“Hisss is wonderful and creepy” – Jeff Doucette

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Hisss has been in the news for a while now courtesy Mallika Sherawat who cannot stop gushing and publicizing the film nonstop. Needless to say, by now we all know that the film is about a snake played by the actress. BollySpice had the unique chance of catching up with the villain of the film, Jeff Doucette. The Hollywood actor is well-known in Los Angeles but is also the only American in the Jennifer Lynch directed film. The actor plays a rich American who is looking to find his mojo and finds it in India. Read on to find out more about the upcoming film as BollySpice chats with the bad man of Hisss.

You’ve been in a number of popular shows including Desperate Housewives and That 70’s Show. How did Hisss happen?

Well I’ve done movies all the way along in my career. I’ve done about 35 to 40 films. But the big success everyone knows me for usually is the TV work. The weirdest thing happened, although it’s not that weird because Saba [Moor], my wife and I are metaphysical practitioners. One day she said she wanted to go to India to raise money for her web series Bollywood to Hollywood because people in America won’t quite get this concept yet. Now this was way before Slumdog Millionaire. And so she said “I want to get to India” and I said “I don’t know how that is going to happen but okay.” I said well TV is a little dry for me right now too and I want to do some films, and I don’t want a small part; I want a big part. And Saba added, “and one you don’t have to audition for.” So we put that out there to the universe and two days later, we got a call from an old friend of ours, Will Keenan who was producing Hisss, but we didn’t know it at the time. But he said, “I can’t shake you out of my mind for the last couple of days. We’ve got offers out to big people but we’re looking for an unconventional bad guy for this movie and I think you’d be perfect.” And I said, “oh, that’s great.” He then added, “the only one problem is that you have to go to India.” So I told Saba and we said “oh my god!” And I asked if I could bring Saba and he said “yeah we can arrange that.” And he sent me the script and I loved it. I basically just got offered it. I then went over there and didn’t even meet Jennifer Lynch until we got there. And as soon as we met, our eyes just opened wide. We couldn’t believe what luck we had. She knew a little bit from looking through various character books. She said she called her dad, David Lynch, and asked him if he knew anything about me. And he did and all of a sudden I was in India shooting a movie.

Are you surprised at all the international interest it is generating?

I was told it was it was going to be an international film! So I guess I’m not so surprised.

What is your role in the film?

I am the villain, George Stakes. I’m this real rich, wealthy American who goes to India because he knows the legend of Nagin, the snake goddess and he wants to get everlasting life, because he is dying of brain cancer. Nagin of course is the snake goddess who has the ability to take on human form and if you can get her nagmani, her Mojo, she gives it to you and you have everlasting life. So I kidnap her lover who is a male cobra and draw her to me so we can make an exchange and she can give me her Mojo. It’s an old story and they have made many films about Nagin in India. And it is the most popular legend in the world but we don’t know anything about it in the states. She heard about it and went crazy. She wanted to bring a westerner’s view to it and put the Lynch spin on it. So it’s not your grandmother’s Nagin by any means. The look of it is wonderful and creepy.

How was it working with a number of acclaimed Indian artists including Mallika Sherawat, Irrfan Khan and Divya Dutta?

They are all great. It was so easy. I didn’t really have that much contact with Irrfan except for about two scenes. But he’s such a pro. He’s kind of a shy guy I think, he sticks to himself. On the other hand, Mallika is really loquacious and verbal. I didn’t know she was a big star when I went over there because I didn’t know anything about Indian cinema. She has this incredible knowledge about all thing films. She’s a great film student and takes it very seriously; she knows exactly what she’s doing. She was a fun person to hang out with and talk to. We became fans of each other’s work. And Divya Dutta is just a dream. I still stay in touch with her. She’s a great person.

And working with Jennifer Lynch?

We were instant best friends! The way she communicates on the set to me was amazing. She hadn’t really seen my work, she had other people say. She had complete faith in me and let me go. I suppose that it did help that the first scene that I did was intense and I knocked it out of the park so to speak. We did a lot of improvisation based in the film. I’ve never had such freedom working on a film before. Jennifer just encourages the kind of work she wants in the script and then encourages it. Jennifer has a vision and knows what she wants.

What did you know about Hindi cinema prior to Hisss?

Almost nothing. Just that it was the biggest film industry in the world. But I had seen The Namesake and a few other films which I don’t even remember. I knew that they danced in their movies a lot. I didn’t really know much about it at all and I was just going over there to do the film. I learned a lot. The Indians’ eyes are going to go wide when they see this film but they are going to ask, ‘Where is the music?’

Into what genre would you place Hisss? Horror, suspense, Bollywood?

It’s more like the American sensibility approaching the subject matter that the Indians had seen so much of in India. I’m the only American in it so it’s kind of an Indian film. But it has been directed by Jennifer Lynch so it’s got American special effects. I haven’t seen that many special effects in Indian films. And I know that all the other Nagin movies have dancing and music; this one has none of that. It’s much more real and Lynch-like.

Be sure to catch this film when it hits a cinema next to you. It looks like you will be in for more than a sssurprise!

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