VIDEO EXCLUSIVE: Brett Cullen On Shooting Real-Life Ghost Story ‘The Riot Act’
Brett Cullen stars in a new period thriller film The Riot Act, which has an intriguing plot.
The film, which Cullen described as a “psychological thriller,” was shot in Arkansas at the turn of the century and is loosely based on a real-life ghost story. It centers on several characters who witness a murder from three different vantage points. The Riot Act also stars Lauren Swetser, Connor Price and Brandon Keener.
Cullen, who is also currently starring in Joker, opened up to uInterview exclusively about his role in The Riot Act. In his new film, Cullen plays a doctor named Willard Pearrow who murders the lover of his daughter — his only child — after he learns she plans to elope with him.
“I’m a father, a doctor and the wealthiest man in town who owns an opera house,” the 63-year-old explained actor about his character. “This is loosely based on a true story about a man who killed his daughter’s lover, a married actor who she was going to run off with.”
“Of course he’s an actor,” Cullen added of the character he murders, laughing.
Cullen went on to explain that his daughter disappears soon after her lover’s murder and that his character claims she is dead and that the actor killed her. The lover’s ghost quickly begins to haunt Pearrow and the town.
Cullen admitted he was initially hesitant to get involved with The Riot Act because he was busy filming three other shows, including Narcos and Queen of the South. However, he ultimately resolved his scheduling conflicts and joined the project after becoming fascinated with the script. The actor praised the film for accomplishing so much despite its small budget and short shooting schedule (it was shot in just 22 days),
“What they managed to do in this film, which is really quite amazing, is to have so little money and so much production value,” said Cullen before adding he was so tired on the first few days of set that he felt “brain dead” like the zombies on The Walking Dead. “It was like walking into another century.”
Cullen also revealed he drew inspiration for playing his character from his idol Gene Hackman, whom he met on the set of a film called The Replacements alongside Keanu Reeves. Hackman is known for playing unlikable characters.
“I asked [Hackman], ‘do you ever find the gray area?,'” Cullen said. “And he said, ‘are you kidding? Just enjoy it!’ So when you get that kind of opportunity you sort of jump in with both feet.”
Cullen went on to compare his character in The Riot Act to the one he played in The Replacements.
“He’s trying to protect his daughter and his honor and in doing so destroys all of that,” he said.
Cullen, who started off as a theater actor and then moved onto working in television and films, ultimately revealed he enjoyed working on a short filming schedule.
“I like working, I like the idea that I can shoot eight to 12 pages a day and I know that I’ve accomplished it,” he said. “It’s a little bit like flying by the seat of your pants, which is exciting as an actor because you’re having to think on your feet.”
The Riot Act, written and directed by Devon Parks, is now available for streaming on Amazon Video and Vudu.