In a stroke of unconventional casting, Brooke Shields plays art gallerist Susan Hoff, a friend of Maya’s who ultimately gives Leon the opportunity to show his photographic work at her downtown gallery. Shields, a renowned actress since her youth, is most recently known for her starring role on the NBC television series “Suddenly Susan,” “Nip/Tuck” and most recently “Lipstick Jungle.”
Shields points out that she made her debut as an actress in a horror movie at the age of nine, but hasn’t done one since. “I’m a fan of this type of genre film, even though I get really scared watching them,” she says
However, Shields was intrigued about playing a gallery owner who also has predator instincts. “Everybody’s really afraid of her, and it’s a big deal if you get to show in her gallery,” she says. “She has very specific tastes. And she’s not afraid to push the envelope—and push everyone around her too. At first I’m not impressed with Leon’s photography but then I end up getting sort of wowed by it because it’s uncomfortable. The darkness in the photography is something that I respond to.”
Shields continues, “I think of the film as a metaphor for the underbelly, where this life force that has been growing and accumulating for years and perhaps forever. My character doesn’t get to go on the actual journey with them, but I’m throughout, sort of on the outside discussing what the artistry is really about. Much like Clive Barker’s paintings -- they take a step beyond what you normally would see. Susan wants to see the darker side, the side that’s uncomfortable, the side that makes you want to close your eyes and turn away. I’m the one that sort of says, ‘I want you to go further. Don’t be safe. Don’t play it safe in any way.’”
Rounding out the main cast of THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN are a talented group of supporting actors including Scottish actor Tony Curran (UNDERWORLD: REVOLUTION) as the driver, Roger Bart (HOSTEL: PART II) as Leon’s art reviewer friend Jurgis; and Ted Raimi (SPIDERMAN 3, REIGN OVER ME) as a tourist on the train.
UFC mixed martial arts champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson also appears in a memorable train fight sequence with Mahogany. “The idea behind casting Rampage in the movie was that this is the only character that really can come close to stopping Mahogany,” notes producer Gary Lucchesi. “That maybe Mahogany has messed with the wrong guy is a little bit of an inside joke for those of us who know who Rampage is. When casting him, we learned that he was interested in doing something funny in the movie and we saw that as a real opportunity.”
Tom Rosenberg hopes that THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN will set a new tone for horror movies. “Every kind of preconceived notion that we have about horror movies in terms of tone, action, blood, in terms of the beats that lead up to the horror, the beats that happen after; this movie takes those very familiar, very conventional aspects and turns them on their side. We are doing something that's slightly different, doing something that is going to give the audience something new and something refreshing, and hopefully that'll translate into a lot of people enjoying the movie.”
To sum up, Clive Barker hopes that audiences “leave the theaters with their seats damp,” he chuckles. “I want them to lose control of their bladders with terror. But, you know, I really want them to come out and say, ‘That was the ride I wanted it to be. That was the journey I wanted to take. I took a journey into the dark.’ And, you know, one of the things horror does is it allows you to face your fears in a safe form and survive. You watch other people die and you think, ‘Hey, it wasn’t me.’ I think this movie is going to take people to a very, very dark place and deliver them at last out into the night, out into the day, feeling like they survived quite a ride.”