If you think you need a heaping of all that newfangled VFX and CGI to create a suitably day-ruining horror clown, then you obviously don’t know jack. Or, Pretzel Jack, the homicidal limb-twisting contortionist clown from Syfy’s Channel Zero: The Dream Door. The character, played by the incredibly limber Troy James, is the horrific highlight of the series’ fourth season premiere, emerging from Jillian and Tom Hodgson’s (Maria Sten and Brandon Scott) basement to have some highly unsettling fun.
According to Channel Zero creator and showrunner Nick Antosca, Jack’s unnerving movements and joint-bursting limb work is 100% on James, who also performs under the name Twisty Troy [via EW]:
“Troy James is a pretty extraordinary physical performer. We actually wrote the season around him after we saw what he could do in a small role in [Channel Zero season three] Butcher’s Block. None of it is CG. Pretzel Jack’s contortions and bizarre behavior are entirely the performance of Troy James.”
Antosca noted that in crafting Pretzel Jack’s scenes for season four, the writing staff relied on James’ creepy contorted instincts the same way Saturday Night Live leans on Kenan Thompson to provide a reaction instead of writing an actual joke.
“Basically, on set, the script would say, ‘He does a bizarre contortionist dance,’ and Troy would say, ‘Well, I’m going to try this,’ or ‘I’m going to try that,’ and he would do these incredible twisting things with his body. We’d all be standing there going, ‘Oh my God!’ There’s a whole bunch on the cutting room floor, because we couldn’t use all of it, of just him doing these crazy pretzel contortions with himself. I have to assure everybody that it’s not CGI because there are moments when his behavior is so bonkers, you’d think a person couldn’t really do that — but he did. It’s crazy.”
If you’re interested in catching Jack in action and/or not sleeping for several days, check out our own Haleigh Foutch’s review of Channel Zero: The Dream Door.