Starring in Last House was no doubt an opportunity for you to show what you can do as an actress, but what else about it compelled you to audition and sign on?
Paxton: Definitely Wes Craven. He’s an icon, and that was interesting to me. The role, the script. What really sold me, though, was when I met the director, Dennis Iliadis. I hadn’t seen the original Last House on the Left, but I did watch Dennis’s movie Hardcore, which is an independent film that he did in Greece. That movie completely shocked me. Then I was like, “Oh, OK, he means business. He’s a good director. Where do I sign?” Reading a script like that, and a remake, of course, it’s so touchy. You don’t know where it can go. It can be really good or bad, but maybe with good actors and a good director it can be something special. And I really think that’s what we ended up doing, something very special.
How hard was it for you to be in the presence of Garret Dillahunt before and after shooting those scenes in which he terrorizes you?
Paxton: I’m not one of those actors where, if I have to hate you, I’m really going to hate you in real life. That’s not something I need to do. And Garret was so nervous. He didn’t want to hurt me. He was worried that I’d start crying or get emotional. He was the scared one, the one that backed away, and finally I came to him and said, “Don’t worry about me. I’m a big girl. I can handle it.” If anything, I was worried that he wouldn’t be rough enough. I was worried that the scene wouldn’t come off real because he wouldn’t throw himself into it completely. But we had our talk and we came to an agreement.
And since we have you on the phone, we’ve got to ask about Mr. Ed. You actually shot a Mr. Ed pilot with Sherman Hemsley and Sherilyn Fenn?
Paxton: Gosh, I was about 15 when I did that [in 2004] with Garret [Dillahunt], and Sherman Hemsley was the voice of the horse. I think it could have been a good idea. With the horses, it was a lot of work. I remember at least five days out of that shoot where the horse got loose and trampled over some lights, ran through the set, knocked down craft services. The horses were going a little crazy. So maybe that was too much of a problem.