SKSM: Could you start with telling me a little bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Simon Merrells: Hi I’m Simon Merrells, a London born actor currently living in beautiful Europe!
SKSM: When did you know you wanted to become an actor?
Simon Merrells: I suppose I knew from an early age I wanted to act- our parents had sent my brother Jason and I , who is also and actor, to kids evening classes and Id always been entranced by the way great films and TV could transport you. I felt I knew the difference , and I also fell in love with the magic of theatre as a young audience member. But I suppose it wasn’t until I did my first school play ,’A Man for all Seasons’, playing Cardinal Wolsey in a flash of inspirational casting by our English teacher/director that I realised I was serious about it – I was 13 and I remember studying footage of Churchill to see how an old statesman would sound, move, carry himself. And as soon as I stepped on stage I was bitten for life, so thanks Mr Downey!
SKSM: How did you become involved in I Am The Doorway Dollar Baby film?
Simon Merrells: I became involved in ‘Doorway’ because Ive worked with Simon Pierce before, on his first horror feature a few years back, and he approached me with the prospect of doing ‘ Doorway’. I had recently finished shooting a series in Prague (and was currently performing a Pinter play) after which I was free), so I was happy to do something so different. From armour clad warrior to wheelchair bound ex astronaut! How could I refuse…?
SKSM: What do you think it is about the story that attracts people so much?
Simon Merrells: I think Stephen King has such a wide fan base spanning generations- and people interested in horror, science-fiction, suspense, or just bloody well told stories are all drawn to his work and film adaptations of it- and the familiar theme of alien invasion ,either of our planet or of the body itself still fascinates us. And of course in Doorway the idea of a hateful intelligent parasite growing within you and opening murderous eyes in the hosts flesh doesn’t need too much explanation as to its allure!
SKSM: Did you have to audition for the part or was it written directly for you?
Simon Merrells: I didn’t exactly audition as I said, but Simon did come and tape me doing a speech or two , which I suspect made its way to the producer for final confirmation, which I guess worked out ok.
SKSM: You worked with Simon Pearce on this film, how was that?
Simon Merrells: Like I said, I’d worked with Simon before , so I knew we were in safe hands. He’s young, but has an awful lot of experience, growing up around cameras and sets through his DOP father, and doing his own stuff from an early age. He’s knowledgable, calm and very good at running a set without any fuss or stress so it was a pleasure and I can’t wait to see the results!
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when they made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Simon Merrells: Special moments? Well apart from those times when you feel something is really working and you’re in symbiosis with character and the story, I suppose having my hands covered in protective gel then accelerant and thrusting them into a fire to ignite and watching them burn was a new one for me! Our stunt guy Peter Pedero said as soon as it gets uncomfortable give me a signal and we extinguish immediately. And when it did I let him know in no uncertain terms! But I think it should look pretty stunning in the final cut.
SKSM: Do you still have any contact with the crew/cast from that time? If so with who?
Simon Merrells: Im still in touch with Simon obviously , as I have been over the years. My co star , Grant Masters like me has been pretty busy since so we haven’t had the chance to hook up, but I hope we’ll see each other at the London Sci-fi festival Premiere in early May, along with the rest of the crew. Looking forward!
SKSM: What are you working on nowadays?
Simon Merrells: At the moment, I have just finished a recurring stint on Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens, a marvellous project that should be out in 2019 sometime, and am waiting for the green light on Season 2 of Knightfall, the History/A&E studios show about the last years of the Templar Knights, shooting in Prague .
SKSM: Are you a fan of Stephen King’s work?
Simon Merrells: As a child I was always a horror fan, and Stephen King featured heavily from early on. I remember Salem’s Lot on the TV with James Mason, devouring The Stand, Christine, and all those wonderful short stories of which ‘ I am the Doorway’ was one! I loved Poe, Lovecraft, M.R. James, Bradbury, Ballard and many more so King was an obvious inclusion.
SKSM: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Simon Merrells: A surprising thing about me? Err, if I hadn’t been an actor I would have wanted to be an artist…I went to Mexico travelling for a year when I was 23 or so, and by pure fluke ended up being a Male model for magazines and fashion shows that paid for us to stay longer and travel extensively.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to the fans that read this interview?
Simon Merrells: I hope everyone enjoys ” I am the Doorway‘ when its available, and stay tuned for news of Knightfall Season 2!