EntertainmentMovies & TVJeffrey Dean Morgan, a journalist in the 'thriller' "Pray...

Jeffrey Dean Morgan, a journalist in the 'thriller' "Pray for us"

The American actor plays Gerry Fenn, a discredited reporter who becomes an essential piece in the plot of this horror film produced by Sam Raimi, which opens on May 20.

In his new thriller, Pray for Us, Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The walking dead / Watchmen) brings a singular charm to the role of Gerry Fenn, a discredited journalist who gets more than expected in an ill-fated attempt to invent a supernatural story for silver and publish it in the tabloids in a remote part of Massachusetts.

Fenn works in the small village of Banfield and there he crashes with the real case of Alice, a young woman whose hearing and ability to speak are miraculously restored after an alleged presence of the Virgin Mary. However, Gerry Fenn realizes that the “Maria” the girl is talking about may be an entirely different entity. One of a diabolical character that, in addition, he himself has unleashed.

On Pray for us, a tape produced by Sam Raimi, we spoke with Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who is in Atlanta (USA) recording the eleventh and final season of The Walking Dead .

What was your first impression when you heard the story of “Pray for us”?

I had done a movie with Sam (Raimi) a while ago, Possession, so we had a good working relationship. He also had James Herbert present at the time of receiving the script. In fact, I had read Shrine, believe it or not, a long time ago, and I liked what Evan (Spiliotopoulos) had done with that story, a nice character that I thought I could delve into. In the end, with all those pieces together, I decided to get involved and give it a go.

The film addresses the slow emergence of his Gerry Fenn character’s faith in himself, against the blind faith that gradually spreads through the city. How could you describe Gerry Fenn?

Gerry is a bit… well, probably a certifiable jerk (laughs). But in a way it grounds the movie. He does not launch himself with blind faith and his questioning of things keeps everything grounded. It also injects some humor into it … I don’t know if that was Evan’s goal or if it just came up while we were filming, because I wanted this guy to be as complete as possible. I thought that injecting humor and some sarcasm would work.

Was the role written specifically for you?

He says yes. I mean, those things are done by Evan. We had a strange relationship, before this movie, in fact, I did not know that he had bought and lived in my old house in Los Angeles. All he knew was that “a writer” had bought it and that he had asked for a Watchmen poster hanging on a wall. And I thought, “Yeah, okay, you can have it.” Anyway, the first time I spoke to him it was a Zoom video call thing. And he said, “Hey, before we start talking about this script, I want to show you something.” He panned with the camera and he was sitting in my old house. Anyway, I was already familiar with Evan’s work as a writer and the first thing he said to me was, “I wrote this with you in mind. I can’t imagine anyone else doing it. ” But you know, that’s what they should say …

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You collect items from the “The Walking Dead” and “Watchmen” sets. What did you keep from the set of “Pray for us”?

Nothing. But you know, I wanted the doll [an antique doll that Morgan’s character discovers in a meadow that sets the story in motion]. I wanted the creepy doll. But they didn’t give it to me. I thought Evan had her, but I spoke to him the other day and he didn’t stay with her either. So no one knows where that object is.

What was it like filming the scenes where Fenn encounters the supernatural entity in the movie?

Luckily we had Marina Mazepa. In movies like this, a lot of scenes are expected to be done against a green background, honestly. And Marina is this actress / contortionist that Evan found. She was on America’s Got Talent and she can do things with her body that she has never seen before. And then she was there, not all the time fully dressed and made up, but long enough that I, or anyone else who was in a scene with her, could react in awe. For example, she would bow and then run toward one. And that’s enough to blow anyone away.

Was the atmosphere at any point scary or creepy on set?

As an actor, you want to get into the situation, but you also realize that you are making a movie. I joke the moment a take ends. I don’t stay in character. Nothing of that. So what if I was ever scared on set? No. However, they did a great job with some of the sets, making them look very real. The terrifying church basement, for example, was a super cool setting. But I was working with Katie Aselton (playing the town doctor, Natalie), who I’ve known for 30 years. And then we also laughed a lot. I don’t think there was fear at any time.

Cricket Brown, who plays Alice, was practically debuting on this film, were you worried about working with someone with such limited experience?

Yes, of course, without a doubt. But that’s where trust in Evan and Sam finally came into play. When I read the script, I thought, “This girl is going to have to be good.” It is not an easy role for anyone. An experienced actor would have trouble with all the elements involved in it. And so that casting process for the character was probably the longest in the movie, but there was something special about it. What I like most about the movie is that we both have scenes together.

What’s it like to have one of the first tapes in a movie theater in 2021?

I am delighted that it is available worldwide. Glad we can provide some entertainment for some people. This has been a long and difficult year, and I hope this movie can distract people.

He is currently filming the last season of “The walking dead.” How do you feel about it?

It’s a bittersweet feeling. I will be very honest. We are in Atlanta for a period of fourteen months. We usually shoot seven months. This year it will be double. So I won’t finish until March of next year. Still, it is in the back of my head that everything ends here. I’m sad about that, but we have a lot to tell. There is still so much to shoot that it really hasn’t affected me yet. I’m not crying or anything like that yet. But I have no doubt that I will in the last few episodes. It has become a part of my life for six years.