Dawn of the Dead's Ed Letteri

Interview by:
Lee Karr
Head Reporter for WGONZombieWatch.com


    Die hard fans of Dawn of the Dead will always remember the wildness of the WGON TV studio.  Ed Letteri was one of those frustrated WGON crew members who decided that hauling ass was a better idea than staying at work.  You should remember him as the guy who warns Flyboy as they pass each other in the studio with the lines, "It's just crazy.  Completely insane.  It's nuts!"  Besides having a cameo in the movie, Ed also served as a production assistant on the shoot.
    These days Ed is still living in Pittsburgh.  Besides his horror connection, Ed has worked on a variety of movie and television productions.  From commercials, to the film "Kingpin," to the soap opera, "The Young and the Restless," he has had a busy career.  Currently he is a partner in a company named Lightspeed, which provides grip and lighting equipment for TV and motion picture productions.  And on top of that, he is a Grateful Dead fan!

WGONZombieWatch.com recently caught up with Ed for a little stroll down memory lane...

1)    How did you get involved with "Dawn of the Dead"

       I had been working at WQED in Pittsburgh and met Zilla Clinton (Dawn's production manager).  I was justk working on the crew at WQED as a production assistant and Zilla sad, "Why don't you come work on George's film?"  I started around December or January, the ball had already been going.  I didn't start at the very beginning.  I got on as a P.A., doing whatever was needed.  Some of the locations were crappy, so I got some construction buddies of mine and we repaired a leaky roof.  Later on I started to grip on the shoot, towards the end of filming.  

2)    Any recollections or stories from the shoot?

        None that really come to mind.  It was a fun environment, that circle of people.  I wasn't in the "thick" of things.  I helped out on the prepping at the mall.  It was a good time.  I couldn't wait to show up for work.

3)    How fun was it filming your cameo?

        It was fun.  I was nervous!  George was so gracious and he really embraced the sense of it being an idenpendent film... "Hey you want to be in a scene," that sort of thing.  I don't remember exactly but it was something along the lines of "we need somebody in this scene."  "Well what do you want me to do?"  "Just run out and say its crazy or something." (laughs)

4)    Were you around for a lot of the gory SFX?

        Some, towards the end.  A lot of the motorcycle stuff.  But not a lot of the gore.

5)    Do you still see former cast members?

        Oh yeah!  Nick Tallo, John Rice, Tony Buba were there as well.  Nick Mastandrea was the best man at my wedding.  We've remained close and I'll sometimes see George.

6)    Do you ever hear from DAWN fanatics.  

        Taso Stavrakis' brother, Chris, had spoken to me about doing an interview like this, but it never happened.

7)    Have you worked on other Romero projects?

        I gaffed "Monkey Shines."  That was my first feature film as a gaffer.  That was a nice opportunity.  I think Nick (Mastandrea) had a lot to do with that, telling George to give me a chance.  Then I gaffed the remake of NOTLD.  I did Two Evil Eyes as well.

8)    Was there tension on the set of Night '90?

        Yeah, there were things going on in the background.  There's always a movie behind every movie, which I always find more intriguing in some respects.  It never fails, personal agendas, pressures, etc..

9)    Have you seen the remake of Dawn?

        No.  I wanted to go out of curiosity.  A good friend of mind though said, "you don't want to put money in Richard Rubinstein's pockets do you?"  And i thought maybe I shouldn't, so I didn't.

10)    What made you decide to stay in Pittsburgh instead of heading to LA?

        It's comfortable here.  AT the time i was starting a family too.  I had fought to establish a reputation and build my career here.  I'm happy here. 

 

*Interview conducted on July 21, 2004

 

Special thanks go out to Lee Karr for the interview and Ed Letteri for taking the time out to do this interview and give more insight into Dawn of the Dead.