying attention to his family. For me, he was the kind of dad that was disconnected from his family – though he loved his family – but was also a little bit of a wuss, for a lack of a better word.
How was it working with the rest of the cast as well as director Marcus Dunstan?
Kerr Smith: When I met Peter [Giles] and learned that he would be playing Ethan, the head Pilgrim, I knew this was going to be great. He absolutely kills it and carries the film. It’s a difficult role, he had a lot to do. The rest of the cast was great, we all got along very well. Peter is actually a really nice guy – the exact antithesis of his character, obviously (laughs). Courtney [Henggeler] and I got along fantastic which helped because we were playing husband and wife. Everybody was just fantastic.
Marcus, in particular, he’s the kind of guy that would never say anything negative and it was such a pleasure being around someone like that, that just radiates positive energy. Everybody follows, really, the energy of the director on set, usually, and it really creates a specific type of atmosphere. For me, it’s really important to go to work and really have a good time and enjoy everything that is going on and Marcus spearheaded that whole thing. Not to mention putting together a fantastic movie. I just saw it for the first time last Tuesday at the screening and as soon as the credits started rolling, in the beginning, I was like: Oh, okay, I see what we are making here, this is like a really good film. He really did a great job.
There are a lot of practical effects in the film, was that something you got to experience one-on-one? (SPOILERS BELOW)
Kerr Smith: Oh yeah, I was constantly getting blood thrown at me. I spent two days sitting in a makeshift chair underneath the table with my head sticking through that platter. I’ll tell you one thing, with kale being that close to your face for so many hours, I will never ever eat kale again in my life (laughs). The original script went through a lot of rewrites so originally it was my daughter’s (played by Reign Edwards) boyfriend that ended up on the table and then they did a major re-write. I was really trying hard to get the audience to really like Shane as a father, which when he ends up on the table makes it all that more painful to watch.
Lastly, what do you think people can learn from your character’s mistakes and/or choices?
Kerr Smith: Every character in this story is guilty of this which is the overall moral theme of having an appreciation for what we have – we’ve gotta have gratitude. Me, personally, I try and live my life that way and it’s such an amazing message that’s embedded in this thriller/horror movie, which is really unusual. That’s what I really love about this, that the message is so strong and so true.
PILGRIM is now streaming on Hulu and you can read our thoughts on the Thanksgiving episode here.