We present an exclusive interview to actor and contorsionist Troy James, who recently played the role of DC Comics vilain Rag Doll in the tv serial The Flash (The CW). James can be seen on The Void (Screen Media Films), Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments (ABC), The Strain (FX Network), Neverknock (SYFY), Channel Zero (SYFY).
Hello, Troy. Before starting, would you mind introducing yourself to our readers?
Hello! My name is Troy James, or “Twisty Troy”. I’m 29 years old, and I live in Toronto, Canada.
How did you get the role of Rag Doll in The Flash?
I was encouraged to submit a self-tape audition for the villainous role of Rag Doll, a super-flexible bad guy. With the help of a few friends, we shot it, and submitted it. Within an hour, I received the call asking how quickly I could fly to Vancouver where The Flash was filming. Once I got there, I realized everyone in production had already seen my contortionist act on America’s Got Talent and were really excited to see me in person.I was exactly what they imagined for Rag Doll.
Being a contortionist helped you in getting roles in horror movies, like The Void. But what was it like playing for the first time a comic villain?
I have played monsters and scary creatures before, but Rag Doll is a walking, talking villain from the DC comics. If you told me when I was 10-years old that this would be happening, I wouldn’t believe you. Even now, I can barely believe it. Rag Doll’s episode is a little frightening, so I felt I was in familiar territory, but it was even cooler because I got to creep out The Flash, Iris, and Elongated Man.
Did you make any sort of research for this role? Did you read any comics? Or you didn’t feel like it was necessary considering the resemblance?
I did research. When looking up Rag Doll, I didn’t know if I was to play Peter Merkle Sr., or his son, Peter Merkle Jr. Both took up the name of Rag Doll, but while Merkle Sr. was like me and born with his flexibility, Merkle Jr. had surgery to stretch his joints, in order to please his father. He was more depraved and insane than his father. I took elements of both to make the Rag Doll I played on The Flash.
Would you mind telling us about your experience on the set of The Flash with the rest of the cast, particularly with Grant Gustin?
Everyone was so nice! It was my first time in Vancouver, and it was like one happy family on set. I really enjoyed my time there. I don’t think Grant knew I was as flexible as I was until we met in person. (Which worked perfectly for one spooky surprise!) After that, I got up to some fun adventures, crawling around. I took a few silly pictures with Grant, Hartley Sawyer, and a few other cast members.
Do you exercise everyday? If so, are they particular exercises? Could you tell us more about that?
Ugh, I wish I were more disciplined! Now that I quit my office job, I know I have to be better about staying strong, and in shape. My body is my career now.
…But I love chocolate! My love of wine and cheese is too strong, and I get easily distracted doing push-ups and running on the treadmill.
If you are asking whether or not I do any particular exercises for my flexibility, I have to say no. My flexibility was something I was born with, and I don’t have a dance or circus arts background. I may look into training properly. If I taught all of this myself now, imagine how much more I could learn with a professional guiding me?
What are your next projects?
I make appearances in some big feature films next year! I wish I could tell you, but the problem with being a monster in a horror movie means you can’t tell anyone without giving it away!
Keep an eye out for me coming to theatres near you in 2019.