As it approaches only the halfway mark, 2020 has proven to have no hesitation of turning the routine and the predictable right into its head. While the health and safety of anyone affected by this year’s events are far and away the highest priority, there have also been undeniable trickle-down effects forcing everyone to make adjustments to their plans.
For Robert Maillet, that means re-evaluating the prospects of acting opportunities within the coming months, especially on the heels of a film role that he was counting on to help propel his career to new opportunities. Best known in wrestling for his time as Kurrgan in the then-WWF, Maillet successfully transitioned into acting and has seen the quality of depth and roles increase steadily over the years. His latest film is, for now, the culmination of all the time and work he has put into his second career.
Maillet spoke with Slam Wrestling ahead of the June 5th On Demand release of Becky, a horror film that sees him take on new challenges as an actor. He also touches on the early good fortune that allowed him to pursue a career in acting and what it was like to work on a frightening movie with funny people like Kevin James and Joel McHale.
Maillet recalls auditioning for the part of Apex in Becky, an escaped convict who pledges allegiance to Dominic, another convict on the run played by a bald, bearded Kevin James. “Auditioning is something you never get the hang of,” Maillet concedes. “I’ve become better at it, but for this type of role, ten years ago, I probably wouldn’t have got it. I wouldn’t be ready for it. You get older, you get experience working on sets over the years. You’re comfortable with what you’re doing. You feel relaxed.”
All the same, Maillet’s nerves were a little higher than usual when trying for the role in Becky, as he saw in it a chance to show off a different part of his skillset. “It’s one of those roles that doesn’t come too often,” he explains. “I play one of the prisoners that escapes and invades this home. I’m the second-hand man to Dominic. I understood the character, I really did.”
While he has nothing but fond memories for his big-budget, big body scenes in films such as 300 and Sherlock Holmes, the draw of the Apex character was to stretch himself dramatically. “I understand that I’m typecast,” he admits. “I can’t play Tom Cruise’s part, obviously, but I can beat up that guy. I’ve played some interesting roles with no lines, somebody big to beat up, and I’m happy to do the job. When you do get a role like Apex, it’s mostly about acting. It’s very emotional. The stuff he does for Dominic in the film is terrible, and he’s very conflicted about it.”
The film was shot in the northern, rural parts of Burlington, Ontario. Maillet describes it as a small, independent film, but with a very cool cast. Along with James and McHale, the other star of the film is 14-year-old Lulu Wilson in the title role. Wilson is obviously comfortable in dark, creepy projects, with roles in Annabelle: Creation and Ouija: Origin of Evil among others garnering attention for her acting. Maillet describes her as “very mature and a rising star”.
On the other hand, McHale and James are both playing very much against type. “Both of them are idiots,” laughs Maillet when asked what it was like to have two comedians on set for film like this. “They both do stand up for a living, so they’re very funny. When both of them were on set, it was so fun to be with them. They were trying to one-up each other. There are a lot of intense scenes in then film, very dramatic stuff. Kevin is an awesome, laid back guy. It was great to see him doing this dramatic role.”
Maillet thinks back to an early role he had in a film called Big Bang starring Antonio Banderas. He describes it as another small film that didn’t do much in terms of money or attention, but it was a performance that caught the attention Guillermo Del Toro, who liked what Maillet brought to the screen and landed him a small part in Pacific Rim. In the current condition of movie industry shutdown, hopes that Maillet had for Becky to bring him the same kind of new opportunities is somewhat diminished.
“I was looking forward to getting a lot more work from Becky, hoping it could open doors for me,” he explains. “Becky was supposed to premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, but now it’s premiering On Demand. It’s a different path, but, bigger films are being pushed back and people want new content. Becky is different and new. I’m hoping for the best.”
After Becky, however, the shutdown has at least temporarily wiped out any plans he had for the rest of the year. “I’m filming an audition today for an action film to be shot at the end of the year somewhere in Europe,” he says, with measured enthusiasm. “It’s cool, but there’s a lot of uncertainty. If I get the role, I don’t know if it will be filmed this year or next year. It’s fun, I love acting, but I don’t think much will happen this year.”
Becky is available on digital format and On Demand starting today, as well enjoying an opening at selected Drive-In Theatres in the United States. While everyone from transient independent companies to the biggest studio conglomerates are forced to shuffle their film release schedules and platforms, the spirit of a film premiere remains an exciting celebration of the work accomplished, and a hope that the film finds its audience. For Robert Maillet, he is excited to watch the film with his family and dream of what may be around the corner, whenever it comes to pass.
- Robert Maillet Acting Bio & Story Archive
- Quiver Distribution’s Facebook page can direct you to information on the Drive-In Theatres that will be showing Becky.
- Review of Becky at Original Cin by Jim Slotek
- Check out Slam Wrestling’s brand new Mat Memories feature on our YouTube channel. It will feature Slam Wrestling writers sharing stories about their experiences in covering wrestling over the past 20+ years. The first episode features Slam Wrestling Producer Greg Oliver and Dave Hillhouse chatting about the interview used for this article and a little more about Maillet’s whole career.