Sara Paxton

Interview with Sara Paxton (The Last House on the Left)

SCI FI Wire interviewed Sara Paxton (Mari in The Last House on the Left). A couple of quotes after the jump:

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.

The Last House on the Left – screening & Q&A

There was a screening of The Last House on the Left last night, with Garret, Wes Craven, Sara Paxton, Monica Potter showing up at the event and doing a Q&A. ShockTillYouDrop has the full report. Here are a few tidbits:

Shock: Garret, you’re slipping in to the shoes of Krug, formerly essayed by David Hess, how was that experience?

Garret Dillahunt: I actually had a great conversation with David Hess and he was really nice. We talked about things that were troublesome for both of us playing this. I, too, hadn’t seen the original but I was surprised because I love watching movies. I had watched bits of it before we started, out of respect for them and with the knowledge we were updating… I don’t know, I just wanted this to be our own. I was so proud of it, so proud of this cast. They’re a really good group and I think Dennis is great. When I met Wes, I said, “Every actor has a checklist of things [directors] they want to work with in their life and Wes Craven’s on mine.” And Wes said, “How far down the list?” [laughs] I’ve watched the rest of the original since because it has a very special place in the hearts of the hardcore fans.

Shock: Can you talk about creating some of that intensity on set? You obviously need to put trust in your director so how did Dennis help you along with that?

Paxton: Dennis was absolutely amazing and was really protective of the actors. We had a lengthy rehearsal process which I thought was really awesome because we could focus on the physical part that we were doing so on the day all we had to focus on was our headspace.

Potter: And because it was such an intense film, we had a bunch of jokesters in our cast. It was so intense and, the producers included, there were so many scenes where we were so distraught we just had to laugh a lot. And we did because we were like a family. We’re in this country where some of us had never been to before and we all sort of lived in this apartment building. We ate together…we didn’t sleep together. [laughs]

Dillahunt: I was lucky, I guess, because Sara and I had worked together once before. I remember originally very nervous about the stuff I was going to have to do. I was happy it was someone I knew, at least. Then I thought it was horrible because you don’t do that to friends.

Paxton: I was happy. I was like, let’s do this, I know the guy!

Dillahunt: I have to say, you really set the tone. Not being a young man anymore, it really amazes me when I work with younger actors who are so together and so capable. Sara really put me at ease. She was nervous I wouldn’t be rough enough to sell it. Every time I grabbed her it was like I caught a wild weasel, she was so into it I had no choice. Everyone was like that and a good thing Dennis and Wes did was assemble a group of people who wanted to make something special. I’m really proud of it, I think it’s great. The first time I met Dennis, I complimented him on Hardcore and the first thing out of his mouth was, “I had some great actresses.” It sold me immediately on him. We’re just a part of the process, but it’s an important part and I’m glad he understood. Sara made that scene happen, really.

Shock: Garret, what did you do – if anything – to bond with your family members, so to speak?

Dillahunt: I didn’t do anything consciously. For me, it’s all about the story and getting around I can play such a horrible a man. I wanted to play him well and I was happy to be surrounded by actors who felt the same way. There wasn’t any ego on set. Everyone wanted to do what was needed to fulfill the story. So that’s easy to bond with. We were alone down there [in South Africa], the problems we had were few and fleeting and we were all there to make it better. I guess it wasn’t me, it was Wes and everyone who put this good group of people together.