By ANGELA DAWSON
Front Row Features
HOLLYWOOD—Ethan Peck stars in “The Curse of Sleeping Beauty,” an all-new and frightening take on the classic Brothers Grimm tale. He plays Thomas Kaiser, a young man who inherits a crumbling mansion from his estranged uncle. The house has been in his family for generations but it isn’t until Thomas moves in that he discovers that he also has inherited an ancient curse going back to the Crusades.
Forced into his new role as the guardian appointed to keep the evil demons in the house at bay, Thomas must unravel the house’s mystery, while struggling to awaken the beautiful Briar Rose (India Eisley), held captive in a netherworld that he has only previously seen in his dreams. Low-budget horror filmmaker Pearry Reginald Teo, whose previous credits include “Necromentia,” and “The Evil Inside”, directs the film. (He also is credited as an executive producer on Lana and Andy Wachowskis’ 2012 sci-fi epic “Cloud Atlas.”)
The 30-year-old Angeleno native might be familiar to TV viewers as one of the stars on “10 Things I Hate About You,” a comedy that aired on ABC Family for one season in 2009-10. Others may recognize Peck’s handsome face and physique from Ferragamo ads. He also happens to be the grandson of Oscar winning actor Gregory Peck (“To Kill a Mockingbird”), with whom he shares a physical resemblance.
By phone, Peck reveals that he’s hanging out at his apartment, not far from where much of “Sleeping Beauty” was shot—a section of Los Angeles called West Adams where Victorian-style turn of the 20th century houses still stand. Low-key and succinct, the actor reveals that in addition to his new horror flick, now in theaters and set for release on iTunes and VOD Tuesday, May 17, he is set to star in an upcoming Lee Daniels (“Empire”) TV series, tentatively called “Star.” His priority, for now, is promoting his new movie.
Q: Was the location spooky?
Peck: Yeah, it felt like a lot of things had happened in that house. It was decrepit and scary and gave you an ominous feeling. It created a great atmosphere for the film.
Q: When did you shoot it and what appealed to you about the role or the script?
Peck: We filmed it about a year and a half ago. It was just a cool dark story that didn’t make light of anything just to make light of it. It felt unforgiving in its tension and its terror.
Q: It takes the Grimm fairy tale and turns it on its head, doesn’t it?
Peck: I’m not even sure that they’re that closely related except for a few key characters or elements.
Q: Was it fun doing the action scenes with the gens, which are really like zombies?
Peck: Yeah, it was fun. It’s different when you’re working on a smaller budget film because you have to do things so quickly. The budget and the locations posed challenges to all of us involved. It was challenging to finish it on time.
Q: Had you watched Pearry’s previous horror films?
Q: So you just jumped in on the chance to play Thomas?
Peck: A chance to work, absolutely.
Q: Would you stay overnight in a spooky, decrepit house like the one your character inherits? Do you believe in haunted houses?
Peck: Yes, definitely. I visited a friend’s family that lived in a house in Scotland. We stayed in an apartment that was attached to this ancient castle, and every night we heard noises. I’m not very superstitious. I’m not necessarily a believer—or disbeliever—in ghosts, but we all agreed there were some strange happenings there. It definitely made me uncomfortable.
Q: Is that your most memorable supernatural encounter?
Q: What was it like working with your co-star Bruce Davison (“Short Cuts,” “Longtime Companion”) and the rest of the cast?
Peck: Bruce Davison is the man. He’s such a cool dude and such a talented actor, as is Natalie Hall (who plays helpful real estate agent Linda). She was wonderful, lovely and fun. India (Eisley, who plays Sleeping Beauty), I didn’t get to spend as much time with. We had brief interaction on camera, but she’s equally lovely. But to go back to Bruce, the man’s a legend. He’s awesome.
Q: Did he share any of his Hollywood stories with you?
Peck: Oh yeah.
Q: Anything you can share?
Peck: No, I’ll keep it to myself. But he had some great stories about his experiences here in Hollywood.
Q: How long was the shoot? Were some days more challenging than others?
Peck: Not that I can remember in particular. I was working pretty much all day every day. So I was on a very strict schedule of sleeping and working. That’s all I had time for. We were shooting this for about a month.
Q: What can you say about the Fox pilot you shot for Lee Daniels?
Peck: It’s a series called “Star.” That’s the working title. It was picked up about 10 days ago. It’s about three young girls from very disparate socioeconomic backgrounds that come together to form a girl group. It kind of follows their path to hopeful success, and the trials and tribulations of the journey. So it’s a good one.
Q: What do you play in it?
Peck: A sexy villain.
Q: Are you involved in the music aspect of it?
Peck: I’m not involved in any of the music.
Q: How many episodes are you signed up for?
Peck: We’ll see how it goes.
Q: When do you go back into production?
Peck: I’m not sure yet but I’m going to guess it’ll be in July.
Q: What are you working on before that?
Peck: Nothing. Trying to get more work.
Q: What do you do in your down time?
Peck: I love to read. I study Muay Thai, a type of kickboxing. I love to spend time with friends and family. I go to acting class. I keep myself very busy.
Q: Superhero films are popular. Is there a superhero character you would like to play?
Peck: I’m not sure. I’d love to play Batman in about five years, or somewhere down the line. Right now I’m just figuring out what kind of man I am and what kind of roles I’ll be playing. I wouldn’t mind being pigeonholed as “the sexy villain.” So we’ll see how that goes.