Barry Ratcliffe ’85 exudes high energy while he regales you with tales from his latest movies, Hulk and Dead and Breakfast. He can tell you about playing Major John Snyder in Hulk, and protecting Jennifer Connelly and Sam Elliot from the big green ogre or leading the charge of 500 soldiers into San Francisco to destroy him.
“The first day on the set I was told to get in a military outfit and jump in the humvee to start the chase through the city,” Ratcliffe says. “Director Ang Lee is all set to go and asked me ‘Barry are you ready?’. I couldn’t get the humvee started. I had to get on the radio and ask, ‘okay guys how do you start this thing’?”
The military humvee had no ignition or keys just a toggle switch. Someone had to explain to him how to operate it. Once he got the hang of it, he was ready to go. The huge helicopters fired up and he started rolling down the street toward what would later be the computer-generated Hulk. “I had to slide broadside right up to the Hulk. I got to do it over and over again. It’s like I was a kid again playing GI Joe. I came to a good screeching halt even though I had no idea how to make a humvee slide. I was afraid it would flip over,” chuckles Ratcliffe.
Dead and Breakfast was also an interesting experience. The movie is scheduled for release around Halloween and Ratcliffe said it was the most fun he’s ever had on a movie set. The movie starts out when six friends stop for the night at a bed and breakfast in the sleepy town of Lovelock. After a night that leaves the inn's owner and chef dead, the friends find themselves under suspicion by the local Sheriff. But that's only the beginning as nearly all of the town's quirky residents become possessed by an evil spirit and pin down the friends inside the B&B. Ratcliffe turns into a zombie and kills people with a chain saw. “I get in a bar fight with Vincent Ventresca who played ‘Fun Bobby’ on Friends and start cutting off heads with a chain saw. We also did an MTV music video similar to Michael Jackson’s thriller,” says Ratcliffe, “It was so much fun.”
In all, Ratcliffe’s resume includes 13 films, 6 television shows including 118 episodes of Nash Bridges and a local San Francisco movie review show Reel Reviews with Barry and Lisa, three commercials, music videos by Metallica and Green Day, print ads for Wal-Mart, Sears, Nextel and Eccentric and stand up comedy gigs. However, he did put his RU degree to work in business before becoming a full time entertainer, spending.15 years in corporate America. His latest business adventure is an online dating service called dollardates.com. “I started the company because I got bored,” explains Ratcliffe. “I talked to a friend of mine who’s a web designer and checked out the business model. And, well, you know the only things on the Internet making money are dating services and porn sites,” adds Ratcliffe. He looked at what other dating services offered and knew he could do better.
The actor, stand up comedian and entrepreneur loves to return to his Virginia hometown of Glade Hill and to RU to let students know what it’s like in the “real world” of Hollywood movie making. “It’s not fake, it’s a business. I want to let them know where the jobs are, how to put their resumé together and I want them to connect the dots,” he says. He encourages all who have the dream. “You should know what you’re doing ahead of time and make contacts before you head to California. Keep in mind that real agents never take money up front. They take a percentage from your paycheck after you earn it,” adds Ratcliffe.
Until his next visit to RU, check him out as Major Snyder in Hulk, a cop in Tweek City and the chain saw slasher in the horror comedy Dead and Breakfast. Ratcliffe says life is all about loving what you do and he’s having a blast.