Interview: ‘I Am Not a Serial Killer’ Star Christopher Lloyd on Playing Monsters and Leaving a Legacy
Posted on Friday, August 26th, 2016 by Jacob Hall
I saw I Am Not a Serial Killer at the SXSW Film Festival earlier this year and it was one of the most pleasant surprises of the fest. A throwback horror movie that never feels the need to wink or nudge, Billy O’Brien‘s film is slick, sick, and deeply interested in the humanity that lurks behind a monster (and vice versa). It also features the great Christopher Lloyd in his best role in years, playing the elderly neighbor and friend to a teenage sociopath who finds himself pursuing a serial killer in his rural town.
I was able to speak with Mr. Lloyd for a brief phone interview to discuss his work in I Am Not a Serial Killer, but we also managed to chat about the set of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, playing a Klingon, and how his first copy of the Back to the Future screenplay ended up in the trashcan.
And Lloyd’s not shy about giving away many of I Am Not a Serial Killer‘s twists and turns, so I’ve marked the first part of our conversation with a spoiler warning. Feel free to skim past that if you plan to see the film.
***Begin I Am Not a Serial Killer Spoilers***
Looking over your recent filmography, you’re doing a lot of work in movies, television, and voiceover work. You’re keeping busy. So how did this movie cut through all of that and get your attention? How did it come your way?
It’s an Irish contingent with the director and producer and other people involved. They got in touch with my agent, who called me and sent me the script. I read it and I just fell in love with it. I thought it was a very special kind of original script in the genre. I loved the character they wanted me to play. It’s a kind of an odd, complicated guy and I was very happy to do it.
You’ve played a lot of villains over the years and many of them have been more outlandish and cartoonish villains. This guy is a lot more complex and you understand why he does what he does. How do approach a character like that?
It’s important that he comes across as a human so we don’t suspect him of being the villain, so to speak. I had the feeling that here was a guy who really does not understand his history, his past. His past, I think, goes back thousands of years. He’s some sort of anomaly. Maybe aliens dropped him or he got lost in the cosmos and ended up on our planet. He’s evolved to the point where, in order to remain living, he has to replace body parts that are aging. He’s met this woman and it’s the first time he’s ever known or had any notion of the concept of love, but he’s totally fallen in love with her. He can’t bear the thought of dying, of leaving her alone and not being able to be with her. So he does everything he can to keep living, however nasty that gets. I felt that he’s a very decent human being! He’s evolved. But there’s this trait he carries with him genetically from maybe thousands of years ago that he doesn’t understand. He doesn’t know where he’s come from. As somebody said recently, he’s an enigma to himself.
He is a very complex character. Since so many people know you from iconic roles like Doctor Emmett Brown, is it satisfying to play a role so small and mysterious?
Yes! I love the challenge to make him real and believable and credible at the same time within the bounds and the reality [of the film]. Which is something that attracted me to this film. He lives in a normal…he does all the normal things. His wife and he socialize and go out to restaurants and all that. He’s a wild card. He’s really out there. I was interested in keeping him human and not giving away his awful self, so to speak. I like the challenge. Every role I get is always a challenge. I can read a script and say “Oh, I can do that!” and then when I start working on it, I suddenly realize that I had no idea what I was getting into. Then I have to really work hard! It’s okay.