While the 2006 slasher throwback Hatchet would prove to be his breakout role, Parry Shen’s journey to success had taken almost a decade. Following an uncredited appearance in the sci-fi action blockbuster Starship Troopers, Shen became a regular on the small screen over the next few years, guest-starring in episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Chicago Hope and Party of Five. His first credited performance in a movie would come in 1998 with the low budget horror Shrieker, a genre he would regularly return to with projects such as The Hazing, but it would be his memorable turn as the theatrical fraud Shawn in Adam Green’s Hatchet that would bring him to the attention of a wider audience.
The movie became a favourite among horror fans due to Jason Voorhees veteran Kane Hodder taking on another icon role of a slasher villain, but it would be Shen who would provide the much-needed comic relief. While his character may have been dispatched in the first film, when a sequel was announced Green was able to find a way to bring Shen back.
Parry Shen discusses returning to the series with Hatchet 2.
Having previously collaborated with Adam Green in Hatchet, how did you become involved in the sequel and how does your new character differ to the one you had previously played?
Adam initially wanted to bring everybody back that he could – but due to the body count of the first one – that was going to be quite the challenge. However in Hatchet, when my character Shawn confesses he’s only given the Swamp Tour once, he mentions that his brother hooked him up with the ‘touristy gig.’
So viola! Enter Shawn’s less-incompetent twin brother – Justin.
Justin works at Reverend Zombie’s (Tony Todd) shop and when he discovers Shawn hasn’t come back from the night before, he heads into the swamp to find his brother and bring him home.
Justin’s got a different vibe than Shawn. He relies a little less on the showmanship, he’s got a buzz cut, goatee and is very protective about his brother.
Your turn as Shawn in the first movie was rather reminiscent of Alan Ormsby’s performance in the cult classic Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things
We kinda found the character together during the ’04 audition.
Adam suggested a ring master-type during one of his adjustments during my read and that helped me lock into the over-the-top showmanship that the room seemed to like.
However in the initial script, Shawn was supposed to drop the Southern accent and then go into his Asian accent for the rest of the movie – and I just didn’t want to contribute towards an audience seeing yet another foreign Asian stereotype being portrayed on screen again. But at the same time, I entirely understood the joke of having the switching accents.
So I suggested doing something like Ken Leung’s great performance in Keeping the Faith as the Karaoke salesman, where he eventually drops his Asian accent when he’s about to lose the sale. So at a critical point in Hatchet, Shawn drops his as well.
It was really the finishing touch to the character. Not only did it create a new progressive Asian character on screen but it also kept in line with the character being a con artist, not knowing who he really was – and we were able to milk the accent joke for one more beat when I get into the fight with Marcus (Deon Richmond).
Have you shared many scenes with Kane Hodder and were you already familiar with his Jason Voorhees legacy before signing on for Hatchet? How would you describe his attitude and approach to his role?
I only did the one scene with Kane when he eliminates me (tomorrow will be my second) and I was well aware of his legacy as Jason before coming onboard. Come on, now – in this day and age, first thing any actor does is IMDb all their co-stars/producers/directors on the call-sheet!
Kane’s a pro. As the stunt coordinator on set, he makes sure you’re safe and that you are informed how and what details the kill will involve.
As the actor for Victor Crowley, he knew how to ‘help’ keep the realism alive for the other actors – which meant never seeing or hanging out with him in the Crowley costume so that we wouldn’t grow ‘used’ to it by the time the cameras rolled. So when he pops out from behind, half the acting of being terrified is already done for us.
Would you describe yourself as a horror fan and slasher movies in particular?
I wouldn’t say I’m solely a horror/slasher fan, but a fan of movies. Be it any genre. Hell, I didn’t think I would like How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, but as long as the story is well told, the visuals and performances are strongly melded and I have a fun ride and experience some escapism I’m game.
As with Hatchet, the sequel is full of cult horror stars such as Tony Todd and Danielle Harris, as well as director Tom Holland and FX artist John Carl Buechler. With so much talent on set, how would you describe the atmosphere and did you find this overwhelming?
I’d describe the atmosphere/tone on Hatchet 2 to be extremely professional – slightly more so than the first one. Now that is absolutely NOT a slam on the cast of H1 – it just means there were less pranks played on folks and no cast renditions of Sir Mix-A-Lot‘s, Baby Got Back in between takes. It was just a little more about getting it done – although in hindsight, I should’ve hummed a few bars of Baby Got Back and who knows? Perhaps Tom Holland might’ve jumped in. But now I’ll never know.
I wouldn’t say it was overwhelming having all those cult horror stars present but rather being eager to work with people who obviously know what they’re doing. It’s like playing tennis with someone who’s good and looking forward towards rallying back and forth, seeing what they’ve got up their sleeves, showing them what you’ve got, the bouncing off each other and discovering the stuff beyond the written words.
Seeing that action and going head to head in a certain scenes with this cast made me think several times, ‘Yeah, I can see why he/she works so much.’
Hatchet was notable for being extremely violent and gruesome, as well as featuring a fair amount of nudity. Can fans expect more of the same the second time around or will they be even more explicit?
It’s the sequel. Ain’t no point in making it if it isn’t gonna be bigger, better and more explicit.
If Adam Green decides to make a third Hatchet movie would you be willing to return, and what is it about these films that you have enjoyed the most?
I am and always will be down for whatever Adam invites me to do.
I just admire how well he balances tension, drama and humor in everything he does.
In particular with the Hatchet franchise, I love how this universe and backstory is coming together – where after seeing Hatchet 2, people will be looking at certain scenes differently in H1 and understanding how they finally tie in with the sequel.
No scenes in Hatchet were unintentional, no matter how random. Each one was deliberately placed to add to Adam’s grand arc of the Victor Crowley story.
Once folks see what unfolds in Hatchet 2 in October, the first movie will seem like a treasure trove of ‘easter eggs’ upon a re-watching. Hatchet 2 is indeed a continuation of what happens where Hatchet ends and digs further.