Thursday, June 12, 2014
Georgetown County native Bill Oberst Jr. wants to scare you, and if he does in his horror movies, he feels he has done his job.
The Hollywood actor moved west a few years ago and tackled the horror genre head-on, and now he is working on several movies at the same time, getting referrals almost daily.
“Take This Lollipop” really revved up his word of mouth, the internet sensation that portrayed him as a stalker using his computer.
Then there was “Anatomy of Fear.” Maybe you saw him on The Hallmark Channel’s TV movie “The Shunning.”
Tom Hardy, director of “The Devil Within,” said, “He’s focused on your target, adaptable, resilient and up for anything whenever. He gives you more than you bargained for, has a lot going on in his eyes, accurately uses his physicality and is quick on his feet. In short, he gets it. The thing I liked most about working with Bill is his dedication to the picture first, last and always.”
The striking thing about him is that he is a Christian and not afraid to talk about it. He was in “Wesley,” the movie about John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church.
Jason Williams, producer of “Sherman’s March,” said, “I always thought that Bill Oberst Jr. was a perfect fit for the part of William Tecumseh Sherman. He was the best actor imaginable for the role. Our project benefited from his professionalism, his hard work and his forethought. I would recommend Bill to other productions because he’s a real pro.”
Matt Dean, producer of “The Devil Within,” said, “Bill Oberst Jr. is an amazing and versatile actor. His ability to take on a wide range of characters and make each role his own is truly astounding.”
Last year, you may have seen him in a video for the website Funny or Die. “I had an appearance in it,” he said. Jim Carrey was also in it. Some conservatives didn’t think it was very funny.
“I got a call the night before from the producer and went in an did my little bit,” Oberst said. “I just did it as a favor and didn’t know what the content was.” He usually tries to stay away from anything political.
Folks in the industry trade favors, he said.
He loved working on the movie “Wesley.” Minister John Jackman directed the film in Winston-Salem.
Oberst did a premiere for Jackman in Bakersfield, California. His character tried to convince the evangelist to keep going.
At Precious Blood Catholic Church in Pawleys Island, South Carolina, he portrayed Jesus Christ one Sunday afternoon many years ago and did a great job, handing out bread to the audience.
“I’ve been doing the Jesus presentation since 1994. It’s been 20 years,” he said. “I’ve always enjoyed doing it. I do it when I’m asked to do it.”
He spent 15 years doing historical shows like the ones on Mark Twain, John F. Kennedy and Lewis Grizzard. “I had never done a film before and got a part on The History Channel doing General Sherman,” he said. “It did really well, and it got written up in the Wall Street Journal.”
So he decided to fly out to Los Angeles and got an agent.
“Then I began to starve because I didn’t have anything special or unique about me,” he said. “I don’t want to be a part of anything that lifts up darkness or anything like that.”
Then he decided to do parts that show people that there is a real evil in the world. His casting calls were about evil calls.
A director told him that somebody has to play evil people, and it might as well be him.
“Play them for real, and don’t make a joke about it,” the director told him. “To me personally, I believe the thing the devil really wants us to believe is that he doesn’t exist. I think he is the happiest in the world when people say there ain’t no such thing as the devil.”
He enjoys the TV show “Hannibal.”
Right now, he is working on 27 films in various stages of development, including one about Charles Manson’s son and one about a guy looking for Sasquatch. He has been in more than 100 films.
This year there will be a sequel to “The Shunning” with Michael Landon’s son directing.
One movie out now is “The Retrieval” with Oberst playing a bounty hunter in the last days of the Civil War.
“I’ve got these two free blacks helping me look for slaves,” he said. “One of them decides to run off. It’s kind of like the Western meets the Civil War. It’s clean and a good family film. It’s just opened in Los Angeles.”
Some movies are nothing but profanity, he noted.
“In South Carolina, we had ghosts around every corner,” he said. His father hunted and told him it was very spooky.
“That’s one of the great things I love about the South is the great stories that we have,” he said.
Tim Bullard, 58, has a book published by The History Press of Charleston, “Haunted Watauga County.” He is married with a son, Conor. They live in Winston-Salem, N.C. He also has a column in the North Myrtle Beach Times and has won a S.C. Press Association feature writing award and a N.C. Press Association writing award. His web site is www.timbullard.com.