Comedy feature “The Jersey Devil” premiered Wednesday at the Landmark Loew’s Jersey Theatre in Jersey City. In the film, Lucifer’s reign in hell is ending, and a new devil, James Burnett, wants to change the underworld’s image and location. Burnett wants hell to be edgy and cool, and after an extensive search, he settles on… Jersey City, New Jersey. Lucifer repeatedly tries to stop his replacement from succeeding, and eventually turns to a higher power for help.
Actors and producers Keith Collins (“The Meat Puppet,” “Stuck in the Middle”) and Jack Mulcahy (“The Brothers McMullen,” “Porky’s”) play Burnett and Lucifer in hilarious roles. The film also stars Chris Mulkey as God, Edvin Ortega as Burnett’s lackey, and Rosie Gunther as Eve. “The Jersey Devil” was directed by two-time New York Emmy winner Joseph Pepitone (“Stuck in the Middle”) of Diamond Jesus Productions.
“The Jersey Devil” was filmed last winter in New Jersey – during a particularly brutal storm. “We worked during a couple of the blizzards; we had very bad weather,” Gunther told yeahstub.com. “The day we worked in this theatre, the Loew’s Theatre, we were like refugees getting here.
“We took the train from Grove St., and then that was broken down… we couldn’t really get there,” she explained. “We had to go to Hoboken and come back here to Journal Square, carrying our bags through the snow and the wind… We were all two hours late on set that day that we shot here… but everyone showed up.”
Jarl, one of the “Jersey Devil” executive producers, also discussed the less than ideal weather conditions.
“We had three snowstorms while we were filming,” he said. “We worked through those. Chris [Mulkey] was basically walking the streets to get to set… no path, nothing. Everything was just not working well for us. But we made it. We got here.”
Mulcahy eagerly discussed how he approached his wicked role.
“Playing Lucifer… I had to find a unique way to play him,” he told yeahstub.com. “I figured that I would dress like Pacino in ‘Devil’s Advocate,’ and act like Judge Smails from ‘Caddy Shack’: Kind of a buffoon, he really doesn’t understand the highfalutin language that he uses, but he has purpose, and he has the wherewithal to know were hell has its rightful place. So he’s a man who’s earnest in his intention.”
“The Jersey Devil” has an ending that hints at a sequel, and the cast cautiously confirmed a follow-up.
“I can’t say too much, but I think there might be a ‘Jersey Devil 2,’ [or] 3,” Collins said, “and possibly six after that. We’re setting up for a franchise here.”
“I know we are working on a couple scripts down the line with Joe Pepitone, the director, so we definitely hope there will be a follow-up to it,” Ortega shared. The “BIdentity Crisis” actor also said that there is more to come for his character, Richard Cooper, and Cooper’s love interest, Tori LaSalle, played by Penelope Lagos.
“[Pepitone] did mention that [Lagos and I] will probably be working together… but a little bit of a twist this time,” Ortega shared. “[Pepitone] did ‘Stuck in the Middle’ last year, and now ‘The Jersey Devil’… there’s this trifecta that he wants to do. Before it was purgatory, now it’s hell, and now he wants to go to heaven.”
Gunther also dropped a spoiler for the next film. “’Jersey Devil 2,’ let me think,” she said in an exclusive interview. “I guess in the sequel, Eve is back with Adam, which could be problematic.” In “The Jersey Devil,” Eve is in hell and formed a relationship with Lucifer.
“There could be lots of conflict and fun things happening there,” Gunther said of the sequel. “I’ll have to speak to the writer; I’ll have to plant some ideas with him.”
The “Bad Parents” actress is also a director, and has two children’s musicals in the works. “I’ve kind of gotten into this whole world of musical theatre, which is vastly different from the movie that you saw tonight,” she said. “But it’s a very rewarding kind of thing to do – working with children, with two casts of kids… it’s very interesting.”
Mulcahy is also staying busy with his West End Kid Productions film company. “I’ve got three films that I’m producing right now,” he revealed. “A paranormal thriller called ‘The Manor,’ a baseball movie called ‘Bull,’ and a film about a government rendering of an American citizen called ‘Citizen Gone.’”
Ortega recently finished filming a zombie film called “29 Alexander,” and is also the co-creator and star of “Larger Than Life,” an award-winning, boy band tribute show.
Jarl would not comment on a potential “Jersey Devil” sequel, but did discuss the comedy’s writing process.
“We constantly kept changing it up a little bit, making it funnier as we saw it go along,” he told yeahstub.com. “We wrote in a few new roles… we tried to make it as Jersey as we could, and get all the jokes to work for people here as well. There’s a lot of local jokes. It was a great time.”
Collins praised the work of Pepitone, who was also one of the film’s writers. “Joe is fantastic,” the New Jersey native said. “He is a brilliant, brilliant writer. This is my fourth movie I’ve done with him, and we just continue building so [many] projects together, collaborating on a lot of things. We just have a great friendship.
“The best part about even working with him is that he likes to keep some of the people that he worked with in the past, so his writing style actually is geared toward their acting craft,” Collins explained. “It really makes things great in the end.”
Jarl plugged the next film coming from Humanity Pride Productions, Green Light Films, and Diamond Jesus Productions, “Phoenix: The Resurrection.” The action film stars Keith Collins, and is currently in pre-production. The film companies are also locally-based.
“We have been working with the Mayor, Steven Fulop, on his transition team, and trying to rebrand Jersey City,” Jarl said. “We thought it would be fun to use Jersey City, and not just [New Jersey in general].
“Jersey City needed it,” he continued. “Jersey City needed something cool and fun, so for us, that was the place to do it… We love this city; we think it’s the coolest place in the world. It’s the new Hollywood.”
Keep up with everything “The Jersey Devil” on the film’s Facebook page.