For today’s (Feb. 4) episode of “Drink Champs,” N.O.R.E. sat down with Fear cast members T.I., Terrence J, and Joseph Sikora along with director Deon Taylor to discuss shooting the horror film, self-financing the movie, other Black films in the space such as Get Out, and more.
After a year of surviving a global epidemic, Deon Taylor’s Fear follows a group of friends who decide to spend a few nights in the “Historic Strawberry Lodge” in the rugged Tahoe Mountains. The weekend, which was meant to be a desperately needed break and a time to celebrate, instead became a living nightmare — like many of Taylor’s past films, including 2016’s Meet The Blacks and its 2021 follow-up.
The group of friends — played by T.I., Andrew Bachelor, Joseph Sikora, Terrence J, and several others — were tested to the limit as they see the truth about the unprecedented lodge emerge piece by piece. Fear serves as Hidden Empire Releasing’s first self-distributed drop, and it earned an estimated $1.28 million from 974 screens for a per-screen average of $1,315, according to Deadline. It arrived just two months after the initial trailer amassed a whopping 3 million views online, garnering support and praise from critics alike.
To help give fans a recap, REVOLT compiled a list of nine facts we learned from the Fear cast’s “Drink Champs” conversation. Continue scrolling to read them and watch the full episode here.
1. On Joseph Sikora being typecasted as Tommy from “Power” and Frank from “Ozark”
The introduction of “Power Book IV: Force” thrust Joseph Sikora, better known to readers by his character’s name, Tommy Egan, into the limelight of the “Power” universe. Sikora revealed that fans often refer to him by his screen name now, despite his initial reluctance to be addressed by it outside of the filming process.
“It’s interesting because ‘Tommy’ is very specific, but it’s also the ‘Power’ universe that 50 [Cent] has created has been kind of bypassed by Hollywood. We were just in Los Angeles, me and Deon Taylor, the director of the great film Fear, and almost [everyone] that I met was like, ‘Hey, you’re the guy who got his d**k shot off in ‘Ozark.’” He added, “I got asked yesterday if I’m scared of being typecasted and my response was, ‘I’m from the theater, darling.’”
2. On the decline of television shows like “106 & Park” and “Total Request Live”
Traditional TV ratings and viewership have dropped dramatically over the last decade, with the exception of sports, due to the advent of online streaming platforms such as Netflix and HBO. While reminiscing about his time on “106 & Park,” Terrence J highlighted how viewers can ultimately watch television series and films at their own convenience rather than during the original premiere.
“I think it’s a different landscape. Back then, when T.I. dropped a video, you used to have to run home to watch it at 6 o’clock. Now, you can consume your entertainment in so many different ways — it’s on your phone, and you can watch any video as it drops — so the way that people consume it is different,” Terrence explained. “I think progression is a beautiful thing. I think the level of ownership that people like yourself and all these new outlets have is beautiful.”
3. On being able to display a different side of their talent in Fear
Many of Hollywood‘s most talented actors take the approach of method acting, which involves fully immersing themselves in their characters’ worlds and emotions. As highlighted by the movie, viewers get to see a different side of their favorite celebrities and familiar faces. Sikora talked about the incredible performance that actors Terrence J, Andrew Bachelor, and many more put on.
“In the Fear movie, we have an opportunity here. I see it every time I watch the movie with Tip’s performance. It’s not T.I., it’s not Tip Harris… It’s a different Terrence J that we’re used to, it’s a different Andrew Bachelor that we’re used to,” he stated.
4. On Gunna taking a plea deal
Gunna was freed from Fulton County Jail in the middle of December shortly after it was revealed that he reached a plea bargain in the YSL RICO case. When asked about the situation and the backlash the rapper has received since, T.I. chimed in to give his two cents on Gunna and Young Thug.
“The law is universal. I hated to see it. At the same time, I just hated to see it. I really do feel if things were explained a little bit differently or if he had the opportunity to speak [to someone] who could advise him,” T.I. said regarding Gunna’s plea. “If they could’ve spoken to somebody and somebody could’ve said, ‘Now you know if you do this, this is what it means.’ I don’t think if they would’ve had that advice and that opportunity to speak to somebody, I don’t believe they would’ve made the same decision. However, we’re all bound to our decisions and we can’t escape that. Free Slime.”
5. On Deon Taylor bringing all three actors on as producers
One of the unique aspects of Fear, as pointed out by Terrence and Sikora, is that several of the actors were also brought on as producers for the film. As Terrence revealed, “The beautiful thing about D is that he brought everybody to the table. All of us are producers. All of us are profit-participation producers at the table. So when this does well, when this grows, whatever happens, we’re incentivized by having a real seat at the table. It’s not a lot of people in his position as a director that offer that.”
6. On rigorous filming conditions during COVID
Even a worldwide epidemic couldn’t stop Taylor’s endeavors, as he used COVID-19 as material for his plot while working on Fear. Nearly halfway through the conversation, the actors revealed that they took extraordinary measures while filming, even living in a creepy cabin with spiders.
“We got tested every day that we shot. The CDC didn’t have guidelines yet. Deon Taylor and Roxanne Avent made up guidelines. They called the CDC and asked can we shoot a movie, and they’re like, ‘Uh, I don’t know, can you?’ They put together this list of guidelines of what they suggested,” Sikora noted.
Terrence J added, “Everybody stayed on this little compound of a strip except for Tip. He had this mansion that was like 30 minutes away. We were staying in this thing… I lifted up the bed sheet, and there were spiders that came out. There were strange bugs, noises, and all that. I was like, ‘Man, do I stay in it?’ and Deon was like, ‘Live in the moment!’”
7. On self-financing the film and releasing it only in theaters
As revealed by T.I., Fear was self-financed rather than being backed by a major production studio such as Paramount or WarnerMedia. Subsequently, the film is only available in theaters with no current intention of taking it to a streaming platform.
“Only in theaters, Jan. 27,” Sikora stated. Terrence J added, “In the studio system, you’ll come with the scripts, they’ll come in and give you the money, you’ll have a backing, right? This was all self-financed. This was all of us putting the money on to shoot this project. So when we put it out in theaters, it’s a world of possibilities. This is not just going to a streaming service; it’s not on TV.”
8. On T.I. snitching on his dead cousin
To avoid going to prison, T.I. recently confessed that he once snitched on his deceased relative. The Atlanta native claims that his cousin, Toot, gave his approval from the afterlife to use him as a postmortem scapegoat for a gun case they were involved in near Lenox Mall back in 2001. Since the culture is against snitching, Tip understandably faced backlash but as seen in the interview, the rapper doubled down on his actions, stating that no one landed in jail as a result.
“Motherf**kers fantasize about s**t. About people that they have no access to and they just imagine, and that’s the way it worked out in their mind, so I can’t allow their fantasy to become my reality. Like I said, I don’t think that s**t has no bearing on my daily,” T.I. explained. “Ain’t nobody worrying about that s**t except the motherf**kers typing on the internet.”
9. On Deon Taylor making Black horror films
To most people, the phrase “Black horror films” immediately conjures up images of Get Out, Jordan Peele’s 2017 Oscar-winning movie. But Taylor, who has been making horror flicks since 2014, says that Peele isn’t the first to make a great film in the genre. Taylor explained why he loves horror, particularly the fact that a famous movie star isn’t a requirement to create an unforgettable character.
“I been at this for a while, so going back to horror was pretty cool. I chose horror early on because that genre, the one great thing about it is you don’t need a star in your movie,” Taylor said. “If you don’t have a budget or the money that you need to create a film, horror is incredible because you don’t know who Jason is, Michael Myers is, or Freddy Krueger is. You can get a group of dope actors and just find a monster or a thing in that film.”