September 15, 2015 Jeff Fahey Taking on Vampires in From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series
Actor Jeff Fahey has had quite the interesting life. Yes, he has been an actor in Hollywood for over thirty years, but that is not all there is to this considerate, soft-spoken New York native. Born on November 29, 1952, smack dab in the middle of a thirteen child household, Fahey got his strong personal values from his huge, but close, family unit, a rock solid beginning for the compassionate yet worldly man he would eventually grow up to be. One might think he would have gotten lost in the middle of that big family, but not Fahey. Instead, he left home at seventeen, the second he graduated high school, and took to the open road, where he traveled all over the world, living for a time in the Himalayas, India, and Afghanistan, for a while even working on a kibbutz in Israel, as an ambulance driver in Germany, and on the Alaskan pipeline. This time in his life gave him a knowledge and empathy for the many cultures, lifestyles, and eccentricities of people in all walks of life, a wisdom that he continues to call upon to this day in both work and life.
In his early twenties, he returned to his native New York and decided to pursue another passion – ballroom dancing, even teaching the sport for some time. After being invited to a ballet, Fahey became hooked on a new kind of dancing. At the unheard of age of twenty-five, he won a full scholarship to Joffrey Ballet in New York City, where he learned how to express himself with his entire body, a skill that helped profusely in his performances. Interestingly, Fahey did not start acting until he was in his late twenties, beginning with small roles in theatre before moving on to Broadway in Brigadoon, Paris in West Side Story, London in Orphans, and a US tour with Oklahoma!
Known for his piercing blue eyes, Fahey’s first televised role was as Gary Corelli in the popular daytime soap opera One Life To Live in 1984, followed by the part of Tyree in Silverado (1985), along with Kevin Kline and Danny Glover. Since then, this multi-talented actor has worked with Clint Eastwood in White Hunter Black Heart (1990), Anthony Perkins in Psycho III (1986), Pierce Brosnan in The Lawnmower Man (1992), Bo Derek in Woman of Desire (1994), Kevin Costner in Wyatt Earp (1994), Dennis Hopper in Unspeakable (2002), Terry O’Quinn in the TV series Lost, and the Justified TV series with Timothy Olyphant.
He has done several projects with Robert Rodriguez and/or Danny Trejo, including the Grindhouse feature Planet Terror (2007), Machete (2010), Blacktino (2011), Sushi Girl (2012), and most recently on the upcoming season of El Rey’s From Death Till Dawn, where he plays Uncle Eddie, the mentor and possible redeemer of the Gecko brothers. Loosely based on real life criminal Eddie Bunker, Uncle Eddie is an organizer, a guy who has things in his life a bit more together than characters Fahey has played in the past. Though he may love his nephews, he may not agree with the way they have handled things so far with their lives on the run. Eddie is a professional thief and does not believe in hurting people, a characteristic Seth and Richie seem to be lacking, especially as things spiral out of control more and more each episode.
Recently, CrypticRock had the chance to talk with Fahey and delve into what makes him tick. When asked what were his favorite roles to play, the actor answered without hesitation, “I would have to say the antagonist or the villain, as it were. They – and you have heard this a thousand times, I am sure – but they are more fun in the sense that you can get away with doing things that do not have to be, necessarily, justified within the story. The protagonist or the hero, as it were, everything they do – especially if it’s a little off-colored, if it’s on a slant, it has to be justified within the story. Then again, it all comes down to the writing. If the writing is good, and it is interesting, and it is a good ride, then they are equally as fun. I would have to say, in answer to your question, the villains usually are more fun to play, because you have more flexibility.”
“For example, if somebody walked into the room and just did something absurd and wild and if that was the antagonist, that was the bad guy, everybody would go, ‘Jesus! What the hell was that all about?’ Somebody would go, ‘Yeah, he’s just bad!’ If the hero walked in and did that, they would go, ‘What the… What’s going on here? What’s going on with this guy?’ Then somebody would have to explain that he had a bad day, that he is on this journey to find this and that and he is going through these trials and tribulations, and somebody would go, ‘Ah, jeez.’ So give me the bad guy anyday. Let us just get rockin’ here!”
Music can be a driving force of any performer’s inspiration, and when asked what he listens to when preparing for a high energy scene, Fahey gave a surprising answer. “Going all the way back, I would always listen to music and feed music into my characters. The interesting thing is, going all the way back to Silverado, the character I played – Tyree, I used that driving music, the soundtrack from The Killing Fields (1984). In different characters over the years, I would have specifics. Now, at this point in time, it is whatever gets me relaxed, even if I have to go over the top with my character. So nowadays, it is usually Jazz or Classical. It is just keeping me chilled and relaxed and then I can come flying out of the gate. Before, I needed that driving force, that driving rhythm to keep inside and vibrate and then blast out with it. Now, as I said, it is the more calming stuff that allows me to fly a little further.”
“There are times when I even nap before a big scene, a big dialogue scene, or a big action scene or high energy scene. It is just the more I chill before it now. Then, when the gate opens, you just come flying out. That is just my approach. Even four years ago, I would need to be ‘Bwah!’ and then just let it fly. Now, it is a little more, thank God, a little more controlled… and then you walk away. You just leave it there and then go out to dinner and have a nice glass of wine or a good meal and have a good chat with some people and carry on the next day.”
Jeff Fahey may be a Jack of All Trades, but that does not stop him from excelling at the things he is really passionate about. Over the years, he has been an actor, producer, a teacher, and a student, a man who grew up with the love of friends and relatives, and a constant concern for those around him. He has grown with every role and had found family on every set. Once one has talked with Jeff Fahey, there is no denying his strength of character, and the conversation is not soon forgotten.