For Backstreet Boy Nick Carter, Writing His Zombie Western 'Dead 7' Was A Dream Come True
In a world where boy band nostalgia reigns supreme, it's almost unimaginable that Nick Carter has to struggle to get acting roles. Yet, that problem is exactly what led to the creation of Carter's new boy band-starring zombie movie Dead 7. With a cast comprised of Carter, AJ McLean, and Howie Dorough from Backstreet Boys, Joey Fatone and Chris Kirkpatrick from *NSYNC, Jeff Timmons from 98 Degrees, and Erik-Michael Estrada from O-Town, Dead 7 is a boy band fan's dream and, so it would seem, Carter's dream as well.
"Nine years ago, I had this idea to write a screenplay because I was having a hard time getting roles in Hollywood with acting," says Carter, in a phone interview with Bustle. "I wasn't able to [take on acting roles] because I was on the road all the time with the Backstreet Boys." While that wasn't good news for Carter then, it certainly seems to have turned into good news now, with the unveiling of the inevitable cult classic that is Syfy's Dead 7 , a.k.a that new zombie-Western starring seven men from four different boy bands. *Cue gleeful shrieking*
"I decided, 'I'm going to create my own movie, and my own part, and my own role,'" Carter says. The singer was also hoping to break out of his usual routine. "You know, I'm always trying to do new things, something I've never done before ... I'm an experimenter and sometimes things work, sometimes they don't. As far as acting goes, and even not just acting but the screenwriting and the artistic element that goes into that part of the show business, I love it," he says.
While Carter's filmmaking side may come as a surprise for a lot of fans, he says he "grew up watching zombie movies, horror movies, slasher movies, sci-fi movies, alien movies" and that his years in BSB just might have inspired this dark turn. "I definitely have a dark side to me that probably is because I was the blonde-haired, blue-eyed, 'cute one,' so to speak, in the boy band. So maybe my alter, darker side that I can act in and live in is in the movie world," he says.
But beyond breaking the mold, Carter has actually been making his own movies even before he became a member of Backstreet. "When I was 7, 8, 9, 10 years old — because I met the guys when I was 12, 13 years old — when I got my first video camera, my first VHS video camera, I would take that video camera and I would record home videos and movies with my brother and my sisters and I'd make them all my actors and I would be the director and we'd do little films and stuff. It was definitely something I wanted to do," says Carter. (Now if only he would release that footage with younger brother, Aaron Carter, then fans could go really nuts.)
Once Carter created an opportunity for himself to tap into his darker side and his former filmmaking interests by writing a script, the next step was taking his screenplay, originally titled Dead West, to The Asylum, the production company behind the Sharknado franchise, which was the reason Carter was drawn to them. Carter says he loved how The Asylum "were involved in making B movies and how they didn't really take themselves too serious [sic] and it was really all about having fun and making great movies."
Once The Asylum was down to produce Carter's script, it was time to decide on a cast. Carter did have the idea of having some boy banders in the film, but he had other fan-friendly ideas for his gruesome zombie film too. "Originally I wanted to have Jesse McCartney in the movie playing Billy, but he turned it down — he didn't want to do it," says Carter. (Timmons took on the role of Billy, the brother of Carter's character Jack.) Carter also offered a role to Shaquille O'Neal, who declined, and that's when he approached *NSYNC star Fatone, perhaps the most successful actor from the 1990s and 2000s boy band set. (You know, besides that guy Justin Timberlake.)
Carter already had parts written for his fellow Backstreet Boys Dorough and McLean, the latter of which he had always hoped would play the villain. From there, The Asylum decided to fill the cast with as many boy band members as possible — and that's how Carter made TV movie history. (If you're concerned about too many boys in the film, Carter's wife, Lauren Kitt Carter, also has a plum role.) But with a cast so full of boy banders, where are Kevin Richardson and Brian Littrell, the last two remaining members of BSB? Well, Carter says that he did ask the pair, but "unfortunately, they were busy with their families doing kids stuff ... Kevin almost was in it." As disappointed as I am that the cast of Dead 7 doesn't contain all of the Backstreet Boys, like their cameo in This Is the End from 2013 did, I guess I can accept that Richardson and Littrell have their personal lives to tend to.
The fact that the full Backstreet set couldn't join the cast stings a little harder when it becomes clear that despite Carter's heavy involvement with creating, writing, and producing Dead 7 and his passion for the project, he doesn't actually show up until later in the film. According to Carter, fans can thank a little something called the demands of being a filmmaker.
"It's funny because I was wearing so many hats and overseeing so many things that I forgot to pay attention to myself and give myself more of a part in the movie," Carter says, laughing. Plus, Carter says he was practicing for Dancing with the Stars during filming and four days after shooting wrapped, he was in his first episode of the dance competition show. (Unsurprisingly, Carter excelled on DWTS and placed in second.) Regardless of how much screen time his character has, as Carter says, "Jack was sort of like the quiet hero" of the movie. While you may be jonesing for more Carter, the hype and eventual arrival of Jack in the film will just have to tide you over. And if that doesn't work, Carter taking down zombies in cowboy hat sure will.
And if that hat's not enough, don't fret: Carter is hopeful that Dead 7 could possibly lead to more filmmaking opportunities. "Hopefully this opens up a door and if people want to see more stuff, then I'm going to jump into it," Carter says. "I have a ton of different ideas in my head and also have two screenplays that I have written that are kind of just waiting. One of them is called Evil Blessings and the other one is called Flesh and Blood." ( Evil Blessings even has an Indiegogo fundraising page.)
Of course, future movie projects for Carter depend on the reception of Dead 7, which premieres on Syfy on Friday, April 1. While I anticipate seeing less-than stellar reviews from critics, like The Asylum's Sharknado before it, there's no doubt in my mind that fans will love seeing their boy band crushes killing zombies in a demented world. And while you may yearn for the days of "I Want It That Way" and "Everybody," there is no denying the fact that Backstreet's back... alright! (Sorry, my late 1990s side just had to do that.)
Images: Raymond Liu/The Asylum/Syfy (3)