Chris Sarandon is best known to most of you for his starring role in the original Fright Night movie where he played the vampire Jerry Dandridge. Many of you classic fans likely noticed his cameo in the new remake starring Colin Farrell. In our interview he talks about what he thinks of the remake, what it was like to return to the role and how it compares to the original.
Chris is a renowned stage and film actor best known for playing Prince Humperdinck in the film “The Princess Bride,” the vampire Jerry Dandridge in “Fright Night” and Detective Mike Norris in the first entry of the “Child’s Play” series. He also provided the speaking voice of Jack Skellington in “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and was nominated for an Academy Award© for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as Leon in “Dog Day Afternoon.” Most recently, he appeared in the play “Cyrano de Bergerac” as Antoine de Guiche alongside Kevin Kline, Jennifer Garner and Daniel Sunjata.
Q: What was your reaction when you first heard of the “Fright Night” project?
A: My first thought was, “Who knows?” I knew that Mike Deluca was one of the producers and Mike is a smart guy, but I didn’t know anything else about it. To a certain extent I was skeptical, but after reading the script I was completely sold. Then I heard that Craig Gillespie was directing and who he had cast. I thought, “Well, how can they miss?” All the promise of the script was fulfilled.
Q: How similar is this “Fright Night” to the original film?
A: The tone is the same. The original was scary and frightening, but it was also funny. The relationships were also very strong between the characters, which is very important. If the audience isn’t carried along in some sort of emotional conflict with the characters then the jeopardy that they are in is lost or at least diminished. I thought Marti Noxon’s script captured all of those elements without completely copying the original. This is a different time, so that was important.
I was also happy to see that they went back to the older tradition of the vampire genre as opposed to what’s been happening for the last seven or eight years in “Twilight” and “True Blood.” Jerry isn’t a romantic vampire. He’s much more in the tradition of Bela Lugosi, Nosferatu and Bram Stoker – a vicious killer.
Q: What did you think about casting Colin as Jerry?
A: I thought it was brilliant. First of all, to me, Colin is the right age. He’s a mature man and he’s not a boy. Colin also has an indefinable quality and charisma that comes across onscreen. There’s something very special about him, plus he’s very funny and very smart. All of these qualities are important for the character of Jerry, as well as being dangerous.
Q: How was it working with Colin?
A: Great. He’s a terrific fellow and a real Irish charmer, but he was also a big fan of the original movie. The first time I met him, he walked into my trailer and gave me Karl Dreyer’s film “Vampyre” and a bottle of Château Lafite Rothschild. It was quite touching and wonderful. I was very flattered, to say the least. He’s a lovely man.
Q: Do you think that CGI has changed the horror and science fiction genres?
A: I think it has certainly made it a lot easier for directors and writers to bring to life what’s in their imaginations. For instance, they made this “Fright Night” in 3-D and I have always thought that 3-D was a gratuitous, money making proposition for studios so that they could charge more money for tickets. But the fact is, I think 3-D really enhances this movie because it gives it a sense of depth and, oddly enough, of claustrophobia. I think this is because you have much more of a sense of what the character’s relationships are dimensionally. In my mind, that’s the proper use of technology.
Q: Have you had any bizarre encounters with fans since you made the original “Fright Night”?
A: I had one cable guy who was looking at me out of the corner of his eye the whole time he worked in my house, but he wouldn’t say a word to me. This went on for four hours until I was signing the bill and he said, “I’m surprised that you come out in the daytime.” Generally, though, people are very polite and very happy to see me.
Fright Night Synopsis: High school Senior Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) finally has it all—he’s running with the popular crowd and dating the hottest girl in high school. In fact, he’s so cool he’s even dissing his best friend Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). But trouble arrives when an intriguing stranger Jerry (Colin Farrell) moves in next door. He seems like a great guy at first, but there’s something not quite right— yet no one, including Charley’s mom (Toni Collette), seems to notice! After witnessing some very unusual activity, Charley comes to an unmistakable conclusion: Jerry is a vampire preying on his neighborhood. Unable to convince anyone that he’s telling the truth, Charley has to find a way to get rid of the monster himself in this Craig Gillespie-helmed revamp of the comedy-horror classic.
DreamWorks Pictures presents “Fright Night,” directed by Craig Gillespie and produced by Michael De Luca and Alison Rosenzweig, with a screenplay by Marti Noxon and story by Tom Holland, based on the film “Fright Night,” written by Tom Holland. The film is now playing in theaters.