CCI EXCLUSIVE: Johnny Whitworth Takes on "Ghost Rider" as Blackout

The reveal of "Crank" filmmakers Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor's not-quite-a-sequel "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance" at Comic-Con International in San Diego this year was met with a thunderous response from the gathered crowds. It's not surprising, given that Neveldine and Taylor's unique sensibilities deliver just the sort of high-octane, over-the-top action madness that genre lovers devour whole.

Facing off against the returning Nicolas Cage's Johnny Blaze in "Spirit of Vengeance" is actor Johnny Whitworth, who steps into the role of the villainous Blackout. Whitworth, who got his big break in "Empire Records," is an interesting choice for the role, but we're encouraged after chatting him up in a brief one-on-one at CCI last week.

"I'd say with this version of Blackout, he starts off as a sociopath with homicidal tendencies but then becomes a real sadist/psychopath," Whitworth told CBR News with a grin, relishing for a moment his character's forecasted bad-to-worse tranformation.

"Mark and Brian took a lot of liberties. I'm not really at liberty to say what they are since i'd give too much away," Whitworth said. "This is how Mark put it to me when he was talking about the project: If Ghost Rider is the Spirit of Vengeance then Blackout is the Spirit of Decay."

That "Spirt of Decay" moniker also offers a hint of how Blackout's powers manifest in the film. Whitworth wouldn't describe them, beyond referencing a random moment during the press conference earlier that day when the room lights dimmed without warning. "That was like Blackout," he said excitedly. "He's got a lot of powers. I do know what the comic book version is and what our version is. I personally think [our version] is a lot cooler, so most of my inspiration came from the script."

Whitworth also confirmed that the movie's take on the character is human -- he's a half-demon in the comics -- and that it's the Devil who turns him into a super-powered villain later on in the story.

Once the transformation happens, it sounds like Whitworth has a fairly elaborate costume. He didn't describe it in explicit detail, but he did give an idea of what to expect, even pointing back at specific take on the character from the comics.

"I did about four and a half hours of makeup every day that I was Blackout," he revealed. "It's my face, my chest -- I was bare-chested through everything, much like the Blackout character."

"An inspiration for when i was [doing research] was there was this image [from the comics] with him in a top hat, a purple top hat, and he's got a purple trench coat. [Our wardrobe is] a little different... but there was another version where he was a more hulky, beefy kind of guy [which we didn't use]."

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