Roux: The way this all happened is that we had a screenplay out there called Chance and it was Altman-esque because it was different storylines intersecting. A producer read it, David Higgins, and he asked our agent to send us over so we went. I’ll never forget the call because our agent said Higgins had this thriller idea, two kids trapped in a house with a tiger. We thought that was random.
… the tone of the film…
Roux: We all had the like mind of making it as tense, taut and real as possible. You know in Das Boot where you feel like you’re in the boat? We have that similar situation in Burning Bright because you’re trapped in this house, the windows are all boarded up and it’s dark and scary because there’s a wild animal in the house. It’s starting to feel like it’s going in that direction. As you know, through editing it could change. Miklos Wright, the editor, is making it very Hitchcockian which I’m thrilled about.
… Garret’s character…
Roux: They have a stepfather, and he’s evil, of course.
Coyle: He’s the kind of guy who has had a million ideas, none of which have ever really worked out. So his latest idea is he’s going to have a bed and breakfast and a safari park together. Her mother had really bad choices in men, Johnny is at the top of her list in bad choices. Kelly is supposed to be leaving for college and what happens is she can’t because of circumstance. She winds up in the house, it’s boarded up and she can’t get out. Part of the question is: Who put the tiger in the house? Was it Tommy her brother? Kelly, in some suicidal way? Johnny the stepfather?
… the tigers…
Roux: Which they did do. The tigers were really on set with Briana.
Coyle: And they were just gorgeous. There were three tigers to play one. Huge paws. When we went to the set up at Magic Mountain where they did some of the tiger stuff, there were rules. Every body had to stand in a group, if you’re not in a group you’re potentially dinner. No sudden movements. No children.
Roux: The tigers will train their eyes, it was fascinating.
Coyle: David brought his little kids, five and six, to the set. The tigers were in a cage. The little girl said something like “Wow, this is neat!” and the tiger just fixated on her. At that point, the trainer told everyone no kids under 18 when the tigers are out. And like I said, there were three tigers. One was a pouncer, one runs better…
Roux: One was for beauty shots.
… and the way casting could have gone.
Coyle: They were talking about some other actors for the part like Jeff Bridges.
Roux: Bill Pullman.
Coyle: Jeff Daniels. But there are certain expectations you have when you see them on the screen. Garret, certainly from Deadwood and Terminator, he’s got a cult following, but you buy him as this stepfather with a rather antagonistic relationship with this 18-year-old girl.
For the full interview, go here.