Gregory James Cohan started out as a television actor who appeared mainly in small roles. He had also lent his voice to animated series and video games, including Team UmiZoomi and Red Dead Redemption II to name a few. However, his breakout role is set to be that of Pastor Doug Jones, who after a trip to China finds himself transforming into a dinosaur who goes after bad guys in the instant cult classic The VelociPastor, coming to DVD and Digital on August 13 from Wild Eye Releasing.
World Film Geek got the chance to interview Cohan via e-mail to talk about the film.
I watched The VelociPastor and for me, as a lover of this genre, it is an instant cult classic in my opinion.
Wow, thank you so much. That means a lot to us.
What inspired you to take on the role of the titular character?
It was Brendan’s original trailer (see above) that he made in film school at SVA in NYC. While acting in New York, I was also working with Seed&Spark, the film-centric crowdfunding and SVOD platform, when our head of crowdfunding had announced that “a movie called The VelociPastor has just submitted for funding.” The room erupted with laughter, and we all huddled around to see if it was real. And it was. I wanted in. It turned out I had worked with one of the producers listed on the crowdfunding campaign and asked if they were casting. They sent me the audition sides – which I absolutely loved – and I sent in a tape. I had a lot of fun taping that audition. Next thing I knew I was meeting Brendan Steere in Bryant Park to talk the arch of our vigilante Dino-Priest.
An attempt at an exorcism transforms Doug (Gregory James Cohan) into The VelociPastor (Wild Eye Releasing)
What was it like working with director Brendan Steere? Did he allow you a bit of free rein of how to play the character?
Brendan had a very clear vision for Doug and his journey from devoted priest to vigilante. We were on the same page early on with tone, so it was just a matter of how far can we lean into the fun. Brendan rarely calls cut, so being able to play until someone behind the camera laughs is incredibly free and fun. Brendan is also a collaborative artist. If there’s something that isn’t working in the script, we find it together. He allowed Alyssa and I to improv some scenes, and we came away with some really funny material that made it into the movie.
The scenes involving the fully transformed VelociPastor, were you involved in those scenes in terms playing the actual creature?
I wish I could say I was. I had so much fun in the transformation phases, turning in to the VelociPastor, but the fully transformed dinosaur was not me. Heading into production, I had hoped to be the one in the costume, but there were a few people on set who had already worked with the suit on and were good at it, including Brendan’s brother and, of course, Brendan himself. There was a moment shooting one of the final scenes that Brendan’s brother Zack needed a break from being in the suit. I jumped at the opportunity to wear it, but it’s an incredibly tight, uncomfortable fit. I almost ripped it! We were losing light when Brendan stepped up, stripped to his boxers and jumped in the dinosaur.
What also brings a sense of shock is the fact that you get to engage in some fight scenes against ninjas. Have you been involved in martial arts or was it something you learned just for the film?
My martial arts skills are novice, at best. I’ve always been athletic and I’ve done a fair amount of fight choreography on stage, but not as much for film. Luckily we had an incredible fight choreographer in Ryan “Napalm” Wagner. Yes. His nickname/B-Boy name is Napalm. He is an incredible martial artist as well as world-class breakdancer. Ryan and his team all played our ninjas and choreographed every bit of the fighting that Alyssa and I were involved in. It was so much fun to work with those guys.
It looks like you had a blast making the film. If there were to be a sequel, would you play the role again?
Without question. I’ve become close with Brendan, so he’s been bouncing sequel ideas off me, and we’re really looking forward to getting it made. It’s going to be a blast.
Finally, are there any new projects that you can talk about that are in the works?
Right now, writing some short projects and riding the wave of VelociPastor into VelociPastor II.
The VelociPastor comes to DVD and Digital on August 13. This is an instant cult classic and those who love the madness of creature films meets ninja films…oh heck, any fan looking for a crazy fun film will want to see this! Thanks again Gregory for talking about the film!
A Special Thank You goes out to October Coast PR and Gregory James Cohan for making this interview possible.