Movies & TV / Columns

Lukas Hassel Discusses His New Film Art of the Dead

November 5, 2019 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Art of the Dead

The 411 Interview: Lukas Hassel


Lukas Hassel is an actor, writer, director, and producer that has been in show business now for close to two decades, working both in television and movies. Hassel has appeared on such television shows as Blue Bloods, The Blacklist, and Elementary, and in movies such as The Unattainable Story, Rich Boy, Rich Girl, and The Black Room, plus numerous short films (check out Hassel’s IMDB page here). Hassel’s latest movie is the awesome horror flick Art of the Dead, directed by Rolfe Kanefsky and featuring Tara Reid and Richard Grieco and is now available on DVD and various Video On Demand portals including Amazon, Comcast Xfinity InDemand, Charter, Cox, and others. In this interview Hassel talks with this writer about making Art of the Dead, his character Dylan Wilson, his career, and more.



Bryan Kristopowitz: How did you get involved with Art of the Dead?

Lukas Hassel: I played the male lead opposite the stunningly talented Natasha Henstridge in another Rolfe Kanefsky film The Black Room (available on Netflix). When Rolfe and I connected later at the Horrorhound film festival where my own horror short film, The Son, the Father… played, he mentioned Art of the Dead, explained the premise, the characters, and I was instantly hooked. Thrilled he asked me to come on board.

BK: How did you approach your character Dylan Wilson?

LH: I know a few Dylans. Wealthy, kind, successful, but also kind of clueless about the underbelly of the outlier world. This is a man who loves his wife, his kids, but is also aloof to an extent minding his businesses. In this case, Dylan has to actively fight for the safety of his family in a direct way, rather than merely pay the bills. That was a very interesting layer to delve into.


BK: What was it like working with director Rolfe Kanefsky?

LH: Rolfe is an incredible master of intricate details, boundless imagination, dark twisted humor and being present in the moment. He’s an artist with a vision. The fact that he possesses such a high level of skill allows me – as an actor – to relax and not worry about the end result. I feel safe to try out things, to discuss any aspect of character or story with him, and you know he’ll be able to provide a detailed and well considered insight and hone in on a performance he wants. I hope to collaborate with him again many times in the future.

BK: What was it like working with your co-star Jessica Morris, who plays your wife Gina?

LH: Jessica is such a professional. It’s clear she has an extensive resume in TV and film because she’s calm, collected and a really generous scene partner. We got along really well off screen which makes it so much easier to “be in love” on screen. Loved working with her, beautiful outside and in.

BK: What was the hardest aspect of making Art of the Dead for you as an actor?

LH: We had many night shoots, which kind of tends to upend my rhythms. I like to run outside, go for hikes on off days and generally enjoy my days. Here it became a matter of reorganizing time so I’d be fresh for the late hours and focused on the task at hand. But in general it was a really lovely experience to work with a very talented ensemble cast and crew. The Mahal brothers (the producers) were generous and hard working.

BK: According to imdb you’ve worked both in movies, short and feature length, and in television. Do you have a preference for movies or television or is it all pretty much the same?

LH: To be honest, my least favorite is TV. Although it’s great exposure, it’s not very collaborative and I find that frustrating. Money talks, and time is money, so everything on TV is a little rushed and there’s usually little or no time to explore character. I have a soft spot for short films as the filmmaker can go all out in terms of their vision as they are not beholden to studio heads’ notes or investors returns ( there’s pretty much no money to be made from short films). That said, indie feature film is we’re it’s at for me. A great role in an indie feature gives me room to explore layers and depth. I get to really sink my teeth into a character and play with other actors who often become long term friends after production is over.

BK: You’ve directed three short films so far. Is directing something that you want to pursue more of in the future, perhaps direct a feature film?

LH: I’m in the process of developing my first feature as a director. Being an actor, I constantly, throughout my career, give power away to others – at casting I leave the office hoping they liked my audition. They decide my fate, so to speak. Writing and directing my own work is reclaiming some of that power. It’s my vision, my control, for better or for worse. That’s satisfying. I feel like I have a strong point of view and things I’d like to say. My second short, the sci-fi Into the Dark, played in over 70 film festivals and I’m super proud of it (available on Amazon Prime). My latest short The Son, the Father… did extremely well on the festival circuit (played opening night of Hollyshorts Film Festival in LA). So I feel ready for a feature. I have a number of award winning scripts I wrote to pick from.

BK: Do you enjoy working in the horror genre?

LH: I love horror. It gives freedom to explore the darker sides of human nature and create something unusual. Heightened senses, fears and situations challenge characters in surprising ways. I like that anything goes.

BK: Any moviemaking heroes?

LH: I’m inspired by friends and colleagues who make things happen. Rolfe Kanefsky inspired me. He’s incredibly prolific. My good friend Jeremiah Kipp inspires me. I’m currently shooting on his first feature as writer/director (Slapface) and watching him work with cast and crew is inspiring. I’m impressed by Nolan, Boyle, Villeneuve, Noe, Refn and, in general, directors who are willing to take risks to achieve their visions.

BK: Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

LH: So I’m currently filming Slapface, as mentioned. Just wrapped on a pilot called Distemper directed by Elias Plagianos and taking place in Congo in 1918 and the battle against sleeping sickness. Also doing a web series, possibly a feature, called Couple of Guys, about two men who fall in love late in life – a beautiful piece by Debra Markowitz. Recently wrapped a short film by Aimiende Sela called Hermit which should end up being a stunning piece of filmmaking. Plus other projects coming up. Riding the busy wave as long as it takes me…:)

BK: What do you hope audiences get out of Art of the Dead?

LH: I hope they have fun. Enjoy the crazy ride, the amazing practical effects and bizarre (in a good way) imagination of Kanefsky. It’s not a $200 million film, but that’s the beauty of it. It’s ambitious and wacky but always grounded in something we can all relate to. In this case, family.

BK: Would you want any of the paintings featured in Art of the Dead hanging up in your own house?

LH: I like all the paintings. Each have a beauty and intrigue of its own. When I realized they all connected to each other – not just metaphorically – I was blown away.


A very special thanks to Lukas Hassel for agreeing to participate in this interview and to david j. moore for setting it up.

Purchase Art of the Dead on DVD here.

Check out the official Art of the Dead Facebook page here.

Check out Lukas Hassel’s Facebook page here, Twitter page here, and Instagram page here.

Lukas Hassel headshot from Lukas Hassel’s Facebook page. All other images courtesy of ITN Distribution, Inc.