Interview: Jake Busey | SPARKS

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Now on release, Sparks is the superhero genre’s dirty little secret. The titular hero has no powers to speak of, just the ability to take, not to mention dish out, one hell of a beating. When the titular Ian Sparks loses all that he has, he must fight to regain what truly matters, with twists, turns and sleek, stylish action aplenty. We were lucky enough to grab some time with some of the key players of this low-budget, high-entertainment feature, including Jake Busey, who plays larger-than-life hero Sledge. The son of the legendary Gary Busey, Jake has appeared in the likes of Starship Troopers, The Frighteners and Identity. Here he gives his views on the Sparks experience, on Robert Rodriguez's From Dusk Till Dawn TV series, and much, much more, as we bring our extensive look at Chris Folino's Sparks to a conclusion.

Starburst: What were your thoughts on Sparks?

Jake Busey: It’s a cool little underdog, action-packed, home-spun superhero movie.

How did you wind up involved in the tale of Sparks?

Well one of the producers on the film is like an uncle to me, a very old famous friend, a dear friend. William Katt and my father go way back. So Bill gave me a call and said that his friend was putting a movie together and asked if I’d be interested in playing a role. And I said that’d be great. It was just kind of an organic occurrence.

How did you find the role of Sledge?

For me, the role was a guy who’s really just serving his father and protecting a family secret. Really just doing a job that’s been requested of him by his dad. The character’s not a huge character but he fulfils this role symbolically. I just felt like it was a good time to do a movie and we could have some fun with a couple of fights scenes and getting to play around on screen.

Was it always Sledge that you were in mind for?

Yeah. They had pretty much already filled out the roster and Chris wanted a big, oversized character to be like a human sledgehammer. So he had me in mind for the role of Sledge from the beginning.

How was it working with the cast of Sparks?

It was quite a mish-mash of characters, on screen and off. A great review of diversity and variety with the actors. I had worked with Clancy Brown on Starship Troopers and I was really looking forward to seeing him again 15 years later, and our paths never even crossed. We didn’t see each other again until the premiere screening. But being with Bill and working with Chris – great people – we were very much under the gun, very much in a state of how can we get this done. It was really about chasing our respective tails. We were just trying to get the basics of what we had to get – where’s the jacket, where’s the wig, do we have the location, can we get this actor on this night? There was just always a battle to keep the production going, keep it moving. We even stopped filming for a while so that they could get some more money. It was quite an adventurous little task, quite a challenging experience. And the fight scene on the roof was extremely challenging and physically demanding. It was very, very cold and wet with a freezing wind. It really tore me up.

How was it working opposite Chase Williamson?

He was alright. He’s not much of a talker. I didn’t really get to know him too much. He just kind of seemed like a shy, bashful kid, so I don’t really know all that much about him. I know that he definitely talks about John Dies at the End a lot. I know he’s proud of that movie but I feel like he’s talked more about that movie during the press that we’re doing than he talks about this movie. Especially when you’ve got production flying you places, paying your way, rolling out the red carpet. I don’t know, I really don’t know what’s going on with the kid or what his deal is. He’s nice, he’s just a quiet, young guy that I’m not even sure he has the real desire to be an actor. I think it was maybe something fun to do in the summertime. I don’t know. I didn’t get the vibe from him that he took it very seriously.

You’re also involved in the From Dusk Till Dawn TV series. What can you tell us about that?

It’s a great show. It’s an action-packed adventure that is the novel of the film. We explore the storyline from the film, in depth. Basically, the first season of the TV series is the movie, then it segue ways into deeper and darker challenges along the way. For every 10 minutes of movie, we’ve got an episode that’s been expanded into an hour. There’s a lot more information, and the cast is great; it’s a bunch of good-looking folks.

What about your character in that?

I’m a new character that they’ve introduced. I’m an archaeological professor, the chair of the archaeology department at the local university. So when a series of murders are occurring along the US/Mexico border, the ranger who is following these murders notices these hieroglyphic, mythological scribblings and signs and blood. He comes to me to ask what the stuff means.

How prominent a role is your character going to play during the series?

That I just don’t know. They won’t tell me because they don’t want me to get comfortable, so it really depends on the fans. If the fans blog about it and write it then the character will stay.

How is it working with Robert Rodriguez?

He’s great. We have crossed paths many times over the last 20 years; we were in close proximity working on a Showtime movie series together 20 years ago. We both were new and green and excited about the whole movie making thing, breaking out into our careers. He did very well for himself and I did okay, and I went to the Machete Kills premiere. I bumped into him and I said that I’d love to get involved in the sequel or working with him somehow. It’s been 20 years and we’ve not worked together yet. He laughed and said he’d keep that in mind. Next thing I knew, I was auditioning for the show. And I can’t believe the first season's already done – we’ve just got one more episode to shoot.

And what’s next for you?

I’m on a new path. I had my younger days of being stupid and wacky, like the Starship Troopers days. I have a wife and daughter, I’m a dad now, and I’ve got a motorbike company – I build custom motorbikes in between movies – and have sort of settled down. I guess I kind of grew up a little. I feel like I’m starting Chapter 2 of the career. I’ve had the last few years off, not working much, with the fall of the economy and my own personal shit, so now I’m jumping back into it with a whole different approach.

Sparks is available on DVD and Blu-ray now. You can find our review here.

In case you've missed them, you can find our Sparks interviews with co-directors Chris Folino and Todd Burrows here, with executive producer and actor Bill Katt here, and with cinematographer Jackson Myers and veteran character actor Clint Howard here.

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