David Howard Thornton Interview: Terrifier 2


Warning: SPOILERS for Terrifier 2David Howard Thornton returns as the horrifying yet funny Art the Clown in Terrifier 2. Written and directed by Damien Leone, Terrifier 2 follows up the original 2016 cult horror hit. The resurrected Art the Clown slashes his way through another Halloween night in Miles County, but this time he targets Sienna (Lauren LaVera), a teenage cosplayer who has secrets of her own.

Despite being an indie production, Terrifier 2 is tearing its way through select theaters and drive-ins, buoyed by the cheers of horror fans. The film also added fan-favorite wrestler Chris Jericho, who plays Burke, to the cast.


Related: Terrifier 2 Teases Art the Clown’s Demonic Kids’ Show [Exclusive Clip]

Screen Rant had the pleasure to talk to Art the Clown himself, David Howard Thornton, about creating the next great slasher film icon, what Art’s voice sounds like in his head, his favorite kills in Terrifier 2, and how they got an AEW wrestling icon to cameo in the film.

Art The Clown On Terrifier 2

Screen Rant: You played Art the Clown in the first Terrifier. Can you talk about what you wanted to achieve and how you wanted to raise the bar in the sequel?

David Howard Thornton: I wanted to basically establish a new horror icon. We’ve been recycling the same guys for the past 30 or 40 years, and I think we need some new blood. I think we need another Freddy Krueger-ish type of character, especially in the slasher world. I [think] Art is that guy. And we’ve been having fun with it. We wanted to basically get things back to where they used to be with slasher films where you weren’t afraid to take risks and go to crazy places. See how far you could push things, and just have a lot of fun.

Can you talk about the beginning and how you landed the role of Art the Clown?

David Howard Thornton: Oddly enough, I just responded to an open audition notice on Actor’s Access. They needed a tall, skinny guy to play Art [who] had physical comedy experience or clowning experience. Oh my God, that sounds perfect for me! I already knew the character because I had seen All Hallows Eve. I was like, “Oh my gGod, I would love to have a chance to do something interesting with this character.” I just went in and auditioned for it, and the rest is history.

That’s awesome. It was literally just an audition that panned out.

David Howard Thornton: Yeah, it totally panned out. I had to improvise my whole entire audition on the spot because Art doesn’t talk. They wanted me to pantomime killing a victim, decapitating a guy, and being happy about doing it.

I think that the audition is online somewhere, but the short and sweet version of it [is] I snuck up behind my victim, cartoonishly knocked him out, sawed off his head, picked up the head, and tasted it. I didn’t like the taste, so I took out some salt and seasoned it. Liked the taste, kind of bathed in the blood a little bit, and skipped on my merry way. And that’s what got me the part.

You mentioned also that Art doesn’t talk. In your head, do you have an Art voice in case he ever does?

David Howard Thornton: Oh, yeah. We’re never going to have him talk, and that’s for certain, because I think that would just kill the mystique of who he is. Just like finding out the Joker’s real name. It’s just like, “Ah, don’t do that.” You don’t want to hear what Michael Myers and Jason Vorhees sound like when they talk either, right?

That silent nature of those characters is kind of cool in itself. It has that mystique, and whatever voice would come out of him would never match everybody’s expectations. But I’m when I’m doing my shtick, I guess you could say even though I don’t have lines, I’m always going through lines in my head. I’m making up dialogue as I go along. Just so it gives me something to play off of, beat-wise and stuff like that.

When you play a character like Art, what do you think drives him? Where does he get a sense of humor from?

David Howard Thornton: I think what drives him is just the fun of the hunt and the kill. I think the cat lady in the first film summed them up very nicely where she’s like, “He does this because he thinks it’s funny.” This is pure entertainment to him. He is like the anti-clown. Where clowns are supposed to be here to amuse us and bring joy and merriment to us, Art is here to bring pain and misery to other people for his own selfish amusement, and that’s what drives him. He just has fun killing.

What’s your favorite scene and kill in Terrifier 2?

David Howard Thornton: Oh gosh, there’s so many. Damien wrote so many fun scenes for me in this one, because he knows what I like to do. I like to play around on set, so I really enjoyed doing the laundromat scene. I thought that was fun to put Art in an everyday situation like that. Of course, the costume shop scene is a lot of fun. Oh my gosh, I just got to play with all these props. There’s so much extra footage that doesn’t make it into the film where I was just messing around with all the props all around me. That was a lot of fun.

Otherwise, I would say the bedroom scene with Ali — that’s pretty brutal. I think that’s gonna be the one everybody’s talking about. That was about five or six days of craziness and fun for us. And also, I would say the other fun kill thing to do was the clown cafe. I mean, I got to use a tommy gun and a flamethrower on the same day. And I was like a kid on set that day, I had so much fun. It’s not every day you get to light someone on fire.

Lauren LaVera, who plays Sienna, is great in it. It’s obvious you both threw everything you had in your scenes together. What was it like working with her?

David Howard Thornton: Oh, she’s wonderful. Oh, my God, she helped me up my game because she’s such a fantastic actress. And we get along so well. Personality-wise, we’re fellow geeks. We would just sit there in our downtime, just talking about video games and movies and stuff like that. When they first cast her I insisted that she, Damien, and I go out and get dinner together just so we can really get to know each other because we knew we were going to be in the trenches together. At least for this film, if not for multiple films going forward. So, our fates are intertwined. Let’s get to know each other now and get really close, and that’s what happened.

I think that translated very well when we actually got to be on set together, because we were already really close. We already trusted each other—especially with all the fighting that we were having to do with each other, we had to trust each other. And we both had each other’s back during all that too. Because those days of filming, especially the climax of the film, were pretty grueling for us. Especially for her because we’re doing that in the middle of winter in Philadelphia, in this really cold building in late hours of the night. And we were each other’s support during all of that when our energy was flagging or just getting a little bit bummed because we were just tired. One of us would just happy the other one up, and it was great working with her. I just absolutely adore and love her. She’s like a sister to me now.

She’s so good. She is so good. I finally got to see the film last week and the scene where she breaks down after realizing her mother had died, I almost started crying right there in the theater. I’m like, “Damn, I’ve never had a slasher do that to me before.” Notice her performance. She’s fantastic. She’s going places.

You got Chris Jericho to be in Terrifier 2. I know you were a guest on his podcast, Talk Is Jericho, a while ago. Can you talk about how you guys hooked up with Jericho?

David Howard Thornton: That’s basically how it happened. We were doing a convention, Days of the Dead, in Atlanta back in 2019. And he came over to my table, and he’s like, “Hey, dude, I love Terrifier, and I would love to have you on the podcast.” And so I went up and did a podcast with him that night. I got to sit in there when he was also interviewing DDP [pro-wrestler Diamond Dallas Page], which was amazing in itself, watching Jericho and DDP talk about yoga, of all things. Like, this is the most surreal, coolest thing ever. So that’s how we got to know each other.

Then he was at another convention with Damien. And I’m like, “Dude, you gotta meet Damien. Damien, you gotta meet Chris.” So I introduced them, and they hit it off immediately. And Chris was like, “Hey, I’m a huge fan of the film, and I would love to somehow get involved with the next one”. And Damien’s like, “Yeah, sure. I can probably write up a little part for you.”

Originally, the first role he wrote for him, we ended up not doing because it just didn’t fit in as well with the continuity of the film. We would just slow things down. Or he played a police officer pulling me over. But that might be something we add in a future film or something like that. But then we were like, “We’ve still gotta have Chris in there.” So we came up with a new ending for the movie. And we’re like, well, he’s a perfect fit for this. And who knows what we can do with him going forward into part three. So that’s kind of exciting.

I can’t wait to see Terrifier 2 on the big screen. Because I watched it on my laptop, but it needs to be seen with an audience.

David Howard Thornton: Oh, it is something else with an audience, I tell you. I got to see it at Fantastic Fest with an audience, and I had a blast! I get to see it, I think again, when we have a premiere here in New York as well. I’m stoked.

About Terrifier 2

Resurrected by a sinister entity, Art the Clown returns to Miles County to terrorize a teenage girl and her younger brother on Halloween night.

Check out our other interview with Terrifier 2 director Damien Leone as well.

Next: 10 Upcoming Horror Sequels (& Prequels) In 2022

Terrifier 2 is currently playing in select theaters.


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