Interview With Jackson Rathbone, Star Of ‘Warhunt’

Last week, I chatted with actor Jackson Rathbone via phone about his latest film, Warhunt, why he loves the horror genre, fighting in a zombie apocalypses, and what’s up next for him. Check it out!

PopHorror: Thank you so much for your time, Jackson! I’m a huge fan, so this is a pleasure.

Jackson Rathbone: Oh, cheers! Well ,I love hearing that! That’s nice.

PopHorror: Of course I know you from Twilight but I just watched Mixtape last month, and I really loved it.

Jackson Rathbone: Oh, that’s so sweet! Thank you! That was a really cool one to be a part of.

PopHorror: So what intrigued you about Warhunt and made you want to be a part of it?

Jackson Rathbone: Honestly, it was the logline and the other attachments. They sent me the script, and they said it’s a WWII film of these soldiers behind enemy lines fighting Nazis and the supernatural. And then they told me that Mickey Rourke and Robert Knepper were already attached and that my name would be next to theirs. It’s appealing to a certain sense, to actor vanity, to have your name next to someone who you’ve admired growing up.

PopHorror: Absolutely!

Jackson Rathbone: That was definitely a big yes for me, pretty much before I read the script.

PopHorror: This was a pretty active role. How did you prepare for shooting?

Jackson Rathbone: I’ve been lucky in my life. My closest friends are world renowned stunt performers and choreographers, and they’ve trained me over the course of our friendship, so I’ve been proficient with hand-to-hand stage combat and some stunts. A lot I can do myself. But I always like to bow out to the true performers, because stunt men and women in our industry… They never get enough credit for what they do, which is make all of our films look amazing. But they’re just awesome people. Between my training with them and then growing up as a Southerner and weapons training I received since I was a young kid in Boy Scouts, I was able to bring those things with me. We didn’t have a lot of time to prep for this film, and so I came in with a lot of the necessary elements that they’re very happy I had. They didn’t realize it at first, but they were like, “Oh, good! Jackson can do all these flips and actually knows how to use a gun.” I had to do a little training for some of my European actors. We had to stop on day one, and I had to explain to everyone how to properly use guns. Our weapons supervisor and I really had to teach everyone the importance of gun safety on set. We were safe, so it was good.

PopHorror: That’s so cool. It’s so important to be safe. I don’t see a ton of horror on your resume. Were you a fan before?

Jackson Rathbone: I am such a fan of horror. Ever since I was a kid, I kept the George Romero box set of zombie films underneath my bed like a stack of Playboys. My parents are super conservative Christian evangelicals, and that’s like demon worship to them. But to me, I saw it as just the most intense aspect of the cinema experience, like the horrors that we can witness in cinema can sometimes really, in a weird way, act like outlets for our own fears about everyday life. I think there’s beauty in that. I think horror as a genre has been overlooked for many, many, many years. For some really cool reason, I think because of certain films like Hereditary, and the works of James Wan and his recent film, Malignant, I loved because they go back to a lot of the Giallo horror from the Italian masters. I watched Agnes recently, which subverted the whole genre completely. I think horror is doing the most unique filmmaking right now, hands down. The most progressive aspect of the film industry is in horror.

PopHorror: Speaking of Romero, what would be your weapon of choice in a zombie apocalypse? 

Jackson Rathbone: Sword. Yeah, totally a sword.

PopHorror: You did not even have to think about it, and that’s fantastic.

Jackson Rathbone: Oh, no. I’ve definitely thought about it. Guns are great, right? You shoot a zombie in the head and boom, they’re done. However, that’s a bullet. You’ve got to count them every time. Sword, you get yourself a nice sanding stone, keep it sharp. It’s probably easiest. And it depends on what kind of zombies we’re talking about, because that brings it to a different level. If we’re talking World War Z zombies, that’s different. If we’re talking about the classic zombie—which I’m much more a fan of—the rotting corpse, slowly making its way towards you.. The horde is really what you have to worry about. They’re always coming, and they’re always there. That, to me, is more terrifying than these super fast… I don’t even like to call them zombies. They’re super quick. That’s more like a meta-human kind of hybrid than it is, to me, a zombie. Does that make sense?

PopHorror: Yes, it does. I never thought of a sword. That gives you length. I always said knife but that doesn’t really give you the length that you have with a sword. Great answer!

Jackson Rathbone: Like a good Katana, a proper Japanese blade forged in true steel. Gives you a body-length away. My wife and I used to go and play at this sandbox VR thing where you put on the VR set and then you fight zombies. You always have a sword to start off with, and I always found it was the most trusty weapon. If the zombies got quick and got close to you, you were swinging that sword around. I have videos of my wife with a headset on and just swinging wildly and screaming at a VR horde of zombies. Ah, I love it.

PopHorror: That sounds fun! What is up next for you, Jackson?

Jackson Rathbone: I’ve been writing a lot, and I’m looking to figure out my directorial debut. I’ve directed shorts, a few music videos, and a web series, which was a comedy, but I’ve been obsessed with the idea of generational trauma and how it plays out across. One of my favorite books is One Hundred Years of Solitude, which deals directly with magical realism and generation trauma, and I wanted to see if I could parlay that into horror. And so it’s something that I’ve been working on for awhile that will be my directing debut, and I want it to be this particular horror film that deals with generational trauma through the lens of true horror and supernatural.

PopHorror: Directorial debut! That’s exciting! I’ll have to keep an eye out for that. You’ve intrigued me.

Jackson Rathbone: Oh, I’m so nervous. I’m very nervous, but this is something I’m passionate about. I’m passionate about filmmaking and telling stories. I will say, the best audience out there is the horror audience. They know how to have a good time. That’s one thing I’ve thought about a long time. You only get one first, right? So I think my first needs to be something that matters to me and something that speaks to me as an artist and lets me do something progressive, hopefully. And that’s the horror genre.

PopHorror: Yes, absolutely! I just have one last question for you today. What’s your favorite scary movie?

Jackson Rathbone: Ooh, that’s a good one. My buddies and I were talking about this last week. It’s hard. My favorite scary movie… That’s a hard one. I think nothing can be taken away from The Exorcist. I think that there’s something truly phenomenal about that movie. I grew up with a very conservative Christian evangelical family that believes in exorcisms and possessions, and so that movie freaked the hell out of me. It’s a perfectly crafted film. And I know it’s controversial, but I really, really loved Malignant.

Thank you so much, Jackson, for taking the time to speak with us. Be sure to catch Warhunt in theaters, Digital, and On Demand, now!

About Tiffany Blem

Horror lover, dog mommy, book worm, EIC of PopHorror.

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