Interview: Michael Welch, Hansel and Gretel Get Baked

Best known as Mike Newton from the “Twilight” series and as Luke from “Joan of Arcadia”, Michael Welch has been gracing television and theater screens since he was ten years old, debuting as a young Niles Crane on the television series “Frasier”.

We chatted for fifteen minutes in August 2013 to briefly discuss his career thus far. Although I did not have my recorder going, I took notes, and this is what we discussed.

On life before Hollywood: Welch says that he appeared in talent shows as a child and believes he was “always an entertainer”. He grew up in Los Angeles, a fertile place for developing thespians. The acting bug bit him early, but he still maintains some “basic childhood memories”.

On the character of Mike Newton under different directors: He first experienced how different takes on the same character could be done while on “Joan of Arcadia”, where he stayed the same but was being pushed and pulled by different writers and directors. Welch says it is nice to “get different perspectives” on a character, but on Twilight it was minor because “there’s not much of an arc” to Mike Newton. He says “each director was on board with my initial vision”.

On the best Twilight film: When “Eclipse” came out, Welch called it the best in the franchise “by far”. He now says that was his opinion “at the time”, but had to change his opinion when the way the series ended turned out to be so “epic and creative”. So “Breaking Dawn 2” is his favorite, despite not appearing in it. But Welch points out that the first book was his favorite because of the “fish out of water” aspect — a young, shy girl who is thrown into a world of vampires and werewolves and has to adapt.

On shooting “Day of the Dead”: The “Day of the Dead” remake was directed by Steve Miner, and Welch says the real trouble was “the mechanics of how we got stuff done”. He says “we shot that film in Bulgaria” with part of it in an “abandoned Communist paper factory” that was not suitable for a set. Every time it rained, the set flooded and the crew would have to switch the scenes they were filming on the fly. The whole production was plagued with technical troubles.

On “Hansel and Gretel Get Baked”: Welch says this is a “very modern take” on the clasic fairy tale, and a story that shows “mostly Gretel’s journey”. Hansel (played by Welch) is “there to complement her”, and Welch brought “a dry sense of humor” to the role. He says he did not have to offer too much because “Molly carried the film so well, I wasn’t worried”. Interestingly, Welch says he will occasionally “get messages from friends on the lack of copies in Redbox”.

On the “fun” scene in the Demented: While he was not on set the whole time, Welch recalls the water slide scene to be “the most fun we had throughout the whole film”. He says to capture the scene, “they just rolled camera” and “for the most part we played around and they caught what they caught”. The whole thing took “twenty minutes” and was a wrap. Had such a scene gone on for hours it would have been a nightmare to film, but he says that by making it quick and casual they were able to capture mostly candid amusement.

On the generally negative feedback toward “Demented”: While obviously Welch is not responsible for the production, he is pleased with how it came out and the film as a whole. “I was very happy with my role — it was a fun, douchey character,” he says. He says if people are expecting “The Walking Dead” they will be disappointed, because “it is what it is” and “if you have a free Friday night, get a box of pizza a bottle of tequila and see pretty girls get chased”. If the audience starts “comparing it to films that explore deeper themes” they are approaching it wrong, because “it’s just not in that world”.

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