Chris Newman is an actor whose performance as The Joker astounded us in the 2016 short film Injustice for All. After reviewing the film, he was included in another HorrorGeekLife article titled “Five Actors Who Could Play Freddy Krueger in an ‘Elm Street’ Reboot.” Yes…we loved his performance that much. As a versatile actor, he has had roles in many films, including The Five-Year Engagement (2012), Love and Honor (2013) and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016).
Taking time out of his busy schedule, Chris Newman talks about his influences, his role as The Joker, what it was like on the Batman v Superman set and upcoming projects! Please be sure to also check out our review for Injustice for All here!
HorrorGeekLife.com – Thanks for talking with me, Chris! I’d love to know who some of your earliest influences are. When did you discover that you wanted to act?
Chris Newman – It’s kind of a funny story looking back on it. I guess I was always performing for my parents & friends as a kid, doing impressions and whatnot, but too shy to take “the act” on the road, much less out of the house. It wasn’t until I graduated high school, I kinda came into my own. I had a grad party with friends & family. I was just messing around, hamming it up and my uncle came up to me and asked if I ever “considered acting.” I hadn’t, but had no idea what to study in college so I thought what the hell. I took a class and the proverbial “bug” bit me. I started doing plays, landed some lead roles and never looked back!
Starting out, as far as influences, I pored over the films of Tom Cruise, Ben Affleck and of course Pacino, De Niro, Hoffman…and by “pored over” I mean I watched everything. I was going through some old boxes in my basement recently and found a VHS copy of Hoffman’s Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me? Like I said, I watched EVERYTHING! Haha!
HorrorGeekLife.com – Oh wow, I haven’t heard that title mentioned in a while! So, who are some of your current influences?
Chris Newman – Yeah, so as I matured and began to find my style, so to speak, I was turned onto actors like Montgomery Clift, who quickly shot up the “all-time favorite list.” He was spectacular! Some others that come to mind are John Cazale, Paul Newman, Daniel Day Lewis, Don Cheadle, Ed Harris, Gene Hackman.
HorrorGeekLife.com – Definitely some amazing men to look up to. You mentioned Ben Affleck as an early influence, so I would think that working with him was surreal. How did you get involved with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice?
Chris Newman – That was a dream come true. The 8 year old in me still “geeks out” every now and then when I think about it! Haha! In the beginning, it was all kinda “hush hush” as you can imagine with a film like that. My agent at the time called me up and told me I have an audition for this no name Warner Bros. movie. So y’know, like any audition you learn your lines and go in, do your thing and leave. “Keep moving forward,” that’s my motto. FIVE MONTHS LATER, I’m on my way back from an audition in Pittsburgh and I get the call that I booked the film! One of those “pinch yourself” moments for sure!
HorrorGeekLife.com – I can just imagine! What an amazing “no name” film to land a role on, ha! What was it like on set?
Chris Newman – The feeling on set, to me, was really relaxed. Despite it being this big budget, multi million dollar extravaganza, it felt very much like an Indie film. By that I mean Zack (Snyder) allowed you the freedom to create & express yourself in your character. I love that. Don’t get me wrong, he knew exactly what he wanted but he let you find your own notes within the structure of his vision. It was collaborative, I guess is the short answer. Ben (Affleck) was great. It was cool to kinda catch a glimpse into his process. I mean, this is a guy I looked up to starting out, y’know, and now I’m sharing the screen with him. Like I said, a “pinch yourself” moment.
HorrorGeekLife.com – So, you went from working for Batman to playing The Joker in the recent short film, Injustice for All. Which, by the way, you were amazing in! In fact, the entire cast really brought their A-game. How did the project come about?
Chris Newman – Thank you so much! I was lucky enough to be on board from the beginning. My producing partner at White Hand Films, Donavan Darius (who also plays Lex Luthor), had an idea about shooting some scenes centered around a couple of these characters, more or less for fun. So he and our co-writer Joseph Bryce Hart began fleshing out some scenarios, writing some scenes. There were many emails, phone calls, late night brainstorming sessions and soon 1 page became 10. We then started thinking about some actors to play certain characters. We pitched them, they loved it and in turn recommended others to join the fun. Now 10 pages ballooned to 30-40 pages and soon we had a full blown feature screenplay! Later, we agreed to pull out a few scenes, add a couple more to give those scenes more depth and shoot it as a short.
We then began assembling what would become this top notch cast. I had worked with Danny Mooney previously when he directed me in Love and Honor a few years back, and we kept in touch since. I always enjoy working with him, and thought he’d be terrific as Jimmy Olsen, so I hit him up and asked if he’d like to be a part of this. He was pumped about the character & the story we were telling and accepted the role. Further down the line, as we progressed, he came on to direct the whole shebang as well! He pulled some strings and got his A+ crew together and here we are! This was a passion project all the way. Everyone who came on board from the Cast – Erika Hoveland, Danny, Jamie Bernadette, Julia Voth, etc. – to the Crew, to the post-production Crew, which included Glenn Garland (Rob Zombie’s collaborator), they were all 100% gung-ho to be a part of this! No one phoned it in. We couldn’t be more thrilled with the way it turned out & reception it’s gotten!
HorrorGeekLife.com – I wasn’t sure what to expect going into Injustice for All, but I was pretty blown away. You put a great spin on The Joker; how did you prepare for such a demented and twisted character?
Chris Newman – Obviously there’s been a lot written about The Joker. All the comics, the movies…I’m sure, somewhere, he’s the subject of college psychology class lectures! So there’s this rich, 75 year history to go from. Add to that our completely new twist on his origin, I had my work cut out for me! Basically, I did a lot of research. I read the comics as well as case studies of homicidal maniacs, anything I could get my hands on to get a “feel” for who he is and what makes him tick; all the while trying to avoid a cheap imitation of the great performances we’ve all come to know and love. Bottom line, I wanted to put my own stamp on him but still remain true to the history.
To me, I’ve always seen The Joker as complete, down and dirty, “Rock & Roll.” To use a music analogy, if Guns N’ Roses cover a Rolling Stones song (which they have), there’s a certain framework you have to adhere to, but you can also find some things to play with between the notes. So you have The Joker, this broad, colorful character from the comics and Cesar Romero comes along and found his licks, Mr. Nicholson added his, as did Hamill, Ledger & Leto. The song remains the same but what’s so fun is we’ve all brought our own interesting perspectives & choices to make him (Joker) our own.
HorrorGeekLife.com – If you were intimidated by the shoes you were filling, it didn’t show at all. So, if you had an opportunity to collaborate with any current filmmaker, who would you choose and why?
Chris Newman – Oh man, I think it would be great to work with Spielberg, Ron Howard, Scorsese, the Coen brothers, Eastwood…those guys are legends. As long as they’re making films, I’m in the seats! Of course on the sci-fi/horror side, I’d love to work with Clive Barker, Guillermo del Toro. Those guys have created some wild stuff over the years. Lately, my wife and I became obsessed with Stranger Things. I love what the Duffer Brothers created and can’t wait for Season 2!
HorrorGeekLife.com – Stranger Things was absolutely amazing! We’re stoked for season 2 as well! Do you have any current or upcoming projects you want to let us know about?
Chris Newman – As I mentioned earlier, we (White Hand Films) have a full feature script for an Injustice For All follow-up ready to go, which we’d love to do. But our next project we’re working on, which we’re super excited about is an original sci-fi pilot titled FAUXIOM (Fo-ee-um). The script is based on an award-winning, action-packed thrill ride of a short story, written by Donavan Darius, that has received praise from NY Times best selling sci-fi and fantasy author David Farland. We’re currently in pre-production on that. For more, fans can go to WhiteHandFilms.com to get updates or check out our FAUXIOM Facebook page!
Personally, I have a few films that fans can look out for. A couple of really fun, sci-fi space thrillers: ISRA-88 is directed by Tom Zellen and stars Sean Maher (Firefly), Casper Van Dien (Starship Troopers) and Adrienne Barbeau (The Fog, Swamp Thing). It was released in the UK on August 8th and is doing really well! That should be hitting stateside toward the end of this year. MOONTRAP: Target Earth, which is a sequel to the 1989 cult classic MOONTRAP with Bruce Campbell & Walter Koenig. Both directed by Robert Dyke, Target Earth stars Charles Shaughnessy (The Nanny, Days of Our Lives) and Sarah Butler (I Spit On Your Grave). In addition, there’s a film called Ovid and the Art of Love, directed by Esmé von Hoffman, starring John Savage (The Deer Hunter, Godfather III) and Corbin Bleu (the High School Musical films), which is currently in post production with a release date of sometime in 2017!
HorrorGeekLife.com – Wow, so much to look forward to! The trailer for ISRA-88 looks intense; it will be on my must-see list. You definitely stay busy with work, but what do you enjoy doing with your downtime?
Chris Newman – Well, my wife and I have a 3 year old daughter at home, so she keeps us pretty busy. But between tea parties and sing-alongs, just steady working with White Hand Films on creating some new & exciting projects! Lots of cool stuff coming up…Stay tuned!