From Addams family to Men in Black, Carel Struycken is easily one of the most recognisable people in film and television. Often described as a gentle giant, Struycken talks to us about his background in film, work in Twin Peaks and his own artistic passions.
You’ve worked on the quirkier side of film and tv (Star Trek etc.) Is there a character you like playing or a type you would like to play?
I really don’t like to play menacing gangster types. Otherwise I will consider any character, as long as it is not grounded in reality too much.”
Most of our readers will know you as lurch from Addams family, how was it to play part of such a spooky family?
“It has been a revelation to discover how many people identify with the Addams Family. I guess people who have always felt a bit out of place in our society.”
Are you a fan of horror films?
“Not in general, but there are a few exceptions.”
Being part of a lot of ‘cult favourite’ films/shows, how do you find the convention circuit?
“I have met many interesting people at conventions and usually enjoy those events.”
You’re back with Twin Peaks for The Return. How has it been to back work with the cast after all these years?
“I did not see many of the original cast on the set, except for Kyle MacLachlan and Harry Goaz. And Richard Beymer was prowling around outside on the studio lot with a camera.”
How do you find working on such an obscure show?
“To me it has always been what TV should be like, so there was nothing obscure about it for me.”
How was learning lines backwards?
“During season 2, Michael Anderson was our backward speaking coach. You could throw any line at him and he would say it backwards instantly. During season 3 we had to figure it out ourselves, but with the help of an iPhone app.”
You played a very creepy character in Gerald’s Game known as The Moonlight Man, what did you think of playing him? Did you enjoy playing a villain?
“I never saw him as a villain. More as an outcast with a peculiar hobby.”
How have your experiences been with SFX makeup (it seems a lot more full- on in Gerald’s Game)?
“I have had a lot of SFX makeup in my life and many times my head has been completely covered in latex. It usually takes many hours and having glue dabbed on your face is not a very pleasant experience. But once it is on, it is not too bad.”
Were you a Stephen King fan prior to the film?
“I loved “Stand by me”, “Misery”, and “It”.”
You have composed previously when you were younger, could you tell us a little about it?
“I grew up in the Caribbean and when I was 14, my family moved back to Holland. The piano pieces were a way for me to carry a piece of the soul of the island with me.”
Have you ever thought of scoring for film/tv?
“The closest I have come to that is working on the score of the short movie I made at film school. I had enlisted a professional composer and some musicians, and I wanted to use a simple children’s song as general theme for the score. But the composer and the musicians wanted something different, so very little of the original idea was realized.”
You are also a photographer specialising in Spherical Panoramas. How did you get into this?
“What intrigued me about spherical panoramas originally was the potential for using it as a background for a scene. The idea of being immersed in an image was also very appealing to me.”
What is the most difficult thing about producing them?
“The biggest challenge is finding a location that is interesting in all viewing directions. They also require a lot of Photoshop work.”
Example shot from Struycken’s website http://sphericalpanoramas.com
If you were to ever exhibit, how do you think you would do it?
“Early on, I was asked by my brother, who is a well-known artist in Holland, to shoot a number of locations where he had created monumental/architectural installations. This was to be shown at a retrospective exhibit of his work. Each panorama had its own space and was projected on a wall. The museum visitors were able to interact with the scenes using a trackball. The exhibit was pretty fancy, and I do not think I will ever get a chance like that again.”
Lastly, what would you say to someone wanting to get into film?
“These are great times to get into video because the equipment has become so accessible and then there is YouTube and Vimeo to show your work.”