Though he's known mainly for his roles as stand-up, honest and even heroic characters -- most famously as the Man of Steel on "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" -- actor Dean Cain is well aware that even heroes have their breaking points. And when he was presented with the opportunity to dig into that darker potential as Detective Mason Danvers, the actor was more than ready to bite.
In "Vendetta" -- in theaters and available VOD today -- Danvers' pregnant wife is brutally murdered by Victor Abbott, a thug he previously put away, the police detective will stop at nothing to exact revenge, even if that includes deliberately being arrested and incarcerated at the prison where Abbott faces punishment. However, Abbott rules the joint, which means Danvers must cut through his posse of hoodlums to get to him -- by any means necessary.
"I loved the idea of someone single-minded and bent on revenge," Cain told SPINOFF ONLINE. "The idea of playing a character hell-bent on retribution is really fun."
Cain spoke with SPINOFF ONLINE about shattering his good-guy image as a hero breaking bad, Mason's unassailable quest for vengeance, suffering for your craft and why he sometimes felt like a child while working with Paul Wight, aka the seven-foot tall WWE wrestler known as the Big Show.
Spinoff Online: You're probably best known as Superman, and that good guy image has been reinforced by your roles in a number of other projects. Was there a particular appeal to shedding that image with "Vendetta?"
Dean Cain: Part of what attracted me to the script was the directors, Jen and Sylvia Soska. They are very passionate about what they do and they are very talented. I loved the character. I loved the idea of someone single-minded and bent on revenge. He does go through a tough situation, but it's a very fun character to play.
I was a little daunted by how physical it was going to be. I was like, "Oh man. I hope I live through this." We're not shooting this on a 60-day schedule. We were whipping through fights every single day. It was very, very physical. The idea of playing a character hell-bent on retribution is really fun as an actor, that's for sure.
Mason's circumstances are extreme, but what are your thoughts on breaking points? Does everybody have one?
I think everybody does have a breaking point. Absolutely. The Navy Seals are very physical and tough, but what makes them exceptional is their mental toughness. Even they have breaking points. Everybody does. It could be a horribly traumatic event, or maybe something that doesn't seem so traumatic, but may be enough to set someone off.
With Mason, he had nothing to lose. When he lost his wife and unborn child, he had little or nothing else to lose. He didn't care about anything else. I understand, as a parent, what that must feel like. It was kind of easy to tap into.
The loss of loved ones often sends the hero down a lonely, bitter path. Why do moviegoers love these types of revenge stories?
I think they love them because the hero is doing something out of love and anger. You root for this person. You understand their pain, their loss, and you want them to complete their journey. You want the bad guys to get their comeuppance. You want them to get their justice. We're always rooting for that.
How did the Soska sisters' horror roots serve them well for this film?
I'll tell you what, I'll work for the Soska sisters any time I can. They are amazing. They have such energy. They love the gore and the blood -- they find that stuff exciting. They cheer, they yell. They are part of the process. As an actor, it's great fun to work with that.
During these fights, you get blood on your face and in your ears and in your mouth. You just have to commit 100 percent to it. They are just the biggest cheerleaders of the bunch. When they get something and they like it, you'll know immediately.
The scene where you're wailing on someone through a pillow was pretty gory. That certainly seemed like something out of one of their movies.
Oh, no doubt. There was supposed to be a head under there, but there were blood bags. It was nuts. It was a gorefest, but that made it fun. I was horrifically dirty by the end of the day, but that was part of the deal.
Mason not only gets the crap beaten out of him, he returns the favor. What excited you about the fight choreography?
Our stunt choreographers are very good. Cameron Hilts and Dan Rizzuto – I wouldn't want to fight either of them. Big Show is a big guy. Any move that he makes, you have to choreograph well because if gets a piece of you, you're dead. All the fighters were excellently trained. Even if I missed or did something a little bit wrong, they were all over it.
They did things in the fight choreography that played to my strengths. I was a football player, so there are football player moves, like big brawl stuff. No special kicks or anything crazy like that. It was just the fastest, most-lethal way to get things done. I applaud that.
You stand at 6'1, but your co-star and main adversary, Paul Wight, towers over you. What were some of the challenges of making those physical sequences work?
Just standing next to Big Show makes you feel like a child. It's tough -- you just look like a child next to this hulking man. But, he's the funniest, coolest, nicest guy. You forget about how big he is, and then, all of a sudden, he walks out for a second and comes back in and you're like, "Oh, my God. You're huge."
With Big Show, that's an ugly fight because he's so large. I had to do things to even the playing field, like injure him, shoot him in the leg or hit him with a bar. I mean, who fights a guy like that? Not me, if I can help it. So we did some choreography with that stuff, which made it fun.
Any battle scar stories on your end?
Oh, I have battle scars everywhere. There was one point in time when I lifted my shirt, and you see a giant bruise on my ribs. That was real. I was like, "Let's film it. I earned this thing. Let's film it." You see a huge bruise on the side of my ribs and that was the real deal. Every day, I was beat up. I was marked up, cut, nicked, scratched and bloodied. They didn't care. They were like, "Good. Let it bleed. We'll use it. Not a problem." [Laughs]
I did hit Big Show directly in the forehead with an uppercut, with his head bent over. I hit him right smack in the forehead. I was like, "Oh, man." He stood up straight and was like, "Come on!" I didn't know if that meant, "Come on and finish the scene," or, "Come on and let's really fight." I was like, "I don't know what to do here, and I'm scared."
"Vendetta" arrives in theaters and VOD today.