Following a release for “Heavy” with an immense division of reactions, Linkin Park delivered the music video featuring guest vocalist Kiiara last week, and the visual component seems to have turned thousands on their initial reaction, those already singing the tune surprised they could love it more.
“Better than the song,” commented one fan, another tweeting “the music still [doesn’t convince] me, but I have to admit that the video clip is very well done.”
Come the first chorus, the opening verse setting up the story of anger, disappointment, depression, anxiety, addiction- we see double of Chester, his inner struggle portrayed physically with two of himself; and this was achieved, a first for Linkin Park music videos, with a body double.
“My name is Rory Ross, and I’m Chester Bennington’s body double in the music video “Heavy” by Linkin Park.”
Born in Arkansas and raised in Iowa, Ross grew up trying to fit into the life of farming that surrounded him. “As much as I tried, at an early age, to become a farmer, to become a rancher, whatever it was- I couldn’t do it,” Ross said, talking of the clothing he wore or trying to ride horses; with no real enjoyment in any of it, his ever-supporting mother told him, “find what you want to do, find what you love… and go from there.”
It started with summer trips away in Texas and Illinois. It became a trip out to Washington for a visit with no intention of going back knowing there was something else out there away from the farm. Multiple jobs, scholarships, and family got him through senior high and into college for engineering, graduating with business- and with that degree, deciding to become an actor.
LPFC: Your time as a professional actor may be short, but it’s packed- what have you been a part of before your role for “Heavy”?
I’ve been in a couple of music videos; “Renegades” by the X Ambassadors, which was turned into the Jeep Renegade commercial, Awolnation’s music video short “Hollow Moon,” Ephrata’s music video for “I’m Dying for You.” I was in the season finale episodes for The Librarians, and completed work in American Assassin coming out this summer on History Channel. I was also in the cross-over episode of New Girl and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and pranked on the second season opener to Fameless.
LPFC: I have to ask- what’s the dream role?
Star Wars. That’s the dream. It helped me through a childhood trauma and illness in which we didn’t really know what was going to happen to me and watching it in the hospital, seeing Luke fighting against the odds and overcoming obstacles; it gave me hope.
LPFC: How did it play out for you after receiving the casting notice for “Heavy” back in late January?
I saw the casting for therapy patients, and I think I applied to both [that and Chester’s body double], and I didn’t think much of it. But then I got a text on a Friday night while I was [working], and they’re like, ‘hey, this is for the Linkin Park casting, and we’d love to have you come in,’ and it was early afternoon that I had to be [working… I knew there was just no way I could make it]. ‘Tell you what,’ they said, ‘if you can get here at eight, we’ll hold the casting for you.’ I said okay.
Now, I didn’t know if it was the patient, or, I didn’t think anything about the stand in for Chester […], and I get there, and I see all these guys who look kind of similar to me. Same height, little variances. I’m like, ‘wow, this is odd.’ Usually when they want patients, or extras, they don’t want us to all look the same. Do we all look crazy? What’s going on, they wanted unique faces…? Maybe this is what it is.
So, I walk in, and these guys had been there for like an hour. And then Chester comes in, says, ‘hey guys, my name’s Chester,’ and he shakes my hand…. It still took me a moment to realize who he was. I tried not to get fangirly [laughs].
LPFC: How did they start choosing from the group that was there?
They had us all line up, and they start looking at us… they say, ‘alright- you’re too tall, you’re too big,’ and in my mind- ‘oh. Oh. This is not the patient, this is for the stand in!’ Within a few minutes there was only three of us, and I think there was eight at the beginning. Towards the end, it was just two of us.
So they start looking at us; first they have us put on a tight shirt, showing off our figures to see how close they are to Chester’s. Then they said, ‘you know what, just take off the shirts,’ and they put us either side of Chester and took pictures of us.
I go to get water and a sandwich, and they had just sent the pictures to the last person making the decision, and as I pick up the sandwich, ‘oh, we got the text.’
‘Rory, we’re so sorry- you’re not the one.’
I said my thanks, said good-bye, […] and I called my mom. ‘I almost got cast for a Linkin Park music video!’ Told her what happened, and she’s like, ‘well, Rory, you never know what’s going to happen, someone can change their mind-.’
Next morning I wake up to this text- ‘Hey, actually, it can still happen.’ No freaking way! [So later on], I get this text saying ‘hey, can you send a picture of the back and front of your head.’ The back of the head I was a little worried of because of the [childhood scar]. When we were in the casting, they saw it and they were like, ‘oh, what can we do with this?’ I knew there’d have to be some kind of makeup to make it look like Chester’s [head]. Took the pictures and sent them off to them.
And so I get a text from the director, Tim Mattia, [he wanted to talk to me about the music video after his meeting]. As I wait I’m watching Stranger Things, and I won’t spoil anything, but something big happens to a character [insert too many emotions] and just as I’m about to get some hope, Tim calls me, asking how I’m enjoying Stranger Things [more emotions]. I tell him where I’m at and he says, ‘Well I hate to add to your emotional turmoil, but we’d like to have you for the music video!’
‘Ah-!’ [inaudible excitement and fangirling] [Strung together sentences]
LPFC: Wow! I can’t even imagine feeling all that….
LPFC: Did you have to make any changes to look closer to the look of Chester?
Sunday before the shoot, Tim texts me. ‘Hey Rory, one last question. Chester’s thinking of going bald. Is that something you’re okay with?’ I’m totally fine with it.
So Monday came around, I show up, there’s Chester and we got to talking a little bit- and he sat with me, we both did the hair at the same time. So, yeah, that was crazy [laughs].
LPFC: I don’t know if I would have survived all that emotion.
I was having some rollercoasters, I’m not gonna lie. A lot of ups and downs. And so, I’m near sighted, and turns out so is Chester- and we’re pretty much the same in the [eye sight] when I tried on his glasses. They got me some non-prescription glasses. And also the gauges- they gave me fake gauges, they’re magnets. I’m not that badass [laughs]. I remember the second day they hurt a bit.
LPFC: The photo of you ‘introducing’ yourself to the fan base is with Kiiara’s body double, Emily, and it seems you already knew her?
The night I went to the auditions, as I was walking to the location I recognized the girl [that was leaving the auditions] and it was my friend Emily. I thought I said ‘hey Emily!’ but maybe I just said it in my head, ‘cause I do that a lot [laugh]. After I got the job, I finally asked her if she was at such-and-such location on such-and-such night, she [suspiciously and carefully] answered ‘yyes…’ because we’re not supposed to say anything, but after a bit of cat-and-mouse questioning we got the final answer it was indeed her the day of the shoot. Of all people, the chances were incredible.
LPFC: The music video’s prime is of course, that bathroom scene of Chester fighting himself. So many reactions from fans. Can you tell us any details on that? Did you know you were going to have such an aggressive scene like that?
Well, the first day- they actually didn’t really mention fighting when we did the audition. So when I got there, Tim casually asks, ‘So, do you have any fighting experience?’ and I kind of just did the Hollywood thing and answered, ‘yes…?’
Tim says ‘Alright, so you and Chester are going to have a big fighting scene.’
‘Wait. What? Hold on, hold on. Oh-okay?’ [laughs] and Tim’s like, ‘well, have you fought in a movie before?’ Not really, I mean I’ve only kind of pushed people around, and he says, ‘okay, well, we’re going to put you and Chester over here in this room […] and figure out what you’re comfortable doing to each other.’ […]
So Chester and I, we had to get through the giggles at first, ‘cause we were laughing too much. And the one thing we actually did rehearse and practice on, was making sure I didn’t actually grab his neck; because he’s like, ‘you gotta be careful around my neck, ‘cause this is what I get paid with.’
We kind of faked, that where I went down and got more of his chest, almost, and I came up with more of my arm, so it looks like I got his neck, but… yeah, I definitely didn’t grab him in a chokehold. [laughs]
We did try to rehearse a bit more, but every time the camera went on, it kind of went out the window. He got me on the chin pretty good, on one of the takes… and I got him in the stomach. I think we both got each other in the face. But we were able to keep it professional, ‘okay. In this moment of time, we’re acting, we’re not having anything personal.’ After a [take] was done, we’d step back and be like, ‘aw, dude! That was awesome-!’ you know. Super chill about it.
LPFC: Funny because of how intense it looks.
It was a lot of fun. I pushed him into the bathroom [stall], he threw a trash bin at me[…] it was a workout! Because we were just flinging each other back and forth, a lot of the takes that we got originally were just us throwing each other up against the wall […].
At one point we were just kind of dancing in a circle throwing punches into our stomachs and Tim came by saying, ‘dude, I can’t even tell which one you guys are!’ [laughs]
LPFC: Fans are making it a bit of a game, trying to see who’s who. Incredibly seamless.
I made it an intention to make sure I was copying his movements, his mannerisms, to the best of my ability so that you, as the viewers, can also feel like- ‘wait, there’s a different guy?’ and make it fluid, make it similar.
In the first scene, that you see in the music video and we’re in his apartment, I’ve got my hands on my head[…] then I come around and yell at him […]; and that was fun for me, that was the second day of filming- and Chester knows how to yell. Like, really well. [laughs]
LPFC: Yes! Yes, he does!
He’s got it down to a science. I remember we had been kind of yelling for some scenes or they’d have me come stand in to get the angle right and then ask me to yell, […] and I just didn’t know how to use the voice box properly…. [laughs]
LPFC: All the yelling and screaming we see, what are two nice guys like you and Chester actually screaming out at each other?
Ha! He’d sit down and I’d be yelling ‘you’re fucking amazing! You make all the fucking money in the world! Fucking Transformers-!’ we’re just yelling at each other [laughs]. I think I remember Chester yelling, ‘you’re fucking handsome! Like you don’t even know, man! You’re above Hollywood!’ I’m trying to keep up the same intensity [laughs], and ah! I couldn’t- towards the end my voice was starting to go and he looks at me… ‘dude. Your voice is gonna go, man,’ and I was ‘no it’s not, I’m gonna keep it, I’m gonna keep it!’ […]
I think there’s only one or two scenes where we actually yelled obscenities at each other, but for the most part we were still able to tune in that anger and look ferocious but still have some fun with it[…]- I know there’s a time Chester started laughing and yelled ‘I fucking love Bumblebee-!’ [laughs]
We broke character from time to time, but…. It was a lot of fun, a lot of fun.
LPFC: That’s good! Through the fansite I get to see a good amount of the fans’ reactions and many wrote, ‘wow, that was so intense! Badass! The acting was great!’ but, many of us have been discussing how, he likely revealed a lot about himself with this video. Of the anxiety, depression, anger, addiction. So as serious as it was, it’s nice to know that it was fun to make.
Did you yourself relate to the song or video in any personal way?
During my time studying mechanical engineering, I had a lot on my plate. So for me, part of the reason why “Heavy” resonates so much, with ‘why is everything so heavy?’ I… as a precaution, I went to counseling. I went to counseling because for me, I finally saw that it wasn’t just for people who have reached the end and there’s no return.
It can be a preventative, it’s when I say, ‘alright, I got a lot of stuff going on in my life, on my plate, and I need to accept that before it does become too much to handle. Before it becomes heavy.’ And I’m glad I did go. I got to look at all the factors of my childhood and release some of that trauma that happened… and re-ground myself […] It’s never a bad thing to accept that you need help- which I believe, is shown in the music video.
LPFC: Touching back on the actual shouting going on while we only see it- how else did you get to experience the song and video differently from us?
In the therapy session, [what viewers don’t hear], is that Chester goes in and apologizes for being late, and the [other main patient] is pissed- ‘why are you always so fucking late, man! We’re all trying to get past our habits, too!’ and Chester explains that he’s struggling, ‘I’m fighting the demons inside of me’ and it escalates.
He also… Chester sang the whole song, the whole time. [The video is with the track, but] he belted out that song with every single take, he didn’t let that go. So, I personally got like a concert, it was great. And I feel like the song sounded different from what I heard in the room, because I got to hear more of emotion in it, it was very real and raw….
LPFC: For the scenes that were aggressive and involved breaking things and trashing the set; how many times did they have to reset and take again?
We never had to reset, we just slowly started breaking things and filming different angles until it climaxed with Chester throwing the lamp into the television. We switched a few times- from him sitting and taking the berating from me of how awesome they are and how great they did on the Transformers soundtrack along with flying plates and glass; to him yelling how adorable I was and throw plates and glass on the table [laughs].
LPFC: I can’t handle this.
LPFC: Mike was on Instagram the other night and fans kept asking him about the other band members, despite the fact he was in his house late at night, so I know that’s something they’d want to know; in the two days of filming, were any of the other band members there?
The only people I saw, besides Chester, the people I saw were their manager, people from Warner Bros.[…], but Mike did show up and he commented, ‘wow, damn, you do look like Chester! A younger version, but you do look like Chester’ and I did see Joe. For the others, I just may not have noticed them on set… Mike was cool. [laughs]
Chester’s kids were there, and he had to explain to his little girls what we were going to do; ‘it’s all acting, there’s going to be fighting, [but] don’t worry, daddy’s going to be okay.’
‘I’m going to be fighting ‘fake Daddy’ over here….’ [laughs] So we fight and I guess the little girls had said I won the fight, but I don’t know [laughs], if you look at Chester, he’s just a badass and I don’t get in fights, I talk my way out of them.
LPFC: Did you get to have any, souvenirs of sorts? From the music video set?
Chester’s just a really cool guy. We were wrapping up the second day […] and right before he left, he gifted me, my whole wardrobe. Like, ‘whoa, are you sure?’ and he said, ‘yeah man, you were great. You shaved your hair, you were great to have fun on set, you did what you had to do….’ I don’t know if I cried, but I was kinda close [laughs].
LPFC: This was so much fun, thank you for taking the time to share your experience!