The Core-4. That’s what I call actors Ralf Scheepers, Kevin Cusick, Sarah Haruko and Lee Baptiste. These four are the principal actors in The Devil’s Five because they are the ones who have the most screen time, dialogue and thus are central or the key to the foundation of the not just segment, but entire feature film Devil’s Five.
When I was casting the movie I was more than aware of this. I was not just looking for thespians that looked like the characters in the script, I was also determined to find the best actors available. When auditioning I weighed in their attitude, commitment to acting, besides how well they performed the sides given to them.
Kevin Cusick has the most screen of any character in The Devil’s Five. So it was paramount that he not just had the acting chops to pull off the character, but dramatic strength to carry this story. If he didn’t, we would be in trouble. But that was never a concern of mine because I felt he was the best actor I auditioned for not just his part , but the entire movie.
Kevin first displayed this belief I had in him, when I learned that he held rehearsal with Lee and Sarah at his place, even including an acting coach to help them all prepare as a team.
Kevin further demonstrated I made the right choice when he came fully prepared to rattle off pages of dialogue and hit all the targets that outlined his character’s arc. He did this in such a selfless manner that it feed his fellow actors, so they could bounce off each other and all achieve excellence.
Lee Baptiste ended up playing the role after the original actor couldn’t make the new shooting dates. I really admired Lee’s no guff approach. Not only did he bring a powerful physical presence that was palpable, but he carried this over to the way he articulated. There was an abruptness that hinged almost on violence that highlighted the choices he made in not just his body language, but the way he expressed himself. In other words he brought the muscle in comparison to Kevin’s more cerebral approach.
I also loved the physical differences between Kevin & Lee. Besides the contrast of their skin color, age and physical stature, when you combined the way the actors carried things out, it was very easy to picture them not just as partners, but experienced officers whose occupation is to investigate and solve crimes.
Lee also understood his position in the hierarchy of his partnership. Kevin was to take the lead, but when his time came, he delivered without apology. For that kind of understanding I will always be thankful.
Sarah Haruko was nothing short of fantastic. Not only did she bring femininity the movie needed, but did so as a completely believable officer of the law. It was crucial to me that she didn’t come across as butch or a man in a female body. I wanted her to absolutely be a woman.
There was never any doubt about her onscreen conviction and she truthfully had the second most dialogue to communicate to the audience. Ever since her audition I just loved the way she spoke. She had a true sense of patience that came across as controlled professionalism that was needed to accurately portray her part.
Also her stunningly beautiful Asian good looks mixed wonderfully against her fellow actors, bringing not just cultural diversity, but helped create the strikingly different human landscape I always aim for my movies to have.
I got very lucky with the incredible four people that made up of The Devil’s FiveCore-4. . They individually came fully ready to mix it up on screen, challenging each other to reach the highest levels of performance. They did this completely together as a unified team. Maybe just as important was the humbleness and openness each had at trying to attain such a high level mark as actors.
By Co-Writer/Co-Producer/Director Terry R. Wickham
When a director casts the lead actor in a movie, the significance is beyond important. It goes without saying, the person needs to fit the role and hopefully have the ability to put the movie on their back. As a director of a low budget film, I’m restricted to not being able to go after established SAG film actors and for that reason I believe in taking chances. Another thing I’m opposed to doing is casting overused actors from other low budget productions, because I don’t want my film to carry their baggage.
In late April 2014, I went to see the power metal band Primal Fear perform live in New York City with one of my Devil’s Five partners and fellow directors George Brianka. After seeing the group tear through a rousing set highlighted by material from their album Delivering The Black, we got to meet with the band backstage. This was the reason we were actually at the show. We needed to get permission from the band to use their song “Delivering The Black” for the end credits of our movie.
After the band agreed to let us use the song, vocalist Ralf Scheepers approached me to let me know he was interested in doing some acting in a movie. This really caught me off guard and truthfully I didn’t know what to think at that exact moment.
When I relayed Ralf’s message to TheDevil’s Five investor Thad Byrd, he told me that we had to call him on that. See, Primal Fear is Thad’s favorite band and he immediately saw the value in getting an international known name attached to film.
Flash forward to September 18, 19 and 20th 2015, when I firsthand got the chance to work with Ralf, when he played the lead role in “The Devil’s Five.”
We believed so much in him that we used a good portion of our budget to fly Ralf to New York from his home in Germany. I cannot over emphasize how extremely lucky we got because when you roll the dice on an unproven actor, there’s no guarantee of what you’ll end up getting.
But what we got was a performer totally committed to not only pulling off the character, but doing everything he could to help us make the movie. Ralf is someone that everyone, including my family loved and respected. There were a bunch of people on our production team that commented how good of an actor he was, which I wholeheartedly agreed.
What amazes me the most about Ralf is that for all he’s accomplished, there’s not an ounce of attitude or whiff of arrogance that you sometimes get from lesser known talent. The fact is Ralf was there one hundred percent committed to making the movie the best it could be and was willing to do whatever that took. There was no clock ticking in terms of when he needed to stop working or needed a break. There were even a couple times, he pointed out details in my own script I was missing in the rush of production. That is absolute proof of a person who cared about getting what was written.
At this point, there is no doubt that we hit the casting jackpot with Ralf Scheepers. There’s not a better person in the world, to act as the spokesman for The Devil’s Five than the talented, hardworking, optimistic German gentleman, who simply understands what needs to be done to make dreams come true.
He absolutely helped me realize my vision for The Devil’s Five and for that I will forever be grateful.