The Horror Revolution: First off, what’s your favorite horror movie? What movie scared you the most?
Debbie Rochon: It's very hard to name a singular favorite horror movie, I might go with The Thing or The Shining. The Thing is a perfect horror movie because it has all of the elements a great scare film has, plus the issue of trust which is so human and serves as a big part of the tension. The Shining is right on the money for me too, I love horror movies that involve madness. The movie that scared me the most would very likely be The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The first time I watched it I was really disturbed by it. Unrelenting terror.
THR: I got the chance to watch Trevor Juenger’s The Man in Room 6, which was absolutely outstanding and is sort of a horror epic. What was your experience like making the film?
DR: I know they had shot various pieces of the movie over a period of time. It was a huge movie to shoot with all of the characters and locations. My role was shot in two trips, the first one I was pretty sick with pneumonia but still showed up because they had so much prepared and depended on me to be there. I had no voice but we shot all the scenes anyway and I certainly gave it my all even though I was pretty hampered by feeling ill. We knew if we could get the visual we always had the opportunity to do ADR later, which we did. So by the time I went back and shot my second segment that was kind of like my first time being there, I was most certainly more myself! It was a joy working with Jackie and everyone. I loved the fact that every person was there for the art of the project and had a huge investment in it as a movie.
THR: The story in The Man in Room 6 is really unique and spans almost a hundred years. How did you get interested in the film?
DR: Trevor had approached me to play the role of Elizabeth and I had always wanted to play a weird mortician. So, it was very easy to be excited about playing the part; as I could see so many fun things to put into this character. It's always interesting to see what a director and editor end up using too, which was the case with this movie. They really chose well I thought.
THR: You’ve spent most of your career doing movies within the horror genre, and currently you have almost 400 movies to your credit. Do you have a favorite film that you’ve been in?
DR: Not a single favorite movie. That's really too hard, I have had the pleasure of working with a few truly wonderful people over the years. I do think the movies that turned out the best for their particular subgenre/style would be: Colour From the Dark, Exhumed, Bloody Ballet, American Nightmare, Terror Firmer, Slime City Massacre, Serial Kaller, Solid State and a few more. A favorite movie for me is the experience making the movie, artistically, and the outcome. Sometimes they can be two very different experiences. My favorite times are always when I'm on location for a week or more, because you really get to settle into your character. A day role can be fun, but really having the opportunity to be there and spend so many days with the part is where you have the time to find that special magic if you can.
THR: Have you always been interested in horror movies?
DR: Yes, I have always been a fan of horror. The reason I enjoy it so much is because of the wide scope the genre can cover. You can make a horror movie that is straight up scary or you can add social commentary. You can take massive liberties with reality. You get to act in many situations that are not of this Earth. You're never limited to any kind of reality and the roles in horror movies are most often meatier than any other genre.
THR: Your character in The Man in Room 6 has been through some serious trauma. Where did you draw the inspiration for the film?
DR: I'm a person that's been through a whole lot of trauma in my lifetime so it certainly wasn't hard and isn't hard for me to draw upon it. It's my favorite thing to do, play disturbed or broken or troubled characters. They are by far the most gratifying. I really enjoyed the opportunity to play her, we also shot in the basement of a working funeral home! The stuff down there was crazy, all the instruments you see are currently working pieces and there was a drain in the middle of the floor with discoloration around it and that was kinda bizarre to be stepping over.
THR: Is every film set different, or do most of them work similarly? As a followup to that question, was there anything unique about working on the set of this film?
DR: The nature of shooting a film can be fairly standard and they do have a lot of similarities. But every set is incredibly different. The intent of the production usually sets the tone. For example if a movie is just being made to make some money that will have an impact on the set. If a movie is being rushed too much that will have a different vibe too, most actors, DPs and other departments might get frustrated at the lack of time to do their best. There are many things, types of people, and environmental or financial reasons why every set is so dramatically different. But the act of understanding the process of a scene breakdown is the constant that keeps you grounded, everything else is an unknown. I think one of the elements I liked most about working on Trevor's set was the relaxed atmosphere which is paramount for people to be creative.
THR: If you could work with anyone in the industry, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
DR: I would probably say Stanley Kubrick. His eye for cinema was insanely perfect, I would know that I was in the very best hands and that he would not only have the talent to capture the performance but also improve upon it! In a lot of indie films you really don't get a lot of direction to engage you and inspire you to try different things and that brings out the best in you. Kubrick also took years to make a film so imagine being on a set with him for a year! Your performance would never be rushed! He would take any actor to another level.
THR: You took a turn at directing with Model Hunger. Did you enjoy being a part of that part of the process, or do you prefer to stick to acting?
DR: I loved directing Model Hunger. What I love so much about directing is the ability to be creative in many departments and aspects of the film. I really enjoyed making the movie and that process, which is not to say it was easy, but I am going to direct again. It does take a few years work on a project, unless you have the funding and a good amount of people at your disposal very early on in the process. But there will be another in the near future, there are many aspects of the next movie that's already in place. I will always love acting, and have a couple of extra special projects coming up that I am really jacked to dig my teeth into. They are very layered and atmosphere driven-character driven horror movies. While that's all I can say right now but I am very excited to work on them in 2023!
THR: What’s a fact that would surprise your fans to know about you?
DR: I honestly don't know, but perhaps the fact that I love war movies that have been made from about the mid 70s on. There are some classic older gems, but for the most part they don't usually have the realism of the frontline and the hardships the soldiers went through. There are always exceptions, but since the late 70s there's been a lot of really intense and well done war films. Examples: The Hurt Locker, Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket, Platoon, Saving Private Ryan, 13th Hour, Black Hawk Down, Hacksaw Ridge.
THR: What’s next for you? Anything new coming soon besides The Man in Room 6?
DR: Yes, a few things have been hitting right now, a movie I made with long time friend, director Mel House, called Mystery Spot which is out now streaming a number of places including Tubi. It's about a number of people who find refuge in a small motel in the middle of nowhere, its only distinguishing characteristic being the ruins of an old Mystery Spot-a long-dead roadside attraction with strange metaphysical powers. There's a movie I shot in 1988 which is seeing its first release, ever, right now, it's called Banned. It's a fun underground NYC movie about a mellow jazz guitarist who becomes possessed by the spirit of a wild punk rocker. A book I contributed is out now, it's called Hot Off the Press: a Charity Anthology made up of horror stories from various contributors, and here's the tie-in, there's even a story by The Man in Room 6 actor Bill Oberst Jr. in it. I have a couple of really exciting projects that film early next year so I'm already starting to prepare for them now. I continue to work on my book and I have my podcast Obscurities which folks can check out on most cool platforms like Apple and Spotify.
THR: Finally, what is one conspiracy theory that you believe to be true despite all evidence to the contrary?
DR: I sincerely believe in the story about Travis Walter who was abducted by aliens. If you watch all of the men who were involved and how much their lives were destroyed over this 'hoax' you would believe that no one would make that story up and lose their spouses, jobs, families, friends etc. for the sake of telling a tall tale. The movie based on the story was called Fire in the Sky (1993). I believe!