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SXSW: Hayes MacArthur landed Into the Dark role after killer audition
Over the weekend, SXSW got an early glimpse of the April installment of Hulu's monthly anthology Into the Dark, titled "I'm Just F*cking With You." True to the series' theme of exploring a signature event or holiday within each month, the episode uses April Fools' Day as its springboard. True to SXSW, it was met with vocal adulation from a room filled with horror-hungry fans.
The villain in "I'm Just F*cking With You" is Chester (Hayes MacArthur), a serial prankster who works at a deserted California hotel whose oft-repeated catchphrase happens to be the title of the episode. Sure, he has a habit of pushing jokes a little too far, but his disarmingly good-natured attitude makes him impossible to despise.
While MacArthur is mostly a comedic actor, known for series like Angie Tribeca and Man Seeking Woman, director Adam Mason (The Devil's Chair) revealed that MacArthur's in-character audition might have terrified him a little too much.
"Hayes walked through the door, and we'd just seen the faces of a bunch of six-foot-nine massive dudes who look like they would keep people in their basement," Mason told the crowd after the screening, which included SYFY WIRE. When MacArthur arrived, he was sporting aviator eyeglasses and a giant gold chain around his neck, both of which ended up being worn by Chester in the episode.
"I shook his hand and was absolutely terrified. He did the most amazing audition I'd ever seen," confessed the director. Mason was so impressed that he admitted to calling several people who knew Hayes personally, just to confirm that he was, in fact, not crazy.
After he was safely reassured of the actor's sanity, Mason said that after MacArthur's audition as Chester, he "never had to direct him again."
While "I'm Just F*cking with You" was MacArthur's first big foray into straight-up horror, the actor realized that trying to scare an audience isn't much different than trying to make them laugh.
"Some of the stuff about doing scares is, technically, some of the things you do to get laughs," MacArthur explained. "There's a set-up, an expectation, and then undercutting it." MacArthur added that he "never got the chance to play a serial killer. It's really fun," which earned him a round of applause.