Writer/director Mark Pavia’s latest film, Fender Bender, premieres this Friday night on the Chiller channel at 9:00pm EST, and to get you guys ready for all the slaughter-filled mayhem that awaits you, Daily Dead recently caught up with one of the film’s co-stars, Bill Sage, to hear more about his experiences playing Fender Bender’s mysterious and leather-clad killer known only as “The Driver.”

During our interview, Sage discussed what attracted him to Fender Bender, his love for the world of indie filmmaking, how Jim Mickle, another great genre filmmaker, has impacted him both personally and professionally, and how his involvement with American Psycho would end up influencing his performance in Fender Bender over a decade and a half later.

Let's start at the beginning and talk about how you got involved with Fender Bender.

Bill Sage: The producers, Carl Lucas and Joshua Bunting, brought the script to me after getting in contact with my agent. I like those guys and I liked the script. It was a last second kind of thing, too. These things often come together very quickly, then you gotta just be ready to move for a small production.

I heard about it maybe two days before they needed me in Albuquerque and thankfully, they could rely on me to get out there quickly. It also worked out for me because I was able to work on this before something else I had lined up. So I got to New Mexico, and we started shooting the very next day. It was quick, but it all worked out really well.

What I enjoyed about your character is we know very little about him. So I'm curious, when you were coming into the project, did you concoct this guy's backstory at all or did you like the fact that he was so ambiguous?

Bill Sage: I definitely liked that he was ambiguous. You wanted to give the audience just enough stuff to root him to the ground so they stay interested, so I just went through it on the plane ride over and wrote out a quick little narrative of who or what I thought he could possibly be.

Then, when I met Mark and he was so enthusiastic about this guy, that motivated me even more as the guy who was going to bring him to life. There were little clues in the script, too—he might have been a savant or something like that because I knew that he was very procedural and had a particular way he dealt with money. He was very different in that regard.

It also had a lot to do with my movement, bringing across that decisiveness whenever he moved, and I also had decided that his heartbeat never goes above 72 [beats per minute]. Nothing really throws him, except this girl. That's why we're telling this story. You see that later on in the film; I wanted to make that one flicker of humanity there so you saw that she was good. She got to him.

The character has this cool distance and detachment to him. You were in American Psycho, but this role has that American Psycho-meets-Rutger Hauer-in-The Hitcher vibe to it. Sometimes actors over-talk or try to make these types of performances bigger than life, but the way you did it here with subtlety was really great.

Bill Sage: That's what I thought I could bring to it. It's interesting that you bring up American Psycho, because I was a big fan of Bret Easton Ellis' book when I had the chance to work with Mary Harron on that. I enjoyed how the book was this dark comedy with all these crazy notes to these characters. Christian [Bale] was brilliant. He knew those notes and how to bring them to life physically.

So I do think that I thought of American Psycho when I was concocting this guy up in my head. Bret Easton Ellis definitely worked his way into this guy's psyche. Had I not done American Psycho, maybe I would've approached him a little differently, I don't know. What I do know is that we’ve only seen a portion of this guy’s life and now we're curious about him.

When you got into the leather gear of the driver, when you switched over to become this masked maniac, did that put you in a different mindset versus being the guy in the street wearing regular clothes and trying to fit into the normal world?

Bill Sage: Yes. The shirt and jeans, that's his costume. I felt that who he really is, is the guy in the leather. That's who The Driver is. He's an extension of his car. This other thing is what he wears as his uniform to blend into society. He looks like any regular guy on his day off.

Because this all came together real quick, Mark and I shopped all these ideas back and forth with each other, so we made some fast decisions. But sometimes when you have only a little time, you're better off. That's one of the things I like about independent filmmaking. In a short amount of time, this movie came together very well.

One of the things that really carried the day was Mark's childlike enthusiasm for this project. He directs through his enthusiasm, through his energy, and I thought that was wonderful. I've never been directed like that, so I thought, "I'm going to take this and run with it."

You mentioned independent filmmaking, and you’ve been involved in some great indie films over the years. Do you find those opportunities to be more rewarding because of the passion and enthusiasm you see on those sets?

Bill Sage: Oh, yeah. I started off in the early ’90s with Hal Hartley. I have a love for independent film and through him, I gained a real appreciation for cinema as a whole. When indie filmmaking is good, it's really good. It's particular. It's something you don't get to see with regular Hollywood films. I have nothing against big films, but I do enjoy those tight-knit sets more.

In my career, I’ve worked with Jim Mickle several times, on Cold in July and We Are What We Are, which was one of my favorite things that I ever worked on. As a director, Jim’s got it going on on every single possible level. He's done everything that you can possibly do on a set. He's done everybody's job, starting as a PA [production assistant] up to directing and everything in-between. He's a joy to work with. He's also the best at what he does. I’ve learned a lot from Jim Mickle and he's become a very close friend to me over the years.

There is potential for more adventures for The Driver. Have you thought about where this character could go in the future? Is that something you and Mark have talked about at all?

Bill Sage: I haven't [talked about it] with Mark. I have with Carl and Joshua, but not in any deep discussions, though, more like casual ideas; I have a lot of ideas for this guy. There's definitely room in there for even a more involved story of who this guy is. It would be interesting to possibly see him before he goes off the rails, to get to see him seven to ten years before this story. There’s a lot of possibility there, for sure.

  • Heather Wixson
    About the Author - Heather Wixson

    Heather A. Wixson was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, until she followed her dreams and moved to Los Angeles in 2009. A 14-year veteran in the world of horror entertainment journalism, Wixson fell in love with genre films at a very early age, and has spent more than a decade as a writer and supporter of preserving the history of horror and science fiction cinema. Throughout her career, Wixson has contributed to several notable websites, including Fangoria, Dread Central, Terror Tube, and FEARnet, and she currently serves as the Managing Editor for Daily Dead, which has been her home since 2013. She's also written for both Fangoria Magazine & ReMind Magazine, and her latest book project, Monsters, Makeup & Effects: Volume One will be released on October 20, 2021.