American character actor Ray Wise was born in Portland,
Oregon in 1947. He got his first acting break in 1970 on the
soap opera Love of Life. After portraying the role
of Jamie Rawlins for six years, he began landing guest appearances
on TV shows including Charlie's Angels, before joining
the cast of Dallas in 1982 as Blair Sullivan. After
a year long stint on the show he appeared on shows including
T.J. Hooker, Hart to Hart, The A-Team, Scarecrow and Mrs.
King and L.A. Law. His movie credits include Wes
Craven's The Swamp Thing (1982), The Journey of
Natty Gann (1985) and Robocop (1987). In 1988, he
was a regular on Knot's Landing before landing the
role of Leland Palmer on Twin Peaks. This was a role
he reprised in the feature film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk
with Me (1992). In 1999, he volunteered his time to play
the lead in Pennyweight, a short film by Efram Potelle and
Kyle Rankin. When the two young directors made their feature
film debut with The Battle of Shaker Heights (2003),
they cast Wise in a substantial role
- the same year he stared in Jeepers
Creepers 2. Darren Rea spoke with him as Jeepers Creepers
2 was due to be released on DVD and video...
Rea: When you were offered the role in Jeepers Creepers
2 were you apprehensive at all about being in a horror
sequel? And had you seen the first movie?
Wise: Yes, I saw the first movie and I liked it. I thought
it was well done and the director Victor Salva is a director
that I'd worked with before in a movie called Powder
back in 1995. I respect Victor's work, I like the way he writes
and I've read many of his scripts.
he asked me to be involved with the movie he explained the
story to Jeepers Creepers 2 and I immediately responded
to it because he cast it in very heroic literary terms. He
likened it to Melville's Moby Dick with my part as
the kind of Captain Ahab character, going after that great
white whale The Creeper. The obsession that Ahab had for the
whale, I had for The Creeper. Victor cast it in terms that
really appealed to me and whetted my appetite, so I was eager
to do it.
Victor Salva says that he was very upset that he had to cut
your Moby Dick speech ("From Hell's heart I stab
at thee") from the final cut of the movie, because the
audiences didn't get the reference at the test screenings.
Is that something that bothered you also?
I wish they hadn't cut that. I like those little touches and
it meant a lot at that moment to be able to say that.
Salva expressed his concern that today's audience aren't as
well read as they should be. Do you think this is a shame
in today's society?
Yes, I think so. I don't think that the movie going public,
or the television viewing public, are as well read as we were
in the past. There's not as many people that tend to read
the great novels and plays that are available to them. I think
there is a definite lack and deficiency in that today.
Is it true that you were almost sent on fire during the filming
of Jeepers Creepers 2?
Yes. There were some sparks in a scene which set a little
piece of cloth of fire [laughs]. But the stage crew were quick
to jump in with their fire extinguishers and stopped it getting
worse [laughs]. Yeah, there were little incidents like that.
dog also managed to bite me in the leg on one scene. The dog
does two things he barks or grabs you with his mouth. Apparently
the trainer got her signals mixed up and I made a quick move
and the dog made his move and grabbed my in the leg. It didn't
hurt. I got some minor bruising during the making of the movie,
there were a lot of stunts and I did a lot of them. It was
a lot of fun. It was a good job I was in shape before I started
making the movie.
With the emergence of DVD viewers are expecting more from
the actors. They want commentaries and behind the scene footage
is this something that you embrace? Or once you've completed
a movie do you just want to get on with the next project?
I don't embrace it, no. I know it's enjoyable for the people
who have the DVDs so that they can find out what goes on behind
the scenes, but I like to reserve a lot of that for myself.
I don't like to reveal everything - that's just a preference
of mine. But, I'm not adverse to doing them, and if asked
to be involved with a commentary I would probably contribute.
It's just that I would prefer that they didn't do them and
retain a little bit of the mystique and mystery about making
Most people will recognise you when they see you, but won't
pigeon hole you as the bad guy from Robocop, or the
guy from Twin Peaks as they do with some actors. Is
that something that you are pleased about?
I'm very pleased about that. I've had the kind of low key
career that is ideal for me. It's meant that I have been able
to go back and forth between bad guys and good guys, playing
the whole spectrum of characters all across the board. That's
been a lot of fun.
all my roles, Leland Palmer in Twin Peaks [pictured
left] was the one that had the biggest impact on the world,
but even after that I wasn't typecast, so I feel very fortunate
in the way my career has progressed.
Do you ever worry when you accept a new role that it could
be the part that typecasts you?
No. I don't worry about that at all. The only thing I worry
about is whether I like the role and the story. And if I like
those two aspects then it's a go. Of course, liking the director
is also important, but not really as much as liking the story
and character. I like a good story, and if I play an interesting
character in a good story that's all that's necessary for
Which of your roles so far have been the most enjoyable for
I loved playing Leland Palmer, because I did it over such
a long period of time - all of the television episodes and
then the movie. But, I really enjoyed my time on Robocop.
We were just like kids, blowing up streets with guns. We just
had a great time with Paul Verhoeven making that film.
I also enjoyed a film I made way back in 1984 called The
Journey of Natty Gann for Walt Disney. It was set in Chicago
during the depression of 1935 and I played a father who gets
separated from his daughter, and she has to cross country
to try and find me. That was a lot of fun to make.
I enjoy a little bit about everything that I do, because that's
one of the criteria that I hold dear - to have fun while I'm
working. So I find something good in everything, just about.
If you had your time again are there any roles that you wished
you hadn't accepted, and any roles that you've turned down
that you wished you'd accepted?
There aren't any roles that I wish I hadn't taken, because
I don't like to dwell on things in the past. And, as far as
turning down things, I don't recall turning down anything
that became that great that it would have made any difference.
Again, for me, the main things are to get a job - that's an
important thing, and have people to continue to want to use
you in their projects is important. And then the next step
is, as I said before, having a good story and character.
You said you enjoyed your time on Twin Peaks because
you played an ongoing character. How does that differ from
the guest star roles you've had on Star Trek, Moonlighting
or Charmed where there is already an established cast
and you're the outsider coming in for a few days work?
That can be difficult when you are in a situation where you
are working with an established group of actors. I just find
that it's best to just go in and do the best that you can
and try and be as open and friendly as possible then they
will most likely be friendly towards you too.
you play the character and do a week's worth of work and it
lasts on screen for an hour and then that character's finished.
You never go back to it and you write it off and move on to
the next thing. Whereas with Leland Palmer it was week after
week and I got a reoccurring character who evolves over time.
It was rather like living another life.
Are you every worried that you'll end up having to do the
Star Trek conventions?
I haven't done that. They've asked me to do it on occasion
and I've really not been that interested in it. I have been
to a few of the Fangoria conventions, but always to
promote a new project that I'm involved with in that genre.
I was at the Fantasia Fest last summer in Montreal
and I enjoyed that very much. And I was recently at the Savannah
Festival where they played a film that I made this year called
The Battle of Shaker Heights.
like going to festivals, but I haven't been involved with
the Star Trek conventions. That's not to say that I'm
ruling them out in the future, but I really don't have a great
desire to go.
You've also been involved with playing characters for console
Yes, that's true, I did the Red Alert series.
How did that differ from your other work? Is there much difference?
Well, you know, not a great deal. Acting is acting. There's
a lot of live action in computer games now, and I played The
President of the United States in those games and I really
enjoyed it. They set up these little scenes, they had full
sets and you're in costume. It's just like making a television
show or movie and there you are in the game. I've played the
games and I really like them and I enjoyed doing them.
If you weren't an actor, do you have any hobbies or interests
that you'd love to follow up as a career?
I don't know. I really don't know. Nothing else really appeals
to me. I've known since I was a young man that I wanted to
be a professional actor. In fact in my junior high school
year book - when I was about 13 years old - I believe under
my picture it listed my goal in life as wanting to become
an actor. So,
that's what I've always wanted to do.
I've been acting I've played the King of England, a General
of Spain, Emperor of Rome - I've done 85 plays professionally
on stage - and I've been everything from a jet pilot to a
brain surgeon to a lawyer to a farmer in Jeepers Creepers
Are there any actors or directors that you'd love to work
Oh yes. A whole load of them. I would like to work with Francis
Ford Coppola - he was my executive producer for Jeepers
Creepers 2 too. I would like to work with Martin Scorsese,
I almost did a long time ago, but it didn't work out. And
I'd like to work with a bunch of the newer directors, like
Sam Mendes. There are a whole bunch of actors that I'd like
to work with including Russell Crowe, Anthony Hopkins and
What about the future? Are there any projects that you are
working on at the moment that you can talk about?
I did a film about a month ago called The Rainmakers.
It's an independent film and it should be coming out in three
or four month's time.
It also look like I'll be involved with a film that is based
on a new Stephen King short story. And also there are a couple
of film makers that are developing scripts that have characters
with me in mind.
I'll wait for those to develop, but anything could come along
at any time. But right now there are three or four projects
that look promising for the future.
Thank you for your time.
thanks to Nina Criswick at DSA
Distribution Ltd's Jeepers Creepers 2 is released on
DVD and video from the 19 January 2004
your copy on DVD for £11.99 (RRP: £15.99) by clicking
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