Gavin Schmitt Interviews Dan Hicks
Dan Hicks (sometimes “Danny” Hicks) is an American actor best known for starring roles in Evil Dead II (affiliate link) and Intruder (affiliate link) as well as appearing in various other horror films. He is a close friend of Sam Raimi and often has parts in his movies. Any horror fan has seen at least one of his films and hopefully more. Hicks is a great actor and Raimi is one of the best directors out there today.
2020 Update: It is with great sadness that I update this 2011 post with the following note: Dan Hicks passed away in June 2020 from cancer. As noted in 2011 in the next paragraph, Dan was a really nice guy. Rest in peace, Dan.
On March 27, 2011, Dan let me join him at his booth during HorrorHound Weekend in Indianapolis to recap his career and tell me about an Internet project you may not have been aware of (but should be). Dan Hicks was by far the nicest person I met at the convention, and given how great the convention was as a whole, that really says something.
GS: You started off in “Evil Dead II”…
DH: Yes, ‘Evil Dead II’ (affiliate link) was my first feature film. It was the first time I had ever met Sam Raimi. I had met Ted once before — I cast him in a play a friend of mine was in. But it was the first time I met Sam, Rob Tapert and Bruce Campbell. But I auditioned for the role and I got it.
GS: You have done many films with Sam Raimi since, but this was where you met him?
DH: Yep. I auditioned and the character description was “scuz bucket”, so that morning I went out and opened up my engine compartment and combed my hair with motor oil, dusted myself with gravel and went in. Sam said, “An actor without ego — I love it.”
GS: You did “Maniac Cop”, which was directed by Bill Lustig, who is something of a legend in the world of B-movies.
DH: Yes he is. It was like working with a little kid who loved sound effects. (fast high pitched voice) “And then the car comes around the corner and it’s screeching, then the actors blah blah blah, but then the BOMB explodes!” So he’s very interesting in his directing abilities and the way he communicates with his actors. It’s like talking with a 9-year old kid, but he does a good job of it.
GS: You were in “Intruder”, which is one of my all-time favorites…
DH: Thank you.
GS: The rumor is that it was unofficially produced by Charles Band.
DH: Yes. I’ve met Charlie a few times, not at length. But the actual producer was Lawrence Bender. He’s the actual producer.
GS: So Charlie wasn’t really involved?
DH: He’s involved, but I never had any personal dealings with him. I’m sure my agents did, but I didn’t.
DH: ‘Darkman’ (affiliate link) is one of my personal favorite movies. The interesting thing about my character in “Darkman” is that they spent an entire week killing me, and it’s not in the movie. They actually found a one-legged stuntman who resembled me, and they constructed an entire apartment where the floor was decorated like the wall. Liam Neeson’s character grabbed me by the throat, and threw me across the room. Because the wall was really the floor, it wouldn’t have any arc to it and it would look like he had that much power behind it. He then held my throat to the wall and hydraulic rams punched holes in the concrete all around my head. I think what happened was that they could see the hydraulics in the arm, so they cut it out of the movie. They spent a week killing me and it’s not in the movie. So I don’t die.
GS: You appeared in “2001 Maniacs”, and while I have to say I like the original better, the remake has an amazing ensemble cast. How did you get a part in that?
DH: Scott Spiegel called me. One day he called me and he said, “We’re doing a film not far from where you live in Santa Clarita, come on down.” That was it. They were shooting five miles from where I live so I just showed up.
GS: “My Name is Bruce”. I had the pleasure to meet Bruce when he was screening the film in Madison, and he’s a wonderful guy as you know.
DH: He’s also one of my best friends.
GS: Then you definitely know.
DH: That’s just the kind of guy Bruce Campbell is. A little over a year ago, my wife passed away, and Bruce was the first one to call me. He said, “Danny, whatever you need, you got it. If you need a charter jet to pick up family members, okay.” That’s the kind of guy Bruce is. A lot of people think he’s a little bit rude, a little bit standoff-ish.
GS: I’ve gotten that impression a little.
DH: And I’ll tell you the reason why. A couple weeks ago we were having dinner in Los Angeles and we had to leave before we finished our meal. People just descended upon him. He’s reached that point of stardom where people kind of stalk him. He can be a little curt with people.
GS: And that’s what I saw, that he wasn’t afraid to cut people off with a quip.
DH: He’ll beat you up. A lot of people really enjoy that. They’ve come to expect it from Bruce and they’ll intentionally provoke him to see how outrageous he can be.
GS: Very cool. Anything else horror fans may want to be aware of?
DH: There are some things in the works, but I’m not really at liberty to talk about them. One thing I’ve just done — Ted Raimi is directing a series for the Internet called “Morbid Minutes”. It tells the whole story in just over a minute. I think there are ten or twelve he is contracted to do. They’re really interesting. And I’m in episode 4. They’re in 3D, they’re funny and they’re scary, and Ted is just as brilliant of a director as his brother Sam is, but he doesn’t torture his cast members quite as much. Sam has a tendency to poke you with a stick. He’s good at it.
GS: A lot of physical comedy in Sam’s films, too.
DH: Yes, lots of physical comedy. Everyone who works in one of Sam’s films ends up with a boo-boo somewhere.
GS: Thanks so much for your time, Danny.
DH: Not a problem. I loved it.