Interview With Sean Patrick Flanery, Star Of ‘Nefarious’

Sean Patrick Flanery was one of the first celebrities I met at my very first horror convention. I’ve been following his career for years, and while 1999’s Boondock Saints and 1995’s Powder were some of his most fantastic and well-known roles, I have to say that my favorites of his is Tom Bartlett in 1999’s Simply Irresistible, and Todd Sparrow from 1998’s Girl. Girl is a movie that is very near and dear to my heart, and a very important film to me. But none of these even come close to Sean’s role as the demon Nefarious in 2023’s Nefarious. Simply put, I was blown away. His performance as Nefarious is raw. It’s visceral. It’s terrifying. On the flip side of Nefarious is Edward, the death row inmate staring down at his own execution while being possessed by the demon. Sean’s portrayal of Edward is heartbreaking and really shows his depth and range as an actor.

To celebrate the release of Nefarious, I chatted with Sean via Zoom about playing the dual role, horror movies, what’s up next, and more!

PopHorror: Your performance in Nefarious was incredible. I was really blown away and I really, really enjoyed it.

Sean Patrick Flanery: I appreciate that, thank you.

PopHorror: But I have to tell you that my favorite character of yours is still Todd Sparrow from Girl.

Sean Patrick Flanery: The Color Green!

PopHorror: Yes! I actually watched it right before this to prepare because it is near and dear to my heart. I just had to tell you.

Sean Patrick Flanery: Okay, here’s a little… “It’s alright. Everything is alright.” (This was one of his lines as Todd Sparrow in Girl).

PopHorror: Thank you for that! So, what intrigued you about the script for Nefarious and made you want to be a part of the project?

Sean Patrick Flanery: Two things. Chuck and Cary (writers/directors Konzelman and Solomon), I did a film with them in 2004 and they were two of my favorite people that I’ve ever worked with. I still, to this day, think they’re the best writers I’ve ever worked with. At the culmination of that film I said, “Guys, I had a wonderful time. I would do a Fruit Loops commercial with you guys.” And a year and a half ago they called me and said, “Hey Sean, we’ve got a Fruit Loops commercial for ya.” I said, “Put me in, Coach!” And they said, “Well, we want to send you the script and hear what you think about it.” I read it and I thought it was one of the most well written characters I’ve ever had the opportunity to play. Roles like that are why you drive 1500 miles away from your home and find a roommate on Craig’s List and become an actor. It’s for roles like that. It’s not to do an episode of CSI: Wyoming. It’s not to do 911. It’s to do roles like that, and I immediately thought, man, I hope they want me to do the role of Nefarious. I called them back immediately and I said, “Man, I’m in.” And they said, “Well, we have a question. What character do you want to play?” And I said, “I want to play Nefarious,” and they said, “Okay, thank God! We were hoping you would.” I was like, “Oh you scared me man!” I’ve had the opportunity to do another role that I felt the same way about, Powder, but those roles are few and far between, and to work with writers like that, there’s two things. It’s Chuck and Cary, and they’re writing. Nothing more.

PopHorror: That’s awesome. I thought it was incredible and I think you made a very wise decision in choosing that character. I can’t imagine you playing the lawyer. He was okay, but Nefarious… That character…

Sean Patrick Flanery: I appreciate it. And I’ll tell you, I wouldn’t have wanted to do that film with anybody other than Jordan (Belfi, Entourage series) across the table. I thought he crushed that performance. If you’re going to be stuck in a room with someone, that’s the dude you want to be stuck with. I’d do a Fruit Loops commercial with Jordan. That dude is talented.

Jordan Belfi and Sean Patrick Flanery in Nefarious.

PopHorror: Yes, he was very good! This character required you to switch between two different characters, basically. They were different in the way they talked, and facial expressions. Just two completely different people. How did you prepare for your role and what kind of research did you have to do to be prepared?

Sean Patrick Flanery: My entire career, my research has really taken place between fade in and fade out. The more well written a script is, the less outside research you need to do. This required no outside research. I really think that good writing is an instruction manual on how to create that person. When you read a good book, you can see the person. Now, everybody that reads it may see the person differently, but this is who I saw when I read the script. He walked that way, he talked that way, he looked that way, his gestures were that way. I’d love to give you some more intricate preparation that involved some turmoil and crisis but really, I read the script and I thought about it, and I made choices based on what I saw. And that’s it. The character lived between “action” and “cut.” As soon as the word “cut” happened, I’m not one of those actors that claims he channeled somebody or anything else. I don’t take it home with me. I am who I am at my core and that never waivers. I don’t want to minimize my craft, if you will, but I was playing make believe based on the script that I read and the images that popped into my head, and my only hope is that people believed it and enjoyed it.

PopHorror: I can imagine that it makes it easier to slip into other people and characters when you don’t take it home with you. I can’t imagine taking that with you. It’s hard to have a work-life balance. Was there anything that you were adamant about bringing to your character?

Sean Patrick Flanery: I am a pretty hard willed guy, so pretty much everything. I am open to directors re-steering me and giving me things to think about that I consider and to add nuance. But Chuck and Cary, they talked about what they wanted to see before we started shooting. I described what my thoughts were in a different way and they said, “You know what? We saw it differently but why don’t you do that on the first couple of takes and we’ll see if we like it?” That’s the last we talked about it and we shot the whole movie. I think they liked it, but with Chuck and Cary, I’m always receptive. Like I said, I’ve known them since 2004. What I delivered is their instruction manual on who that character is. Of course, that’s my interpretation of it, but I tried to be true to the words. That’s who I saw when I read that book.

PopHorror: You’ve done some horror films in the past, and a lot of horror adjacent. Would you say that you were a horror fan before?

Sean Patrick Flanery: Actually, I’m not a horror fan.

PopHorror: That breaks my heart.

Sean Patrick Flanery: To be honest, I’m a good story fan. For example, I’m not really a big fan of the gore aspect of the Saw movies. I loved Saw I, I loved The Exorcist, I loved The Omen, I loved Poltergeist. Now, I love the kitsch of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and stuff like that, but really I love good stories, whether that’s drama, whether it’s comedy. I’ll tell you, my three favorite movies on planet Earth. They could not be more different. Number one is Roberto Benigni’s Life is Beautiful, number two is Grease – John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John – and number three is 2001: A Space Odyssey. They couldn’t be more different, but for whatever reason, they all were approaching that ten level, as far as storytelling and just sheer enjoyment and intrigue. Leaving that, I wanted to talk about those movies for the next two days. There is not really a genre. I can’t honestly say that I’m not a horror fan but the scare aspect, I tend to plug into the ones that are well executed and believable. There’s certainly an aspect of the kitsch ones that I appreciate for kitsch sake. Like the Scream movies. I think they’re hysterical with the parody and poking fun.

PopHorror: What is up next for you?

Sean Patrick Flanery: What’s always next for me is just being a dad. It’s freestyle Greco wrestling season for my boys. I also teach them Jiu Jitsu five days a week, and swim team is about to start in another two weeks so we’re hoping it warms up because we have the outdoor pool. But that’s it. I also am converting a book I wrote into a screenplay and trying to get that up and into production. But outside of that, just life, my wife, my kids. We’re excited to see the film come out. I made a career out of doing movies that nobody sees so this is coming to theaters so it’s kind of a neat deal for the Flanerys to go by a movie theater and see the title of the movie actually at the cinema, so that will be cool. But that’s it. Just family and love and raising them up.

PopHorror: Absolutely. I love that. And I wouldn’t say that nobody sees your movies. I mean, I mention your name and the first thing people say is Boondock Saints so you have a following, for sure.

Sean Patrick Flanery: I appreciate it, I appreciate it.

PopHorror: I have just one last question for you and we kind of touched on it already. What is your favorite scary movie?

Sean Patrick Flanery: Probably 2001: A Space Odyssey. Right now, all the news, they’re talking about AI. Well, that was a movie back then. That scared the shit out of me.

Thank you so much to Sean for taking the time to speak with us. Nefarious is currently in theaters.

About Tiffany Blem

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

Check Also

An Interview With ‘RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD’ (1985)’s Thom Mathews

Back in 1985 came a movie that was quickly embraced by the horror community. Return …