The Last Stop in Yuma County's Richard Brake Details Why He Joined the Neo-Noir

The intense performer opens up about the new movie, which hits theaters and Digital on May 10th.

Actor Richard Brake has quite an impressive rap sheet when it comes to genre projects he's been a part of. Whether it was as the Night King in Game of Thrones or his many collaborations with Rob Zombie, Brake brings an intensity to any role that is both evocative and menacing. The same can be true of his character in Francis Galluppi's The Last Stop in Yuma County, and while some of Brake's sinister characters are inherently malicious, the intensity he brings to this project is due to his character's desperation. The Last Stop in Yuma County lands in theaters and on Digital on May 10th.

The Last Stop in Yuma County is described, "While awaiting the next fuel truck at a middle-of-nowhere Arizona rest stop, a traveling young knife salesman is thrust into a high-stakes hostage situation by the arrival of two similarly stranded bank robbers with no qualms about using cruelty -- or cold, hard steel -- to protect their bloodstained, ill-begotten fortune."

ComicBook caught up with Brake to talk the new project, developing an unexpected take on the character, and future projects.

(Photo: Well Go USA)

ComicBook: The Last Stop in Yuma County comes from first-time feature director Francis Galluppi. What was it about his vision for this project that you knew you could put your faith in this first-time feature director?

Richard Brake: The longer I act, the more I realize how important it is to have faith in your director. I really do think it's very, very important, so it's a good question. 

I met him early on in his process. I think it was pre-COVID, it was about a month before COVID kicked in and we spoke on the phone. He sent me the script. His producer happened to be somebody who I knew personally, so he got him in touch with me, sent me scripts, sent me a lovely letter, said he'd written this character with me in mind. I read the script and immediately knew this guy knows this stuff. It was an incredible script. And when we spoke, we must've spoken for hours about film. His knowledge of film, his love and passion for film, were so clear that I knew this guy knew what he was doing. Something in my gut told me this is going to work out. And it continued. We took a couple of years to get it finally made and then, right before production, we had some discussions about the character.

We completely changed the character about two weeks before in terms of the direction we were going with it, and that was because both of us had the same idea simultaneously: basically to make the character far more terrifying. We got on a Zoom together and we both had something to tell each other, both thinking that the other person would be disappointed, and it turned out both of us had the same thought, that we wanted this character to be terrifying and to really be controlled and conniving as he is. I knew then, this guy, well, I knew before then, but then I was like, this is incredible we're on the same wavelength like this. The experience of shooting, it was the same. Every moment, I just trusted this kid. To me he was a kid, he's in his 30s, probably. I'm so glad I did because the results have been amazing.

With this character being written for you and you having a long roster of, I would say, some menacing characters in your past, what was it specifically about this character that really appealed to you that you felt that this character really stood apart from some of the other villain characters that you might've been offered?

I think first and foremost was the movie as a whole appealed to me, the script as a whole and the way that it was so unexpected, how I didn't know from moment to moment as I read it, I could think I knew what was going to happen, but then when it came about, I didn't, especially the last 20 pages I did not see it coming. I think that appealed to me more than anything, initially. 

And the character, I think as we developed him ... What initially appealed to me, to go back to my other story, was that we were going to make him a lot more out of his depth, that Bo wasn't going to be a controlled killer at all. He was going to be a man that was trying to figure it out moment to moment. That appealed to me. Because Francis was worried that when we'd come both to the conclusion that Bo needed to be terrifying and very much in control, that I wouldn't be wanting to do it.

But the truth was that what then excited me was that his role in the film was to be absolutely terrifying and to be terrifying in a very, very still way. I play a lot of characters that are not still, that are way out there, and it was really lovely to bring this down to as minimalist a performance as I could do, while at the same time, still maintain that terror. It was a real collaboration between the two of us because I have to really trust him when I do that, that he's going to let me know if maybe it's a little too underplayed. And I did, I just trusted him and I'm so glad I did because I'm very, very proud of the film and very, very proud of the performance, if I say so myself. And that's because of Francis, I had trusted Francis. 

It's definitely a performance you should be proud of. It's terrifying and very chilling in a way that really helps motivate the overall story with all these characters who seem to be a little bit in over their heads and you seem to be the only one who has a very clear vision of what your goal is in this situation. When the character evolved a little bit in those weeks ahead of shooting, did that have much of an impact on the script or was it really just about tweaking the way you delivered those lines to evoke an entirely different vibe for the story?

It didn't change the script, maybe I cut a line or two, but no, I don't even think so. I think it was more all the preparation that I do. I usually do everything, prepare as much as I can before I go into a film. So it was really more about changing the character, the lines remain the same. It was suddenly realizing that he isn't out of his depth, he's actually completely into his depth. He's in his world and he's in his element. And then once I shifted the character, I completely, obviously, changed everything of all of my thinking. Then the performance changes dramatically. So, luckily, it happened two weeks before we started shooting and not two weeks after we finished shooting, but it worked out.

Also, it helped a lot because Nick Logan, who plays Travis, he was really developing his character in the direction that he went, where he's very much a loose canon, to say the least. The more that I saw, "Oh, Travis is going there, really, if this is Bo and this is Travis, the two of them together are really terrifying." You don't know what Travis is going to do, just so out there, and you know that Bo, he's completely in control here. Those two together really create tension amongst the other characters. That's what's so great about the film is there's so many different characters that are so well performed by the cast. I think that's what makes it a great film. 

When you have someone, even just Barbara Crampton as the receptionist, literally everyone in the movie is a heavy hitter, no matter how limited their screen time might be. 

She's fantastic. And you know he got her right at the end because he's like, "I want Barbara Crampton." Everybody's like, "You'll never get Barbara." And then she joins it. I know Barbara and she's such a great actor and obviously Jacob's Wife. I was so excited she was in there because we've never been on the same film together. And Michael Abbott, Jr. I know he came in, he just knocks it out of the park. I remember he came in late because his stuff was shot towards the end. He had all of that, the scene where -- I don't want to give anything away, but he had to be very emotional, shall we say, some traumatic things happened to him, his character. He came in and just, I'm in the scene and I was like, "This guy's amazing." And he just came in that day, I think the first time he met everyone.

Gene Jones, it was a masterclass watching Gene and Jim Cummings. Another reason I really wanted to do it is he was talking about Jim Cummings. I love Jim Cummings, just an incredible filmmaker and actor. I'm so glad that Jim did do it. Jim was so very involved in the film, also producing it as well, and just a really important part of the whole production in so many ways. Just an incredible artist himself and an inspiring man. So it was great to work with him and to watch his work. I loved it. It was one of my favorite all-time experiences. 

I've really loved your collaborations with Rob Zombie from 31 to 3 From Hell, and The Munsters getting to show some more comedic skills. Since he has a habit of collaborating with people pretty regularly, are there any talks of you two reuniting for any future projects, whether it's something brand new or maybe more of the background of your 3 From Hell character?

That's called fishing for a scoop. No, I'm kidding. I love Rob, obviously, he's my all-time favorite director. I worked with him four times and I absolutely adore him. It's an incredible experience working with him and so inspiring. 

I'll never know the answer to that because all I ever get is a text, "Are you busy because I'm doing a film?" I'm like, "Of course I'm not busy, Rob, not for you, at least. That's for sure." So who knows, there's nothing I've heard. I'm just waiting, the little text goes, and then if Rob has something that he feels I'm right for, he'll let me know. 

The Last Stop in Yuma County lands in theaters and on Digital on May 10th.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. You can contact Patrick Cavanaugh directly on Twitter.