Press > Exclusive Interviews > William Luduena (Mescalito: Escape From L.A.)

How did you end up being an actor?

An old girlfriend showed me a flyer looking for movie extras for the film The Doors. I needed a job so I called the number, set up an appointment, met with Casting Director Bill Dance and he then gave me my first movie job as an extra on Oliver Stone's The Doors film and I loved it!!! It was so exciting to me to see how the process was done. From there I just kept at it and eventually joined SAG (Screen Actors Guild) and started getting union extra work, then got stand in jobs, photo double jobs, and then speaking parts.

How did you get cast as Mescalito in Escape From L.A.?

Jennifer Bender, who is now VP (Vice President) at Central Casting sent me to an interview/audition. I was first sent to the set to be the "Jacket Mescalito", but my friend William PĂȘna was there and they picked him over me. I believe they liked his look better, but they liked me and they kept me as one of Cuervo's (Georges Corraface) henchmen.

How did you prepare for the role
and how was the experience filming your scenes?

I am in a ton of scenes since I worked on the film for a month. You know how things work especially in big budget films, they cut a lot of things out. I worked mainly in the LA Memorial Coliseum basketball court scenes, the treadmill scene and at the Universal backlot (Happy Kingdom by the Sea). Right after the "Bangkok Rules" when Kurt Russell throws the can up, I get out of a taxi and yell out a few lines.

First day of shooting was in a warehouse in downtown LA at an abandoned building (treadmill scene). I don't know if you can see me in that scene but that was the first day of shooting. I got there and immediately saw, super cool dude Christian Della Penna 1st AD (Assistant Director) who I had just worked with on a previous film so I know we were in for a great time. It was a fun time plus I love working at night and this movie was all shot at night. It was 5PM till sun up. I Loved it. Best movie experience of my life.

How was the experience working with the cast and crew and what went on behind the scenes?

John Carpenter has a particular way of shooting, or at least he did on this film. It was all very organized and structured: 1, Let crew do their job setting up shot. 2, Rehearse on the spot a few times and get everything right, then shoot scene, 2 or 3 takes and that's it. It's all in the set up and the work before the shot. They had it all figured out. He rarely shot more than a few takes on every scene as I recall. It really stood out as a very efficient work flow and most of the time it's not done this way. Usually they do several takes until it looks good.

Since I got to work on the film for so long I was able to get a good look at the way this movie was made and the personalities behind it. Observing is a great way to learn about the biz. Everybody has a different personality. For example, John Carpenter is a very serious guy. He doesn't smile much, even when you see pictures of him with fans he always looks serious but he always seemed to be happy and in a great mood when he and Kurt were talking. Kurt Russell's
presence seemed to really delight him.

Kurt Russell is just a super cool dude, beyond the movie star/actor thing. He's a real man's man. He was always friendly to anybody who might approach him. One day a bunch of Extras came up to him and asked for pictures and he said, "Sure, no problem."
Can you imagine? A picture with Snake Plissken. How cool would that be?

Georges Corraface was also just a sweet human being, pleasant and
well-mannered. One day at lunch he came over and sat with me. We talked about his background in acting and he told me he was more of a comic actor in France. We continued talking and Steve Buscemi (Map to the Stars Eddie) came and sat across from myself and Georges. Unlike Georges, Steve Buscemi was very serious and not very engaging. He didn't say much at all through the whole lunch.

I recall everybody being exceptionally professional, especially Chris Della Penna, 1st AD and Jason Roberts, 2nd 2nd AD. I kept in touch with Jason for a while, even worked on a short he directed but now I haven't seen or talked to him in years. He goes and gives talks about the industry at Central Castings and on visiting days one day I will go and say hello to him.

Overall, everybody on the set was very excited to be part of such a cool movie. There was a feeling you were part of something special.

What's your favorite memory or memories of working on the movie?

Maybe the big days at Universal back lot (Happy Kingdom by the sea). Seemed like 1000 extras and 100's of crew people.  The shots of the hang gliders flying down on everybody was so great and so exciting. It felt like I was in a different world. Also, the LA Memorial Coliseum. As I recall it was the exact middle of the shooting days and at lunch they had a party. There was a band and an incredible feast. Just amazing. I've never seen anything like it. I can't remember if it was that same day but basically shooting just stopped and they turn on the jumbo screen in the Coliseum to watch a Lakers playoff game. Just imagine 100's of people just stop working and sit down to watch a basketball game.
John Carpenter and Kurt Russell were big Laker fans and I heard it cost the Carpenter 5000 dollars to have the jumbo screen turned on. CRAZY HOLLYWOOD MOVIE STUFF. So glad I was a part of it.

What do you think of the movie personally?

I love the movie. As John Carpenter has said, "Escape from L.A. is better than the first movie. Ten times better." but unfortunately it didn't do so well at the box office. You never know why some movies have success and others don't. The CG (Computer-Generated Imagery) was a bit cheesy in some parts but I like that kind of thing. Apparently the visual effects house, Buena Vista Visual Effects had never done computer graphics before??? Big mistake hiring them. Anyhow, personally I think it has a great message and the concept is ahead of its time. A lot of people just didn't get it. On the other hand a lot of people really like the film. I believe it has achieved "cult status", and that's the highest honor a movie can have in my book. John Carpenter has a very 70's, 80's filmmaker style which I personally love but EFLA came out at a time when people wanted to see super CGI special effects like Jurassic Park. Possibly Carpenter's style was not that. Funny, now people want to see more practical effects.

What are you currently doing and what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

A lot of my spare time has been going into a new show I am producing tentatively called Deconstruction TV. I've been working on it for a couple years now and it should be done very soon. I also play guitar and record music...

I had a friend who worked at Paramount Studios. At that time they had an in-house department that did all the graphics, posters, ads and some merchandise so she gave me a few fun items.

1: Me and Georges Corraface at the Universal backlot
Popcorn bags for theatre, post cards, cast & crew premiere invite
3: Front of
cast & crew t-shirt
Back of cast & crew t-shirt

Thank you for your time, William.