I started my conversation with Dylan Minnette by telling him how much I hated his guts. And the young star took it as the compliment it was intended to be.
We were on the phone to discuss Minnette’s turn in this week’s episode of R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour, where he plays the lead role in a nasty little ditty called “Brush With Madness.” But I had just finished ushering in Halloween a couple days earlier by rewatching Let Me In, the intense vampire story that features Minnette all-too-convincingly portraying a loathsome bully (link NSFW) who makes the main character’s life a living hell.
“I’m awful in that film!” he says enthusiastically, before revealing that he had his own experience on Halloween related to that performance. While waiting in line at Knott’s Scary Farm, “I got this awful nosebleed, so I was in the bathroom cleaning up and this guy comes out of the stall, and he’s looking at me for about 10 seconds and then finally goes, ‘Hey, you were great in Let Me In.’ I had blood everywhere.”
Minnette is in much more likable mode in The Haunting Hour, playing Corey, an obsessed comic book fan who geeks out when he meets his idol at a convention. Given the clever moniker Alan Miller (no doubt meant to be a mashup of comic legends Alan Moore and Frank Miller), Corey’s object of worship is shy around overzealous fans, to the point where he mistakes Corey’s Twitter-related comment of “I’m following you” as a threat from a stalker. Miller storms off and leaves behind a set of brushes that a scorned Corey decides he’s going to keep and use to create his own comic-book magic. But he soon discovers that the brushes have sinister powers of their own, that they can paint pictures of future events, and that they seemingly take control of Corey whenever he’s using them.
“It was a fun, mysterious role to play,” he says. “I liked feeling the whole mysterious aspect of it, being confused the whole time.”
Part of the thrill for Minnette — who can also be seen in the upcoming NBC drama Awake — was getting to be part of a project associated with one of his favorite childhood authors.
“I was always a really big fan of R.L. Stine and the Goosebumps TV series, and the Goosebumps books,” he says. “I knew about Haunting Hour and that it was basically the new Goosebumps. When I got offered the role of Corey, I was really excited because I basically felt like I was going to be in a new generation of Goosebumps. It was a lot of fun, because I just love those scary shows, and I’m such a big fan of the horror genre. I love being in anything that’s scary to people.”
Playing Corey also let Minnette deal with the issue of fame and fans — something every up-and-coming actor, especially one who also is the lead singer/rhythm guitarist in his own band (The Feaver), will have to face. For instance, how would Minnette react if he got a chance to meet his musical idol, Paul McCartney?
“I would probably be in the same position as Corey … and I think I would probably do the same thing and embarrass myself,” he says. “I would be really nervous and jittery. From that aspect, I feel I got to play out and practice what not to do if I ever met my idol.”
He also has experience being on the other side, dealing with fans who aren’t quite sure how to act when they meet him face-to-face.
“It’s strange if they ask strange questions that you don’t know how to answer,” he says. “It’s kind of awkward. But I like meeting them, and I’m a very nice guy. … [Sometimes] it’s somebody who’s asked you questions online … and when they come to a gig, they act really energetic and outgoing online, and then you meet them in person and they don’t even say a word. It’s like, ‘Yeah, so, how you doing?’ And they’re like, ‘Good.’ And then online there will be paragraphs about how excited they were to meet you. But whenever you meet them, they act like they’re going to go to sleep.”
It’s an issue Minnette, who says he can see himself eventually becoming more involved in music than in acting, will no doubt become more expert in handling. In the meantime, it’ll be fun watching him on his climb.
Photo: Courtesy of The Hub