German actor, Christian Oliver stars in the new horror film, Animal Among Us, along with Larisa Oleynik (10 Things I Hate About You). The flick was released earlier this week and is available on most streaming platforms.
Fifteen years after a camp was condemned due to controversial “animal attacks” that murdered two girls, a group of people return to those woods, not knowing the horrific danger that awaits them there.
I spoke to Christian Oliver about the film, along with his upcoming role in the new Jordan Peele series, Hunters, and a dancing role where he plays a prince in The Best Christmas Ball Ever. Check out the interview!
First, I wanted to ask, when did you move to the U.S.?
Wow, good question. Well, I don’t want to go too far back, but I was an exchange student in high school in Raleigh, North Carolina when I was 17. Millbrook High. That’s basically when my whole falling in love with America journey began. It was quite a life-changing experience and I went back to Germany, finished my school there, and like a day later left to New York. I lived in New York for a year. I wanted to get into advertising, but I mean New York’s such a melting pot, an inspirational melting pot, that it allowed me to explore my acting more deeply. I had acted in theater as a child growing up, but I never really looked at it as a profession, more as a hobby. I was very passionate about it, but not as a profession. Then in New York, I started acting classes and then one led to another and I moved out to L.A., and I got on a nice gig here called Saved By The Bell: The New Class. I’m sure you’ve heard of it.
I remember you on that actually.
[laughs] Yeah, so that that was my introduction to the United States and obviously that show is kind of having a little bit of a revival right now and it’s it’s okay and cool to talk about. [laughs] But for a long time, there were all these closet Saved By The Bell watchers on Sunday morning. Now it’s kind of funny … People are like, “Oh my god! You were on Saved By The Bell. That’s so cool.” I obviously have lots of stories, but maybe another time I’ll tell you about those. So yeah, basically that’s how far back I go. Now I’m an American and I’ve lived in the United States longer than I lived in Germany and this is home, you know?
Yeah. I didn’t even know you were from Germany until I started doing some research for this interview so …
That’s a good thing.
Yes, that means you’re good at your accents!
Yeah, sometimes. [laughs]
What is the biggest difference between living in the U.S. and Germany?
Wow, that’s a tough one since I’ve lived there for … It’s kind of funny because in Germany they were like who is this kid that is doing all these things … and Saved By The Bell and the movie The Babysitter’s Club and they were like, “wow” and they got wind of it. So I moved back to Germany for 2 years to do a big TV show, like Miami Vice kind of show. I always explain it as Miami Vice on the Autobahn. It’s super fun because it’s two cops chasing bad people and that show’s been on for over 20 years now. I was one of the lead guys on it for 2 years so I moved back to Germany and so yes I should know the difference.
I always feel very fortunate to have the best of both worlds. Even today I still go back all the time to see my family, my friends … and I feel there’s something amazing about Germany and Europe and obviously equally amazing about the United States and it’s great to be able to spend time in both. There are some huge differences but it changes constantly.
When I first arrived here, I thought L.A. was the greatest lifestyle. Easy and everything felt cheaper and now it’s the other way around. I feel like ‘oh my God’. L.A. is not affordable anymore and everything is cheaper over there [Germany]. So it’s constantly changing, but I think that the quality of life, you can’t beat it. California is such a beautiful state and there’s such a variety. You wake up in the morning and theoretically, you can go surf and then in the afternoon you could go to the desert or go skiing in Big Bear. So it’s amazing. I love it but there are lots of differences, of course.
Now let’s talk about Animal Among Us.
Yes. Who is the animal among us?
It sounds like such a philosophical question.
I think everybody should ask themselves that question. It’s a different movie we’re talking about now, but yeah … [laughs]
What can you tell us about this movie?
It was kind of like one of those little passion projects. When I came back from Europe, I started my own production label and I started making these independent little movies and those are always fun because you have passionate filmmakers that want to tell a story no matter what and it usually is confined by budget restraints, but people are nevertheless … They’re all pulling in the same direction. Everybody is there for the same reason to make something happen that is usually not possible so we’re all a little bit of dreamers.
I think Animal Among Us came together like that. I had produced the movie called Ready Or Not that I also starred in and it’s about four guys. It’s a comedy that came out the year before The Hangover came out. We didn’t copy The Hangover. I don’t know if they copied us. Basically it’s a bachelor party and a great actor we cast, Jonathan Murphy … He’s a great friend now. All of us got really close on that movie. But Jonathan is a great actor and writer. A couple of years later, he came back and said, “Christian, I wrote you a part in this movie called Animal Among Us.”
That was just amazing, you know? That’s the beautiful thing about this independent community. You use your network of people and you don’t go through the big Hollywood machine and you make things happen. No questions asked and no agents, no managers. So when he called me, I said, “Dude, that’s amazing. Thank you so much.” I read the script and I liked it. I became a co-producer on this movie. It took a long time to make this movie and that’s why I’m so passionate about it because it’s truly like friends and family. The filmmaker, John Woodruff … He’s a first time director who’s very passionate about telling the story. So it has all of the right ingredients. It came together really nicely and one beautiful surprise after another. I got reunited with Larisa Oleynik from The Babysitter’s Club.
Oh yeah, I didn’t even make that connection.
It was very fun and special because I knew Larisa from The Babysitter’s Club and that was obviously a big movie in my career at the time. It was my first studio picture and you know, obviously, the movie didn’t do so well, but it still has a little bit of a cult following. And now being onset with Larisa … She basically … I don’t want to give too much away, but she kicks my butt really hard in this movie so it was kind of fun to have us reunited. So there were a lot of great ingredients. Working with Don Frye, who’s a big UFC guy and I love martial arts so it was fun. We had a really great cast and great people. We shot in the middle of nowhere in Ohio where John [Woodruff] is from. We put ourselves in the same situation that the characters were in. We stayed in this little cabin in this camp in the middle of nowhere and so it all came together really organically.
What was the hardest scene to film in this movie?
Wow, that’s a good one. It’s definitely the big showdown at the end where the girl goes ballistic on me. It was a night shoot and we were pressed for time. It was emotional, stakes were high. We had some problems making it work and so yeah, that was definitely a tough one. I remember that very vividly and I’m glad it came out the way it came out. Obviously, you’re always very critical and I usually don’t look at my stuff. I look at it once and then I put it away and never look at it again, hopefully. But yeah, it was very strenuous. It was a confined space and high emotions and yeah … I mean on another movie, we could have spent three days on it, but we probably spent like three hours and it was crazy.
Watch the trailer for Animal Among Us
Wow, that sounds intense. If everyone in the cast was in a real-life horror film, who do you think would survive?
I definitely would stand behind Don Frye for sure. He’s definitely an animal. He’s not the animal among us, but he’s definitely … That guy’s been through war more or less. He’s gotten beaten up over the years, but he has a great heart, great personality, and I think he would definitely be the one to survive. Then right after him, I’d probably be the next one to survive because I’d stand right behind him.
Right, he’s your shield. You’re starring in a new series called, Hunters. What can you tell us about that?
Hunters was an absolute pleasure and one of those rare occasions when you go to a casting and you get the job and then it turns into something that you didn’t expect. It keeps growing and giving. It’s amazing. I can’t, unfortunately, tell you too much about it. It’s a new Jordan Peele series. It’s incredible what Jordan’s done in the last couple of years. He’s definitely having a great run right now and to be part of his show was just exceptional. He was able to get an amazing cast, and Al Pacino being one of them, was absolutely mind-blowing. I got to shoot in New York and in Budapest and it was absolutely a great experience. We’ll hopefully see it on Amazon next year.
Any other upcoming projects you can share with us?
Yes, this summer I got to sneak in a small little movie called, The Best Christmas Ball Ever, which was so exciting because I’ve always wanted to do one of these Christmas movies and it was just perfect because I was in Europe and they called me up. They were shooting in Vienna and they needed a Viennese prince and I fit the bill. It was quite amazing. It’s coming out December 14th on ION Network. It was fun! It was a dancing movie. It’s kind of a little bit Dirty Dancing but not really … [laughs]
But not so dirty…
Yeah, exactly and it’s set in the Christmas world. It’s the ball season in Vienna, which actually exists and is a huge thing. Everybody’s getting ready for the ball and everybody’s dancing the Viennese waltz. So it’s set in that dancing world and this cute American girl comes over. She got dumped by her boyfriend goes to Vienna to spend Christmas with her brother and falls in love with a Viennese prince. It was great! We were training with all of the trainers from Dancing with the Stars in Austria. They’re all in the movie as well so it was hot. But I’m also surprised by how we pulled it off. I couldn’t walk for like weeks after that, but it was worth it.
Where can we find you online so we can give you our feedback on these upcoming films and series?
Absolutely, you mean @ChristianOliver33 on Instagram, for example?
Yes, exactly. [laughs]
And then on Facebook, @OfficialChristianOliver.
Animal Among Us is now available on VOD and DVD!
Sandy Lo is an author, blogger, journalist, and digital strategist. Her personal story is inspiring. Sandy started StarShine Magazine, an online publication in 2001, at the age of 18. She wrote her first novel in 2009, “Lost In You,” followed by the “Dream Catchers” Series. She was the first person ever to professionally interview Taylor Swift and has received personal endorsements for her books from members of boy bands Backstreet Boys and 98 Degrees.