Chloe Moretz Hick, One of the creepier scenes in Hick, director Derick Martini’s dark coming-of-age movie that opens in theaters Friday, starts with 13-year-old Chloë Moretz looking into a bathroom mirror and seeing the face of indie horror star Dave Vescio staring back at her.
Moretz is Luli, a precocious Nebraska teen who has been abandoned by her alcoholic parents and sets out to hitchhike to Las Vegas with nothing but a backpack and a loaded pistol. You know the moment you see Vescio’s face in the mirror that something really sickening is about to happen.
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“When people saw me in the bathroom with Chloe, the word they kept using was ‘creepy,’” Vescio said in an Examiner phone interview from his West Hollywood home. “I kept hearing, ‘You’re very creepy. Very, very creepy.’”
To an actor, that’s a job well done. Vescio has played a lot of “villains, antagonists, and offbeats,” but they weren’t the same as Hick’s pool-hustling Stranger, he said. He shot a lot of pool to get the feel for that part of the role, but to bring out a S-EX-ual predator, he had to dig a lot deeper.
Vescio had to go way back to his own past at Leavenworth prison, where he served two and a half years of a 10-year sentence for dealing drugs back in the 1990s.
“That was a privilege I wouldn’t wish on anyone,” Vescio said. “I lived with child molesters for two and a half years and I witnessed their f—ed-up mentality. To them it’s normal behavior. Most of them-in fact, every one I ever met-were abused as children as well, so they were repeating that vicious cycle. It’s really screwed up. That’s what I was trying to show in that scene-to do it the way they would do it, so it really affects the audience, and at the same time it shows the truth of who these guys really are.”
Don’t get him wrong. Just because Vescio tries to portray realistic human characters, it doesn’t mean he wants villains to win in the end. Far from it.
“For me as a human being it is impossible to go to those places, but I have to because it’s my character,” Vescio said. “I try to bring humanity and empathy to the story but I’ll be honest-I don’t want those characters to be the winners in the end, because then you’re telling the world the wrong message.”
Vescio knows a lot about messages. He got a strong sense of ethics from his father, a fighter pilot who served in Vietnam and then completed another 23 years in the military.