TW talks to actor Douglas Tait

By Owen Quinn author of the Time Warriors and Zombie Blues

Copyright Douglas Tait

Was acting something you’d always wanted to pursue or was it stunt work?

My passion has always been acting. I started as an actor many years ago and never intended to get into stunts. I auditioned for Jason in Freddy Vs Jason and I was being considered for the role. They shot in Canada and they ended up hiring Ken Kirzinger, and when they did reshoots in Los Angeles they hired me to play Jason. They credited me as Jason Stunt Double and that was my first stunt credit. Most all of my other stunt credits have been from creature or acting roles that have required a fight or something physical. I stay away from anything that can get me seriously injured, but I enjoy playing physical characters.

What influenced you to pursue that goal?

I enjoyed performing in High School. I was an athlete so I didn’t do theater, but anytime the school was shooting a video, I was the go to guy. I liked making people laugh and I would dress up in wigs and costumes. I got a thrill from this and started considering a career as an actor. I did extra work in High School, and loved being on movie sets. It helped that I grew up in Los Angeles, the business was right in my backyard.

Is it true you played Frankenstein in the live shows at Universal Studios Hollywood? How did that part come about?

When I was 13 I saw Frankenstein performing at Universal Studios and I couldn’t take my eyes off him. I was tall so I said to myself, “when I am old enough I’m going to get a job here playing Frankenstein”. Sure enough when I turned 17 I did just that. I worked there for several years playing multiple characters while I was pursuing my acting career. It was the beginning of me getting paid to act behind makeup and masks.

Where did the leap then come to movie sets? 

I did bit parts on television shows and commercials. I played Frankenstein on a Halloween episode of Sabrina The Teenage Witch. Freddy Vs. Jason was the first time I worked on a big movie set. After F vs J,  I slowly started to build my film resume. 

What’s your Irish connection?

My grandmothers last name was Kanaly. Her parents were from Dublin. They immigrated to Falls City, Nebraska in the 1920’s.

Your role of the long faced alien in Star Trek won an Academy Award. While that is great for the make up artists, how does that help you as an actor?  Does it open doors for you?

It absolutely opened doors for me. Barney Burman  won the Academy Award and featured me in all of his press and articles. We traveled to conventions and panels together and a lot of people started to request me for shows and articles on my own. It helped get my name mentioned and people saw that I had played other recognizable characters. It was the first time in my career that people took an interest in me as an actor. Star Trek was a great experience and has done a lot for me.

Copyright Paramount Pictures


What’s been the hardest creature for you to wear?

There have been a lot of them that are extremely difficult, but my character Abominog from Knights Of Badassdom was the hardest. It was a 130 pound animatronic Creature on stilts. I couldn’t see well, I couldn’t breathe well and every time I fought someone it would take me off balance. It was a grueling character to play.  

Is a prosthetic mask like that claustrophobic or do the make up artists design them to make them as comfortable as possible for you?

Prosthetics can feel claustrophobic if they are bulky and cover your eyes,​ nose,​ or mouth, but animatronic heads are much more claustrophobic. They are big, heavy, and usually filled with mechanics which gives the face lifelike expressions. When you are performing in one of these heads and you get out of breath, it can be very scary.  It can take over 5 minutes to get out of it, and there have been times I have had to mentally put my mind in a better place. 

 The people making them are the best in the business, and they try there best to make them as comfortable as possible.​

Can you tell us about Firefall? 

Firefall was a Live Action Trailer I shot for the video game Firefall. I played Rico, and these amazing suits were designed by the FX legend Steve Wang.

You’ve appeared in several shows including Sleepy Hollow. What do you think is the appeal of horror and sci fi in your eyes?

  I think that horror scares people.

You’ve been in several exotic locations eg The Legend of the Yeren. Does your athletic instincts kick in when out on location when dressed as a monster? 

Most definitely it does. When I was in China shooting The Legend Of The Yeren, I was in harsh weather and had to do very physical things. They had me scaling a snowy mountain in a full Bigfoot suit in freezing conditions. The training I do to prepare for these roles gets me through the day. The guy who designed “The Yeren” was Academy Award winner Chris Walas, who designed the Gremlins.

You appeared in one of my favorites stories in Deep Space 9 Children of Time. Was that an enjoyable shoot and how does appearing as a background character help you as an actor?

That was a very fun shoot, I was right out of high school when I did that. I was doing background work to learn more about acting, and to earn extra money. I think it is a good place to start as an actor. The problem is you need to get away from it after a couple years. I have seen so many people stay doing it that want to become actors, and they end up bcoming background actors.

Jericho was another great show and monsterless. What was it like to work on that show? 

​Jericho was a blast to work on, the show​ was shot in Van Nuys California. It was supposed to be freezing cold in the episodes I did, and Van Nuys is in the the San Fernando Valley which gets over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. It was so hot and we were wearing big jackets and sweating. The makeup artist had to wipe our sweat off between takes, that’s movie magic!

You’ve done so many creatures and villains including Jason Voorhees. What has been your favorite one to do?

My personal favorite has not aired yet. It is a television show called The Quest, ​it ​aires July 31st on ABC in the United States. I play the Lead Villain in the series and two other characters. We shot in Austria, and I have lots of dialogue which I enjoy the most. It was a great experience and hopefully it will air outside of the U.S.

For the likes of the Sleestak which is a full body suit, does that require a full body cast?

It helps to have a body cast for a full body suit like the Sleestak, but since there were several Sleestak’s they made the suit off a body cast that was already existing at the shop, and then they adjusted the suit to our measurements. It is something they do to save money, but it will never fit the way it would if your body was cast. ​

Being completely closed in like that, can it be claustrophobic? ​

It can get very claustrophobic. When I am playing a character that is closed in and I know that I won’t be able to breath well, I train by doing intense cardiovascular exercises inside a mask so it helps me to perform better.  It is not fun, but it helps me last longer without having to take a break on set.

In regards movement and character of a particular creature, how much of that character do you input and how much is in the script? 

It all starts with the script, and then the design of the character also helps me get an idea of how it should move. I usually have several fittings at the creature shop that is building the character. These fittings are great because you get an even better idea of how the creature moves. It helps me work on certain muscles that will make the character move easier and look better. Some directors also have a strong vision on how the creature should move, and others leave it up to my interpretation.

You have been ranked in the top ​three​ creature performers in the world. ​​Did you ever expect to be recognized for such a honor? 

No not at all, it’s a great honor to be seen as someone good in a field that I love. I have been doing this for a long time and I have worked hard at it. I still feel I have a lot to learn, and I know I can do better. It’s a constant learning experience on every role that I play. I’m excited about the future.

How did you decide on the movement and characteristics of the Frost Giants in Thor?

Kenneth Branagh, the director of Thor was very specific on how he wanted the Frost Giants to move. He is a great actor and director, and he knew what he wanted out of me. He would act out the movements and I would basically copy him. I didn’t decide on anything, it was all Kenneth.

Out of all the monsters in tv and movies, is there one you would like to play?

I have played Frankenstein on TV, but I would like to play him in a Feature Film directed by Guillermo Del Toro. It would also be fun to play Michael Myers from the Halloween movies because I grew up liking them. I want to continue playing Practical monsters, I am not a fan of CGI characters.



You have also worked behind the camera as producer for several features and shorts including Jack The Reaper with Tony Todd. How did those come about?

When I was attached to the film I brought crew and talent ​aboard​. I brought Oscar winner Barney Burman on and he designed the special fx. I ​also ​attached Sally Kirkland to the film. They gave me a producer credit for bringing more value to the film, and I played the main Villain “Railroad Jack”. 

Is the label of the Monster Man make it harder for you to get projects like that off the ground or does it bring a level of respect and confidence because of your body of work?

I think it all depends on the project. If it’s a horror or monster movie, then it can only help and people are more interested in having me. If it’s a family drama then my body of work wouldn’t mean much to the film.

What are you currently working on?  ​ 

Currently, I am finishing a role on the television show Grimm, and soon I will be doing an episode of Sleepy Hollow. I am also attached to a couple of Horror films shooting this summer.

You’ve done conventions alongside the likes of Doug Jones. What was your first convention and were fans what you expected?

My first convention was Horrorhound in Cincinnati. It was a lot of fun to meet people that really appreciated the work I did. I really enjoyed talking to the fans and​ I never expected them to be so excited to meet me​, I​t is ​such a ​nice feeling. ​ BTW, Doug Jones is a friend of mine and he is such a talented, great person.​

Why do you think that monsters are so universal loved and have generational appeal? 

​I think that people love monsters because ​they are so cool to look at and they are very mysterious. Also, sometimes they have qualities that we have, like being an outcast because of the way we look or dress. I think that there will always be a need for a good monster movie.  

What has been your greatest lesson over the years in the industry in general?

 ​ My greatest lesson was to never give up on my dream. I struggled for so many years, and I wondered at times if I would ​I ever get consistent work. It is hard  when you are constantly rejected, but those hard times make me grateful to be working. The years of struggle has been humbling to me.

Where can people find out more about your career and monsters you’ve played? 

  ​My IMDB page ​is a good way to see the projects I have done, but the best way to keep updated on my career is by following me on my 

Facebook Twitter, and Instagram pages.

Have you a message for your Irish fans?

 ​ Thank you so much for reading, I hope to make it to Ireland someday. Remember to LIVE YOUR DREAMS! It will never be easy at first to do something you love, but eventually hard work and persistence pays off. I am living proof of that!​

​​

Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/Thecreatureman   Twitter:  https://twitter.com/DouglasTait Instagram: http://instagram.com/thecreatureman   You Tube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/douglastait   Douglas Tait    http://www.imdb.me/douglastait http://www.youtube.com/douglastait https://www.facebook.com/Thecreatureman  

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