Interview: Thomas Jane Discusses SLAYERS and Reflects on THE PUNISHER and THE MIST

From Zeph in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Frank Castle in The Punisher to David Drayton in The Mist (based on the Stephen King novella of the same name) and Baxley in The Predator, Thomas Jane is no stranger to bringing compelling characters to life on screen in multiple genres. His role in the recent horror comedy Slayers is certainly no exception, as he plays Elliot Jones, a modern vampire hunter who lives in an RV, researches bloodsucker conspiracy theories, and eventually teams up with video game influencer Flynn (Kara Hayward) to help take down a nefarious vampire empire.

With Slayers now on Digital and On Demand, we recently caught up with Thomas Jane to discuss acting in and executive producing the new vampire movie, and he also reflected on filming his memorable fight scene with Kevin Nash in The Punisher and being a part of the gut-punch ending of The Mist.

I have to say, the fight scene between you and Kevin Nash, not to go full Punisher here, but that is an all-timer for me, just the dark humor of it, the revolver getting smashed, the bathtub. That’s action and comedy at its finest.

Thomas Jane: We rehearsed that after work. We knew this scene was coming up and we had about four or five days to shoot the damn fight, which is unheard of, but we carved that time out because we knew we wanted that fight to stand out. Then me and Kevin, whenever he was around, we’d rehearse it. We’d run it through with the stunt guys and come up with ideas, and it evolved over the course of shooting the movie. That just shows you the benefit of rehearsal, of really thinking things through, of trying different things, that’s how that came together. It taught me. I’m like, “Okay, yeah. You put in the time and the thought power, you might get something interesting out of it.”

It definitely paid off, and you got to kick some more ass in your new movie Slayers, where you look a little different than you did in The Punisher. You’ve got the full beard in this movie. You’re going full Van Helsing, but a modern version of Van Helsing, which is really interesting.

Thomas Jane: Yeah, that’s a good way to put it.

This character is living in an RV, he’s grieving the loss of his daughter, he has this whole backstory, but it’s such an interesting, modern twist on a vampire slayer that we’re used to seeing. What appealed to you the most about playing this character, because there’s a lot to sink your teeth into here—pun fully intended—to get you involved as an actor and also as an executive producer, too?

Thomas Jane: Yeah, I started a production company called Renegade in 2019 with my partner Courtney [Lauren] Penn, and we expressly were looking for stuff that bent the frame of the genre. I love genre movies. I just do, I guess I shouldn’t apologize for that. I love genre film. I love what it does. I love what you can say with it. I love the populist appeal of a good genre movie and bending that frame a little bit, carving things out that are a little left of center, trying to be surprising, and doing things, helping stuff get made that otherwise maybe wouldn’t get made. That is rewarding. Also, I think it’s rewarding for the audience as well, because you’re giving them something that they know and love. It’s a genre movie, but it’s also got a twist to it that makes it a little more intelligent, a little more fun. It fit into the wheelhouse of Renegade, when this project came across our desk.

What’s interesting too, with this character, and the way that K. Asher Levin shot the movie, is that we get these history lessons from Elliot Jones, where you give us a history lesson on how vampires have integrated themselves in society and the attempts of slayers centuries ago. I thought that was really fun how you’re doing a lot of narration, too, and we get these little mini history movies throughout the film, which is really cool.

It was really fun, the montages and the backstory of vampires, that all came out of Asher’s brain. I thought it was really well done.

It’s also very interesting seeing those speeches that he does in the RV with Kara Hayward’s character Flynn. I love that dynamic duo that you two end up being, where you’re almost passing the stake to her, the torch.

Thomas Jane: Yeah, the unlikely duo, it’s always a classic, it always works, but she made it work. She’s a really terrific actor. She’s got a spark behind the eyes. She’s alert. You’ve got to be on your toes when you’re acting with her. It makes it really fun. I loved the dynamic between the two of us in that picture. You’ve got the young video game queen, then you’ve got this guy who lives in his RV and hunts vampires. You’re like, “Whoa, this guy’s completely out of his mind, or what’s going on here?” That was a lot of fun to play with.

Yeah, there’s a great culture clash there, just with you and that entire group, the influencers and your more old-school approach. That was a lot of fun, just seeing that dynamic.

Of course, I have to mention I’m a huge fan of The Mist. It’s hard to believe it’s been 15 years this November since it was released in theaters. I remember seeing it in a packed theater on Thanksgiving weekend, and you could hear a pin drop when that movie ended.

Thomas Jane: Oh, yeah. The worst opening weekend for that movie ever, because Thanksgiving weekend is the weekend where families go see movies. I mean, it’s the biggest one for families. The fact that these guys released that movie on Thanksgiving weekend with what happens at the end of that film, it really turned a lot of people off. It’s one of those movies that took time to be appreciated for what it is. The King fans loved it right away, and the horror people loved it, but as the general audience who’s just looking to relax on a Friday night, it kind of hits them in the gut, and that’s what makes a movie last.

I know Frank Darabont was offered more money, like double the budget, if he’d have just changed the ending. And we all said, “No, we’ll take less money. We still have enough money to make it, and we’re going to make the movie that we want to make.” I don’t know if you could get away with a Mist today, it might be tough, but we snuck that one in and we’re proud of it.

With Slayers now on Digital and On Demand, do you have anything else coming up on the movie front or the comic book front? I know you’re involved with a lot of different stuff, so is there anything you want to give a shout-out to?

Thomas Jane: Yeah, in comics I just made a deal with ComiXology to do a werewolf book, The Lycan, so I’m really excited about that, and we’re just putting the crew together for that one. I did a show that Amazon picked up called Troppo. We shot it in Australia. It’s about a disgraced ex-cop, who’s trying to put his life back together and hooks up with this crazy 20-something powerhouse named Amanda, who’s an ex-con. You’ve got an ex-cop and an ex-con running around the backwaters of tropical Australia. We just got picked up for a season 2 there, so we’re gearing up to shoot another season.

[Photo Credit: Above photo courtesy of The Avenue.]

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