Quinn Lord has spent the better part of his life in front of the camera. At just 18 years old, he has already amassed an impressive resume with over 40 film and television productions. His television credits include: “The 100,” “Smallville,” “Once Upon A Time,” “Fringe,” “R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour,” and “Supernatural”. On the film front Quinn has appeared alongside Oscar nominee Christopher Plummer and Andrew Garfield in “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnasses” (Sony Pictures Classics) directed by Terry Gilliam, “Deck the Halls” (Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation) with Danny DeVito and Matthew Broderick, “Things We Lost in the Fire” (Paramount Pictures) with Oscar winner Halle Berry and Benicio Del Toro, and Joe Dante’s “The Hole”. He also starred in the TV movie, “Call Me Mrs. Miracle” with Doris Roberts. Most notably, Quinn Lord has become an icon in the horror genre for his starring role as Sam, a burlap sack wearing demon who is tasked with enforcing the rules of Halloween, in Michael Dougherty’s award winning, cult classic “Trick ‘r Treat.”
Quinn Lord recently joined the cast of Amazon’s critically acclaimed series “The Man in the High Castle.” The show is an alternative history of the world, in which the Axis powers won World War II. The United States has been partitioned into three parts: the Japanese puppet state Japanese Pacific States, which comprises the former United States west of the Rocky Mountains; a Nazi puppet state that comprises the eastern half of the former United States; and the Neutral Zone that acts as a buffer between the two. Quinn shines as Thomas Smith, Obergruppenführer Smith’s teenage son (Rufus Sewell) and an American Nazi Youth member.
Jason Price recently caught up with Quinn Lord to discuss his career, the challenges he has faced along the way, and his evolution as an actor.
Let’s go all the way back to the beginning. How did you get involved with the arts early on in life, and what made you continue to pursue your passion as a career?
I started when I was about five years old! So, it’s coming up on 13 years ago now! Boy, do I feel old! [laughs] I remember I used to watch a whole lot of movies likes “Star Wars,” “Indiana Jones” and stuff like that. I started taking little scenes from the film, memorizing it and then performing them wherever I could. Essentially, that evolved into me going to an improv class when I was about six years old. From there, based on my ability and how I was always trying to improve myself, the person who ran the improv class said, “Hey, maybe we should give him his first commercial, if you are up for him going into show business.” My parents, being very nice, said yes! Thank God they did! The second commercial I tried out for turned out to be the first commercial I actually landed, so I was extremely lucky! [laughs] Everything kept snowballing from there. I think when it really started to pick up was when I was 7 years old. Around December of 2006 to early 2007, I was working on a Halloween movie called “Trick ‘r Treat.” That was my first lead role in a movie where I played a burlap sack wearing pumpkin demon who was running around enforcing the rules of Halloween. That was really fun to do!
It was certainly a unique way to get your start!
Oh yeah! It was a hell of a lot of fun!
Starting at such a young age, you got a jump on many of your peers when it comes to learning your craft. Has getting such an early start had a big effect on you and the way you approach your work?
I think starting off as young as I did has made me very comfortable with my craft. I have been working on it since I was five years old so it has become almost second nature to me. Like you said, many actors don’t start until much later in life. I think having those early years were really valuable to me because it gave me that much more time to practice and hone my skills.
You mentioned some of your early influences. Who do you find yourself looking to for inspiration?
Back when I was doing all those little scenes from “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones,” I really liked Harrison Ford. I really admired that guy. Then it evolved into Bruce Campbell and Johnny Depp. It has really become a combination of traits shared across the board by multiple people. I feel if I can take the best traits from all of those different sources and put them together, that is what I would like to be. There’s no perfect human being who does everything right and nothing wrong. We would all like to be that way, of course. I feel that if you take what you admire the most about the best traits of people and strive to achieve those traits, it can all come together to be truly amazing.
Did you have anyone behind the scenes giving you that extra push when you needed it?
My mother has been extremely supportive throughout my career. She has always been the one who has been there for me, whether it comes to rehearsing for roles, giving creative input, or constructive criticism. Honestly, I don’t know where I would be if I hadn’t had that constructive criticism since I was five years old. That much constructive criticism over that period of time is amazingly helpful and can lead to a lot of improvement. Going back to the previous question, one of the traits I definitely admire definitely lies within my parents.
Has it been difficult to balance your career with everything else that comes with being a kid or young adult?
It hasn’t been too hard at all. It can be difficult from time to time. It’s funny because every once in a while at school you will have one friend who says, “Hey, I just saw you on my TV last night. You were wearing this Nazi Boy Scout uniform on ‘The Man In The High Castle.’” There are always those moments! [laughs] I think the only challenge I ever ran into was not advertising that I was an actor before getting to know someone who I might want to pursue a friendship with. If you advertise that you’re an actor all the time, people might be attracted to you for the wrong reasons. They might be attracted to your job, rather than you are as a person. I try to keep it all low-key and if anyone asks I just say, “Yeah, I sort of do that.” Typically, they are like, “Why didn’t you say that!” [laughs] I guess it’s better to have someone say “Why don’t you say you are an actor” rather than “Oh, you’re an actor but I don’t know anything about you!”
You’ve been very busy this year when it comes to your career. One of the biggest projects you have going on is your role on “The Man in The High Castle.” How did you get involved with the project initially?
When I first heard about the project, I was going through about four auditions a week. It came up and I thought, “The Man In The High Castle… that’s a strange name.” I read the character breakdown and it said, “Thomas is a very proud and respectful young man.” I was thinking to myself, “Well, I haven’t done the really good, proud and respectful kid yet. I’ve done burlap sacked demons before…” [laughs] I figured it would give a shot and I and I really wanted to try something like this! At the time, I had no idea what the whole show and storyline was. For the three years prior to the auditions, I was sort of hoping for an alternate history show like this one. In the back of my mind, there was one little genre that was missing from my watchful content — a show dealing with alternate history, parallel realities that I could get hooked on. When it comes to shows like that, I typically think about “Dr. Who,” an entry of “What If…” or even something like “Life After People.” I am so thrilled to watch shows like that because they are so different. I was really on the search, subconsciously, for a show like “The Man In The High Castle” and then I went and auditioned for the show without knowing it would be a show like the ones I wanted to watch! I didn’t really find out what it was all about until after the audition when I watched the pilot. I knew immediately that I wanted to be a part of it!
Do you feel you brought something to your character that wasn’t on the original written page?
The writing on the show is excellent, so there wasn’t too much extra I needed to bring to Thomas. He is the perfect kid but in a different reality, if that makes sense. Instead of being the straight “A”, American student, he is the straight “A” Nazi student. What he perceives is right and the way he is upholding the Nazi ideals is almost creepy to watch. He was brought up in this society and he doesn’t know any better because it is all he has known for his entire life. I don’t think he even knows the difference between the cultural differences between the Pacific States in the greater Nazi Reich in the show. What would be a really interesting thing to see is if he stumbled upon a film and saw they way other people lived. That would be insane, just to see the expression on his face when he sees the strange world where people are eating hot dogs on the street corner! [laughs]
What went into the process of bringing this character a life for you? Do you have a particular process you go about when taking on a new role?
Yes. I have been relying a lot on past experience. As I get older, I find myself looking back and taking bits and pieces of what I have done before and it really helps. Rather than absolutely creating something new, I’m creating something new from past experiences. Relying on these past experiences is what has worked and what has been successful for me. It allows me to take the best parts of what I’ve done in the past and apply them to a new situation. It’s very similar to what I was saying about the actors I look up to and combining their most admirable traits. It is almost more of a process of what I subtract from myself, along with what I portray from past characters. It is a long and introspective process.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced in bringing this role to the screen?
I think the biggest challenge for me, while on set, was doing it right while on set with a whole bunch of swastikas! [laughs] It’s actually a little harder than you think! My character feels that he’s doing the right thing for the right cause but there’s a swastika looming in the distance! That was a big challenge. It’s been great because it’s been like a big family on set. Everyone knows everybody else and there’s a great chemistry between the cast and crew. Sometimes a lack of chemistry can lead to problems on the set and can be a big challenge to overcome. That is definitely not a problem on the set. One of the biggest things I have learned from being on the show and its storyline is that the future has not been written yet and I’m really excited about all of the possibilities let come with that.
Speaking of lessons learned along the way, how do you view your evolution as an actor?
I feel that every project is a learning experience. With each project there is at least one thing I have done wrong. By that I mean a mistake in the process of character creation. It can be a small, little thing. For example, one one of my past roles, if you asked the right question at the wrong time about my character, I might not have the answer. It might be something I forgot to add. So, the next time I create a character, I try to fill in every single gap, especially the gap I forgot to fill in on a previous role. It comes for me looking at my character as a whole rather than a mistake in delivering a line or something of that sort.
You mentioned your role as Sam in Michael Dougherty’s “Trick ‘r Treat.” It’s truly a cult classic and the buzz continues to grow. What has it been like to be a part of this phenomena?
It’s actually been quite interesting and a little bit funny in way! It’s a movie I did back when I was seven years old and here I am at 17! 10 years ago I made a movie and, at the time it was released, only a few people saw it. As the years have gone on, the film just keeps gaining more and more popularity! It has developed a great following! It was strange because it was almost the reverse of what you expect when you typically release a film. Typically, there’s a giant explosion of people watching the movie on the drop date and then it slowly dies off as the film has been out for a while. The complete opposite happened with ‘Trick ‘R’ Treat’! It seems like it has ramped up exponentially through the years! It’s still going! And then there’s the sequel, so it might get even bigger! [laughs]
Do you have any fond memories of making that project? I saw you had uploaded a behind-the-scenes video of when you were on set as a kid. (Check out the video at this location)
Yeah! I have to say the number one thing I remember is the special effects! Being behind the scenes and seeing how it was done was really, really fun! It wasn’t scary at all! With that said, at the time, I wasn’t really scared of anything at all! [laughs] I was definitely not scared of anything after working on a Halloween movie with special effects like those and all the gore! Just after “Trick ‘r Treat,” I had a small little role on the TV show “Smallville.” My character was possessed by The Phantom and I had to reach into a man’s stomach and pull out his guts! [laughs] At the time, I was like, “Oh, hey! Red peppers! Cool!” [laughs] it was quite the experience! But yeah, as far as “Trick ‘r Treat,” I think the only thing that haunts me is that behind-the-scenes video where I’m talking about what’s in Sam’s bag while I am in my trailer!
A lot of people can look to you as an inspiration. What is the best lesson we can take from your journey so far?
This is one I have never been asked before but I will give it a shot! I guess the lesson would be that if you are going to go for something, go for it all the way. I was lucky to have such a strong idea of what I wanted to do early on in life and I was lucky to have parents who supported me in what I wanted to do. I really won the lottery on that one! You know, life is short so we have to make the most of it!
We are about to kick off a brand new year. Any resolutions for 2017?
That’s a good question. I think I probably be keeping up with my resolution from last year, which was to never show negative emotions on my face. If you show only the positive emotions, even if you are feeling down, people react to that and tend to give it back to you. It’s almost like a karma thing where you give and get back. If you give off a happy face and someone smiles back at you, if you are feeling down, it begins to cheer you up! It’s a little bit of a mind game but it worked out really well! I was much happier this year than last year!
Truer words have never been spoken! Thanks for your time today, Quinn! We really appreciate it and can’t wait to see where the journey takes you!
Thank you, Jason! Talk to you soon!
Jason Price founded the mighty Icon Vs. Icon more than a decade ago. Along the way, he’s assembled an amazing group of like-minded individuals to spread the word on some of the most unique people and projects on the pop culture landscape.