Don’t Look Back is a new horror film from Jeffrey Reddick, the mastermind behind Final Destination, which centers around a young woman who survives a tragedy only to face more dangers when supernatural forces run amuck. Actor Han Soto (Cobra Kai, Watchmen) faced some real-life fears while filming and taking on a new, off-camera role.
Kourtney Bell (All-American, It Follows) plays Caitlin Kramer, a young woman who watches her father die during a home invasion. Nearly a year later, Caitlin is scared of leaving the house. However, Josh, Caitlin’s boyfriend, played by Skyler Hart (For The People, Grey’s Anatomy), convinces her to rejoin the outside world. It was advice she should’ve ignored as Caitlin soon witnesses another tragic moment that begins a terrifying chain of events for the final girl.
PopAxiom spoke with Han about becoming an actor, making Don’t Look Back, and a teeny, tiny bit about Cobra Kai.
Actor & Producer
“I started as regional talent doing print ads and industrials,” Han says of his earliest gigs in showbiz. “I did extra work. I did one particular job that I came on as an extra; it was for Madden NFL. I’m a Saints fan, and this was back when they were on the cover. I helped this PA [production assistant] move some boxes, and he said, ‘When I come back in, step to the front, and I’ll select you.’”
The PA kept his promises, and Han “ended up on a bus,” and soon after, he “was bumped up to a principal role in a national commercial.”
Acting gigs were happening organically for Han, but it was still more a gig for fun than a primary career. After Madden, that changed, “When those checks started coming in, I was like, ‘wow, I can make a living at this!’”
Han is nearing 100 credits on IMDB, but he’s added the role of producer to his repertoire along with acting. “I like producing because I like making sure that things are in line and that the end products are all in your hand.”
“On the acting side,” he says, “it’s all about craft and getting into character. I study all the time. You learn about all these techniques so that you can let go and be yourself.”
“I started learning writing too. That helped me be a better actor.”
About Don’t Look Back
Han was recruited into Don’t Look Back as “an actor first,” he says, “I built my career in the South East region like the Miami market. Burn Notice was my first gig ever. Miami, Atlanta, New Orleans, I’ve developed relationships with casting directors in those regions.”
“I was in the running to read for the role of the detective,” Han says about the audition process for Don’t Look Back. “They also wanted me to read another role; I thought it was a smaller role because the sides were short. It turned out to be much bigger.”
Han recalls a moment with producer Andrew van den Houten that lead to a new role for the actor. “I was on set for about a week watching Andrew navigating the set. One day I had a small scene, he sat down by me and said, ‘You’ve been in a couple of my movies, but I don’t know you. Tell me about Han Soto.’”
“I was fresh out of a premiere at SXSW,” Han says, and “I started talking about acting and producing. I said that I put together a film fund, and I want to go in and help finish smaller films. He offered me an opportunity to secure the remaining points for Don’t Look Back.”
After that, Han started “watching dailies and giving feedback. Andrew and I hit it off, and we started our own distribution company.”
Don’t Look Back writer and director Jeffery Reddick is a legend in the horror space, creating the Final Destination franchise. “When you have someone working in that horror space, you expect their personality to have some sort of darkness, but Jeffrey is just a sweet guy. When asks you to do something; you want to appease him.”
“So, I remember I was hanging out with some friends on a day off,” Han shares a story about Jeffery, “and I get a call from Jeffrey at around 10:30 at night. It was direct but soft, and he was writing some new scenes that involved my character. He asked me to do something terrifying.”
I asked, “Will it make the movie better?” He said, “’ Yeah, absolutely.’”
Han shot the scene, which you’ll know immediately when you watch the film. PopAxiom won’t spoil it, but we’ll leave it at this: “I could hear them eating in my ear.”
To get through the horrifying moment, Han used a breathing technique known as Wim Hof. “You can pretty much settle your body down … you can control how you feel. I implemented that, and it worked.”
“Jeffrey would ask ‘You got another one in you?’” Han says with a laugh, “And I was just like, yeah, but this may be the last one before I go to the bathroom on myself.”
The sequence took place on “the last day of shooting, and I think they did that on purpose, probably thinking ‘If we do it at the beginning he’ll never come back.’”
Han is in Cobra Kai season three, which releases on Netflix in January. “I wish I could talk about it. I have so much I want to say.”
Talking about Cobra Kai is off-limits, but Han shares how being on the show was another learning experience. “From the producing side, I was able to watch three childhood friends manifest their dreams. That’s what I love about producing, you figure out who your team is, and you go forward together.”
Who are some other creatives who inspire Han? “Oh, man, Robert DeNiro and Mark Ruffalo. In the horror space, Wes Craven, Tobe Hooper, Bernard Rose. These are the people that scared the sh*t out of me since I was a kid. I love Spielberg and Stanley Kubrick.”
“I find a lot of nuggets in the people I work with,” he continues, “I’ve seen Jack Black step away from a scene to talk to his kids. I thought that was amazing.”
Hollywood is entirely in the throes of remake fever. So, what would be a dream remake project for Han? “I wouldn’t mind doing a Jaws, maybe mixed with a water-borne virus. I want something real, a shark affected by pollution or something human-made. It’s a couple beats away from reality.”
“We’re excited for Don’t Look Back,” Han says. The film is available on digital services across the web. “The message is so timely.”
What’s next for Han? “I finished Outer Banks for Netflix. We have some films through the label, Kamikaze Dogfight, that will be released through the coming year. There’s a game that I’m the lead in, I can’t talk about it, but I’m so excited!”
Is Don’t Look Back on your watch list?
Thanks to Han Soto and October Coast
for making this interview possible.
Read more interviews from Ruben R. Diaz!