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Ron Batzdorf/Summit Entertainment

When William Fichtner is on-screen, you don’t dare look away; the 54-year-old actor known for playing bad guys is cool, edgy and electrifying. In Drive Angry 3D, Fichtner plays a ruthless but conscionable accountant from another world, giving chase to a typically tortured Nicolas Cage. American Way spoke to Fichtner about the flick and his penchant for playing villains.

American Way: There are some amazing automobiles in this movie. Ever drive a muscle car?
William Fichtner: I had a 1970 Roadrunner when I was a teenager. My parents only let me keep it for 13 days — too many complaints from the neighbors. But, yeah, we’ve got cars in this movie: a gunmetal blue 1970 Dodge Charger, a red Chevelle with a 454 in it. You can’t lose.

AW: You’ve become known for your bad guys, but I don’t think we’ve ever seen you as vicious and complex as in Drive Angry.
WF: With a character like this, there’s no reference point. You get to throw out all the intellect and go with the gut. There’s no method, really; it’s all madness. The trick is to keep it cool.

AW: You nailed it.
WF: I don’t know if I did or not, but know I was committed. I know guys who come home from a day on set and you ask, “How’d it go?” And they go, “Man, I was brilliant.” When I walk off set, I’m always, like, “I hope that worked.” I never know. But, hey, you think I did. I can live with that.

AW: You once said that you’re drawn to twisted oddballs. What’s the appeal?
WF: It’s not that I don’t want to play leading-man roles. I’d love to. I’d love to get the girl sometimes. But a lot of them are dull. I like a guy with a lot of plates spinning. But I’ll take a leading man role any day. Then I’ll give him a patch on one eye and a weird walk.

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All-Time Best  ... William Fichtner movie quotes: “You got him half a gold medal. If I wanted him to share, I would have gotten him a brother.”
—as Darren MacElroy in Blades of Glory

“Talk about the wrong stuff.”
—as Colonel William Sharp in Armageddon

“The problem I find with being ‘on a trail’ is that, by definition, you’ll always be behind your prey.”
—as Alex Mahone on Prison Break