It’s rare to find a film that intrigues you and draws you back into the 1980’s when cinema was focused on story, acting, score, and practical effects. Joe Begos’ newest film “The Mind’s Eye” revisits the time when scripts were inventive, invigorating, and energizing. Today, I had the opportunity to interview the great John Speredakos who portrays Dr. Michael Slovak, the demented doctor that has a research facility who is studying people that have psychokinetic powers. John is no stranger to film and you may have recognized his work in the Ti West films “House of the Devil” and “The Innkeepers’ but he has portrayed characters in the horror genre for some time, but this is a new role that we have not seen in his film career. John Speredakos brings his best performance to date and it was my pleasure to sit down and interview him on his role in The Mind’s Eye.
Cinephellas (CP): Hello John, how are you today?
John Speredakos (JS): Doing good Logan, where are you at? In LA?
(CP): No, we are based out of Chicago.
(JS): Oh really? I lived there for awhile. I lived downtown on the famous Magnificent mile in the early 90’s. I love Chicago so much. It has great food, theaters, music, museums, and festivals.
(CP): There is a lot to do in the city and the food is my favorite, we have the best hot dogs and Italians Beefs in the world!
(JS): Haha, oh I know!
(CP): I just checked out The Mind’s Eye and I really loved your character in this film. How did you get involved with this project?
(JS): Well the producer, Josh Ethier, e-mailed me originally a year and half ago, who was good friends with Mickey Keating and I had done a cameo in Mickey’s film Darling. I had known Mickey for a few years prior and had recommended me to Josh for the role in Mind’s Eye. They were looking to cast me in a different role in the film and I read the script. The funny thing is after reading the script, I thought Slovak would be a better role that I could have fun with. I was on the fence about taking the other role and have played characters like that before, then Josh e-mailed me back and wanted me to talk to the director Joe Begos about Slovak. Then once I got on the phone with Joe, he asked “how would you feel about tackling Slovak?” My first reaction was “oh shit!” How do I say no? It was so much work and didn’t have time to prep for the role and had to be on set in 4 days. It came about suddenly and that’s how everything fell into place.
(CP): You play Dr. Michael Slovak, the deranged doctor in this film, a much different role than what you have played in the past. Was it an easy transformation into this character?
(JS): When I got to know Joe and the funny thing is I didn’t see his other film, Almost Human, until finishing filming Mind’s Eye. Joe said “watch it or don’t watch it,” then I figured I won’t watch it because maybe I won’t like it or think Joe is skillful. I thought let me enjoy playing Michael Slovak in this film. I finally watched Almost Human and was blown away! My instincts were a quietly understated performance was not going to get the job done. I had three pounds of latex makeup on my face and I figured that with an elevated playing style when I started working with Joe, it was apparent that I had to put myself out there and go for it. I didn’t have a lot of time to prep for the role and I was one of the last actors cast in the film. Lauren and Graham, the main actors in the film, were already on-board for the film.
(CP): This film focuses on psychokinesis and the power it has on individuals. What was it like moving objects and people with your hands? Was there a lot of stunt coordinators on set?
(JS): You had one stunt coordinator, who was a terrific guy that had worked on a bunch of big budget productions. I remember my manager was concerned when I decided to take the job and wondered if there was a stunt team involved with the burning car scene and being levitated on wires throughout the film. Then we got to set and realized there was no CGI and the stunt coordinator was there to help design the scenes that the actors would be doing. So I will be flying over the tables on wires landing on chairs, so it was very physically demanding, which would be hard at the age of 22, and not to mention even more demanding at the age of 52.
(CP): Did you get any bruises or injuries while filming this movie?
(JS): The bruises were not even the worst; it was the question of survival! I had a few days off and went down to New York to see my daughter and she took one look at me with a giant bruise from my neck down to my shins. Graham got a concussion one day on set when I wasn’t there, so don’t blame me. I jammed my finger and elbow badly, but the hardest part were those damn harnesses were were on shooting these physical scenes. When you’re suspended, the harness is wrapped around your ribcage tight, it’s hard to breath and extremely difficult to scream in these scenes. I had a lot of blood in my eyes in these scenes, so t couldn’t see anything when they projected me in the air, and Graham looked like a big fuzzy blob that I am trying to connect with. In all, it was one physical challenge after the next. It was painful, but fun at the same time, which actors live for that. I have done physical work in past projects with physical violence and beating people up, but this had an added element. One of the advantages was working with Graham Skipper, who is a delightful actor to work with, we had each other back. There’s a real comradery that develops on set and it was like it’s 20 below zero, we’re on wires, I know that Graham is going to suck me into that specific scene. And I will do that for him, we had a really strong connection, and thank god for that.
(CP): The Mind’s Eye was a hit at Fantastic Fest and you were praised for your excellent performance as Dr. Michael Slovak, why do you think this film stands out compared to other films of the horror genre today?
(JS): Great question and there’s a lot of things that come to mind, but one words sum it up to me and that is energy. I just think that there is a such a propulsive energy throughout this story. It’s not breaking any new ground with this story, but Joe Begos has filmed this in a way that the whole film is a climax. From the opening sequence to the end, it’s pedal to the metal, and it stands out to audiences due to the energy that Joe and Josh have put into this film.
(CP): I agree, the trailer doesn’t do the movie’s justice because there is such an energy that sucks you in and never lets you go. That was the reason I loved the Mind’s Eye and why I can’t wait for the rest of the world to see it too!
(JS): I agree with that statement and let’s mention the casting, script, sound design, and Josh’s editing. It’s an easy movie to root for from start to finish!
Special thanks to John Speradakos for taking the time to sit down with Cinephellas. We’re really excited about “The Mind’s Eye’ as well as all of his upcoming projects! The Mind’s Eye was released on Friday, August 5th.