chats with Tom Kovacs]
Just sometime back, I got in touch with Tom Kovacs who played Mike in
MY BLOODY VALENTINE (1981). While he may not have had
a huge role in the film, any information on one of the most beloved horror
films from the '80s is a welcomed gesture. Kovacs' character Mike and
his on-screen sweetheart Harriet suffer a gruesome death via double impalement.
I'm sure you MY BLOODY VALENTINE hounds remember that.
Keep in mind that this list of questions were compiled before the release
of the Special Edition of MY BLOODY VALENTINE, so, a
few questions may have already answered themselves with the help of the
previous cut scenes being intact. So, here's the brief interview with
Tom Kovacs of MY BLOODY VALENTINE.
Q: Tom, first off, thanks for taking time to answer some questions
about the making of My MY BLOODY VALENTINE. The universal
question ... (or maybe the Paramount question) - How did you end up getting
involved with the film? What kind of audition process did you have to
I actually worked with George Mihalka the year before on a film called
Pinball Summer (aka Pickup Summer) so there was no audition process per
se. He just called me up and said he had a role for me in MBV.
Q: How long was your shooting schedule?
I'd say about six weeks.
Q: You and your onscreen sweetheart (Harriet) were found by Keith
Knight (Hollis) double impaled by a large drill bit. The viewer gets to
see only the aftermath. Was there a death scene actually filmed involving
your character and Harriet?
Yes. If I recall correctly, we spent somewhere close to four or five hours
filming the scene. I distinctly remember laying on top of Harriet with
the camera low on the ground aimed up to me. I was required to display
shock on my face when the pain from being impaled hit me and then, blood
started to drip slowly from my mouth onto Harriet's face. I still remember
having to hold a mouthful of that dark chocolate syrup in my mouth while
waiting for the camera to roll and then carefully letting tiny drops fall
on her face. As for the augur, it was one of those trick collapsible augurs.
Q: I would assume that shooting a film in a setting like an old
mine would be a little dangerous. What was it like filming in the mine?
I suppose it could be dangerous but I don't recall ever once feeling in
danger. I think the locals who oversaw the mine seemed very comfortable
down in the tunnels and so I didn't see any need for alarm. Filming in
the mine was most certainly different to filming in a more open area.
A large part of film acting is just sitting around and waiting while the
next shot is being set up. Down in the mine, there was very little room
to go off and do your own thing while waiting for a shot so it got a little
claustrophobic at times.
Q: It seems as if I read that one of the actors actually clipped
someone with their car during one scene. Maybe the scene where you guys
first get off work after cleaning up in the bath house. Do you remember
anything about this?
I do remember an incident where one of the actors, while driving a car
in a scene with several other cars racing out of the mine parking lot,
did clip a local extra. Which specific scene in the film I couldn't say
but I do recall a number of people on set were pretty angry and upset
about the whole thing.
Q: TJ, Sarah, and Axel's little love triangle added a very welcomed touch
to MY BLOODY VALENTINE. What was it like working with
Paul Kelman, Neil Affleck and Lori Hallier?
I really enjoyed working with them. One day, I noticed Paul with a 'Love
That Shit Kickin' Music' button on his shirt. Being a musician, I told
him I really liked the button. Several days later he gave it to me as
a gift. I remember Neil having a great sincere laugh and I always enjoyed
being around him. Lori, who I thought was beautiful, impressed me with
the warmth of her personality.
Q: Sadly, Keith Knight (Hollis) passed away just sometime ago.
He and Alf Humphreys (Howard) also added a welcomed vibe to the film.
What were those guys like?
Both Keith and Alf had amazingly wicked senses of humor. I was pretty
young at the time and had never come across such quick and sharp wit like
theirs before so they got me laughing a LOT!
Q: Where did the actors /actresses stay when they weren't filming?
We stayed in a pretty nice hotel in Sydney and when we weren't filming,
we'd find things to do. I remember a trip on the Cabot Trail in a van
with several other actors and crew. We'd be picked up from the hotel by
the movie production driver in a van, get driven to location, check-in
for make-up, talk with the director (George Mihalka) about the scene(s)
we would be shooting that day, wait for scene set-up, shoot the scene
in probably about 3 - 5 takes, wait for the next scene set-up and so forth
until we were driven back to the hotel at the end of the day. That is,
from what I understand, pretty standard on most films. From what I remember,
they [the locals] were pretty nice. They seemed to be pretty excited about
the fact that a movie was being shot in their town and I guess a few of
them were lucky enough to get put into the film in some capacity. If I
remember correctly, the majority of the shooting was done in Sydney Mines.
[Here's a little bit about Sydney Mines from Wikipedia: "Sydney Mines
lies immediately northeast of North Sydney and faces Sydney across Sydney
Harbour. Sydney Mines was once a major coal-producing community. Mining
began locally in 1766, and in 1830 systematic operations were undertaken.
One of the area mines extended about 5 miles (8 km) out under the sea.
The last mine was closed in 1975." We did the underground shots inside
the abandoned mine.]
Q: Are you surprised at how well My Bloody Valentine has held
up through the years?
I'm surprised at the following it has generated ... I mean I've literally
been contacted by people around the world who are fans of the film and
simply want to know what filming the movie was like.
Q: After a seemingly good start to an acting career, you seemed
to just drop out of the profession altogether. What were your reasons
for leaving the acting buisness?
I discovered that music and songwriting were more serious passions of
mine. I've been pursuing the art ever since, supporting myself at odd
jobs here and there. Now I work in the IT department of a large Canadian
corporation. The better pay has allowed me to buy musical equipment and
hire songwriting coaches and record producers. [I'm] Getting married in
April with a wonderful woman named Heather. Also, I'm working on getting
my first song on the radio. The song is called Arms of a Stranger. It's
a smooth jazz duet. We recorded it that way because there was an agency
in the States that was looking for smooth jazz duets. It's not a genre
I had ever worked in before so I had to hire a producer. I think he did
a great job on the song. People can hear what the song sounded like before
going into the studio at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGEbvLY5IzA.
The studio version can be heard at http://www.myspace.com/thomaskovacs.
Q: Do you miss acting?
Very much. My best friend (who has an extensive acting background) and
I have dinner once a week together and then go see a movie. Both of us
are big fans of great acting. As we watched more and more films, the acting
bug started to itch big on me. I started taking workshops with Sears and
Switzer in Toronto. And more recently, I joined a script reading at a
local theater group in preparation to audition for a part, however, rehearsals
would have conflicted with my upcoming wedding and honeymoon. But you
can be sure I'll be on stage in the next year or two.
Q: What's your fondest memory from the My Bloody Valentine shoot?
My fondest memory was how the tour of a live coal mine got mixed up. We
were going to break up into two groups. The lead actors would be taken
to the face of the coal mine while the secondary actors would be taken
to a level far above the face. I was considered a secondary actor. When
one of the guides yelled at my group to follow him, we did. Halfway down
the elevator ride, we discovered that the guide had grabbed the wrong
group and that we were on our way to the coal mine face. It was too late
to turn back so we got a fantastic tour of coal miners working right on
the rock face. It is dusty down there!! We all came back with black faces
absolutely covered in coal dust.
Thanks for taking some time out of your busy schedule and answering some
questions regarding some of your experiences during the making of a cult
classic. And as always, thanks to Justin Kerswell, the reigning king of
the slasher film for posting my random interviews!
review of MY BLOODY VALENTINE.