Billy Zane Says ‘Actors Should Get Emotional Stunt Pay’ After Playing a Sex Cult Leader and Filming Abuse Scenes: ‘You’re Recreating Weird Trauma’

Billy Zane recently told Entertainment Weekly that “actors should get emotional stunt pay” after he transformed into the Sarah Lawrence cult leader Larry Ray for the upcoming Lifetime movie “Devil on Campus: The Larry Ray Story.” Ray was an ex-con who moved into his daughter’s dorm at Sarah Lawrence college in 2010 and gained manipulative control over her roommates’ lives. His abusive sex cult lasted for a decade before he was convicted and given a 60-year prison sentence. Playing Rey required Zane to gain weight and film several abuse scenes.

“Actors should get emotional stunt pay,” Zane said. “The secondary experience encroaches on the primary. It really does. You’re recreating much weird trauma. We’re putting coursing adrenaline through our bodies and depleting serotonin and dopamine and freaking ourselves out and the body registers it.”

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Zane said he was appreciative of the “Devil on Campus” set, which was safe enough where the cast and crew were able to share laughs and check in with each other when the cameras weren’t rolling.

“I’ve played nefarious characters in the past and then shied from it for a while,” Zane said about taking on the role. “I couldn’t resist this one because of just the curious nature of it. And I hadn’t gone there in a while like this. I liked the platform a lot for it. I have never done a Lifetime movie. I hadn’t considered it. And I thought the network was so well suited for the story, because had it been on any other streamer, the story would’ve been eclipsed by graphic nudity and violence. The fact that there was restraint and a level of censorship required in this story, we could go deeper into character.”

Zane said he mostly “enjoyed” the transformation, which also required “putting on a bunch of weight because he was imposing not just in height but in mass.” Zane continued: “Getting a big belly. He was obviously trying to feed something. I think there was trauma eating going on there. Then the accent, and the weird affectation of his lisp. It’s a lot to chew on, so to speak.”

“Devil on Campus: The Larry Ray Story” was directed by actor Elisabeth Röhm and also stars Manuela Sosa, Frankie Warren, Erin Walsh and Tedra Rogers. The film premieres June 23 on Lifetime.

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