In 1986, Rooker starred as the titular character in “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.” The film, which told a fictionalized story based on real-life serial killer Henry Lee Lucas, was initially shelved for being too disturbing but later went on to gain a cult fandom. Thirty years later, “Henry” is still as haunting as ever and is now being restored in 4K for rerelease nationwide via Dark Sky Films.
On the movie’s longevity, Rooker simply told The Huffington Post, ”It’s pretty fucking amazing.”
No less amazing are Rooker’s behind-the-scenes stories from the shoot, which include everything from being confronted by a street gang to getting surrounded by police to delivering a character bio to his director in a very special way.
1. Rooker recorded his character’s bio while on the toilet.
When the cast was tasked with creating biographies for their characters, Rooker let director John McNaughton know he wasn’t pleased with the idea by recording the audio on the toilet.
“I wasn’t too keen on doing that,” Rooker said. “I kind of did it as a ‘fuck you’ to the director and the writer in a nice way. I just wanted to let them know how that came about.”
2. Decapitating Otis was inadvertently hilarious.
”Henry” is one of the darkest movies you can watch, but Rooker reflected on one funny moment that could’ve made the movie.
“When I cut Otis’ head off, it was so slippery that I tried to put it in the sink and it slipped out of my hands and rolled across the floor. We didn’t get to keep that in the film but, for me, that was just ridiculous.”
3. An actual street gang threatened the production.
Rooker recalled, “One of our producers was in the neighborhood yelling at some of the neighborhood people to be quiet and 20 minutes later, 18 of the neighborhood people came back looking for him — wanted to kick his ass.”
“They said they were looking for the loudmouth, and I pointed to [him]. I said, ‘There he is.’ They said, ‘We want him,’ and I said, ‘You can have him. Just wait two weeks. We still need him for the movie.’ And [after] the joke I made, one of the guys called out, ‘Animal, is that you?’ Animal was my nickname in high school,” said Rooker.
The actor grew up in Chicago, where the movie was filmed.
“I said, ‘Yeah, man.’ It turned out to be one of my friends from high school, and after that everything was cool. They actually policed the neighborhood for us.”
4. Yes, that was Becky in the suitcase (but actually it was just stockings stuffed with sand).
Poor Becky. Her only crime was that she was incredibly stupid and fell in love with a murderer.
At the end of the movie, it’s strongly implied that Henry killed Becky and stuffed her in her own luggage. Well, Rooker confirmed to HuffPost, “Oh, that’s definitely Becky in the suitcase.”
Don’t be grossed out, though. In real life, Rooker says “all kinds of stuff” was in the suitcase, including, “Ladies stockings, filled them with sand just to add weight.”
“We did that also when we were dumping body parts in the Chicago River,” said Rooker.
Speaking of that ...
5. The police surrounded everyone because they thought they were dumping real bodies in the river.
”We had about three or four police cars pull up and surround us. And they said, ‘We heard you were dumping bodies.’ And we said, ‘No, we’re not dumping a body. We’re doing a movie.’ And they said, ‘OK, thought you guys were dumping a body,’ and drove off,” Rooker explained.
“Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer” returns in a 4K restoration rerelease nationwide via Dark Sky Films, with major theatrical engagements to begin on Oct. 21, 2016.