Jamison Newlander first came into our collective conscience when the ‘Lost Boys’ exploded onto the screen back in 1987, playing opposite Corey Feldman as half of the iconic vampire slaying team, The Frog Brothers. Over two decades have passed but the ever-resilient duo has refused to fade quietly into the night. In 2008, the powers that be scared up a sequel to the classic film, as well as a comic book series, ‘Lost Boys: Reign of The Frogs,’ that breathed life into the beloved franchise, leaving fans thirsty for more. It was fan demand that brought Jamison Newlander and Corey Feldman back for the return of The Frog Brothers in “The Lost Boys: The Thirst” — that and also that they’re almost certain ghouls and werewolves occupy high positions at city hall! Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Jamison Newlander to discuss his history with the series, his thoughts on returning to his iconic role, the path that he would like to see the franchise take, and his exciting new interactive project, WikiSoap!
Most people are familiar with you from your role as Alan Frog, half of the infamous Frog Brothers in ‘Lost Boys.’ I was curious to find out where you grew up and how you initially got involved with the entertainment industry?
I grew up in Los Angeles actually. I was born in The Valley, the infamous San Fernando Valley, where “Valley Girl” was from! [laughs] Right around the time I was in first grade, my family moved. There were better schools over the hill in LA, so we moved into Beverly Hills, the slums of Beverly Hills, what they call The Flats. I grew up there and I started acting around the age of 14, right at the beginning of high school, I was going to Beverly High. That is where it all started.
How did you get involved with the original ‘Lost Boys’ project?
I was just doing some acting in LA. I started acting because I … well, I originally wanted to be a doctor. I didn’t know about that many professions out there. I wore leg braces when I was a kid, I was about 7 or 8, so I wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon because that was the type of doctor that I was dealing with. My mom had this idea that maybe I could do some commercials and put away some money for med school. So I started doing commercials. I did one and then I did some TV and then a few little movies. Just as I was about to turn 16, I had an agent that was pretty excited about me and he really talked me up to Joel Schumacher and the casting director for ‘Lost Boys’, Marion Dougherty, the head of casting at Warner Brothers. She agreed to see me and that was pretty much it!
You took on the role at a time that is very pivotal in any young man’s life. Did you have any idea that the film would end up having the impact on fans that it did while you were making it?
Ya know, I had no idea actually. I was discovering how big the project was little by little. For me, it was a scenario where I would get a gig, like a movie of the week or I did an episode of ‘Valerie,’ the Valerie Harper show. I was doing stuff that was kinda small but not too small! ‘Lost Boys’ was in this whole different category and I wasn’t really aware of how big it could be. Little by little, I started to realize that I was recognizing the actors who were in it. I recognized Corey Feldman and Corey Haim. It started to dawn on me that they were packing this movie with talent like that, I started to think that maybe this is something that they think is going to be awesome. It really wasn’t until it came out and then went to video that we saw that someone really knew what they were doing and were able to make a movie that really spoke to audiences. I was just along for the ride up until that point!
Looking back on that period, what is your fondest memory of making that film and what is the most dreaded memory?
One of the things that I loved was how close I got to both Coreys. We were really working very closely together. Since Feldman and I were a unit, The Frog Brothers, we spent a lot of time together that summer hanging out. Corey Haim was dating Alyssa Milano at the time. Feldman was dating his first girlfriend and I was dating my first girlfriend. We just had a blast on set and off, just being teenagers. That was really an amazing part of the experience for me. The most dreaded part of it was, I think, the bathtub scene where Feldman and I freak out. That was a really tough time because there was all this slime, vampire guts flying out of the sink and it was really disgusting. We had to lie in that stuff between takes and it was really rough.
I know that the franchise has been gaining steam since ‘Lost Boys: The Tribe’ came out and the cast has been doing a lot of appearances at conventions. It seems like you all have a pretty good time while meeting the fans. Do you keep in touch with a lot of the other guys in the cast?
I do! I have gotten pretty close with Chance Corbitt, who played “Laddie,” in the original film. We hang out a bunch. He has a little daughter that is about the same age as my little boy, so we hang out, but not nearly enough. We have gotten pretty close. Doing these conventions, I hang out with Brooke McCarter and Billy Wirth and we have an absolute blast when we are together. A few months ago I went to the Famous Monsters convention and I got to hang out with G. Tom Mack, the guy who sang “Cry Little Sister.” He is a great guy! Really, it’s this fun kind of club, The Lost Boys Club! It is great to keep in touch with those guys.
The Frog Brothers are back! ‘Lost Boys: The Thirst’ just hit DVD/Blu-Ray on October 12th, which is very exciting! Without giving away too much, what can you tell us about the film?
This film is, I think, a really good chapter in the franchise. The Frog Brothers officially get back together in this movie. We are also at odds during the movie and do some fighting against each other as well as side by side and I think that is a big part of what makes it great. The other thing I like about this movie is that it has a really good story. Someone described it as not a true sequel but more of a spin-off and I think that is a good way of describing it. It is a story about the Frog Brothers, predominantly Edgar Frog as a vampire hunter dealing with the loss of Sam, the Corey Haim character, that is an interesting parallel to real life. It is also about Edgar getting back in touch with his brother and saving each others lives in different ways. I think it is a really good story with a lot of action and it is a lot of fun!
I watched it earlier today. As a fan of the franchise, I really think that you guys did a great job on this one. I think the story definitely stands on its own and moves these characters and the franchise in the right direction.
Thanks! I am glad to hear that!
As an actor, what was it like to step back into this role years later and getting the opportunity to flesh it out more?
It was actually challenging at first because Alan Frog, the character that I developed in the first movie, had a lot of subtleties. I think that was because I was a quieter Frog, I didn’t have as much dialog as Corey Feldman. There was a lot more in the expressions and the attitude in that character. I was a little bit worried as I started to approach it because I didn’t want to overplay it. I didn’t want to be too tough or too extreme. I wanted to keep the same subtlety. It was a real challenge working with the writer and working to make sure that I was able to hit the right tones and not overplay it or underplay it. But then as I got the hang of it and we started to shoot a little bit, I started to really slip back into the character and realized, “Oh, OK!” this was me back in 1986, when we shot it, and it is still me and I still have an instinct for this! I ended up having a blast!
It seems that Corey Feldman and yourself have been a real driving force in keeping the integrity of your characters intact. That is really refreshing to see as a fan. How much input did you have into the script and the development of your characters?
Feldman had quite a bit of input into the script. I had maybe more of an indirect input into the script because Feldman valued my opinion and he and I had worked together on our characters and making sure, as a unit, our characters where unified, as well as how we thought the Frog Brothers should be at this point in their journey and the direction of the story. The screenwriter, there were a couple screenwriters on the movie, but the one who worked closely with us was Hans Rodionoff. He was really open to our ideas. He is a really dedicated ‘Lost Boys’ fan, as well as a dedicated comic book fan and a fan of the horror genre, so he was really interested in keeping the integrity. Fortunately, Feldman was really strong and provided a lot of leadership for the two of us in helping to guide the story.
You filmed in South Africa. What was that experience like for you?
That was really wild. First of all, I had never been to South Africa. The only things that I knew about South Africa was Apartheid and that the World Cup was going to be there. We shot in Capetown which is a beautiful city, a very European kind of city. My wife was born in Holland. Obviously there is a lot of influence, unfortunately because the Dutch were the ones that colonized South Africa, that is an unfortunate period in their history. However, there are still a lot of the good elements of Dutch or European culture that we really love, mixed with this really international flavor. That was really great. There were other parts where we would drive out of the city toward some of the shooting locations where we could see some of the poverty that is still going on there. That was challenging to deal with and trying to make sense of it, by talking to the local people involved with the movie and trying to understand what was going on with that. In terms of the movie, we worked with some really amazing people. The South African crew was fantastic! The stunt team and the special effects team were all from South Africa. They were such professionals and guided us so well. With the stunts team for example, we did a lot of our own stunts and a lot of our fighting was actually done by us. The really challenging and dangerous stuff was left to the stunt team but the stuff that was for us, the stunt team really guided us and made sure that we were able to do it safely and drilled that home again and again. I really had a blast shooting it with them!
As you mentioned, the film provides closure for some of the characters but it also leaves it open to expansion. There have been some rumblings about another trilogy or even a TV series. As one of The Frog Brothers, where would you like to see the duo venture form here on out? Perhaps into a darker style of film or more action oriented?
Yeah, I think so. I think that it is a real possibility. Now that we are united again, I think there are all sorts of threats that we can take on. Some of the stuff that we alluded to in the first movie about “ghouls and werewolves occupying high positions in City Hall” and that sort of thing, we deal with a little bit in this film and a little bit in the comic book series. I would love to get into that kind of stuff and really deal with the undead underbelly and go in and really kick some ass! [laughs]
Definitely! The comic book series was great as well. I am not sure how many people might have missed out on that but “The Lost Boys: Reign of Frogs” is definitely worth checking out! I really thought it was cool how they worked some of that artwork into the opening sequence of the film.
Yeah! It was really cool! That was also Hans Rodionoff who wrote that.
As a part of the project, what can fans do to help support the Frog Brothers and hopefully see more of them on the screen in the future?
That is a good question! First of all, support the movie and get the word out as much as possible! Try and get people to come see it! Corey Feldman has a lot of online venues for feedback and I have a Facebook fanpage and I will be starting up my own website soon. Give us a lot of feedback! Give feedback to Warner Brothers any way that you can and visit any place where you can give that feedback to talk about what you like about the film or what you want to see more of. One thing that Corey and I have been talking about, because we have seen a lot of each other lately while doing press for the film, is that ‘Lost Boys’ is a film where we really are in touch with the fans. As good as I think the artists involved with ‘The Tribe’ were on that project, a lot of the fans felt that it didn’t bring back a lot of the elements from the first movie. We really don’t want to make that mistake again. We are really trying to be in touch with what the fans want and the direction that they want to go. Warner Brothers seems to be very open and excited about that, giving back to the fans and giving them what they want. So, as much feedback and support as you can give the movie and The Frog Brothers, the better!
One of the very unique special events that will surround the film is ‘The Lost Boys Ball.’ Corey Feldman and The Truth Movement will lend their musical talents to the events and fans will get to see the original film as well. Will you be making an appearance at any of the events?
Yeah, I am! It has been a bit of a crazy time but I am certainly coming to a couple of them. I am going to try and make it to them all. I am certainly coming to the one in LA and probably Vegas but I’m getting it all worked out and I hope to make it to all of them!
What other projects are on the horizon for you?
I have a really exciting project that I am just about to launch. It is something that I have been working on for a long time, something that I thought of in the shower a few years ago! [laughs] The project is called WikiSoap. It is this new thing where I wrote, directed and shot a pilot, a soap opera type of pilot, 10 minutes, like a webisode pilot. I post that up at www.wikisoap.tv. I am about to post that in the next few days. People watch the pilot and then anybody in the world can dress up as these characters, each character has a specific costume that identifies them. For example, the lead always wears a Hawaiian shirt and his wife always wears a red dress. Anybody, anywhere in the world can dress up as these characters and can shoot an episode in the history or future of these characters, post it on the site and it then becomes a part of the show! It is this kind of saga that can build and go wherever anyone wants to take it. People can upload one episode or do their own series of episodes, it is really wide open. What I am starting to call it is the “democratization of entertainment.” Anybody can direct it, write it or be on it.
It sounds very cool! Definitely an opportunity to get the creative juices flowing!
Yeah! It is a really exciting project for me!
What is the best piece of advice that you would give to someone looking to get involved in the entertainment industry and what is the best advice that you have been given along your journey?
Good question! Let me start with the best piece of advice I would give to someone starting out. I would say when you are entering it, have another way of making money. [laughs] It is really tough to make money in this industry, especially now in this down economy. There are a lot of good things that are going on in the entertainment industry but it is really hard to get them to convert and have them pay you. It does happen if you stick to it but focus on the creative side of it first and then the money will come. In a way, the best advice that someone gave me is somewhere along the same line, when I was saying, “Hey, I am going to make it by a certain point but if I don’t I am going to go do something else.” Ya know, acting, writing and things having to do with art and entertainment, these are matters of the soul. These are things that are inside of us and we are artists. I think that all of us are artists and I think that finding a way to express ourselves using the entertainment industry is incredibly rewarding and an incredibly important thing to do!
Jamison, I thank you for your time. As a fan, I really appreciate the effort that you guys have been putting into moving these projects forward. As a pop culture website, we all grew up on these movies, so it has been a real pleasure to see you guys put your heart and soul into the performances and the material.
Thanks so much! I really appreciate talking to you about it!
Is there anything else you want to add or let your fans know before we let you go?
Frog Brothers forever! Check me out on my Facebook fanpage, I am building that more and more and adding more updates to that all of the time. Let’s all work together to get this franchise to go on and get better and better and stronger and stronger!
Thanks for your time guys and best of luck with the film! Stay out of trouble![laughs] Alright, man! You too!