Devon Sawa is a man on a mission.
The actor, still best recognized for his role as Alex in the first Final Destination movie and, of course, Stan in the Eminem music video, has been carving out quite a cool niche for himself as of late.
Sawa has worked alongside legendary action stars like Bruce Willis (in the recently wrapped Gasoline Alley) and Sylvester Stallone (in Escape Plan: The Extractors). The horror release Hunter Hunter, which hit streaming in 2020, was met with wide acclaim and is currently standing strong with a 94 percent Fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes. Later this year, audiences will see him alongside Bruce Campbell in horror-comedy Black Friday.
"I'm in the process of learning a lot of dialogue," he tells Inverse via email. It’s a fact, but also a bit of a warning. Sawa is just finishing his latest industry-mandated quarantine. He's in the zone, so to speak, and preparing to step foot on the set for Syfy's highly-anticipated Child's Play-inspired series, Chucky. Needless to say, we're catching him at an interesting time.
"As long as you clean up my grimmer," he writes, agreeing to take a break from his work for a chat. "Gramur … greemAr … ?" It's a deal, Devon.
What kind of kid were you?
Yo, I had a lot of energy. I was always on the move. In fact, it's really how I got into acting. My fifth-grade teacher suggested to my parents that if I wanted to be the class clown — I was trying to be the center of attention all the time — that maybe I should try theater. I did. And that's how it all started.
What was your favorite band at 15?
I listened mostly to hip hop. Whenever I went on location, I was allowed to spend my per-diem on whatever I wanted. My paychecks were always put in the banks and saved, but the per-diems were all mine! So, I’d spend it mostly on CDs: Everything from Snoop Dogg to AC/DC to even Credence Clearwater Revival. I was wide open, but leaned mostly to hip hop.
What piece of clothing did you wear too often in high school?
Man, I wore some epic '90s shit in high school. But if there’s one thing I’d always have on, it would be a plain black t-shirt. Everything else revolved around that.
What was your favorite video game in high school?
Blades of Steel! It's hockey. I'm Canadian. In later grades, we’d all skip school and go down to the local arcade and play Street Fighter 2.
What was your first memory of the Internet?
Waiting for a connection. You know … that sweet sound of the dial-up modem. I’m sure that anyone reading this who's around my age just heard it ringing in their heads. Then there was the disappointment that followed if someone else in the house picked up another line and ruined everything.
What’s a truth about love you believed when you were 15?
I thought I was gonna marry the girl I was dating when I was 15. I was so sure Allison was “The One.” Nothing would ever come between us because our love was stronger than anything. How could it not be? We were together for a whole year!
What high-school teacher did you like the most and why?
Uh ... next question.
What do you consider your first professional big break and why?
It was Casper. I had been working in the business in Canada for about five years at that point. But, at that time in Vancouver, productions brought in all the main cast members from Los Angeles for all the shows. I booked my role as Casper off of a tape I sent to Hollywood and it broke me into that market. From then on, I was considered LA talent.
What was considered your first professional failure?
I was nine or 10-years-old and was fired from a Batman toy commercial. I had to hold the Batman action figure and extend my arm in a specific way so that the toy ended up placed properly over a mark. It needed to be in its light, and in a position right in front of the camera. I just couldn’t do it. After 15 takes or so, they shuffled me out and brought another kid in. I remember it so vividly. The director yelled, “Okay, thanks!” and they walked me out as another kid walked right past me. Presumably, he was on his way to where I had just failed.
What’s your can’t-miss prediction for 2030 and why?
I think sometime in the next few years, Apple TV will gain complete control of streaming by doing what they’ve done with Apple Music, but with movies.
What would your 15-year-old self say about your latest project?
“Holy shit, Devon," I'd say, because even at 15, I spoke like a sailor, "you just did a movie with Bruce Willis and now you’re in the Chucky world!? Damn, good job old man!”
Awkward Phase is an Inverse series with interesting people talking about the most relatable period in their life. The interview above has been edited for clarity and brevity.