Star of screen and stage, Damian Joseph Quinn looks to be having a lot of fun in his latest venture, the madcap horror romp “Road Head”.
Take us back. What was the first horror you remember seeing?
So my best friend as a kid (and as an adult!) was/is a horror movie buff. She used to hand-select only the scariest ones & she’d force me to watch that. We’d watch it on her Play Station too & play the pause-game, which essentially meant that if I got too nervous, we’d have to pause it & cut the tension & suspense so I wouldn’t scream/cry/sh*t myself.
When I think of horror, I always think of Hills Have Eyes (the remake). Their faces & the cannibalism & the scenes still scare me to this day.
And how did it affect you at the time?
I’m a screamer & a big baby. I’m an actor because I can believe in the make-believe; I get into imaginary circumstances & I train the body to believe it’s true. So horror is not an ideal combo!!! My friends would torture me with jump scares & monkey costumes & blood gags.
Was it a horror film, or another type of film, that motivated your decision to pursue a career in the arts?
I remember watching Jake Gyllenhaal’s work & wanting to do what he did. I love the transformation of the art. I love playing all sorts of roles. Donnie Darko was pivotal for me, as was Brokeback Mountain as a closeted Queer in homophobic farmland. I wanted to be like him (and also look like him & also get married to him).
Did you have any mentors coming up?
Not particularly. I studied at NYU Tisch, so I’ve been coached often for acting technique, but the door is still open for any super stars & tanks in the acting industry that would like to coach me to stardom! Hello!
How did this latest flick come about?
I was a server at a gay sports bar in Silver Lake called 33 Taps. I really hit it off with my now friend, Nicole, who was a regular at the time – I’d slip her mimosas for free. She asked me if I had any reps or connections in the business, & at the time, was represented by some really gross agents. She just so happened to be working with a casting director on a project as an accountant in post, & she said she’d talk me up. A few weeks later, I was called in for Road Head!
Was it a long shoot?
It took about 2 weeks to shoot, so not particularly long. I still cried like a baby when we wrapped!
Any on-set anecdotes or stories you can share?
Elizabeth & I had so much fun back at our hotels. We’d do face masks & sing stupid songs & make each other cackle. It was a great way to slip out of the intensity of the world & indulge a bit. To this day, we’re still very close.
If you had to compare it to another movie, what would it be?
I really can’t compare this to anything I’ve ever seen before. I guess a close cousin is Scary Movie or Shaun of the Dead? This film just has so many unique & bold elements strung together that I’ve never seen before. It’s funny, it’s scary, it’s camp.
Do horror movies have a place in the pandemic, you think? Do you think they’re a fun distraction?
I think film will always be necessary in times of stress. It’s known that during the Great Depression, folks would save their coin to go to the theater & dream of the wealth & abundance onscreen. I think Road Head is a great release — it’s fun, you’re on the ride. You can laugh & get wrapped into the world & take a break from the pain & collective trauma of the pand-e.