Zombies are big right now. In fact they’re all over the place, even in commercials. In Biff Bam Pop’s two-part interview with Director Christopher Eilenstine, on the film The Soulless, we learned of a new type of zombie called Zombes. Biff Bam Pop now has the pleasure of interviewing one of the actors from The Soulless, Joe Parascand. Drum roll after the jump.
Marie Gilbert: Thank you so much for giving this interview, Joe. We know that you’re a busy man, but could you tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to take up acting.
Joe Parascand: I was born in Brooklyn, New York. My father was an electrical engineer and my mother was the owner/instructor of an art school. I and my two younger brothers were all exposed to sports and music at an early age. I eventually became my high school’s fastest sprinter as a senior, and later, a semi-pro baseball pitcher (clocking in as high as 85mph) until injuries curtailed my involvement in both sports. I also took piano lessons from ages 8-14 and thereafter, learned to play jazz by ear.
Although very shy as a youth, I eventually developed the habit of imitating my college professors and, thereafter, my work superiors to amuse my friends and co-workers. However, it took a layoff from Bell Laboratories in late 2002 for me to finally consider pursuing acting the following year, at age 41. I saw an ad in a newspaper which was entitled “Actors/Models/Extras-Make Extra Money”. It was an ad, which I would have passed right by a few years earlier, but as I was out of work (even though still living off severance), I thought maybe it would be fun and maybe it was meant to be. So I signed up, took Meisner Classes while doing much background work, and then found my way into a few independent films and commercials.
I had to stop abruptly in 2006, but then returned in 2010 on a part-time basis.
Marie Gilbert: You’ve also produced several of your movies. Which was your favorite, if you had to choose? Tell us more about yourself as a producer.
Joe Parascand: In indie films, the hardest thing to obtain is funding. As far as producing goes, a producer wears many hats. I personally drove the lead actress of my film, Mary Horror (2011) to and from the set 3-4 days per week for 2+months (considering where I live amounted to 3 hrs. of driving, roundtrip), without being reimbursed for gas. I sometimes bought meals at shoots, did the audio/lights/etc. when I was not acting, myself. I recruited over 200 actors/actresses for our director, Ryan Scott Weber, over the last 3 years for the above film as well as parts 2 and 3 of the trilogy: Sheriff Tom vs. the Zombies (2013) and Witches Blood (2014), and our prequel TV/web series: “Zombies Incorporated” (2013). It’s hard to have a favorite, but if forced, and as I also play the lead, it would be Sheriff Tom vs. the Zombies.
Marie Gilbert: Tell us about your character Sheriff Tom Walker and his part in Zombies Incorporated, in Mary Horror, and in Sheriff Tom vs. the Zombies.
Joe Parascand: As Mary Horror was part 1 of a trilogy, in the film Sheriff Tom Walker was a villain/crooked sheriff who was in on the dirty dealings with the mayor and Mary’s father. After last having been seen killed by Mary at the end of Mary Horror, he was mysteriously brought back to life as a monster back for revenge and now does his own killing in Sheriff Tom vs. the Zombies. That killing continues in Witches Blood. So you get to see him evolve. As for Zombies incorporated, it’s more of an alternate universe/horror-comedy prequel to the Mary Horror film trilogy and Sheriff Tom Walker is more of a rough around the edges good guy who is straight man opposite the bumbling comedians Billy and Jimmy.
Marie Gilbert: Have you and Christopher Eilenstine worked on other projects other than The Soulless?
Joe Parascand: The Soulless is my first project working with Chris and he’s great to work with. I was recommended
to him by other cast members.
Marie Gilbert: Is your character in The Soulless (Sgt. Benton) based on the Sheriff Tom Walker character?
Joe Parascand: Not at all. Sheriff Tom Walker (at least when human) is more or less someone who thinks he’s Clint Eastwood, and yes, the townspeople think of him more like Andy Griffith. But he has a mean streak and doesn’t like it when he doesn’t get his way. Finally, he’s as crooked as they come, although, as it’s revealed at times, that he has a heart.
Sgt. Benton is what I would call a combination of Michael Ironside’s character in Starship Troopers and Lee Marvin’s in The Dirty Dozen. He’s a tough guy, a leader, and yes, he doesn’t want people getting in his way, but he’s a completely different character from Sheriff Tom Walker, although he too has a heart. I also use very different voices for each of those characters.
Marie Gilbert: Tell us a little bit about your part in the movie, The Soulless.
Joe Parascand: Sgt. Benton is the leader of a special group of people called The Soulless. Its post Z-day, when, due to science gone awry rather than magical spells, some people have become zombies known as zombes. Sgt. Benton is always adding to his team, which combat the zombes even when the zombes greatly out-number the soulless. He has to lead his team members on his side, as well as having to forge “unholy” yet necessary alliances with some other darker characters.
Marie Gilbert: Would you ever consider working with the cast of “The Walking Dead?”
Joe Parascand: Sure. I’m always up for new projects.
Marie Gilbert: Joe, is there is anything that you would like to add?
Joe Parascand: Marie, let me say that it has been a pleasure to meet and, thereafter, speak with you here. I appreciate it very much. I would just offer to those in the field who are younger than I, and especially children in the field: As I’m 51, having gotten into acting later in life at age 41, don’t ever give up as you have so much of a head-start compared to when I began. For all of you, the sky’s the limit.
Marie Gilbert: Thank you Joe for joining us at Biff Bam Pop!. And to all our Biff Bam Pop’s little zombie snacks, look for Joe Parascand playing Sgt. Benton in the new film, The Soulless.