The Cast of Hitcher Interview!Sheila
While the rest of the Horror-Movies.ca crew was at home chugging some beers we sent our LA writer Sheila out to do an interview with the entire cast of The Hitcher, she had the chance to sit down with the entire cast and crew including, producers Andrew Form and Brad Fuller, director Dave Meyers, and actors Zachary Knighton, Sophia Bush, and Sean Bean. So while I recover from a major hangover you guys can check out what transpired when they were all locked in one room together:
Q: First, were there any Cheney jokes on the shot gun day? And second, you did a great job of making it realistic, explaining things like getting rid of the cell phones and making it believable, and then Zack says, ‘I’ll be back in 15 minutes.’ I was wondering if you could justify the ultimate ‘I’ll be right back’ moment?
Brad Fuller: You know we had to get Zack out of the room; we had to get him out because we debated how we were going to get Sean in the room. The response last night was obviously -- there was some fun to be had there and we had a great shower scene. (Laughs.) It was fun for Sophia, so I dunno; we just kind of went with it. I mean I wish I could give you a better answer. (to Andrew Form) You have something you want to add to that?
Andrew Form: No, but it’s tricky, because how do you get Zack out of that room and get Sean in? Because we had this whole scene constructed where we did want Sean in bed with Sophia and we had to get Zack out of that motel room.
Fuller: And you know Sean is going to be in the bed. You know he’s going to be there. And you’re waiting for it to happen, so we…
Sean Bean: There was a scene where I was in bed with Sophia? (Laughs.) Shit.
Q: And a Cheney moment from the shotgun day?
Fuller: It’s going to be on the DVD.
Q: Sean, how difficult was this character to play for you because we don’t really know anything about him.Bean: It was. There wasn’t a great deal of back history to the guy. Not much information about where he came from which I thought was quite interesting really, because it allowed me the freedom to create what I wanted and to invent him as a person. And I thought that it was always scarier that you don’t know anything about him or where he comes from. I always find that the less you know about people, the less you should trust them. I usually like to have something to go on but for this particular movie I was pleased that he was like an angel of death, a phantom wandering the freeways and assuming different identities and that quite appealed to me.
Q: This is for the producers; the fact we don’t know too much of The Hitcher, even though it stayed true to the original story, is it in hopes of maybe doing a prequel so we know why he’s so demented and what’s driving this man?
Fuller: No.I don’t see a prequel happening. As Sean said, we just gave him a blank slate and let him do what he’s going to do with it. There was no thinking of a prequel until you just brought it up.
Q: Sophia, what are the challenges of playing a girl like this and how do you avoid the clichés of playing the kind of damsel in distress cum mentally strong woman that we see at the end?
Sophia Bush: Right, I think that was a big thing for me and something that we definitely looked into in a lot of moments of filming, because I don’t want to be that girl running around whining and irritating, and at the same time I don’t want to come out like Lara Croft with guns blazing, because that’s not quite right either. And I think that something that made it great was -- or greater for me rather -- was a lot of what Zach and I got to do together.
Because we spent a week in Texas working on the chemistry of our relationship and how Jim and Grace behaved and reacted and the ways that we kind of messed with one another, the way that partners in sort of a long standing relationship do. So what we had I think that gave me some license to go on the emotional roller coaster instead of just being one kind of woman or another was when Grace wasn’t going to make it, Jim pulled her up and when Jim wasn’t going to make it, Grace pulled him up. And it was a very symbiotic relationship, so it allowed me to show both sides. And it allowed me to flip the scales from her being kind of happy go lucky to her being stripped down and very animalistic. It let me do that slowly more in a see saw than in one quick flip and I think that’s a more accurate portrayal of how people change and how people sort of tap into their strengths.
Q: Dave, this is really a lean film. Is there more stuff that got cut to sort of bring it down to this running time? And what was the MPAA experience like for you guys?Dave Meyers: I had a really great MPAA experience. I didn’t focus on violence in the film even though there is some. I tried to keep everything on thrills and suspense. We cut most of it out before we actually filmed it which is sort of how we kept the budget was extremely low, and yet we still have huge car action and all that stuff. And so, part of the relationship I had with the producers was trying to catch that stuff before we filmed it and really cutting the fat everywhere we could. I pulled from my commercials and video background and just keeping things really succinct. It’s lean and there is only one scene that has about five different versions of it and that hopefully make it to the DVD.
Q: Which scene is that?
Meyers: Am I allowed to say?
Meyers: It’s the motel scene. We shot that so many times I think Sean might be mad at me. He was like, ‘Again?’
Q: Dave, I was wondering if you could talk about the musical decisions for the film? I enjoyed the scene with ‘Closer’ coming into the background.I haven’t heard that song in I don’t know how long unless maybe you go to a retro club now.
Meyers: I had a play list that I used to inspire me for the characters in the film. And it came from just my exposure to music and what I loved and I was distinctly told by the producers I’d never afford any of it. And so the film came out, we put it together, and I had all that music in there as my own personal thing. And then one day Brad called me and said, ‘Well, guess what? The studio likes it.
They’re going to pay for this song because we’ve got Dave Matthews.’ I called Dave Matthew’s people up and got a deal on that song. And then I started it going and Trent Reznor signed off on it, and then like three or four days ago the studio paid for it, so it was just hanging on it until ‘No, no, no. Okay.’ (Laughs.)
Q: Sean, how difficult was it stepping into Rutger Hauer’s shoes? It was a pretty iconic role I remember from seeing the original.
Bean: Well I saw the film when it first came out. It must have been around 20 years ago. And it made a big impression on me. It was a very well constructed film and Rutger Hauer turned in a very good performance and I remember being scared by it, and as I said, it made an impact but I really didn’t want that running around my head and cluttering things up when we were making our version of it.
So, I think working with Dave and obviously, Zach and Sophie I think we created quite an interesting new version. And I didn’t really have any reservations or concerns about being compared to another actor. I just wanted to start from scratch and do it my way.
Q: Zack and Sophia, you guys are pretty much in the same outfits throughout the whole movie, getting worse and worse for wear. How many different versions of them were there? How gross did they get by the end?
Zack Knighton: I’ll be back in 15 minutes. (Laughs.) It was the same outfit. I wore the same thing every day. It smelled really bad.
Bush: Yeah, there definitely got to a point where what did they have? For continuity sake they had to keep a couple of pairs of all of our clothes.
Knighton: Yeah, well there were different stages, because we shot out of sequence.
Bush: But there were a couple of days when we would be in sequence and we’d be in the same clothes and he looked at me one day and was like, ‘We smell.’ And I’m like, ‘I know.’ (Laughs.) It was interesting, but then again we were covered in dirt and blood and filth so we probably would have smelled anyway. So I don’t think anyone noticed, except for us.
Q: Sophie, Zack and Sean – how was the relationship between you guys and Sean since you guys had to be separate from everyone and the two of you had to be scared of him?
Bean: It’s quite good in a way -- that they were scared of me. (Laughs)
Knighton: I’m still afraid. (Laughs.)
Bean: I think the first scene we did in Austin, Texas was a night shoot. [It] was the scene in the car where they are picking him up at the garage and we shot the interior of the car which is quite a long scene, and it was quite good that we didn’t really know each other by then at all, did we? Whether we liked each other or not.
Knighton: You didn’t talk to us at all.
Bean: I don’t talk to anybody as usual.(Laughs)
Bush: It took us a couple of weeks to all get speaking.
Bean: But it actually worked for the scene because we weren’t supposed to know each other, were we? So I’m glad we did that.
Bush: It was great. Our first conversation was about how hard you could push the knife in my face. And I was like, ‘Hi. How are you? Feel free to hit me.’ (Laughs.)
Bean: I was gentle, wasn’t I?
Q: Was it hard to shoot the scenes with the heavy rain?
Knighton: I can tell you if you shoot in the rain, you’re going to have a lot of ADR (automatic dialogue replacement) to do after the movie, a lot of voice looping and stuff like that.
Bean: That’s if you’ve got lines. (Laughs.)
Meyers: I think rain is really restrictive to work in, but it’s also… In our particular case, we had 20 minutes of rain in a car and it couldn’t have been any more challenging to keep it interesting and so that was one of my main focuses of shooting a whole bunch of angles, really trying to catch the nuances of the scenes and stuff so that the tension can stay alive and then with the sound effects people, every single day I said, ‘I want 100 different tracks of rain.
I want rain for this scene that sounds different than the rain for the next scene.’ It’s a really subtle thing and I don’t know how many people will really pick up on it, but I was just worried that the same type of rain, for 20 minutes, would put people to sleep.
Q: Dave, what was the CG to practical ratio during the big police car chase sequence?
Meyers: It’s about 99.9% real. There is no CG at all in it. The only thing that was done was that we broke cameras. I gambled correctly and put the camera right in harm’s way. So, we shot each sequence with ten cameras. So four or five of the cameras would see some of the other cameras and we’d have to erase them. It’s kind of just the art of invisibility.
There is only one really major CG thing, which was the rabbit, which I think is pretty much out of the box right now, but everything else was the art of trying not to have anything.
Q: Sophia, there’s so much competition among young actresses and you’re slowly making this transition from TV to film. How hard is it for you to find the kinds of parts that really challenge you as an actress. How difficult is it for young actors in your age group to find quality scripts?
Bush: I think it’s definitely hard to find films of quality that you want to make and particularly even when this script came, it’s like prior to reading it, did I really know that it was going to be anything other than a typical movie of a scary genre?
And as I was going through it, I realized there was something special here because not only did that tomboy side of me get to completely freak out and, like in my stunt junkie way, do all of these amazing things and watch cars get blown up and watch helicopters fly over our faces and ride around in the desert with guns, but there was just such an arc and such a development of a character and a real sort of slope for this girl to fall down.
And I think that that’s it for me is really choosing things that give me some work to do and things that I haven’t done before. It was just really something very exciting. And the relationship between our characters is phenomenal and real and something that gets overdone in our age range a lot. And to be working with Sean, it was like, ‘Yeah, I want to do a movie with Sean Bean. Totally scary!’ (Laughs) And it’s so great, because we had a moment in that first sequence, like he says, barely knowing each other when we’re fighting and I’m like, ‘God, this guy is so strong and he has my face in his hands and this is great, this is great.’
Bush: And I made some noise that worried him and you looked at me and you just said, ‘Are you alright?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah.’ And you were like, ‘OK!’ And I was like, ‘OK, we’re back in the scene. Alright, great, good. Beat me up some more. I’m ready.’
Bean: Yeah, you liked that, didn’t you? (Laughs)
Bush: Yeah, it’s cool. (Laughs)
Bean: So did I. (Laughs)
Q: Andrew and Brad, any updates on ‘Friday the 13th’ and when we’re going to hear about a director or actors or script?
Form: Well, we’re working on a script right now. And I think that next year, it’s not in the first two quarters for us, that movie, maybe at the end of the year next year. But right now we’re just working on the screenplay.
Q: Is there a director?
Form: No director yet at all. I mean Jonathan Liebesman is attached to the movie right now, the director of ‘Chainsaw.’ But it just depends on his schedule.
Fuller: He’s got a lot of things rolling around right now. So, if he’s available when we have a script, we’d love to work with him again. We had a great experience with him.
Q: Dave, how did you come to the project and was it something you always wanted to remake? And Zack, we spoke a little bit about this last night, I wanted to know if you’ve talked about using the cocksock?
Knighton: The cocksock lives on, buddy.(Laughs)
Fuller: It really does.
Meyers: Brad, Drew and Michael are big fans of The Hitcher and were sort of circling it and found rights to it. I was circling their operation of being sort of a home-for-video commercial guys, making that jump to movies. The president of the studio happened to –a year before I was going to do a movie with him – so all of these stars just sort of aligned. I studied the film and realized like Sophia said, there’s character arcs in there. There is something more special than the typical horror film. It just all sort of worked. And to see a guy with a cocksock was something I was willing to sign up for.
Knighton: I always dreamed of wearing a cocksock so it was the perfect marriage of director and actor.
Q: Sophia, what do you think is our fascination is these tough girls kicking ass?
Bush: Sorry, I’m still laughing. Okay, I’m good. I’m okay. I think what’s great about it is we’ve seen so many great heroes in men and your iconic Dirty Harrys and Indiana Jones. You’ve got that and we’re at a point where thankfully in our sociology we’ve evolved to realize that women can kick just as much ass and people want to see it. Because there’s something that’s a little less expected about seeing the girlfriend end up with the shotgun.
It’s exciting and it really gives the guys something to root for, but it gives the girls in the audience something to root for too. You no longer have women being dragged to an action movie by their boyfriend. Couples are going together because they’re both really excited about the film and it’s something I enjoy. Definitely. (to Sean Bean) I really liked that whole end sequence in the movie. We had a good time with that one.
Q: How close to the original script did you stay and how long was the actual shoot?
Meyers: The shoot was 44 days. [Do you mean] the original script of the remake or the script of the original movie?
Q: Your original script of this? How close did you stay to that?
Meyers: The structure of it stayed pretty close. We pretty much improv-ed the whole movie. There was a greenlit draft that had a structure that had certain scenes that are still in the movie. But getting our way through the movie -- and I think one of the biggest things in these movies is creating a believability -- and so there was a lot of talks.
Every day we’d show up and we’d see a blocking of the scene and it was like, ‘Oh, that’s not very real.’ So everybody’d go back to their corners and a lot of times it was the relationship of our cast that would find the soul of it and we’d just sort of help guide it. That’s why I think there is an authenticity in the film.
Q: Eric Red gets credited on the film. Is that a WGA thing or is that something you guys decided you wanted to do? How did that happen?
Form: No, we had two writers write on it, Jake Wade Wall and Eric Bernt, and we just submitted both drafts to the WGA and they came back and gave Eric Red credit.
Fuller: We were surprised by that. We had no idea. That was the last thing we thought would happen actually.
Q: Sean, I was just wondering if you had any favorite villains of movies past or anything like that that maybe you took [inspiration] from for this role?
Bean: Other villains? I used to like the old style ones like James Cagney and Edward G. Robinson. People like that. It’s quite hard to spring to mind.
Q: They’re gangsters really.
Bean: I suppose so. Yeah, the rough and ready type, you know, no-nonsense gangsters. I tried to play this guy without being too aggressive in a sense so I don’t know what I could really compare that with. John Malkovich is someone who I always admire as a villain. I like him in general, but I think he’s got a very louche sort of language or quality about him.
Q: There was recent talk that they might do a prequel to Lord of the Rings and a movie about The Hobbit? And they’re talking about doing it without Peter Jackson maybe and it might include some of the characters from the original trilogy. Would you consider coming back if Peter Jackson is not involved?
Bean: For The Hobbit?
Q: Well The Hobbit and a prequel. There was talk of more films.
Bean: No, I don’t think I would. Is Boromir in The Hobbit?
Q: Well there’s a Hobbit and there’s also a prequel as a follow-up to the first film. There’s two films that they’re talking about.
Bean: I don’t know. It’s very much a creation of Peter Jackson so it’d be difficult for me to answer that question because I have not really heard about it. But it depends on many, many circumstances. The director, the writing, the whole idea behind it and what they are trying to achieve.
Q: In The Hitcher no one smoked, no one drank, and there’s no drug use in the film whatsoever.
Meyers: It wasn’t the story of these characters really. There wasn’t a need for it. He talks about drinking beers in one of the scenes. It’s not meant to be conservative. We were focused on other things.
Q: What’s next for all of you?I know you (the producers) are working on Friday the 13th. What’s next on the agenda for you and the actors?
Fuller: We are right now trying to put together another movie for Rogue called "Alone.”
Q: An original script or an old one?
Form: An original script. Can you believe it? (Laughs)
Fuller: We’ll give you the remakes after that. (Laughs) We start production on a movie in three weeks called "Horseman.” It’s a thriller.
Form: In the vein of "Seven” with Dennis Quaid and Ziyi Zhang.
Fuller: Then we’ve talked about "The Birds”. That’s out there. There’s another movie we might do for Rogue. We might do "Near Dark” for Rogue which we’re very interested in.We love the way Eric Red works.
Q: Is The Birds still likely to happen?
Fuller: Absolutely. Yes. In the next two weeks, or the next week or so I think they’ll announce it because they’re starting to talk about a new writer to come on and write that. So that definitely feels like there’s momentum.
Form: And we’re still working on the script for Friday the 13th.
Bean: I’m not really doing anything at the moment. I just finished this film… I was just up in the Artic doing a film called "True North” with Michelle Yeoh which is also about three characters, but slightly different from this sort of combination. So I was up there for awhile and I’ve been flying around a little bit. I’m sick of it so I’m off and just looking at a few things now.Nothing definite at the moment.
Bush: I’m just finishing the fourth season of One Tree Hill. We start on hiatus half way through April so it’s sort of in these next few weeks that we pull all the things that have started coming together and all the things that will be put together and figure out what pool we feel like diving in for the summer.
Q: How long do you think One Tree Hill will go for? Do you know what the life span will be?
Bush: We never really do and I think it’s hard to say. It depends on how long the kids keep watching, I guess. How long we keep the teenagers entertained. We’ll see.
Knighton: I’m about to start a job as Sean Bean’s new personal assistant. There’ll be a lot of football matches. (Laughs) I am currently in the mix for some things and hoping that something works out and basically just hanging out on the West side and surfing.Meyers: I’m just waiting for the movie to come out. A lot of times with a first time film, people wait to see the film before they decide what they want to offer you. A lot of what I have been offered up to now is sort of clones of "The Hitcher” and I don’t really want to do that. I’m developing a movie called "Witch Hunter” with Arnold Kopelson and New Regency. That would be the A plan if that actually is greenlit. It’s an extremely expensive film though and I don’t know where it stands, but it’s being read and if that happens, that would be the immediate one. Otherwise, I’ve got to wait.
Q: Can you talk about the casting process? I understand Zach went through a rigorous audition process.
Meyers: I’ll hand that one to Brad.
Fuller: You want me to talk about Zack specifically? There’s stories for all of them.
Q: Zack and Sophia both.
Fuller: Well, with Sophia, it was very simple. She was an actress who we had heard about and for Drew and myself, we seem to get a lot more from sitting down with an actor and actress than actually auditioning them.That’s how we found Jessica Biel for "Chainsaw” and that’s how we found Jordana Brewster for the other "Chainsaw.” We had heard wonderful things about Sophia and she came in and we just kind of fell in love with her. We just kind of said we’re working on this thing "The Hitcher” and it was early on.
When this script was being developed, she was always the person who we had in mind and we kind of kept her up to speed on what was happening with it. It was always Sophia’s movie. That was kind of by design. She fits the bill for us. We thought that she was likeable and, at the same time, she can carry that gun and blow his head off at the end. That worked out. As far as Zack, Zack had a much more torturous process to getting this role. Zach was a guy who we really wanted to be in the "Chainsaw” movie that we had just finished. For whatever reason it came down to Zach and this other guy and the other guy got the role. We loved him and you gotta choose an actor.
I mean Sophia is really hot and you’ve got to choose a guy who you believe is such a cool guy because she can get any guy she wants. But you’ve got to get a guy that’s like a real guy’s guy. When you’re casting actors that was always a hard thing for us to find, a guy who you believe is going to drive a [Oldsmobile] 442 and who can land Sophia and who can be in those situations and it was like Zach kept coming back. We didn’t want to cut him and we kept on seeing other actors for lack of a better term, bigger names or other people who are more well know because Zach, to his credit, doesn’t have very many credits.
He did one show and that was pretty much it. But he just kept coming back and every time he came back, he was better and better, and by the end of it, you can’t think of the role any other way. He was the only guy who nailed it six times. I think you actually did come back six times. After the sixth time, how do you not give the guy the role? He kept coming back. I mean no one else had that longevity. (to Zach) Tell them what else you did.
Knighton: I also happened to be in the habit of drinking beers at the time and I had to drop a few pounds. I actually lost like I think it was 13 pounds in five days
Q: Did you stop drinking beer?
Fuller: He stopped everything actually.
Knighton: I realized that I’m not the pretty boy type and the type that you usually see in this sort of film. I just thought that I’d try to improve myself physically and mentally for the thing.
Fuller: For Sean too. It was very simple. For "The Hitcher” we were looking for a Sean Bean type. You know, we never thought we’d actually get Sean Bean. (Laughs) We were looking for this great elegant actor who was going to play this role and we had checked on Sean and his dates weren’t working and it wasn’t good. Sean had just worked with our partner Michael Bay on "The Island” and I think Drew and I went to Michael and said, ‘C’mon, let’s get Sean. Let’s try and figure it out.’ And we moved some dates around and then his dates opened up and we just got lucky. I mean that was fortuitous.
Q: There was a rumor online a few months ago about Naomi Watts being up for The Birds. Any truth to that?
Fuller: No actress or actor is going to commit to something without a script. We’ve sat down with her and conceptually I think we all want to make the same movie, but until we have a script and a director, I think it’s a little premature. But we’re all talking and she’s who we’d like to have as the lead.(to Andrew) Right?
Fuller: Thank you. (Laughs)
Q: Dave, coming from the music video world and this being your first feature, what do you like best?
Meyers: I love movies. Videos, I guess the technical description is you’re marketing the product and that always keeps you sort of removed from the pleasure…I mean there’s MTV Awards and stuff like that that sort of fulfill the void, but [with] movies you are creating the product and you are the product and you’re creating something that is then marketed and that allows you to have a much more possessory relationship with it.It’s more true to the directing craft.
Q: What else do you have planned for the DVD?
Meyers: I don’t know. Whatever Brad and Drew let me put on there. There’s a lot of material that we can play with.
Q: What about the motel scene?
Fuller: All five of them.
Meyers: I think it would be fun to have that. We actually have five complete scenes of how we addressed the motel each with their own flaw.
Fuller: And a couple endings too.
Form: We have alternative endings.
Meyers: We have two endings. Yeah. Sean dies in both, but…
Fuller: It’s how he dies.
Meyers: Yes, it’s just how he dies.
Sean: What a surprise. (Laughs)
Q: Sean, in the rain scene, when the car comes up, is that you or someone else? Did you enjoy the pouring rain?
Bean: Yeah, it was quite warm in Austin at that time of year. It felt a bit steamy actually. It always feels good to me.
Q: Did you have any special training in terms of how to use a knife or how to use your weapons?
Bush: He’s just a bad ass. (Laughs)
Bean: Not really. I sort of used weapons a few times before. I can’t remember what I was using this time, but they are all the same really. I felt quite comfortable with that.
Q: Sean, any plans to go back to the Sharpe series at some point?
Bean: I don’t know. We did one in India last year called Sharpe’s Challenge which was a lot of fun. It would be good to maybe resurrect it one day so long as there is something to talk about. As long as we’re not just going on for the sake of it because it was popular and it was successful. But I would like to think that there is life in it as long as it’s meaningful and we are not just repeating what we’ve done already.It’s particularly, obviously a favorite of mine.