Tremors 5: one-on-one with Burt’s sidekick

Jamie Kennedy on filming Tremors 5 and looking back at Scream

In the second part of our on-set interviews from South Africa during the filming of Tremors 5: Bloodlines, we managed to grab some time with Jamie Kennedy, who plays Burt Gummer (Michael Gross)’s sidekick, Travis Welker. We spoke to him about the challenges of filming, as well as reminiscing about the Scream series…


You are famous for playing Randy Meeks in the Scream films. How is it stepping into a different, well-established film series?
It’s really interesting, because the first one came and didn’t really do much at the box office, and then Tremors became a huge thing, a cult classic. The typical cult classic. I’m not too familiar with the sequels, I only know the first, but I know that it’s a huge branding. So I was really quite honoured to get asked and it’s pretty exciting because I like the director, I like Michael, I like the story and I like South Africa. If they do it right, it looks cool. I saw the worms and they look as real as the Transformers robots. The worms look amazing – big, real and scary. So if they do it right, the CGI…that’s exciting. I think it has a lot of appeal. It’s a weird movie and a weird group, and it’s a great genre and a great name, so if it works maybe we could sneakily come out of the box.


I know that time is so tight – how is it working on this kind of schedule?
Very, very aggressive. It’s one of the few movies where I’ve worked six-day weeks. It’s usually five-day weeks…but I like that it’s six-day weeks. We only had two weird days this week where we were kind of off, but we weren’t, they’d scheduled like half things. Since we’re in the bush I don’t mind [the schedule] because it’s really productive that way. But if we were in a great city I’d like to take more time.


What can you tell me about your part in the film?
There’s definitely stuff that’s going on that I can’t say. There’re plot points that you’ll discover. My character is basically one of those extreme sports people, but not totally. He likes motorcycles, he scuba dives, he shoots guns. He’s kind of like a gypsy, and he’s a cameraman so he’s done stuff for CNN, you know, warzones… He comes to film for Burt because he believes in him, and then they go on this adventure together. He’s like the perfect sidekick because he’s able to stay in the shit with him. He’s kind of a wiseass and thinks Gums is outdated and needs an update.


Tremors 5 3
Kennedy alongside Michael Gross in Tremors V: Bloodlines

What about in terms of working with Michael? He was talking about your style because your background is in stand-up and almost sort of showmanship. It’s all very quickfire, whereas he’s classically trained, so not like that at all. What’s the working relationship like?
It’s fine. I mean, I think all actors should improvise. I think that you get the take once and then you should try it a different way. The whole thing about making something that people want to watch is that it feels real and spontaneous, so that’s what I always try to do. You try different jokes, as many as you can, because you want to have the choice. I’m all about choices, I’m all about ideas and I’m all about making something entertaining. The last thing I care about is what I think my character might say – I do believe in that but I also believe you can do that in an entertaining way. Does that make sense?


What sort of films are you into yourself?
I just like anything that’s good! Know what I mean? I try to just watch something and if it’s good it’s good. All I care about when I watch a movie is ‘was I entertained? Was I moved?’ If it’s bad then I’m like ‘oh fuck’. Movies, sometimes they’re bad, and people get so mad, but I also think about professional athletes. There’s got to be nights that they have off…so it’s like ‘how come they get a pass?’. Hahahaha!


Jamie Kennedy Scream
Jamie Kennedy in Scream

How do you feel about the Scream series?
Well, I mean, it’s a piece of pop culture that’s never going to go away. It’s a top top horror movie, slasher movie. It’s almost like pop horror. It’s different. The Exorcist is foreboding, scary fucking horror. That’s one. Then there’s Halloween which is really emotional horror, you know? Scream is more entertainment, pop, really clever horror. It’s a mix. It captured pop culture, you know, it captured jokes, it captured scariness, it captured fun and iconic characters. I think it’s great. It goes to show you that you can make a great, original piece if you let people make it. Kevin didn’t have a lot of credits, Wes shepherded this beautiful thing. The only person known was Courtney Cox, and I think people came to see the movie because they liked the movie. It’s driven by the movie – it’s a story, character movie.

I think it did wonders for me. I do think that my character was more popular than the people that made the movie realised. For me, I was a little bummed that I was killed. I mean…I wasn’t, because I don’t think there was even supposed to be a second one and I don’t think they realised I was going to be in it. When they put me in it I don’t think they realised how popular my character was going to be. I know that Deputy Dewey died in the first one and then they did a little scene to keep him alive. He tested well and they kept him. They could have done that for me. So a little bummed, but it was a great launching pad and something great that I’ll always be a part of.


And it’s a good death as well!
It was! People are really mad how he died, why he died…I do say that the blood on my face was all me. I really pushed for a lot of blood. I wanted to make it gory, I wanted people to fucking feel disgusted by it.


Finally, can you sum up how it’s been working in South Africa?
I think South Africa’s becoming the new Canada. I think there’s going to be a lot of movies here. There’re a lot that filmed this year. Sean Penn’s doing a movie right now with Charlize Theron, The Avengers just left… and we’re really hardcore roughing it because we’re in the bush. Those guys were in Cape Town. We’re in Jo’burg, which is the tougher city, and we’re also in the bush of Jo’burg so…The people are loving, I felt very safe here. The meat is very tough because the animals are fresh off the fucking hunting, man! Not tender. You do realise what real meat tastes like. To sum up, Africa is a great…it’s a great…what’s the word? It’s a great symbol for the world, because there’re so many different things here. The animals, the elephants and zebras, and then you get insects, and you have black people and white, and you’ve got tribal people and non-tribe and eleven different forms of Afrikaans. What I’m saying is, there’re a lot of differentiations here – now there’s a big Chinese population – and everyone has to co-exist. So the jungle of Africa is like a great lesson of life. Everyone is different, but as long as you let people do what they do, we can all co-exist. [Pause] Hahahaha, it’s true! The lion gets along with the hippo as long as it doesn’t try to make the hippo live its life.


Tremors 5: Bloodlines will be available to buy on DVD and Blu-ray from 12 October. For more news on the biggest movies, pick up the latest issue of SciFiNow.