Matthew McKelligon Slays in ‘You’re Killing Me’
BY Tom Tietjen
“You’re Killing Me” is this season’s most talked-about slasher film. It stars some of the biggest comedy faves working in gay cinema today, including Drew Droege, Sam Pancake and Jeffery Self, who also co-wrote the film. It takes a giant personality to stand out among such a talented cast, but newcomer Matthew McKelligon manages to shine like a mirror-polished knife.
He very convincingly plays the plays the role of a serial killer in the film. Yet, we found McKelligon to be sweet and delightfully amusing in person. He was cracking jokes throughout the interview.
But the fact that he cracks skulls, ribs and other bones in “You’re Killing Me” means even with those gorgeous, brown puppy dog eyes that make him simply irresistible, McKelligon will likely never score a date again.
What accounts for the sudden popularity of gay slasher films?
Sex scenes. Slashers are all about the sex scenes.
Are you a fan of the genre?
Yes, I love “Se7en,” “The Silence of the Lambs,” “The Shining,” and the entire “Jaws” franchise was formative for me. Also, “Friday the 13th.” I saw every one of them by the time I graduated junior high. I specifically rented them for the sex scenes, though.
Were you excited to play a serial killer?
Oh my gosh, yes! Every actor wants to play a serial killer. How often do you get the chance to act out your aggressions in sadistically dark way? I mean, other than when someone cuts you off and you follow them for miles and throw things at their car.
How did you get the part?
I think [director] Jim Hansen always had me in mind for the role. In fact, most of the parts in the movie were written for the very actors that wound up playing them. I’m always rattling off inane facts about serial killers to Jim, so I think he thought I was a natural fit for the part.
How do you feel about your character?
Joe means well—he really does. He’s got childlike sensitivities as a result of his isolated childhood. I would almost think his court lawyer could argue for him to be tried as a minor. He’s got the charm of Ted Bundy, the relate-ability of Dexter and the utter lack of knowledge of pop culture of, well, me. All in all, I like the guy because he embodies a lot more humanity than most of the characters in the film.
Which part in the film gives you the biggest chills?
Probably when Joe murders Gretchen. The audience always gasps in that scene.
How about when we see Joe in the hallway, preparing to murder Teddy?
That was a very stressful day of shooting as we were running behind on everything. We were on location in the apartment of our production designer. I remember James [Cerne, the actor who plays Teddy] threw me so hard against the wall that my rear end made a hole in the drywall.
That’s pretty hot, especially considering James was naked under his towel.
A slasher isn’t a slasher if it doesn’t have a little skin in it, now does it?
There is something about your dead and soulless eyes in that scene that is reminiscent of the two little ghost girls at the end of the hallway in “The Shining.”
You picked right up on that one! A lot of my dates tell me I have dead and soulless eyes. You’re so perceptive and sweet.
The film seems to point at a problem of self-absorption in the gay community. Every guy is so into himself that no one realizes everyone around them is dropping like flies.
It’s a commentary on pretty much everyone today. These days, everyone seems to be talking at the same time, and no one is truly listening. I call it the 21st Century culture of distraction.
“You’re Killing Me” is also a cautionary tale. People forget there are dangerous psychos like Joe out there.
Will you be Joe for Halloween this year?
I don’t know. I like to go wild with my costumes.
One year I was a 12-foot-long human centipede. Another time, I was a bacon-wrapped hot dog vendor. I walked around with an entire grill on my back.
Wow, so you really get into playing dress-up?
I do! Now you have me thinking Joe might be something fun to plan. Of course, I’d have to have a few murder victims attached to the costume, and maybe a naked dead guy in a towel?