Bruce Davidson on his role ‘The Manor’ + Reuniting with Barbara Hershey

Bruce Davidson on his role ‘The Manor’ + Reuniting with Barbara Hershey

Bruce Davidson has been acting for over 50 years and now he stars in the latest Welcome To The Blumhouse movie, The Manor. He and I talked about his role as Roland, what it was like to reunite with Barbara Hershey after 50 years and more.

The Manor releases on Amazon Prime Video on October 8.

Richard Valero: What was your first job in the movie industry? 

Bruce Davidson: I was an usher at the Lawrence Park theater. I’m working for $2, I think $2 and 50 cents an hour. I saw Judgment at Nuremberg 57 times. I can still do impressions of some of the characters in that

RV: There wasn’t as many movies playing each week as there is now.

BD: Right there. Certainly weren’t and it was, it was great. You know, that’s where I studied all the actors, all the great actors, you know, Montgomery Clift and Judy Garland, God, all of them, they were great. 

RV: Was it that job that kind of inspired you to get into the film industry? 

BD: I was inspired when I was a kid, but I didn’t know it was, had anything to do with industry or anything else. I just thought I was playing Flash Gordon in the backyard and I had to be Flash Gordon and he had to be professors Arkoff and we had little girls, all the girls in the neighborhood had to audition for Dale Arden or Princess Aura, you know, so I thought that was, you know, just nothing to do with the film business. I didn’t get interested in the film business until I was an actor on stage. I ended up in New York. I never thought about it as something real until it happened basically.

RV: What was the biggest transition going from the stage to film?

BD: Oh God, just getting a job. You know, I was on stage carrying a spear in King Lear at Lincoln Center. And I got an agent and the agent got me a commercial agent. The commercial agent said, you know, Frank Perry is doing a film with some actress named Barbara Hershey and go do that. And I did. And not that’s what happened. I ended up in my first film working with Barbara and now things have come full circle. I’m here. I am back with Barbara again. I’m reminiscing about old times.

Bruce Davison, Catherine Burns, Richard Thomas & Barbara Hershey in Last Summer (1969)

RV: What was it like working with her again? 

BD: It was great. It’s very interesting with actors because actors work under such difficult conditions, maybe 17 hour days, and you work for three months and you get to know everybody so thoroughly and then you never see them again. And then you pick up 50 years later and it’s like, mid-sentence you pick up where you left off mid-sentence last time. And in the meantime, the people that you care about and you love that you worked so hard with, at that time, you watched their careers over the years. And I’ve always watched Barbara and with great admiration, you know, through all of the stuff that happened in her life. And, then to work with her again and it’s really wonderful.

RV: What initially attracted you to the role of Roland? 

BD: Well, I thought it was a great script. I thought the story and the idea of primal fear in a horror film that hasn’t really been looked at that often is in that’s death and abandonment and losing one’s ability to function and having no one, you that’s a primal fear of all of us. To exploit that in a film in which you care about the character, the main character and where that character’s journey goes is something that is intriguing and interesting. And I thought that’s a good solid base for a story, whether it be a horror story or anything else.

RV: You’ve been doing this for over 50 years no, what keeps you going?

BD: Oh, fear of never working again is one thing, but it’s just the love I have, you know, I get to play and stuff. Anytime somebody says, you know, we want you for this. We want you to do this. And it’s a come help us tell a story, what a great thing, you know, I don’t have to, you know, go fishing. I love acting. I just love the ability to be able to continue to do it. And I’ve been very blessed with people that have believed in giving me a shot to do that.

RV: What is your favorite scary movie?

BD: When I was young, Them scared the hell out of me. Cause this poor little girl is walking along with a doll with a broken head. They don’t know where she came from and what’s going on. And every time they try to figure it out, somebody else gets eaten. That scared me as a kid. The Exorcist, as I got older, scared the hell out of me that really did too, because that was, you know, that plugs into everybody’s causing religious, devil death fears. I loved Cocoon. I thought it was a wonderful film. It wasn’t so much horror as speculative science fiction and I feel this film is kind of like a sinister cocoon. It’s kind of for sure deals with a lot of the same issues in a different way, a little darker. 

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