How I Played A Supervillain

How I Played A Supervillain

How I created a supervillain for the short film "The Other Side of the Cage"

Gabriel Connor Salter

I’m a very plot-driven writer.

When I write stories, I need to have an exciting idea, something I want to explore.

Consequently, I tend to write a lot of sci-fi and fantasy.

When I'm writing short films and have limited resources though, I write thrillers or horror stories.

Sci-fi and fantasy can be expensive, but you don't need a big budget to create a scary atmosphere.

When I wrote the short film “The Other Side of the Cage,” I drew inspiration from thrillers like the miniseries “Manhunt: Unabomber” and the 1986 film “Manhunter.”

These stories had something very interesting.

They focused on people who meet in one room, who just talk, but their words were all about trying to tear each other apart.

This made the stories feel powerful, just as gripping as blockbuster action movies.

So, I built my main characters to emulate that dynamic.

The hero, a superhero named the Commodore, had to be like Will Graham, the FBI agent in “Manhunter.”

He had to be an authority figure trying to trick an old foe into doing something he would never do.

The villain, Ivan Ghoul, had to be like Hannibal Lecter, the antagonist of “Manhunter” and other films.

He had to be a creep who could use only his words to hit people at their weakest points.

I knew I’d captured that attitude when the Robotic Flyers team sat down to read the script for the first time.

James D. Stacy, the director, commented that the best way to describe Ghoul was that he was like Satan.

I immediately thought of Mads Mikkelsen saying something similar in an interview about playing Hannibal Lecter.

I knew from the start that I wanted to play Ghoul.

I’d heard so many people tell me my accent sounded British or European.

Here was a chance to use that to my advantage, to play a character whose strange accent just made him more mysterious.

The fact I couldn’t act well didn’t seem like a problem.

I initially wrote Ghoul as an over-the-top character, campy.

My initial voice recordings, where I rasped and over-pronounced Ghoul’s lines into my phone, fit that image very well.

I sounded like I was simultaneously trying to channel Anthony Hopkins as Lecter and Andy Serkis as Gollum.

After I showed the recordings to James along with some test footage, he suggested a different approach.

He felt playing Ghoul as campy would seem childish to viewers, so he recommended I just say the lines as I would normally speak, only lower and more monotone.

The results, as I learned listening to new recordings of the lines where James coached me, worked really well.

This was a scarier figure, someone with some humor but who talked in a brutally serious tone.

His voice wasn’t forced or over-the-top. He sounded like he might really exist.

But this created a new problem for me.

Was it okay to play such a dark character now that he seemed plausible?

I could justify playing an over-the-top villain, he would be too crazy to take seriously.

But a character who was so dark and seemed like he might really exist? Would that glorify evil in some way?

In the end, I did what I often do in tough situations. I prayed and went over the material again in my mind.

Two things came to mind.

The first thing was the Commodore’s last lines, which were supposed to be a rebuttal to Ghoul’s point of view.

I realized the only way those lines would have the right impact is if they came from someone facing a real threat.

Ghoul had to be a truly difficult villain to make the Commodore seem like a worthy hero.

The second thing was that sometimes you have to give the devil his due.

When you’ve created a complex villain whose existence raises tough questions, he needs to be compelling.

He needs to be powerful and hard to reject.

There’s a place for campy villains.

But some stories need villains who have real grit.

In the end, playing Ivan Ghoul wasn’t about glorifying evil.

It was about giving the Commodore a worthy foe.

“The Other Side of the Cage” was produced by Robotic Flyers Productions and released in March 2018.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

10 Etsy Father's Day Gifts Under $40 To Support Your Dad And Small Businesses

Stores may still be closed, but the internet is still wide open. So, while you're already shopping online check out Etsy for your Father's Day needs and support small creators.

As June approaches, Father's Day is coming up quickly with it. While they may not ask for much, it's always a nice gesture to give your dad something special to share your appreciation. Although, at the same time, it might be difficult to find the perfect gift either for their humor or that will be practical.

On a normal occasion, it's simple to find a gift for your father figures in stores, but for the times we're currently in our access has become very limited. Small and independent businesses need help now more than ever, so what better time than now to support them? If you're still stuck on what to give for Father's Day, look to this list for some inspiration that won't hurt your wallet too much.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

5 Helpful, Effective Mental Health Resources Specifically For The Black Community

These organizations are qualified, caring, and acknowledging the mental trauma individuals are experiencing.

On May 25, George Floyd died after being pinned to the ground by a Minneapolis police officer. In the last week, protests have sprung up across the nation, demanding justice for Floyd and accountability for police brutality. Social media has also seen widespread conversation regarding Floyd's death, Black Lives Matter, and racism in the United States. Today is #BlackoutTuesday, where many are sharing a single black square to represent unity and support for Black voices.

In light of the heavy climate that our country is facing, it is a safe assumption that many individuals' mental health may be suffering. We wanted to highlight mental health resources and organizations that are Black-owned and prepared to assist in whatever you're going through.

Keep Reading... Show less

15 Black-Owned Haircare Brands That Cater As Much To Inclusivity As They Do To Your Locks

Championing Black entrepreneurs who make some of our hair favorites.

The haircare industry is vast. With the rise of social media came hundreds of thousands of empowered, niche brands. Single entrepreneurs came out of the woodwork with hair brands that now, years later, have dedicated cult followings.

Of those multitudes of brands, few cater to all hair types, most made without regard for curly or coily hair. These brands, however, are different.

Keep Reading... Show less

4 Women Of Color Share How Racism Affects Their Dating Lives, And Everyone Needs To Listen

"My race is typically a factor in almost everything I do, and with dating, it's no different."

Racism affects the daily lives of people of color in the United States, and other parts of the world, in some capacity every day. When it comes to dating and relationships, this is unfortunately no different.

Keep Reading... Show less

13 Movies And Shows On Netflix Directed By Black Men And Women You Need To Watch Now

Take the time right now to watch these fantastic films and TV shows directed by Black men and women.


Netflix is notorious for getting us insanely addicted to watching TV and films. From documentaries, true crime, reality, and fiction, we get very sucked in.

Right now the American people are fighting for the lives of our Black brothers and sisters, so instead of watching "The Office" for the 30th time, take the time to watch these 13 films and TV shows directed by Black men and women.

Keep Reading... Show less

I love working out, it makes me feel great. It helps my mood, sleep schedule and I just feel overall healthier. Recently I wanted to focus more on my glutes than I previously had been. At the gym, I would just go to the squat bar to do my thing and call it a day. But since we have been home in quarantine I feel like squats just aren't doing it for me but even if I love doing them. Doing squats I always have felt does more for banging my thighs than it ever did for my butt. It made them so big, which I didn't mind except I felt it made my butt look pretty much the same. Straying from squats, and the fact that gyms will probably remain closed for a while, sent me on a fitness journey to see what other exercises I could do at home with no or very little equipment needed. Hopefully, these exercises will help keep your booty banging.

1. Diamond Leg Lifts

Keep Reading... Show less

10 Podcasts On Race Everyone Should Listen To In Order To Be A Better Ally

Listen and learn, because knowledge is power.

Podcasts are such an integral part of some of our everyday lives that it can be hard to recall a time at which they didn't exist. Podcasts exist on about every single topic, from dating to celebrity gossip and Harry Potter.

Now more than ever, it's likely you're reeling from the news, and (hopefully) wanting to do something about it in order to educate yourself. Podcasts are one of the best ways to get the most up-to-date information in a conversational, personal way from some of today's top educators, scholars, and theorists.

Keep Reading... Show less

Stop Pitying Me Because I'm Single, I'm Very Happy With My Relationship With Myself

I don't need your opinions on why I'm single and you're not. We are two different people.

I'm so happy for my friends when they get into relationships, but that doesn't mean they get to have control over my love life, and that is what bothers me. For the record, I've been in four relationships, one lasting for three years, so I do understand relationships.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments