Five friends head to a cabin in the woods for a good time away from home, only to stumble upon something more than slightly demonic. It’s a tale as old as, well, the original Evil Dead (1981) and as joyfully fresh as its 2013 remake starring indie icon, Lou Taylor.
Originally debuting as an actor on Broadway at the age of 11, Lou Taylor has gone on to become one of the more successful independent actors to come out of New Jersey in recent years. With a string of successful major productions, including Evil Dead and American Horror Story, Lou is occupying a fascinating space between mainstream stardom and independent auteur success.
Much like the rest of his life, Lou’s acting career is as textured and complicated as the man himself. Let’s explore what makes Lou Taylor tick, what drives his recent projects, and how
Childhood of Singing, Dancing, and Acting
Lou Taylor may not have been born on stage, but he was brought into the world by two passionate stage performers. Born to Louis Pucci and Linda Farver, Lou was raised in a household led by a former beauty pageant queen and model, as well as a guitarist for bands like The Watch and Leap of Faith. With a pair of brothers by his side, Lou and his family would relocate to Keansburg, NJ, where Lou would begin attending the Christian Brothers Academy.
As a young child, Lou was raised on a steady diet of music and acting. His mother and father both instilled a fascination with art into his life from a young age, despite how that would be received at school. Lou recalls points in his life where he was bullied by colleagues at school as a child, often because of his performances and desire to sing and dance.
Side-Career as an Altar Boy
While he may say this with a smile, Lou Taylor at one point almost saw his acting career sidetracked by life as an altar boy. His parents had given him the option of either pushing forward with his acting endeavors as a child or shifting his attention toward religion, as they had lived in a spiritual household. Despite his present career, Lou would agree to go to Church as an Altar Boy. In his own words, Lou said that he loved “all the robes” and “different colored belts” but that only for roughly six or seven months.
Despite how much fun Lou was having with the Church, he wanted to create and perform. Lou said in an interview with Autre, “You have to wake up so early. The same thing every time.” Lou admitted, “Finally, though, I decided that I couldn’t do this anymore.”
Making His Big Break on Broadway
After hanging up his altar boy robes for good, Lou would double-down on his efforts in showbusiness. Still a pre-teen, Lou Taylor would audition for and go on to win a role in the Broadway play, The Sound of Music. Commuting from New Jersey to New York for over a year and a half, Lou would cut his teeth on stage while cementing himself as one of the most promising young actors in the city.
How Indie Film Changed Everything For Lou
Broadway is considered one of the finest places on Earth for a performer to go to cut their teeth, so it should surprise nobody to see how it helped Lou prepare for his independent film career. After navigating through Broadway and into a string of independent film productions, including his debut opposite Kyra Sedwick and Parker Posey in Personal Velocity, Lou would find his way into the casting room for the 2005 picture, Thumbsucker — a role that he almost did not accept.
Before earning the award-winning leading role in Thumbsucker, Lou would appear in a magazine where he would be spotted by his future agent. His future agent had seen the interview and knew then and there that the actor was perfect for a character in the Thumbsucker screenplay. Lou describes being convinced by his future agent for nearly two months before breaking down and accepting the script. Lou says, “It was actually one of the first scripts I ever got.”
As a new actor and the final person to read for a leading role in the script, Lou was also the final main actor cast. The audition involved Lou working with Kelli Garner in a scene revolving around their character’s break-up. Lou notes during his audition that the only note he was given was to “stop acting”, something that allowed him to fully immerse himself into the character.
Thanks to his efforts with Mike Mills as well as co-stars Tilda Swinton and Vincent D’Onofrio, Thumbsucker would turn into an instant fan-favorite at festivals like Sundance and the Berlin Film Festival. Lou would even earn the 2005 Special Jury Prize for Acting from Sundance due to Thumbsucker.
Life After Thumbsucker
Most young actors go their entire career without a star-defining moment. For Lou, Thumbsucker was only the beginning of what has since turned into a sprawling, multi-decade career spanning 47 films and even more theatrical projects. Despite his success, Lou would handwave it all away during an interview, saying, “I do not in the slightest way think that I deserve that at all.”
Despite his misgivings, Lou Taylor would become a hot name in the film industry following his accolade-fueled performance in Thumbsucker across from true acting giants like Tilda Swinton, Keanu Reeves, and Vincent D’Onofrio. Following that project, Lou would find his way into the Green Day: Jesus of Suburbia music video as well as films like Southland Tales, The Informers, and Evil Dead (2013) — a film that has seen Taylor’s star surge even brighter.
For Evil Dead, Taylor would audition with Bruce Campbell, the original star of Evil Dead, in the room. At the time, Campbell told Lou that he had to be ready to get completely messed up, for “blood to be in your face every single day”, and to “hate your life” because of it. Taylor said of Campbell’s speech, “Let’s try it. Let’s do it.”
While the Evil Dead franchise is notably darker and less nuanced than some of his other indie work, Taylor doesn’t want that to detract from his efforts. “I love that this movie doesn’t apologize for itself.” Despite the violence and over-the-top bloodletting, Taylor said, “Life is scary. Life can be scary. It’s very, very real.”