Ben Fransham is a New Zealand actor that has played creatures in some of the most iconic films of the last twenty years. In 2015 he starred as Elligos in Ash Vs Evil Dead, as well as the Nosferatu like vampire Petyr in my favorite comedy of the year, What We Do in the Shadows. His other credits include Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, 30 Days of Night, Legend of the Seeker, and Heavenly Creatures.
What was the makeup process like for Ash Vs Evil Dead?
"Grueling to say the least... The whole process takes about four and a half hours. The problem with that is that by the time you have everything on you're just about asleep. And then you’ve got to remember your lines and get to set. You're freezing cold and you usually miss breakfast. You get it sent to you and it's cold, and you got teeth on your face and long fingernails. Half the time lunch is a smoothie and you drink it through a straw. So it’s a great way to lose weight."
"The stuff I had to do where I was hovering over Bruce, trying not to drip goo on Bruce. I’ll tell you I’m in a thong fully made up and everything. I've got poor stunt guys behind me holding me up on a satch belt making sure I don't fall, so I’m floating in the air so I’m like, 'Hi Boys!' Poor bastards."
Was Elligos the most grueling makeup process on any movie you've worked on?
"Actually I'd say Legend of the Seeker was more grueling... We'd spend 4 hours putting on that make-up, and it would take 4 and a half hours removing it."
One of your first credited roles was in Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures. How did that come about?
"When I got wind of an audition to play a character opposite of Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey I jumped at the chance. So through waltzing in front of Peter Jackson."
"And there’s another guy in the audition, a ballroom dancer a really good dancer. I thought damnit I got to do something here or I’ll lose the job. So I stuck my hand up, 'Yeah let’s see what you got', and I just started waltzing in front of him different turns and it was bullshit waltzing by the way."
On What We Do in the Shadows did you really get lit on fire?
"Hell yeah. They were saying are you sure you want to do this. And I’m like I try to do this professionally, of course I want to be set on fire.
"I have to give credit to Aron Eastwood, who you'll see in the first episode. He plays the gardener, I think, and he does the first attack on the trailer home...Very good stunt man. He doubled me for the full fire burn. I did a partial so they set a few chunks of me on fire. My legs, arm, and back are aflame for a few seconds. You do see me for the most part in the film.
"Aron does this bit when you see him for about a second, if that, of him fully aflame. There's nothing but a ball of fire and he burned for 30 seconds. Seeing a man fully torched for 25-35 seconds, it's pretty scary to watch."
Any chance we could see you in season two of Ash Vs. Evil Dead?
"Yes. There is a chance... Who knows what I would be but I'd say there is a chance."
Special thanks to Ben Fransham for doing the interview. You can follow him on twitter @benfransham. If you're in the States, he's also appearing at the Mad Monster Party as Petyr from What We Do in the Shadows, be sure to check him out.