Q&A Exclusive – ‘The Collector’ Himself Juan Fernández Helps Dissect His Man Of Mayhem For Halloween

Welcome fright fans!  Halloween is almost upon us and seemingly out of tricks it felt like time for a little tasty treat.  For both the genre geeks and my own beloved boss and cool critic Brian White I’m presenting something truly special this year to celebrate the dark magic of All Hallows’ Eve.  I, much like Brian, am a massive admirer of the 2009 Marcus Dunstan helmed five-star original outing The Collector, a terrifying tale of two professional gents – one a master thief and the other a cunning killer – who find themselves trapped in a house together and both use their own ‘specific set of skills’ to fight and survive the night.  From the suspenseful staging to the eclectic array of brutal booby traps, The Collector is a true hidden horror gem that ups the ante on traditional thriller themes.  But besides the earnest work by lead man Josh Stewart as relatable robber Arkin, there’s a singular tasty turn that truly gives the flick its damn fine film flavor.

They say that a movie is only as good as its bad guy and as the titular man of mayhem sleek actor Juan Fernández’s (born Juan de Jesus Fernández de Alarcon) The Collector is truly evil incarnate.  Playing a character that never speaks, is masked the entire film and yet thoroughly conveys his malicious intentions with simply eye and body movements, Fernández’s creepy Collector is a pitch-perfect performance that deserves high-praise recognition and a place right alongside some of the most iconic villains in movie history.  (At least in my movie opinion!)  So to celebrate the upcoming dark holiday (and give boss Brian one pumpkin sized present!), I reached out to Juan (who also has an incredible array of other amazing films under his belt including Salvador, Arachnophobia and A Man Apart to name just a few!) for a little beyond the norm Collector character insight and the man behind the mask definitely did not disappoint.  From his candid tales of how two sets of contact lenses that left him working blind informed the character’s other senses to his thoughts on everything from traps, his foe Arkin and even the significance of the red case The Collector stores his victims in, Fernández dug deep and got totally candid exclusively for WhySoBlu.com in an effort to provide fans some until now unexplored detail into a famed film foe known for his mysterious maniacal nature.  (Plus with Dunstan’s follow up film The Collection being a huge disappointment to me due to the character of The Collector being recast with an uninspired hulking stuntman, Fernández’s seemingly underappreciated original work is owed some serious Halloween highlighting here!)  Confirming that his turn was far from a fluke and crafted with loving attention to dark detail, welcome to the thought process of the one and only The Collector himself…



How did the script of The Collector come to you and what was your first impression reading it?

Juan Fernández: There was a lady who cast me in another film (Monika Mikkelsen) who was the casting director for The Collector and she was a fan.  Some casting directors bring you in and just talk to you and she was one of those.  You’d tell her things and you’re kind of friendly, which is not the case now as the business is changing.  She called me and told me, ‘There’s this film that I think you will really like and the director was thinking of a dancer.’  And it’s funny because I told Marcus eventually, ‘A dancer is not going to give you what you really need – you need an actor who knows how to move.’  I mean the character has to have a certain fluidity, he’s gotta be elegant, cunning, evil, bizarre and deliver a performance.  A dancer is only going to do the moves.  I read the script and I thought it was fascinating that it was a serial killer that was not a regular killer.  He was like a scientist looking for people who behaved a certain way.  So I met Marcus at a café and we talked that’s how we started The Collector.

The Collector has no dialogue and never speaks – what were the challenges of conveying character intentions with merely body language and eyes alone?

JF: In the film the moves were very specific – to begin with I was blind.

Wow!  Because of the costume or was that an actor choice?

JF: The costume AND a choice.  I had two contact lenses, one that was black plastic that covered my entire eye and the second one that was a glass mirror for reflection, so I had no light in my eyes. So it sharpens your senses and your movements where I was only able to sense and smell things.  And sometimes I couldn’t act and it would scratch and they had to put in drops and give me a few minutes to relax – I would try to get into a meditative state. It had its difficulties – I mean I needed help to go to the bathroom.  Someone used to walk me and they became my cane.  But it was a fantastic journey and people were so fantastic around me and would happily help because they knew how difficult it was.

The Collector is shown as a Master Trap Exterminator – how does that job fit into his obvious love for insects and what is his connection to said job?

JF: That he was setting traps – he was trying to do psychologically do what society is doing to people.  At one point the mother is putting Botox in her face and that is a trap of beauty and society.  The most real moment in the film was where he saves the spider.  That moment where he lets the spider go was a pivotal point for me in the story because it showed his humanity.  He could have killed it but he puts it outside because creatures and animals have no evil – it’s people who have that.  That was my take on The Collector.

The red trunk where The Collector stores his victims – what is its significance and why that particular case?

JF: Well, red is what?  What is in your body that is red?  Blood.  What does the blood do when it’s working?  It makes you have memories, it makes your heart beat, it becomes a pressure and a pleasure.  Pressure point to your heart, pleasure because it rejuvenates your heart with a history and pressure gives you the memories and that’s why it’s so important that he keeps it in the trunk.  He keeps one.  If something happens to a loved one are you going to take one photograph and put it in some tacky book?  No, you’re going to put it in a place where you hide your treasures and it’s a very intimate thing.  And so that was why the trunk was so special to him.

He has a dog in the film that’s both loyal and vicious – what is their connection?

JF: Once again we go back into an animal – animals don’t attack unless they feel that they have to protect their owners.  Animals don’t attack just to attack, they only kill to survive.  You see him twice in the film and what he displays is a survival instinct from The Collector.

Of all the traps set within the Chase home – fishhooks, knife chandelier, acid floor, razor blade window, spike in the phone cradle, bear traps, ect. – which one is your favorite and why?

JF: The big bear traps.  Have you ever seen a mouse when they get trapped?  That’s what that was about.  I also do like the visual of the chandelier when he looks up and sees all the knives coming down – it’s just so bizarre.  But that’s what was most interesting – he wasn’t killing like you normally see a serial killer killing.  He was killing with hooks, the things that would kill fish, the chandelier that had knives, which we use to kill animals and people, but he wasn’t using guns or traditional ways of killing.

Can you talk a bit about the sleek body language – sly movements, curious head tilts – of the character and do you feel like he was mimicking the movement of the insects from his work?

JF: As an actor I loved dancing and I love power walking and I love the freedom when you do that.  I used to be a fashion model when I was fifteen in Paris, so I’m aware of the light and the camera. So all the things I have in my experience I was able to use them in this character.  When you’re blind you can’t be dorky.  Blind people the way that they see and move things they have to be very sensual.  His movements were very erotic and I had to get in touch with my own sensuality.  Plus being blind I could not move fast because if you move fast you’re gonna fall on your face.  Ever see a possum by a fence and you look up and there’s a possum staring at you and he has this horrific stillness that you think he’s a monster who’s going to attack?  There’s something unpredictable in that.

The mask The Collector sports – how was it chosen and what significance does it have to the character and did you have any input into the design?

JF: If you really look at it it has so many meanings. It could be death or very much like some kind of lizard or crocodile or snake – everything was dark around him.  His movement had a certain grace, but his appearance was very eerie.  The only thing I asked about was the breathing – if the holes could be made a little bit bigger and also you could see a little bit of flesh in the upper part of the lip.  But the guy who made the mask was fucking brilliant and they took quite a few hours testing it.

The story is basically about two dangerous professionals – one killer, one thief – who are experts in their skillset.  What do you think The Collector thinks of Arkin and even though he’s ultimately trying to kill Arkin do you think that somewhere he has a twisted respect for him?

JF: Of course he does because at the very end The Collector and Arkin have something very similar.  The Collector was killing people to save animals and Arkin was robbing people to save a little girl. In the end Arkin was somebody with a spirituality and some kind of dignity and The Collector had respect for him because of that.

At what point do you think or did you decide that The Collector knew Arkin was in the house?

JF: The Collector ALWAYS knew that somebody was in the house.  Talking blind again think of Al Pacino in Scent Of A Woman, his moves, the way he smells, The Collector was the same.  The Collector was blind and a blind person knows – they have a sixth sense.  You think that’s he’s going to go inside the house and he’s not going to know from the smell or the air changes that there is someone in there – then he wouldn’t be The Collector.

A major question is if he collects just one was he there to get Arkin from the start or did he just come on The Collector’s radar because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time?

JF: Well, if you remember that last person that he had the husband was an interesting guy.  And Arkin was interesting – he was a challenge.  He was somebody that The Collector could open up the box and stare and wonder what he’s thinking.  But he wasn’t just collecting people, he was collecting interesting souls and in the end he’s just about collecting something special.  When you collect something it has to have a special meaning to you, to your essence, to your heart and spirit, and to the way you think.

Interesting story – I had gone to Haiti and I was looking for a sign.  I was supposed to do a film about Jean-Jacques Dessalines a general in the Napoleon era and most people don’t even remember who he was.  So I drove from the Dominican Republic to Haiti and I spent a day walking from town to town asking to see if anyone had images of him.  And I went back to the first store I went to when I crossed the frontier and said to the guy, ‘The only thing you didn’t do when you were showing me the images was you didn’t empty out the box.’  And he took the cardboard box and he emptied it and stuck between the two folds of the box popped out three pieces of money with images of Jean-Jacques Dessalines.  And he said, ‘I think you need to have this – this is what you came for.’  We never did the film, but I still have them.  What I’m basically saying is that if you collect something it has meaning.

I will firmly go on record as saying the stuntman shamefully inserted to played The Collector in the less-than-stellar sequel The Collection had none of the distinctive and dangerous character characteristics of your chilling work that made the first film so damn memorable to me.  If the third previously proposed film The Collected were to finally immerge would you be willing to don the demented mask of The Collector again?

JF: If Marcus were directing it I would do it.  I would do it to break the mold of the second film.  It was very clear it wasn’t me – I mean Freddy Krueger could not be played by anyone else.  But you’d have to ask Marcus why he made that decision.  If it were Marcus doing it I would love to because the possibilities are endless – there’s no limit.  Let’s make the sequels better than the first one.  Like Dali used to say uniqueness is the one pleasure left.


A very special thanks to the man who endured my movie question grilling and in my book IS the true Collector (Marcus – DO NOT make any more of these films without him!) the humble and insightful Juan Fernández (check him out at https://www.thejuanfernandez.com/ and on Instagram at @thejuanfernandez)– and a very Happy Halloween to all of you!  (aka stay scared!)



I'm a passionate and opinionated film critic/movie journalist with over 20 years of experience in writing about film - now exclusively for WhySoBlu.com. Previous sites include nine years at Starpulse.com where I created Forgotten Friday Flick back in 2011, before that as Senior Entertainment Editor for The213.net and 213 Magazine, as well as a staff writer for JoBlo.com. My other love is doing cool events for the regular guy with my company Flicks For Fans alongside my friend, partner and Joblo.com writer James "Jimmy O" Oster. Check us out at www.Facebook.com/FlicksForFans.

4 Responses to “Q&A Exclusive – ‘The Collector’ Himself Juan Fernández Helps Dissect His Man Of Mayhem For Halloween”

  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    This is terrific!

  2. Jason Coleman

    Thanks – a passion piece for sure!

  3. Gerard Iribe

    Awesome stuff, Jason! I’ve yet to see these films. I’ll have to rectify that!

  4. Brian White

    Fantastic piece.
    Thanks for the cool shoutouts.
    And I’m speechless Gerard has not seen these. Absolutely speechless.