I recently had the opportunity to chat one-on-one with Dylan Baker, who plays Principal Wilkins in Trick â€˜r Treat. The actor talked about the Halloween-themed horror film, its “rules,” and why it never hit theaters. He also gave his thoughts on geek culture, classic horror stories, and much more!
Check out the interview here below.
Baker will take part in a special, one-night-only event for the cult classic film, which includes the first-time-ever theatrical screening of Trick â€˜r Treat, followed by a panel with the stars, happening on October 28, 2013 at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood, CA.
Both the showing of the film and post-film panel will be live-streamed nationally on Legendaryâ€™s Facebook page at facebook.com/legendary. Actors Dylan Baker, Brian Cox, and Jean-Luc Bilodeau will join director Michael Dougherty at the event, along with Quinn Lord, who played the horror icon Sam in the movie. Moderating the panel will be actor Seth Green.
Geeks of Doom: How did you approach the role of Principal Wilkins? What experiences or references did you draw from in shaping the character?
Dylan Baker: Well, you know itâ€™s interesting. From the beginning, Michael Dougherty made it clear that my Principal Wilkins was a real traditionalist, that he was a guy just like Sam, a guy that believes in following the rules of Halloween, and punishing those who donâ€™t.
So I think I love that part of it, approaching it from a very positive viewpoint, rather than a guy whoâ€™s in his hometown, just looking to kill people. But instead, he wants to root out people who donâ€™t treat Halloween in a good way. And I love that. And Sam, once he comes to the door, and I give him a little candy, he says â€œOkay, you can go about doing what youâ€™re doing. Youâ€™re alright.â€
So, he signed off on my behavior. I think he would agree that my Principal is actually doing good for the town; for the family.
GoD: I guess thereâ€™s a sense throughout the film, and itâ€™s evocative of a lot of classic horror from old times, even from Tales From the Crypt, or EC Comics, of a sort of a skewed sense of justice.
DB: Oh I certainly agree with you. I think that Trick â€˜r Treat sort of sets a standard for a modern film that reaches back toward telling a story and letting people laugh and get to like characters and then be scared out of their minds. Those old anthology movies like Tales From the Crypt, even those old television series like Night Gallery â€” I loved those shows. And there was something about them â€” each story you would see what it was, but whatâ€™s Mikeâ€™s done, whatâ€™s so great, is that theyâ€™re weaving in and out of each other, which is so wonderful.
GoD: I noticed the absence of a lot of things that date movies. For example, a smart phone today, in ten years, will seem archaic.
DB: I think thatâ€™s true. I think that Michael really started out with that vision, â€˜cause he had those drawings, for us to get a sense of what heâ€™s going for. And they always have this feeling of â€œwhen is thisâ€ and you couldnâ€™t tell. It was at some time in the past. Or maybe itâ€™s tomorrow. Heâ€™s really good that way. And he created a world like that.
There was that poor neighborhood in Toronto where they never did stop with Halloween. The folks have their yards all dressed up like Halloween.
GoD: Did they get some ordinance, some citation from the city?
DB: [laughs] You gotta take those Jack â€˜O Lanterns down!
GoD: Most people are lazy like that for Christmas lights, but for Halloween, itâ€™s kind of cool. So, youâ€™ve touched on it, but could you elaborate on the attachment you have to Trick â€˜r Treat?
DB: For me, it starts and ends with Michael Dougherty. I could tell when it started generating some heat, like when weâ€™d go to Comic Con, and thereâ€™d be all these people just going nuts about it, and Iâ€™d ask Michael, â€œhow did they see itâ€, and he said, â€œtheyâ€™ll do anything to see this film, and thereâ€™s many more people that want to see this film. They may not know itâ€™s there yet, but they want to see it.â€
GoD: Youâ€™ve just touched on something â€” you mentioned Comic Con, and fans and fan sites have sprung up and brought attention to Trick â€˜r Treat, and itâ€™s part of this rise of Net culture, and especially Geek Net culture, and I think it must be very encouraging for actors and filmmakers who do need to have that fanbase, that champion.
DB: You know, I think itâ€™s happened a lot. Through the ages, people deciding that somebody wouldnâ€™t like something â€” and the people stepping up and saying, what are you talking about? I want to see this. This is exactly what I want to see.
Yâ€™know, you keep saying the word, â€œgeeksâ€ and my wife was part of the cast of Freaks and Geeks. She played the mom in that and NBC just had no idea what they had. And they just cancelled it, before it had its full run. Now, people are watching the reruns on cable and on dvd; itâ€™s got a life of its own, because of the incredible cast and because of Paul Feig, and Judd Apatow, and you just canâ€™t stop it. And for me, itâ€™s championing people like Andrew Currie who did Fido, and Michael Dougherty, who did Trick â€˜r Treat â€” theyâ€™re the ones who came up with the vision of it, and theyâ€™re the ones who should be supported and they should be allowed to help the studios find their audiences. Because obviously, he was right all those years ago; the audience is there. And now Iâ€™m excited because Legendary is going forward and trying to give audiences a taste of what they hunger for.
GoD: Can you speak a little bit as to why the movie â€” it had a fair budget and great production values â€” why was it pulled?
DB: Itâ€™s hard to say. I think people have these hard and fast rules that they live by. And the fear was, because it was an episodic thing, that it wasnâ€™t one plot from beginning to end. The girl leaves her house and then has to get back to her house, and whatâ€™s in her house, is she going back upstairs, and then she comes running out of her house â€” If itâ€™s not just one thing, I guess the thought was that people just wouldnâ€™t react to it well.
GoD: That just so underestimates the audienceâ€™s intelligence, doesnâ€™t it?
DB: I think it does, I think it does. You gotta let people have a chance at seeing something like this, and then find out whether youâ€™re right or not. But I know itâ€™s a big money thing, to step forward and say this, but I always thought that Halloween wouldâ€™ve become a natural home for this film and that the whole month of October and November, probably, that it couldâ€™ve just run and run and run.
GoD: Youâ€™re about to be in Anchorman 2. I just saw the latest trailer and youâ€™re in it prominently, and it seems that youâ€™re playing some slick kind of guy. It looks really big, and how do you feel about becoming one of the potential legendary Anchorman characters? T-shirts and stuff.
DB: [laughing] It was such a joy, working with those four guys, and Adam McKay, who is funnier than any of them. Adam is hilarious, and you talk about actors taking a role and just getting right into it â€” they all fell immediately into their roles, from Anchorman 1, and the wonderful thing about Anchorman 2 â€” they havenâ€™t changed at all. Thereâ€™s nothing that growth and time have done for them. Theyâ€™re all exactly the same. I think the audience is gonna love that!