[Lunchmeat 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 go through?

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!

Relevant Links

Read the review of MY BLOODY VALENTINE.