Below is the latest batch of interviews for The Last House on the Left.
About.com has a video from the premiere. Head over there for the clip. Here is a part of the transcript:
He’s such an evil guy. How tough was it to leave him behind at the end of the day?
Garret Dillahunt: “It was a relief to leave him behind at the end of the day. I don’t feel like it was hard at all. We did our job, we did it hard, and then we went out and had some fun.”
When you read the script was there anything you were leery about doing?
Garret Dillahunt: “No, not at all. I love a rape in a movie [said totally sarcastically – for those who are reading the transcript without watching the video]. No, of course I was leery about it. It’s almost like you’re battling your instincts. You want to do a good job as an actor, but you wonder about the value of putting something like that onscreen. But you know I don’t think it’s gratuitous and I think it really sets us up for the second half of the movie where the audience has to start asking themselves questions about themselves.”
Were you familiar with the original film?
Garret Dillahunt: “I wasn’t. I had never heard of it. I certainly watched it after the fact. It was certainly influential in its day so I have a lot of respect for it.”
Why do you keep playing these bad guys – this and Terminator?
Garret Dillahunt: “Well, there’s also Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is worth five or six bad guys I think, maybe seven. He’s pretty good.”
Do you think this is more horror or thriller, or what do you think it is?
Garret Dillahunt: “I’m fine with whatever you want to call it. It seems like you get a different definition of what a horror movie is from any fan you talk to. The original had no supernatural elements either, and yet they call it a horror movie, you know? I don’t know. It doesn’t matter to me.”
Todd Gilchrist has a new interview with Garret on his blog. Here is a part of it:
Did the film turn out the way you expected it to?
Garret Dillahunt: Pretty much. I’m worried about that first third. I think it’s pretty brutal. While I think we did a good job at it, that just means it’s believable brutality; it’s not unrealistic. I don’t know what it is, it’s like something takes over almost that gets in the way of your – I don’t want to say taste, but your checks and balances system. Like, “I don’t know if we should be doing this, but let’s do it really good and really hard!” I think we’re in a little bit of denial about it.
What’s your reaction when you first go into something like this, and what do they tell you about the role?
Dillahunt: I don’t get to play this kind of part very often. I don’t get to be the baddest badass, I get to be the twisted one. This guy’s twisted and bad, so to me it just looked like a real good acting challenge, a departure from the last thing. If a Terminator has no emotions, this guy has like all of his at once. I just thought it was a challenge, but sometimes you wonder what the value of what you’re putting out into the world is. I hope people will… I don’t know. Wes [Craven] said an interesting thing and I kind of agree with him, and I’m not saying this is what we set out to do – it’s not that we intended to make a political movie – but there is a reason people seem to be responding to it so well in general in our test screenings, so emotionally. The original one was partially a response to Vietnam supposedly, and it’s funny, I don’t know if it was a conscious thing, but this is a time where Americans feel very powerless. I’ve said this before, and again I don’t know that’s why we did it, it certainly didn’t enter my mind, but in retrospect I sort of see why it’s speaking so favorably to a lot of people. They’re just tired of it, and they’re angry themselves, and they feel raped by whatever – the government, the economy, some people would say terrorists have invaded our homes, and they want to see some power taken back. I don’t know if that’s what will translate (laughs).
When you’re working on a film like this, are you thinking at all about those themes, or are you more focused on the immediacy of the scene?
Dillahunt: Sure. Not necessarily on this film, but again it might have been the unconscious reason that drew me to it. For me it’s about the story, which I think is an interesting one. The parents do take power, but does it cost? I love the fact that they had moments when they’re looking at each other over Francis’ head at the sink, like, “we’re doing this.” [They’re dealing with] how hard it is to kill someone. It’s not pretty or graceful or slick like they’ve been seeing in the movies all of their lives. They’re like, “if we do this, it’s completely different for us.” I also liked that they were up for the challenge, because I don’t like bullies. The only fights I got in as a kid were with bullies, because I was little and skinny and mad about being skinny and little (laughs). If you really think about it, who takes Krug out is really the first non-injured adults he meets. They’re not prepared for this, they’re not trained fighters, but they have a will. That’s interesting to me.
Was it just the appeal of playing something diametrically opposite from what you’d done before that made you want to do this?
Dillahunt: I don’t get a ton of offers – some, and this was one. That made me nervous, because you think, “if they want me, this must be crap” – you know, self-deprecating thoughts. They sent me the script, and accompanying the script was a film called Hardcore, which was Dennis Iliadis’ first film which he shot in Greece. I was judging everything by the cover at that point, and I was like, “oh they’re offering me this movie and director did this movie called Hardcore? This is going to be softcore… something.” [I came up with] all kinds of reasons not to read the script, and I didn’t know who I was being offered. When I read that, I assumed it would be the dad – I thought it would be Tony’s part, just because they kept describing Krug as a hulking figure, and I [said], “well, that’s not me.” I might be fit, but I’m not hulking (laughs). But when I watched Hardcore, it really surprised me. It looked really fantastic and it opens with this Roman soldier with that thing on their helmets on fire, and he’s kind of spinning through in slow motion while this girl is just sort of looking at him with this benign look. And it was pretty graphic too – it’s about teenage prostitutes in Greece, these two 17-year-old girls who go on a shooting spree, they go nuts after all of this abuse. The sex scenes in that were handled, I guess I’ll say tastefully in that you didn’t really see anything, kind of like ours, but yet you know exactly what’s going on, and when it was not supposed to be appealing it was not appealing.
And then when they said to me, “I want you to be Krug,” I was really surprised, and sort of excited by that. Then I met with Wes because he had final say, of course, and I wore a big padded shirt, and he was fine with it. I think I’m oddly proud of the result; I ultimately don’t know what its value is, but I think it has some. I don’t think it will speak to everybody, but I think it will speak to a lot of people. We all worked our asses off; I think it’s a good group, like we all had something to prove almost. I certainly felt like I did, that I could play that guy. I know Dennis did, it’s his first American film.
When you look at a character like this, do you say I want to humanize this guy? It seems like when you have a horror movie monster, that humanizing him can be a double-edged sword. In Rob Zombie’s Halloween remake, for example, they spend an hour offering explanations for him and then just sort of admit, “but he’s crazy.”
Dillahunt: Oh yeah. I did want to – I like that. This isn’t that kind of horror movie. I don’t think it was in ’72 either; it wasn’t in The Virgin Spring. It’s more about the parents, and what they’re willing to do. In general, I’m not that freaked out by things that are just completely impossible, although zombie movies, you could make that case for, and I find them [fascinating]. But the supernatural stuff in general – I don’t know. I feel like stories more terrifying that I feel like might actually happen, for better or worse. That might not be the escapism that a lot of filmgoers want. But it’s where I instinctively go for better or worse as an actor: I try to make him more human, and I love that. Krug has to suffer the consequences, even if you do feel sorry for him. Like, yeah, poor guy, the world has dealt you a sh*t hand, but so what?
Do you come up with a profile or back story about his life, or is it just more important to be present in each scene?
Dillahunt: You have to come up with something, but you have to make sure that the things you come up with are things that you respond to emotionally. Otherwise it’s just biography. Because with a lot of those things, it’s like, okay, that’s what happened to him, but that didn’t make me better. I think it was important with him to do those things; you want to know where [Krug’s son] Justin’s mother is, why doesn’t Justin know the things we do. I think he’s relatively new – we’re catching Krug at a time when he’s just sort of learning to kill, and starting to enjoy it or find it a handy way to deal with trouble. But I think they would be caught in short order if they weren’t killed by the Collingwoods.
How difficult was it to shoot the scene involving the sexual assault? It was almost unbearable to watch.
Dillahunt: I worried about that – how much do we actually have to show to tell that same story. It’s not easy. It’s certainly not fun. No sex scene is fun, and that is not that, this is an assault. This is a power game. There should be nothing appealing about it. I remember Dennis said a good thing. I don’t remember the guy’s title, but they were watching dailies in Africa [where the film was shot], and this guy who works for the film company, his job is to load up the dailies for us to show them. I wasn’t there, but on the dailies of that day, he doesn’t know what he’s about to see, and he left the room angry. He said, “I’m offended by this. I don’t want to watch this.” I said to Dennis, “does that make you nervous? That could be our entire audience.” He got very thoughtful and he said, “no, it would make me nervous if people masturbate.” He said it made him happy that it was properly affronting. There’s no end of perverts out there, there probably will be someone who does find it [exciting]. It was awful to do, but by the same token it was probably the most, in a shoot that I felt very focused, this was the most focused day. I felt prepared, ready to do it in as few takes as possible. I think it’s because all of my attention was on Sara [Paxton], as it should be, I think. She’s the one who really has to go to the dark place, and expose a bit of herself figuratively and literally. I’m friends with her, I was friends with her before the shoot, which is not necessarily an advantage because I wanted her to stay my friend after we were done. But I knew that I was going to go there, so it was just be ready, keep my leg in the right place, when we were not shooting, pull her pants up or get a blanket for her. Just make it as least weird as possible. There’s people that take advantage of those situations, I’m sure, and I didn’t want her to think I was one of them.
A quick quote from Fangoria:
[Dennis Iliadis] is the thing that tipped me over the edge to do it,” the actor recalls. “Not being familiar with the first LAST HOUSE, I started looking into it and realized what a reputation it had, and wondered if I could match that. Dennis sent along his movie HARDCORE, and the title made me think, ‘Oh, man!’ But I watched it and it was f**king gorgeous, so well-shot. I trusted him immediately—even if we didn’t get along, I felt I could trust him; he wouldn’t let any embarrassing or cheesy stuff get onto the screen. The audience may have reservations and they’ll have to be won over, but he was a good person to have at the helm.
And an excellent interview from Horror.com:
Staci Layne Wilson / Horror.com: You seem to be the sort of actor who likes to do a lot of research. Many of the actors I’ve interviewed are like, “Hey, it’s pretend. It’s fun. I’m not this guy at all, and I don’t need to know it.” So each actor’s process is really different which is why I love what I do because I enjoy talking to actors and learning what drives them and what motivates them and what gives us the experience on screen. But when you work with an actor who’s just like, “Oh, it’s just pretend,” how do you find it within yourself to bring what you need to, to the table? You were talking about this movie [Last House] and how it’s so collaborative, but what if it’s not?
Dillahunt: It is, but I don’t know how everyone else worked. I think it would be remiss of me to require them to work the same way I do. I don’t know if anyone else read a book or did anything else. There’s good and there’s bad. Acting, I don’t care how you get there, but just get there. Then it’s just all about the scene. What am I getting from them and am I responding honestly? That’s all I can ask. I would be uncomfortable if I had the requirement to everyone else’s behavior. I don’t think it’s necessary. I feel like it’s my skill not to need it, you know? I can use whatever I’m getting. Marlon Brando did a scene with the corpse in Last Tango. He didn’t get anything from that corpse, but you do, actually, you know what I mean?
Yeah, definitely. There’s a 70s movie called End of the Game with Donald Sutherland and Jon Voight, and Sutherland is a corpse throughout the entire opening sequence. Or, there’s the Jeff Bridges movie, Tideland, where he’s pretty much dead throughout the whole movie — and yet those two actors manage to steal the scenes from the ones who are supposed to be alive. So, we talked about your fellow actors, but what do you look for in a director because we’ve seen a lot of directors like say, Fellini, who was very exact and you had to be positioned right down to your pinkie. It was choreographed. Then there are other directors, like (I’ve heard) Woody Allen, who don’t even seem to notice you’re there.
Dillahunt: Yeah, I’m not a fragile guy, but lately I find myself more and more annoyed when directors [interfere too much]. I guess I just like it when a director lets me do my job, as well. I’m part of a whole, and I’m comfortable with that. I get confused sometimes when they talk too much. It’s like, “Okay. We got it. Let’s go.” I’ve been pretty lucky with my directors. Maybe I’m only hired by, you know, people who like me. [When it comes to the TV series I’ve been on, like “Deadwood”, “The 4400”, and “The Sarah Connor Chronicles”] It’s hard to be a director on television. I think they’re the real guest stars in a way because after a while, you know your character better than they do. They’re just coming in and sort of catching up on what’s been going on, and you’ve been doing it for a year and a half. It doesn’t necessarily direct itself, but I think it must be a real tight rope for them to walk, directing series television, because you want to have some kind of creative input, but also you don’t just want to be a traffic cop.
Is directing something you would like to tackle someday?
Dillahunt: I don’t know. I actually, honestly, haven’t had that itch. I almost feel like I should, but for some reason I don’t. I get a real kick out of my job. It might change. I used to never want to be the lead, you know, and now I feel I’ve seen the joy of that. It’s kind of like being the first mate, I used to say, rather than the captain. I like a little responsibility, but not the whole shebang. I’m so busy and so blessed right now with work that maybe it will change if I have some time off.
A couple of actors who are friends of mine, they write scripts so that they can put themselves in the ideal role. Is that something you might like to try sometime, to write a script with yourself in mind?
Dillahunt: I’m familiar with that practice. I have some friends who write as well, and they call me with ideas about stuff. It takes so long to get a movie made, by the time it comes together, I’m no longer right for that part. I just have to find the right project. I’m slow.
You want to be like Orson Welles doing that vanity project [Don Quixote] for like forty years, right?
Dillahunt: No, but I’d love to be as smart as Orson Welles. He’d probably pick the role that wouldn’t decay after a few years. The writing thing, I’ve tried to do sometimes. That’s what I thought I was going to be was a writer. I went to school for it, [but] I can’t get my own voice down.
There’s really something wonderful about writing because it is a solitary pursuit in which you get to create everything yourself.
Dillahunt: Absolutely. I never get star-struck around actors, but writers, I get really tongue-tied around. I’m amazed at what you do, that you have the confidence to send something that you’ve written out into the world. If I meet my favorite novelist, I’m like a little girl. My wife laughs at me, and she’s like, “The only time you forget to introduce me is when you meet a writer.” I just get giddy! It’s such a mysterious process. It’s like, “Wait, wait. You created this whole world just like in your room?” You read about Toni Morrison, you know, and raising her kids on her own, and she’s writing at the breakfast table with her baby who then throws up on what she’s writing, but she keeps writing around the vomit because she doesn’t want to lose the idea she had. I’m just like, “What?” I don’t know if I could be that dedicated.
Stephen King is another writer I think is great. I think Stand by Me is when I first realized that’s the perfect length to adapt a movie out of, you know what I mean? You’re not tearing away all its beauty. If it’s too massive a novel, if it’s too short a story, you’re not putting on a bunch of [filler]. I like him very much. I love The Stand. There’s so many I like, and I’ve gotten to know so many because all of them are fans of Deadwood. There’s this great [short story] author named William Gay, I don’t know if you know him, or Tom Franklin, wrote this great novel called Smoke. I tend to gravitate toward certain southern gothic type pictures, I guess. Raymond Carver, I love. Joe Abercrombie I’ve befriended by e-mail. He writes fantasy stuff.
When I saw the trailer — I saw it after I saw the movie — and I was like, ‘Gosh, they just give everything away, even the ending, in the trailer!’ That’s terrible. You don’t have any control over something like that.
Dillahunt: I don’t think even Wes did. It’s the distributors. I guess in that case, it’s Universal. But, I said the same thing to Dennis. I sent an e-mail and I said, “Whoa, the trailer’s out. You know, it looks good. [But] Who dubbed the southern?” I said and, “Also, I think we give a bit too much away.” Everybody’s secret seems to be revealed in that trailer, but he said, “I agree with you, but it’s generated such massive buzz and positive anticipation to the movie.” We’ve just sort of agreed that we don’t know anything about marketing. I guess that’s how it’s done. That’s not how I would [do it], but maybe… I’m looking forward to the next trailer that might be a little more suggestive.