Miles Doleac is an actor who has had much success in the genre of horror. He has appeared in famous series such as “American Horror Story,” “Sleepy Hollow,” and “NCIS: New Orleans.” He has also appeared in several films including “Mississippi River Sharks,” “The Magnificent Seven,” “Don’t Kill It,” and--most recently--“Demons” which he also wrote and directed.

Miles is far from an average individual. Aside from acting on both stage and screen, he also directs, produces, and sings. In fact, he writes many of his songs, books, and screenplays. Having earned his doctorate, Miles is also a college professor at the University of South Mississippi.

Moreover, he is the founder of a production company called Historia Films. To date, the company has produced three Movies titled “The Hollow,” “The Historian,” and “Demons” which is due to be released in autumn of 2017.

“Demons” is a psychological thriller that chronicles what occurs when a priest-turned-novelist is tormented by the vengeful spirit of his wife’s sister who died a grisly death during a failed exorcism. In an exclusive interview, Miles Doleac recently discussed his career as a performer and teacher as well as the inspirations behind his projects and his hopes for the future.

Acting, directing, and movies

Meagan Meehan (MM): You’re an actor, singer, Director, and writer, so which of these talents came first and do you regard one as being more prevalent than the others?

Miles Doleac (MD): I’ve been acting and singing from a very young age. I originally started writing and producing my own films to provide myself better and more interesting opportunities as an actor, but then, with my first feature, “The Historian,” the story became personal to me. I had a hard time finding the right person to shepherd it to the screen.

Being an academic myself and writing a film about the pitfalls (and joys) of higher education, I felt it needed an insider’s perspective or at least the point of view of someone who was willing to immerse him or herself into that world in some fundamental way. Finally, I just decided to direct it myself. I was surrounded by some amazing people on that first film (including the wonderful Bill Sadler and John Cullum, who were in the cast), as I have been in every movie I’ve done.

The film, in my view, has to be truly collaborative to be successful. At my core, I think I’m still an actor first and foremost, but I also believe that makes me a better director because I understand how actors think. I know what I’d want a director to say to me.

MM: Why do you think you have been so driven towards the horror genre and which films or shows have most frightened you?

MD: I just love films, any pieces of art actually, that challenge and shake their audience in some way. Good horror films often do that. The best horror films are probably better characterized as “psychological thrillers.” I think “The Exorcist” is still the most classic and terrifying film in the genre because it’s disturbing not only in what you see visually but what you aren’t.

It gets in your head. It’s the psychological terror that rings most powerfully.

MM: You act on stage and screen, so what are the big pros and cons of both mediums and do you have a preference?

MD: Live theatre is a tightrope walk. You’re out there, laying yourself bare in front of a live audience, and, at any given performance, you get one shot to get it right. That’s part of what makes live theatre so addictive: the adrenaline rush, the energy of a live audience, hanging on your every word, reacting viscerally in the moment.

In film and television, there’s more room for error, and I guess less room for excuses, as a performer. You’re still learning your lines and interpreting them, this time in a much smaller way and in front of a camera that’s not responding, but there’s a little more wiggle room to play, take to take (especially if your director is open and collaborative), and less worry about falling flat on your face, at least on most sets.

I don’t know if I necessarily have a preference, but I’ve come to appreciate, accept, and enjoy the process of film and television a great deal more in recent years.

MM: Out of all the roles you have played, do you have any favorites and what would be your “dream role”?

MD: I’ve had the good fortune to play some celebrated roles on stage (Valjean in “Les Mis,” The Emcee in “Cabaret,” Hedwig in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” Mercutio in “Romeo and Juliet,” Brutus in “Julius Caesar”). All have challenged me in some way; they all made me a better, more conscientious actor. On screen, I loved playing Ray in “The Hollow” because I didn’t write him thinking I’d play him initially and so I gave him all these layers.

In general, the more complicated a character is, the more I enjoy inhabiting it. There is a whole bevy of roles in Shakespeare I’d love to play, primarily because his heroes are impossible to pin down. He was such a master of portraying the human condition. None of us is just one thing; most of us are shades of gray and very few of us know what the hell we’re doing. I like to inhabit characters that express that conundrum of human nature.

MM: How did you get involved with “American Horror Story” and what role did you play?

MD: I just auditioned and got cast. I think it was because I could speak some German with a convincing accent. I was in “Freak Show, ” and I played a snuff filmmaker in Weimer Germany who does something truly horrible to Jessica Lange’s character.

What an incredible treat and honor to work with such a legendary performer!

Teaching, films, and the future

MM: You earned a Ph.D. in Ancient History, so what prompted you to study that and do you feel that your career as a professor enhances your creative drive in any way?

MD: I finally found something that meant as much to me or that moved me as much as acting, that was the study of the ancient world. I wound up at Tulane in New Orleans, getting a Ph.D. in Ancient History while film and television production was booming all around me. Suddenly, these opportunities started coming my way! I now teach and entertain. I remembered my first love, and now I have a great fortune not to have to choose.

But, yes, my understanding of history drives everything I write in some way, and it certainly influences the way I approach characters.

MM: Can you tell us a bit about your latest movie, “Demons,” and what most interests you about its plot and characters?

MD: It’s a character-driven exorcism movie with a twist. It’s as reminiscent of “The Anniversary Party” or “The Big Chill” as it is “The Exorcist” or “The Exorcism of Emily Rose.” What interests me most about it are the women in the film, “Kayleigh” and “Lara” (played by Lindsay Anne Williams and Kristina Emerson), in particular. We all know that there aren’t enough complex roles written for women and I think there are two really special ones in this film and the actresses who played them knocked it out of the park.

I also loved this cast. It was great to work with Andrew Divoff, Steven Brand, John Schneider, Gary Grubbs, all absolute pros, generous performers and quality human beings, who brought their A-game to our tiny indie film the same way the wood to some Hollywood tentpole.

MM: What prompted you to start Historia Films, what genres are you most interested in producing, and what were the challenges of getting the company off the ground?

MD: I just want to produce things that reach a certain level of quality, that are relevant, that ask hard questions. I love it when I read or hear someone saying that our films “look” or “feel” like a major Hollywood picture. That’s just the result of bringing together talented, hardworking folks, forging a solid game plan, and paying attention to the details.

The greatest challenge is always finding the money, and that doesn’t matter if we’re talking about film or theater or any number of artistic mediums, but you just try to keep doing good work, to be relentless in your pursuit of that work, and things will generally open up for you at some level. Thus far, Historia has only produced my scripts (and a short written by me and my partner in art, life, and crime, Lindsay), but I would be willing to work with another screenwriter on the right script!

MM: How do you envision Historia Films evolving over the next ten years?

MD: Hopefully, into a consistent producer of films that exceed expectations and maybe make people think a little harder about their place in the world.

I’d like to be someone who’s known for providing opportunities to new and emerging talents in every area of filmmaking. I’d like to have built a strong reputation as an actor’s director. I believe I hope, the latter must be the case or I wouldn’t have had the good fortune to work with the brilliant actors I have. I’d love to be making a film a year. We’re sort of on an every-other-year schedule the last five years or so. Of course, I’d like to have more money to work with. I have scripts that I’d love to produce, but they just can’t be done for the type of monies I’ve been able to raise for the last three.

MM: Creatively, what future projects are you anticipating and is there anything else that you wish to discuss?

MD: I’d just like to say to any young entertainers who are impassioned, who want more than anything to do this thing, who die a little inside at the thought of not being a part of this world, who want to create every day … make your movie, be performing, get out there and do it! Whether you have fifty cents or 50 million bucks, don’t wait for someone to give you an opportunity, make one for yourself! When others see you making it happen, they’ll gravitate toward your orbit. When I decided to start making my films, I started getting more acting gigs from other sources. You have to force them to pay attention.