Chris Jericho on Terrifier 2, horror movies and AEW

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If anyone knows a thing or two about the show, it’s Chris Jericho. Over the past 30 years, the legendary professional wrestler has made a name for himself with his swaggering personality, outlandish outfits and sensational in-ring talent. Jericho is a rock star outside of the ring as the lead singer of the metal band Fozzy. Don’t forget to add podcast host, actor and cruise developer to Jericho’s resume. Because of his flair for the dramatic, Jericho loves horror movies, and one of his favorite 21st century characters is Art the Clown of the creepy franchise.

Introduced in 2016 creepy, Art the Clown is a vicious prankster who murders countless victims in the most gruesome ways. Without ever saying a word, Art’s devilish smile and disturbing persona send shivers down the spine of the audience. After creepy become a cult classic, Jericho immediately sought out Damien Leone, the film’s writer/director, to sing his praises and discuss working together on the road. This relationship materialized in Terrifying 2the final chapter in Art the Clown’s quest for blood and death.

In an interview with Digital Trends, Jericho explains his love for the creepy franchise and how he ended up with a role in the film’s sequel. We also discuss pro wrestling and how Jericho rekindled his passion for the sport in AEW.

Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Digital trends: Terrifying 2 is out now. Pun: It’s terrifying, it’s crazy, and let’s be honest, it’s downright crazy. How did you find out creepy?

Chris Jericho: So we’re on the tour bus on a Fozzy tour, I don’t know, probably five years ago. My partner in Fozzy, Rich Ward, also loves horror movies. He’s like, “You gotta see this movie called creepy.” I was like, “Man, I don’t know. Whatever.” He says, “You have to see it.” I’m like, “Maybe I’ll check it out,” and he’s like, “Look at this scene.” It was the famous scene, the hacksaw scene. I was like, “Oh my God. This is like one of the most intense murders I’ve ever seen in a horror movie. And who is this clown?

So that’s kind of what got me hooked. I was probably one of the first people to talk about Terrifying, and that’s how I really got involved, not just as a fan, but almost as a promoter of this movie. I remember saying that on my podcast because I have a big horror movie fan base too. It’s the good one. I was able to talk to David Howard Thornton for To speak is Jericho, and this dates back to 2017/2018. I’ve always been a big fan of this movie because it’s very unique, and it’s the best horror movie, and now the best horror franchise we’ve seen in probably 20 years – 25 years, maybe.

Art the Clown is central to this film. He is a scary and silent killer clown who murders people in the most gruesome way. I heard you call Art”one of the best horror villains of the last 20 years.” Why do you believe that?

First, the creepiness of the art, how David plays the character – never speaks, [and] never speak. Listen, Michael Myers and [Jason] Voorhees has never spoken either, but that’s different because he’s a clown and not just in name. He has gags, he has horns, he has tricycles, and he does everything with such joy. This is where the real horror comes in. When you mention that his murders are very vicious, it’s not just a sword in the chest or whatever, it’s stabbing, stabbing, stab. [Makes stabbing motion]

It’s so violent, intense and horrifying. You put all of those elements together and the way David plays it, it’s kind of like the Grinch who stole Christmas. It’s a lot of animation. It’s a dichotomy between this goofy, lively clown who’s also one of those vicious, sadistic killers we’ve seen. The last thing about it is that unlike Jason or Freddy [Krueger] or those guys hanging out in the woods in the middle of the night, art is in your town. He’s in the restaurant across from you. He takes selfies with people. He’s in a laundromat in the second part. He’s in a costume store. He interacts with people who think he’s scary just by looking at him but have no idea how evil this entity is.

How did you meet Damien? It sounded like you almost begged him to do whatever you could for the movie, and you ended up playing a role in Terrifying 2. How did it happen?

Well, I wouldn’t say begged. I think it was mutual respect. I mean, when Chris Jericho starts talking about something, sooner or later it’s going to go back to the source, because with 12 million followers on social media, someone is going to tag Damien on something that I said. That’s kind of where it comes from, mutual respect. I think he was blown away. Obviously, he’s from New York. He’s a fan of mine, and that’s kind of where it starts. I was like, “Man, anything can I do?” and he’s like, “We should do something in part two.” I’m like, ‘Well, yeah. We should do something in part two,’ and we had talked about it.

We had several different ideas. My thing is the movie ending, and in the three years it took to release the movie, another movie had a similar ending, so we had to recut the scene, which cut my scene. It is very good. It’s Hollywood, but that leaves room for maybe more in Part 3 if that’s the case. Anyway, it was more like, “What can we do to work together because we think it would be cool?” and that’s basically what happened.

Either way, every fan can trace a defining moment in their life when they fell in love with one of their passions. What was that moment for you with horror?

Well, I’ve been a horror fan since I was little. I remember before VHS, probably in 1979 or 1980, they had the midnight horror movies in Winnipeg, where I grew up, on TV. My mother let me watch them, but first I had to go to bed. I had to go to bed around 10:00 a.m. or 10:30 a.m. and sleep for an hour, an hour and a half. I was nine years old. If I could get up at midnight, then I had the right to come down and watch, because there were always two. You would start at midnight and last until three or four in the morning. Nine times out of ten I would [wake up]. The times I didn’t wake up, I would beat myself up, “Oh no!

Art the Clown holds a horn in a girl's ear in a scene from Terrifier 2.

It was all the old Hammer and Universal Pictures movies and that kind of stuff. When the VCR was created, it was perfect for me. I remember the first video store, fetch I spit on your grave and Mothers’ Day. I didn’t want to watch anything relevant. I wanted to watch all those crazy movies, because horror was kind of the first genre to really get its feet wet with videotapes. There were about 100 horror movies, then 10 new movies. Horror ones were easier to get. I just grew up with it and weaned myself off of it. It was from the start, as far back as I can remember, being into horror movies and horror books and that kind of stuff.

Well, now you can add acting to your resume. Between wrestling, Fozzy, movies, TV, podcasts, and a cruise, how do you stay so energized and motivated?

When I was a kid I wanted to be a wrestler and I wanted to be in a rock ‘n’ roll band. Those are the two things I wanted to do. When I started having success in both of those areas, all of a sudden, you’re unstoppable, aren’t you? Like, you can try anything. All the projects I have are things I was just thinking, “Oh, I can do this.” We played Kiss Cruise in 2015, and as soon as we got off the boat, I was like, ‘I can do my own cruise. A rock and wrestling cruise. It took me three years to set it up.

All these projects that you talk about are very, very passionate for me. These are the things I want to do. When you want to do them, you find ways to make it work. I don’t do things that don’t interest me.

Chris Jericho is watching someone from AEW Dynamite.
AEW

You’ve had a big change in your wrestling career over the past five years. If you didn’t go to New Japan and AEW, do you think you would still be wrestling today? Did this change spark a new fire in your career?

It sparked a new fire in me. The last time I was in WWE, I just felt like I didn’t really feel that spark anymore. It was mutual. I’m not where I want to be, and that’s okay. Then the opportunity of New Japan came along, and it was just a whole new world for me, where suddenly I’m, once again, a very lucrative draw. This is what led directly to AEW. So if AEW hasn’t started, I don’t know. I can’t answer because “what if” is always “what if”. I don’t think I would have gone back to WWE.

I remember thinking back in 2019, right before AEW started, I was talking about WWE a bit. I was like, “The last thing I want to do is go back and put someone on the list.” It was so 2016, and it was such a big moment in time, and I didn’t want to be that guy – the nostalgia guy. They had a different mindset there, I think, for what they wanted me to do.

Here I am now, every week is something new. They can’t make enough t-shirts and people are packing them! They say, “You have too many slogans. You have too many nicknames. Well, damn it! Why not? You follow the story and you stay creative. There are a lot of ideas out there, and I really like that about AEW. I said it last night after our third anniversary show. If it wasn’t for AEW, I don’t think I would be wrestling, at least not as much as I am now.

Terrifying 2 is now in theaters.

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