Easily recognisable by his unique looks, Laurence R. Harvey made audiences cringe and shudder in Tom Six’s The Human Centipede 2, by playing the notorious Martin Lomax. Filled with a tonne of film knowledge and amazing film recommendations, Laurence speaks exclusively to us about The Human Centipede and the horror genre.
SG: What made you audition for The Human Centipede 2, were you a fan of the first one?
LRH: I’d heard about the first film and was intrigued to see it (it had played Frightfest). So when my agent rang about someone wanting to see me about playing the lead in a film called Human Centipede 2, I jumped at the chance. They were screening the first film (which hadn’t been released anywhere) the morning of the casting for people they were seeing for cast and crew.
SG: Have you always had an interest in acting?
LRH: I studied Fine art at college and moved from painting into ‘performance, film/video, and sound’. I think (generally) drama school is very much geared towards preparing people for the West End and soap operas. As a performance artist I was interested in other ways of performing, so although I worked on my own solo works, I often collaborated with other artists and worked for other people (such as Stephen Taylor Woodrow and Richard Layzell). I was also interested in Becket and Alfred Jarry. So, I guess the short answer is not acting per se, but rather an interest in art, film and performing.
SG: Can you relate to your character ‘Martin’ in any way?
LRH: Yes, of course! I am Martin in many ways. He is all my stubborness, creativity, obsessiveness, shyness, social anxiety in one package, it is just that he “turns to the darkside”.
SG: What did you use as inspiration to get into the character of ‘Martin’?
LRH: I’m a big fan of Roberts Blossom (another experimental theatre practitioner in horror films) and Deranged, also I looked at Osoi Hito (Late Bloomer) a low budget film by Go Shibata, and the British film Tony, to look at believable character studies of socially disabled people who become killers, none of which really matched Martin, it was more that tone of reality and believability
The biggest influence on Martin was my friends’ twin boys who were 13 months old when we were filming. The way they would interact, and how they related to their own emotions, how they mis-represented those emotions, how they would study and try to fathom the emotions of those around them.
SG: As well as The Human Centipede 2 & 3, you also have a role in James Balsamo’s ‘Cool as Hell’, are you going to keep working within the film industry after you’ve completed this?
‘Cool as Hell‘?
It’s news to me.
I guess one could admire the chutpah of James Balsamo, but I have never agreed to do anything for him other than hold a DVD cover and say “Buy this movie” at a convention once.
After “The Human Centipede 3” I hope to be working with the “Dear God No!” guys. After that who knows? It is hard enough to get work in this field, so I’m open to offers, although it’d be nice to do something in a different genre. I’m open to doing anything as long as I find it interesting, or it pays well, so obviously I’m not going to be doing any studio remake horror films. Haha.
SG: Is there any actor or director you’d really like to work with?
LRH: Guy Maddin, Tetsuya Nakashima, Shinya Tsukamoto, Alexsandr Sokurov, Shane Meadows, Lynne Ramsey, Yorgos Lanthimos, John Waters, the Polish Brothers, the Soska sisters, the Quays, God! I could go on.
SG: Do you think The Human Centipede will ever be remade, or will it stay as an untouchable cult classic forever?
LRH: I’d like to hope that it isn’t ever remade, but it is such a uniquely repulsive concept underlying the series that it may well be given the Hollywood treatment at some stage.
Also, I think that the first film does have it’s faults, and does show it’s budget limitations, so if done right a re-make of that could turn out fine, although I don’t think they’d get anyone as impressive as Dieter for the Dr Heiter role.
SG: How are you finding your newfound fame? Has anyone recognised you in the street yet?
LRH: Yes, I get “Human Centipede” and “Centipede Guy” all the time, and I get recognised everytime I go into town, although in Wigan it is usually “You bog-eyed cunt!”.
My hometown is so charming.
Other than that, people assume that I’m rich, and ask me to do things for them that I can’t afford to do. OK people, it was one piece of work two years ago, I haven’t had any paying work since, although that’s starting to change now.
SG: Which is your favourite subgenre of horror?
LRH: I’m a big fan of Asian cinema in general, and I love the way that folk-lore gets given a modern spin in Asian horror.
In fact I’d say I prefer folkloric horror films (I’m looking forward to Thale!) and the M.R. James-style ghost story, that’s more reliant on suggestion than CGI.
SG: What is your favourite ever horror film?
LRH: This is one of those questions that depends on your definition of horror.
If we exclude films that are considered to exist outside of genre, such as Fanny & Alexander (despite the ghost-story element), Last year at Marianbad, Mirror and Even Dwarfs Started Small, and just stuck to those films operating within rigid genre-bounderies, then I’d have to say Evil Dead 2 (one of my Top 3 all time films!), Freaks (although I would argue it isn’t horror, like Rashomon, or The Outrage, it is about an unreliable narrator), and the Japanese expressionist film A Page of Madness.
SG: If you could have starred in any film, which role would you have chosen?
LRH: Peter Lorre’s role in M, or Bubby in Bad Boy Bubby. Although (if I was fitter, and had the skills) I’d love to do a martial-arts film
SG: What were your top 3 films of 2012?
LRH: I genuinely can’t answer this, due to my current living situation, I can’t watch violent, or overly sexual films at home, nor does the local cinema show anything foreign or interesting, so I’ve got stacks of films that I want to see or that I have on DVD/BR, that I haven’t got round to seeing yet.
They’d include Attenberg, Michael, Melancholia, Jigokumon, Rubber, etc., etc. Also, I saw films at festivals in 2011, that only came out in 2012 such as Guilty of Romance (this is probably my favourite film of the year, although I’m looking forward to seeing Himizu), Tomie Unlimited, Zombie Ass, and The Bunny Game.
I know that doesn’t answer your question, but I hope it gives you an idea.