Forget Backstreet Boy Nick Carter's "nice guy" image — his first leading role finds him playing a jerk jock in a modern update of the Headless Horseman tale, premiering this weekend on ABC Family.
Carter shot his part in "The Hollow" two years ago, while the Backstreet Boys were still figuring out their reunion plans, but in the horror film's journey to find a home, it has been slightly revised for a television audience — Carter's steamy love scene, for instance, has been cut. But Carter said that the film doesn't skimp on scares. "It gets you excited, gets your blood flowing, sometimes you get goose bumps," he said.
His character, Brody, helps provide some of those scary moments by pulling practical jokes on his supposed friends. Not quite a bully, Brody has a few issues — such as forcing his fellow classmates to give him their homework to copy and trying to force the head cheerleader, Karen (Kaley Cuoco from "8 Simple Rules"), to go to prom with him.
He pranks everyone, even pretending to be the Headless Horseman to Ian Cranston, the great-grandson of Ichabod Crane who is unaware of his lineage. In another instance, Brody goes down to the graveyard for a late-night visit with two ill-fated schoolmates (one of whom, Amber, is played by former Dream singer Melissa Schuman).
"We stop by this one tombstone, but it's got some, like, bars in it," Carter said. "I decide to stick my hand in, but I'm like, 'You guys scared?' So when I stick it in, I act like something grabs me and pulls me, and I scare the crap out of the kids, and they take off. That's who Brody is: a prankster."
Unfortunately for Brody's classmates, his antics couldn't come at a worse time, since unbeknownst to them, the vengeful spirit of the real Headless Horseman has been awakened.
"Everybody knows the story of the Headless Horseman, and the legend of Sleepy Hollow," Carter said, "but no one really knew what happened to Ichabod Crane. What this takes from is that Ichabod Crane escaped from Sleepy Hollow, moved away, moved to New York, and actually lived and started a family. Three generations later, his grandson moves back. It's mainly a story about revenge of the Headless Horseman, who does not know how to rest in peace."
Carter doesn't know how to rest, either. Once "The Hollow" was in the can, he quickly moved on to his next role in another horror film, "The Brew," currently in post-production. He's looking to expand his sideline as an actor with future roles, but for now he's happy to have learned the ropes with this one. "It might not be my best work," he said, "so if you look in the future and you look back at this, I mean, I guess that's what acting's all about. You've got to start somewhere."
Co-star Cuoco, however, would advise him — tongue in cheek, of course — to steer clear of doing too many horror flicks, since being in a boy band for so many years has done something to his voice. "Nick screams like a girl," she joked. "Sorry, Nick, but you do. Girlier than me. Don't let him tell you otherwise."
"The Hollow" premieres Sunday on ABC Family at 8 p.m. ET.