Articles Interview: Kevin J. O'Connor

Kevin J. O'Connor: Igor

Q: As Igor, are you trying like heck to avoid doing a Marty Feldman imitation?

O'CONNOR: I don't know much, but I do have a pretty good knowledge of Universal movies and old horror movies in general. So when I even think of Igor, that is not the first one that comes to mind. I said to a crew member here that Young Frankenstein was a spoof, and he said, 'Of what?' I said, 'It's in the title and it's not Young!' This not a creative person by the way, that was involved.

Q: What is your personal take on Igor?

O'CONNOR: I borrowed a little bit here and there, but I'd already decided that I'd seen enough – that what I already had in my brain was enough.

Q: Did you read Mary Shelley's book?

O'CONNOR: No. You know, oddly enough one of the things that I did was to look at my brother's old magazines, Eerie and Creepy. Just some of the beautiful covers, the way people are standing. A lot of it just came from drawings. How my body would be, and that was just sort of the launching pad.

Q: So are you avoiding the hunchback thing?

O'CONNOR: I asked for just a little bit of padding on one shoulder, and I am doing it. With the costume, I think it works fairly well. But who am I to say?

Q: How do approach an iconic role like this, where people have expectations but you want to make it different?

O'CONNOR: That's a good question. It's not like Frankenstein or Dracula is my mind. I think there's more of a sort of open range of henchmen who are somehow deformed and somehow slightly deranged. When I brought up Igor to my cousin's wife she started doing an imitation and it was just a collection of cartoons that she had seen, you know, and some shaving gel commercial and it wasn't exactly right... Which I love. And to say that I'm not avoiding that stuff, it has all inspired me. Just for me, to have him walking straight in a dinner jacket, and – because, I wouldn't want to see that. I want to see someone that has trouble moving and has (gasping) a little trouble talking and, yeah. That's what I want to see, but I'm trying to put detail in it.

Q: Did you create back story for Igor?

O'CONNOR: I think he's been beaten up. Had a wagon run over his head. I even had – which may or may not be used – this part where I say something about the villagers attacking the castle, and I say that I have to leave because if they catch me, they'll hang me. Again. (laughs) That's sort of a reworking of something Lugosi says in Son of Frankenstein, which I always found to be hilarious. There's a hilarious moment when Lugosi turns his head, 'They tried to hang me' and the soundman took it just a little too far (turns head, makes popping sounds, imitating broken neck). So I said, 'Oh god, that has to used somewhere on this movie.'

Q: Will Igor be a comical character in this, kind of like what you've played in the Mummy movies?

O'CONNOR: No. It touches on that but it's not like the other guy. I worked it out with Stephen. I wanted to do the character in another way. It's not as light. It's a little heavier. And Igor is evil, Igor has a new career – he's gone on to work for Dracula.

Q: So there's no Renfield?

O'CONNOR: I guess in this interpretation, Igor is sort of filling that space.

Q: OK, so in the battle of the henchman who would win: Igor, or Renfield?

O'CONNOR: Igor. There doesn't have to be any hypnotics with Igor. He's a company man.

Q: How much interaction will Igor have with the other monsters?

O'CONNOR: Mostly he's subservient to Dracula. The reason Dracula needs Igor is to help him rebuild.

Q: How long does it take to apply the makeup?

O'CONNOR: Four to four and half hours.

Q: What does it look like?

O'CONNOR: It's hard to explain. It's all prosthetic.

Q: Is his face misshapen?

O'CONNOR: It's sort of, um, slightly ghoulish. It's just great. You don't know if he's quite dead, or living dead. His human geometry is a Slavic, you know, a wide face with moles and so... you have to see it.

Q: Were you allowed input on Igor's look?

O'CONNOR: They showed me some drawings, and then as we put it on things changed from the drawing, so as we put in on the color of it sort of went down. I'm always very careful not to say things about color, because I don't know what the lighting will look like. The way it looks in the mirror looks so different to the camera sometimes.

Q: How physically taxing is it to be contorted at all times?

O'CONNOR: At first it was, and now I've gotten into a rhythm. I can remind myself to put my shoulder down, or else it gets stuck. And my head's at a tilt, so when I sweat, all the sweat goes right in my ear and people are talking and I have no idea what they are saying. Even Steve Sommers directing me, many times I had no idea what he's saying!

Q: Do you like to stay awake during the making up process, or do you sleep?

O'CONNOR: I have no choice, because the way my makeup is worn I have to have the teeth in and I have to sort of relax and breathe through my mouth and it's very hard to sleep. And, I'm always moving for them, so I don't have a choice, you know. You have to sort of be awake or else they'll poke you.

Q: How do you get through four hours in makeup, then working hunched over on set for a full day?

O'CONNOR: Well, I originally had Igor in a more contorted position until I saw the script and realized how much he runs. I was moving so slow, so I altered it a little and opened it up a bit so it wasn't so bad.

Q: You seem pretty normal to me. Why are you always cast as the weird guy?

O'CONNOR: I may not be successful at it, but I do like having generally similar types of characters and trying to put enough detail in them to make them different from each other. So when I realized that this guy to me, is nothing like the guy from The Mummy, I was very happy. That was one thing I wanted to see. And I'm pretty tough on myself, so I said, 'God, this is going to be great.'

Q: The Mummy guy was cowardly; will Igor be brave?

O'CONNOR: There's a wrongness about him. Like, even Lugosi was always referring to himself as Old Igor, you know? All that stuff was in third person, which I added. I just loved him referring to himself as 'The Great Man' but when the boss is around (cowers). But privately (whispers) 'the great man.' I think he's been around the block so much and at this point he's had so much done to him. The guy in The Mummy is sort of a weasely survivor , and this guy is... 'Knock the wall down on me, I've had it all done.'

Q: Does Igor have any subordinates?

O'CONNOR: The Dwergie. He yells at them like a drill sergeant.

Q: Do you have a Middle European Transylvanian accent?

O'CONNOR: Yeah. Obviously, his neck and stuff has been broken (does Igor imitation, whispering) and it has a nice little monster movie feel about it that has, you know, it's definitely not high pitched. I wanted it to be lower, which is sort of hard on me some days.

Q: How much CGI do you have to pretend to act with?

O'CONNOR: Bits and pieces, but not as heavy as some of the other actors. Oddly enough, I don't actually encounter a lot.

Q: Are most of your scenes with Richard Roxburgh?

O'CONNOR: Let's see... I have some scenes with him, yeah. And uh, then I, yeah... I would say. Frankenstein, too.

Q: How did this role come about? Did Stephen call you, or did you call him?

O'CONNOR: He had called me. I wasn't quite sure at which point it was at. I mean, I knew he was doing it but I didn't know exactly what it was. He called me and told me and sent me the script.

Q: Why are you such a big fan of the Universal horror movies?

O'CONNOR: That's a good question. I always have been. Nowadays you tell someone to watch one of the movies and they haven't seen them, or haven't since they were a kid. To me, it's like, most of the acting if great, given the crazy situations. Frankenstein's in a block of ice and the Wolf Man is in another country and he's alive and it's Lon Chaney. I mean, it gets crazy, but I still love it because I'm a sucker for it.