Dermot Mulroney has something for everyone this week. If you're into horror, he's the star of the latest installment of Blumhouse's Hulu anthology series, Into the Dark, a feature-length episode called "Flesh & Blood." Prestige drama fans can catch him in a supporting role in Amazon's new psychological Homecoming, in which he plays Julia Roberts' boyfriend (they previously starred together in 1997's My Best Friend's Wedding).
And if you see him on the street, Mulroney is happy to take a selfie.
In "Flesh & Blood," the 55-year-old actor (whose birthday was on Halloween) plays a widower who spends most of his time raising his agoraphobic teenage daughter (Diana Silvers) and trying to remodel their house without any contracting help. The circumstances around his wife's death a year earlier begin to look murky, which leads his paranoid daughter down a rabbit hole of stunning revelations.
Mulroney spoke to SYFY WIRE about the show and a number of his other projects, both new and old — like "Flesh & Blood" itself, this story gives the secret away early, so consider this your major spoiler alert. The episode is now streaming on Hulu.
How'd you get hooked up with this project?
I had made acquaintance with Jason Blum years and years ago on other films, and with Blumhouse with Insidious Chapter 3 about four or five years ago. They work really closely with people, and repeatedly. So I was hoping to get some repeat business out of those guys over there at Blumhouse, so I was happy when they called me to be in their second episode of the Hulu series.
A couple things I like about "Flesh & Blood." One is that it doesn't really trick you into thinking the culprit is somebody else. The pursuit of a plot twist was set aside on this. We didn't really care to have you wonder whether I was the good guy or the bad guy. Just let it reveal itself at its own pace instead of trying to put in red herrings or tricks. This is not a spoiler that I'm crazy as s*** and I'm trying to kill my own daughter.
First of all, audiences are way too savvy and if they know they're watching horror, they're looking for whodunnit anyhow. So remove that and it really does honor these people and these characters, who are authentically dealing with real grief. The family drama part of flesh and blood is just as interesting to me. Of course, we take our story to the insane extreme and it goes into violence and gore and horror, but really its basis is a character study of two people who have no coping skills.
You're a father of two daughters — did that make it more difficult to be attacking your daughter in the episode?
It was really difficult to shoot the super violent stuff that's turned toward your own family member, even if behaving violently is in a controlled and safe way, when it's with a nice young 20-something-year-old actress. It was really frigging hard and I haven't been required to do that very much.
I've been in violent scenes; I get pushed around in the movies and the TV shows all the time. I was figuring this out the other day — It's almost constantly that I get a smackdown, in just about everything. So that would be its own conversation — why that guy? This was hands-on and working with another actor in a way that is a really grueling.
I don't mean to make like of it. We always knew it was very real and it was real violence. That's why the piece takes on a tone that has a very classic horror feel so that you know that you're in a safe genre. That horror is for a reason. It reminded me of that movie Stepfather. Remember Terry Quinn in that movie from the '80s? It has a little wry quality, just a touch of it, and hopefully that tells the viewer too that we know we're dealing with really sensitive topics, domestic violence, parenting issues, coping with grief and, but we're doing it in a horror movie.
So those scenes, the act of doing them, being the violent one — was the actual shooting it, doing the violence, difficult?
Of course there's stunt coordination there and a safety is the first priority. But then like in real life, it's a weird combination of it happening really fast and how time warps in those moments, where it's also in slow motion at the same time. So since I'm having that sensation, which feels like a real thing, a real moment of physical crisis or anxiety reaction, then it is real. It's hard to explain. Some guys do this for a living, where they throttle people. I'm usually the one getting throttled. So this was a little different. Not that enjoyable.
There's going to be a lot of you on people's screens on Friday, with Homecoming coming out on Amazon, too.
There's less control over when people are putting their product on the shelf anymore. Now it seems like there's kind of a horror cycle or thriller cycle that comes right before the Oscar-nominated films. Both of these would fall into that pattern. Homecoming for Amazon Prime video is a super prestige project. It's really, really tight the way it's made, it's just impeccable. I'm in a supporting role — Julia is the lead along with Stephan James.
I also appear on Station 19 on ABC and the episode my character is introduced showed on Thursday night at 9. I had the time wrong, I thought it was at 10, so I missed it. With Homecoming and "Flesh and Blood," there's no way to miss it. You watch it when you want to watch it. So maybe that ritual of release date is also something of the past, like autograph seekers and paper fan mail. Now it's a quick selfie and you're on your way.
How do you feel about being asked for selfies?
I dunno, there's something super efficient about the selfie. I like it all. And for me, it's easy, because everybody comes up to me with such goodwill, if anyone's asking for a photo or an autograph, it's always a fantastic experience because they're so happy. I'm more and more recognizing how much people are giving back to me for the work that I put in over the years. So it's all a distinct pleasure and only gaining on me as I age in my career.
Which movies do they talk about?
I've heard other actors describing this, they can sort of tell which project that person is going to bring up when they come up to you. So the Best Friend's Wedding fan doesn't have the same demeanor as the Young Guns fans. Some other popular movies that people will come up to me are Angels in the Outfield, The Grey has its great following, and About Schmidt. People always feel like they're in on some secrets that they saw me in that because I had that bizarre bald hairdo. I kinda got wired as a rom-com lead and looking back, I only did two of them. They were really good. I wish I'd done more while they were still making them.
They're starting to make them again! Especially Netflix.
I think it's a really surprisingly challenging genre, especially in today's world where love isn't as big a part of our culture as tech and contact and information sharing. You know, I would argue that the cynicism or loss of innocence in our popular culture has contributed to the demise of the romantic comedy. So if people can pull them off again, more power to them. People love them. People want to talk to me about My Best Friend's Wedding as if it was released yesterday. They talk about it as if it's a brand new movie they just saw, It's the most phenomenal thing.
They're making a TV version of Four Weddings and a Funeral — how would you feel about that happening to My Best Friend's Wedding?
The ownership of that piece is so tangled up. It's spread around so it's not really like a single person, I don't think. There were attempts to do that. There's always the question of whether we'd do a sequel or anything like that, but the only argument I was making as then as now making a successful romantic comedy is very difficult.
What about Young Guns?
The cool thing about Young Guns is history buffs stop me on the street and because they recognize that that movie told the actual events of the Lincoln County War that featured Billy the Kid. They told it exactly word for word in chronology, with characters names. So you can remake it, but you couldn't change it because this was the exact story.
The day they were shooting me and killing me in Young Guns was the day that they announced they were going to do Young Guns II. Can you imagine? I'm like, no, that's so unfair. So uncool! I'd have to come back as my own evil twin or a doppelganger or something. Dirty Steve Lives on. I don't know how that would be done.