10 Question with Ben Messmer
Ben Messmer enjoys jumping from the stage to the screen and vice versa because there’s only a 2 foot gap. He has been seen onstage in the last 9 months as a tap dancer who chops up bodies, an obese French drunk in the 1600’s, a studio exec who morphs into a lizard, and is currently working on a jealous Martian husband who shoots a gun full of bees at the humans his wife dreams about, for Ray Bradbury. Ben is also a hard core gamer, which makes his role in the film all that much more a thing of beauty.
1. How and why did you audition for Gamers?
I don’t know if I should say this or not, but my manager is currently my Dungeon Master as well. He possibly has the idea that I’m insane when I play. He possibly could be right. So I read it and loved it. I'm sorry to say I know that guy. And I’m sorrier to say that he did some of his own tattoos.
2. Tell us about your character Johnny? What’s he like?
Johnny is “the guy” most of us played with the first time we played a Role Playing Game. He has done his homework. He actually has done your homework as well and hates everybody for not worshipping the game as much as he does. His only outlet for aggression is the roundtable. He puts everything that he is not into the character he builds, but at the same time, he thinks he is upgrading as a human every time he upgrades as a character. It’s this sick “I’m Wolverine, but you just don’t know it" complex. There was this epic story that happened a while back in Michigan where this man was reported fleeing the scene of an accident. So the cops came to his door and knocked. Well, out of nowhere, this man thrashed the door open and went at the cop with a four-foot sword and then, he retreated to his basement, where he proceeded to put on chainmail and leather gauntlets to protect his arms. After that, he grabbed a wooden mallet and beckoned officers to come downstairs and get him, screaming, “I’m going to crush your fu**cking skulls”, then in a nice rhetorical flourish, he added, “I have a thousand years of power.” Well, it turned out that chainmail and a taser trump a thousand years of power, but this is the mindset we’re working with. Probably not this extreme, but you get the idea.
3. The writer/director has sworn on his mother’s grave that if they do a sequel, Johnny will be one of the main characters. Can you speculate on a sequel?
It would actually be difficult to speculate on a sequel because this film has Johnny in prison. I would imagine that prison wouldn’t really have the “calming” effect on Johnny that most inmates would experience. I would chance to say that it only fueled the beast. Unless you take the sequel into the bowels of the prison and find that Cell Block #137 is currently being swallowed by a cursed forest because the only one with a counter curse to save the campaign was Manny the fire elf who was released yesterday. Then you would see Johnny at the throne of his existence. He would be doing things on his own terms, not with those original Pu**y’s.
4. Your scene in the movie (which everyone on the cast and crew says is their favorite) you did in one take. What was that like?
I think when it came down to it, I felt that all we had was one take to get it. I was given this sword to use and plus, I hadn’t told Chris everything I was planning to say because the schedule was so full, and plus his wife had twins the day before, so……we did a quick rehearsal. And Chris looked at me, nodded , and gave me permission to put a broadsword through his wall. That’s just a taste of that man’s generosity.
5. Ben, you’re a gamer, will the movie be a good thing for the gaming community or is it bagging too much on gamers?
It’s all in such good spirit that the movie can only excite the gaming community. There’s not too many projects that focus on gaming so it seems like a pretty great endorsement to me. RPG’s have always been underground . The styles and character of these different games remain solely in small circles of the specific individuals playing. That’s what’s so amazing to me. I mean, if you ask anyone to recall a specific memory about playing or watching a game when they were younger, you’ll get an amazingly different story each time. It seems to be about the imaginations of the people they played with (or the imaginations of the freaks they played with).
6. What was your audition like for the movie?
I remember walking down the street to my car after I finished, thinking, “Ben, you might as well stay home if you’re going to go into these auditions and jump around the room like a goddamn monkey”. I kept thinking I knocked over a piece of furniture or something. I have to say that I honestly don’t remember the specifics of the audition except that I froze up and couldn’t freely react to Chris. I got all self conscious, asked to start again. I had one of those “Screw worrying what these people think, you know who this guy is and he has a job to do, and that job is to slaughter the sleeping beasts” moments. I saw blood. And I was lucky enough to find I could pull a beautiful gleaming sword out of the “air arsenal”. So I took a “Battle knee” and went at it. Next thing I know I was in my car covered in sweat feeling like “The Jackass King of Stupid Street”.
7. What game are you playing now? What is the name of your character and what class and race is it?
Not all freaky everyday, but gentle freaky once a week. (D&D 3.5) I am a Human Sorcerer named Shamus. I have the ability to summon a badgers and ravens (seriously).
8. What would be your ideal dream role for a movie?
I’m infatuated with the Old West. I would love to get a chance to do a western at some point. I would play the villain. I once played the guy who tied the girl to the train tracks (that’s not the villain I refer to here).
9. The writer/director says he pretty much gave you free range to re-write or rephrase the script. How did you manage that?
Chris was so wonderful about letting me do that. I felt we were on the same page as soon as he cast me. I was also told that this was based on a real person. It was a scene that was basically about Johnny having a completely different viewpoint than the other guys. The scene is about one thing: revenge (within the confines of the group’s adventure). So it was letting my imagination go with the premise of how he could get revenge. It’s also a scene where he just so happens to alienate himself from all the other people in the room. I have a pretty good understanding of that. So Chris let me play with things and find it.
10. If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead, who wasn’t related to you or a religious figure, who would it be and why?
Vincent Price. I heard he was an amazing cook.