In Syfy’s remake of the Stephen King classic, Children of the Corn, there are some big changes a’foot in that there cornfield. The story’s setting takes a bigger leap back to the post-war 70s, and Burt is now an anti-hero (the ‘hardened Vietnam vet with a sawed-off shotgun’ kind) instead of a sensitive Thirtysomething doctor. In fact, the overall vibe is decidedly darker, perhaps in no small part due to the fact that author Stephen King co-wrote the script. (Whereas back in the day, King’s screenplay was jettisoned in favor of one with a more upbeat ending.)
However, realism didn’t totally win the day on this go-around, at least not on all fronts. Malachai now looks a little more like an Abercrombie and Fitch model, and less like a crossed-eye, banjo-banging extra from Deliverance. But Bible-thumping fundamentalist kiddie cultists are still good for triggering a few goosebumps. (Or gag reflexes.) Not to mention, the idea of getting stuck in the middle of Nebraska with no cable or internet access is still many people’s idea of a waking nightmare – even without the feral kids carting scythes around.
If Children of the Corn’s new star, David Anders, looks more than a little familiar to you, there’s good reason. Anders has a long list of TV appearances to his credit, including lengthy character arcs on Alias and Heroes, and a number of guest star slots on the likes of CSI, Deadwood, Grey’s Anatomy, and 24.
Anders talked to Fancast about creepy cornfields, even creepier kids, and what shows he likes to tune in to when he’s not otherwise stuck in Nebraska’s stunt double, Iowa.
So, what exactly appealed to Anders about this re-mixed corn-fed creeper? “I thought it was truer to the original vision,” he says.
Indeed. For the first half of the flick, the prevailing horror is mostly a torturous marriage on the brink of collapse. While the premise has our protagonists embarked upon on a second-honeymoon road trip, there’s mostly slander – and slaps – being exchanged between Anders and his on-screen missus (Battlestar Galactica‘s beautiful but doomed Mrs. Lee Adama, Kandyse McClure). “Yeah, she lays into me for most of the movie,” Anders says. “She never stops. Never stops. No, it was fun – a lot of fun – because Kandyse is nothing like Vicky. She’s an absolutely wonderful person. So it was fun to see that switch in her whenever “Action!” was called.”
Of course, there’s nothing like an unexpected detour through kill-happy kiddie cult country to cast a (comparably) more favorable light on one’s flailing relationship.
As for Anders’ character Burt – who seems wound a little tight – how did Anders approach such a character who already seems poised on the brink of breakdown? “I think he’s a guy looking to bounce back. But…running through the corn being chased by children – that’ll do it.”
It begs the question: does Anders find children in general creepy, or just the fundamentalist ones? “I think it’s the fundamentalist ones. They’re always the worst! But the children who played these characters – they’re absolutely darling children. It was kind of difficult snapping their necks.”
On the topic of scary scenarios, we had to ask – what creeps Anders out personally? (Besides feral children with scythes.) “What am I afraid of? I don’t really have any crazy fears. I’m not afraid of heights. I’m a strong man. I’m hard-pressed to come up with an answer for that one.”
Given this actor’s impressive and numerous forays into serialized television, does anything stand out as being his best on-set experience? “That would have to go to ‘Alias’,” he responds. “That was my first job, and it turned out to be my most substantial role. It was an absolute privilege being able to learn from the likes of Ron Rifkin and Victor Garber and Jennifer Garner. It was awesome to be able to get up and dress up and go play super spy.”
His favorite Alias episode? “There was an episode called After Six – or Blow Back – one of those two. It was told from mine and Melissa George’s point of view, and then from Jennifer Garner’s and Michael Vartan’s point of view. That was a really cool episode, I thought.”
And – being a fan of the small screen himself – plenty of other shows and episodes have caught Anders’ eye since. “I was a huge fan of Six Feet Under. An even bigger fan of Arrested Development. And I did tune into this new show the other night – Modern Family – which I thought was very funny. I’m a huge Family Guy fan. I love Mad Men. I’m a fan of Lost. There’s a lot of good stuff on.”
After a long list of dramatic and often dark roles, Anders admits he wouldn’t mind a change of pace. “I’ve always wanted to do comedy,” he says wistfully, “But I’ve always played the heavy in most things. Or a guy being chased by kids in the corn.”
Children of the Corn airs this Saturday, September 26 at 9/8c on Syfy.