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Billy Zane Executes Primal Role in Lifetime Ripped from the Headlines Movie: Devil on Campus: The Larry Ray Story

Photo credit: Billy Zane

Billy Zane has captivated audiences for years, whether in humorous roles, mystery, terror driven or fantasy, he’s made his stake in cinema with over 200 films and tv shows from the 80’s till now with the newest feature Devil on Campus: The Larry Ray Story. It’s a brilliant tribute to the actor with over three decades of work on the big screen.

While strolling through the rolodex of my memory, several of Zanes box office hits pops into mind, like the 1998 thriller, Dead Calm, a psychopath, who didn’t take keenly to rejection; Zane cast in the 1997 tragic love story, Titanic as smug and obnoxious elitest Cal Hockley— Cal risked it all for one woman named Rose, and a centuries old necklace lost at sea when the iron vessel struck the iceberg and sank. He played The Phantom (1996)— A tale where Zoro meets Deadpool, to form a surly superhero

The master thespian becomes a different personality while acclating himself within the roles, becoming an alter ego on set. He’s both assured and precise with aristocratic panache, that seemingly vette characters before implementing part of himeself within that persona.

Therefore, it wasn’t a surprise that he could portray the diabolical and maleficent narcissist, Larry Ray, who’s pinged as a modern-day cult leader that terrorized college students at Sarah Lawrence college when he moved into his daughter’s dorm.


Delving into the role of a portly madman, actor Billy Zane, chalks the outline of Larry Ray. It’s evil at its finest if there were ever such an assessment.  The story about Larry Ray is nothing compared to events unearthed in the movie that leave a permanent eek in your mouth, especially everyone affected surrounding the true-life chain of events.



Left-Right: Marlon Brando; Billy Zane

Darting off the heels of Marlon Brando, Zane packed on a few pounds that served him like a hot pan of buttermilk biscuits, where he was cringing identical to Billy Ray in an uncanny manner. Zane locked into character, and performed to the highest demands of Elisabeth Rohm, virtuoso actor, and executive producer of the film.


Zane said that he prepared, packing his character, and unpacking like luggage. “Um, Iike most, which relies on instinct and osmosis, I suppose,” said Zane.

“You slip into it like a jacket and, I really examine my first impulses that come, and there are some rhythms and choices that come. It’s a very elusive and opaque process for me and in doing so, I found choices that surprise me, and I check with Liz (Elisabeth Rohm), and I’ll be like, what if we completely turn this on its head, like it was written to be this. What if we did that with it, and that would often fall into a rhythm and pattern that was just uh, surprising and engaging that when we do fall into convention, that lands in a much more effective way so my process is um, you know… there’s levels of preparation and I studied his voice and I put on a bunch of weight.”


And by turning it on its head, and letting the crazy out, Zane did just that. Within the first few minutes of watching the film, Zane, without doubts straddled the fence on logic and insanity when embodying Ray, who came off as finicky but very vigilant Jekyll and Hyde. Ray studied his prey, the students and unleashed a fury that’s both annihilative and traumatic from first experiences with the teens —it became clear that Ray moved into his daughter’s dorm with a plan to overtake like David Koresh (Waco, Texas). For Ray to follow through with the bizarre plan, he needed to know the vulnerabilities of the students, by charming them out of their wits, and right into an unsuspecting cult.


Zane goes on to say that the script was written precisely for him, but even he prepared not exaggerating but tackling the role as meticulous as possible. “I had just come off this Marlon Brando project,” he said, “which Marlon wasn’t particularly heavy; he was just not, you know, not a gym rat at that time; but I quickly kind of just carved it up and let it all hang out, which was really kind of a nice challenge as well—You know, channeling my third act.


I physically put on the tonnage and felt him (Ray) in my body, but then went for (it); um and the voice was again, very specific raised pitch, affected a particular kind of lisp and so I just loved all of those. I haven’t done, I haven’t gone like that , I don’t know, in a while into those many attractive elements that an actor approaches that it was purely more of an exercise than a fear mongering narrative.”


Devil on Campus premiering on Lifetime

June 23 8/7c


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