Movies & TV / Columns

Parry Shen On His New Movie Automation, Video Game Voice Work

August 27, 2020 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz

The 411 Interview: Parry Shen


Parry Shen is a writer, producer, and well-known character actor who has been appearing in movies and TV shows since at least 1997. Shen has appeared in such movies as Better Luck Tomorrow, The New Guy, Attack of the Sabertooth, and all four Hatchet movies, and on such TV shows as Chicago Hope, NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, Tru Calling, and more, plus he’s been a cast member of the ABC daytime soap opera General Hospital since 2013. Shen has also done video game voice work for games like Wet, Far Cry 3, Mortal Kombat X, Lego Marvel’s Avengers, and The Walking Dead: Michonne. Shen’s latest movie effort is the terrific sci-fi horror comedy Automation directed by Garo Setian and starring Elissa Dowling, which is now on a new special features laden Bu-ray from Epic Pictures and Dread. In this interview, Shen talks with this writer about making Automation, his career, and more.



Bryan Kristopowitz: How did you get involved with Automation?

Parry Shen: Garo cut the trailer of a movie I produced and starred in, Unidentified, and we’ve kept in touch. When it was his turn to make his own film, he gave me a ring.

BK: How did you approach your character Alan? Do you have any sort of technology background to help inform your characterization?

PS: Not so much a tech background, but I do know a decent amount of people who are very entrepreneurial and they all share a similar essence – very sharp, clear, charming and forward-thinking. So I was always thinking of having those qualities shine for Alan.

BK: Is Alan a bad guy or just misunderstood?

PS: The definition of a “Bad Guy” depends on whose perspective we’re seeing it from. Alan has built this amazing tool to further mankind’s progress and has now begun to scratch the surface of an A.I. becoming sentient.

BK: What was it like working with director Garo Setian?

PS: I can pretty much get along with most anyone to get a job done, but there is a difference when you actually like the person as an individual. Garo’s such a great guy that everyone is rooting for him and the project. That brings a totally different element and dynamic to the team once you have that.

BK: What was it like working with Elissa Dowling, who plays Jenny, and Sadie Katz, who plays Susan?

PS: Both pros through & though. Elissa’s a great listener, so we had some endearing moments with Alan & Jenny. And Sadie was always game to have fun with the dialogue and scenes. I also love that she had the guts to stick up for herself during times when we were up against the clock and as a result, sometimes rushed to act. She just kinda scolded production at one moment to cool it because it was not conducive for the performance. It absolutely was not a ‘diva’ moment, and entirely 100% warranted (I wanted to do the same). Sometimes when there’s this perfect storm of: the lighting needs this, the sound needs that, camera needs a tweak here and the 1st AD is trying to move the scene along to preserve the day… production just forgets that it’s kinda stressful to the people in front of the camera to just ‘go’ during that chaos. She had the courage to protect her work from all these distracting elements, and I absolutely love she had the balls to do that.


BK: What was it like working with Jeff J. Knight, who plays the physical Auto? Did it feel like you were working with a robot?

PS: I wouldn’t exactly say that I felt like I was working with a robot because I’m not delusional but Jeff is one hard-working mo-fo! Seriously, he is a team player and that suit essentially became a petri dish and had no ventilation – yet he stayed in character and in that suit until we were done with him. He got so sick, I felt so bad for him. But he would go above and beyond – always making sure the visual display on Auto’s chest was charged and working properly, etc.

BK: What was the hardest scene for you, as an actor, in Automation?

PS: Probably the outdoor scene with Elissa/Jenny — only because it was the first day, so logistically we fell behind and were running out of daylight. So when it came time to do the heavy exposition scenes, I knew I only had maybe 2 takes at most to nail it. It wasn’t too hard, since I’m used only having 1 take with General Hospital, but the only one that gave me a tiny bit of stress.

BK: How did you get involved in voicing video games?

PS: I wanted to branch out and explore all forms of acting available, so voiceovers were the uncharted area I hadn’t been exposed to 10 years ago. So I took classes, got a VO agent and was on my way.

BK: How did you get involved with the daytime soap opera General Hospital?

PS: Your basic audition. The waiting room was filled with actors who were basically models and everyone was over 6 feet tall and I knew the only thing I could do was to just out act everyone in there. It was all I had to offer. And an initial 4 episodes stretched into 248 episodes over a 7 year run.

BK: You’ve appeared in all four Hatchet movies so far. If and when there’s a fifth Hatchet movie, will you be a part of it? Do you think you will play Andrew again?

PS: Probably. That’s pretty much how the 4th one sets it up.

BK: Any moviemaking heroes?

PS: Bong Joon-Ho (Parasite) and Jordan Peele (Get Out) are really doing some progressive stuff that is bringing a fresh take on cinema. Always excited to see their newest projects and don’t know what to expect but know whatever it is, it’s gonna be fantastic. I feel they’re this generation’s Tarantino and Del Toro.

BK: Any upcoming projects you can reveal?

PS: I just filmed a very cool project last week for one of the streaming channels that will be out next summer. And I got to work with one of the biggest directors in the business – definitely a bucket-list moment but alas, signed a pesky NDA. But I’m also in the current games: Ghost of Tsushima, Exos Heroes, and Legend of Runeterra..

BK: What do you hope audiences get out of Automation?

PS: The good natured heart and fun of the movie – which essentially comes from who Garo is. It’s not too gory, but still has thought provoking moments, action and humor throughout.

BK: Would you want to live/work with a robot like Auto in real life?

PS: Yes – I already wish my Alexa had arms and legs to be able to help me move and get things.

BK: How real is the “grocery stores holding back on the good yams for celebrities” thing that’s depicted in the first season Thanksgiving episode of the sitcom The King of Queens that you appear in? Have you ever scored a good yam?

PS: I don’t necessarily know in regard to yams, but there certainly is preferential treatment. Once I scored General Hospital I have had checkout lanes opened for me by viewers, so there’s that.



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

You can purchase the brand new Automation Blu-ray here.

Check out the official Epic Pictures website here and official Facebook page here.

Check out my review of Automation here.

Check out Parry Shen’s official website here and Facebook page here.

Check out Parry Shen’s imdb page here.

Parry Shen image courtesy of Parry Shen. All other images courtesy of Epic Pictures.