Anton Yelchin (Star Trek, The Beaver) takes on the role of Charley Brewster, a high school kid living a pretty normal life until a vampire (played by Colin Farrell) moves in next door in DreamWorks Pictures' 2011 version of Fright Night. Imogen Poots (Jane Eyre) co-stars as his pretty girlfriend, Amy, who initially believes he's lost his mind until Jerry decides to wage war on Charley.
This remake of the still-popular 1985 horror comedy has a darker tone - Farrell's vampire isn't a romantic figure - that sets it apart from the original Fright Night. The action's amped up and, as Yelchin explains in our interview, Jerry just wants to kill people.
Anton Yelchin and Imogen Poots Fright Night Interview
When you were first approached to star in this version of Fright Night, did you have any doubts about taking on a role in a remake?
Anton Yelchin: "No. I think I read it and it was a good story, you know? It was a good character arc. The original is fantastic but I have a lot of respect for Craig and so the fact that the script was solid and that Craig was doing it, and then Colin signed on, it all seemed like the elements were coming together. And now having seen the film I can say that...I don't want to say, 'I was right! I knew it!'...but you know what I mean. It was sort of justified confidence, because I think the script was respectful to the original but also very conscious of the fact that teenagers had changed, to a certain extent. That the pop culture realm, the mass availability of information, that changes the nature of people's understanding of the horror genre and what horror is. Marti [Noxon] said at the panel [at Comic Con] that it's a Twilight world and so basically she just adapted the same characters and the same plot to the Twilight world. So these are suburban kids that are very aware of what's going on, and then this monster moves in next door."
"I would argue that the original film is about the changes in the horror genre, and now it's about the way that we respond to certain signifiers in the horror genre. It's still the same idea. [Laughing] And so, yeah, that's a very long, rambling answer."
There are a lot of vampire movies and shows. Were you worried about getting in on that genre and whether there might be an overload?
Anton Yelchin: "No, because this is not a suburban melodrama about lovesick vampires. It's about a vampire that's a monster, you know? And one of my favorite vampire movies is Nosferatu. Nosferatu has a palpable sense of dread, and it's a pre-war dread and that's nothing to do with this. But that's the idea, that the vampire can represent destruction and evil, this dangerous, predator-like quality that just wants to bring evil and destruction. That's what this is. I mean, there was no, 'Maybe Jerry is not evil. Maybe Jerry doesn't want to kill.' No, Jerry wants to f--king kill you! It's as simple as that. And so I read it and I wasn't worried because that's different. I think it also brings back certain traditional qualities, certain traditional kind of ways of representing the vampire in the story. It goes against the grain of making them melodramatic."
What traditional vampire qualities does it go against?
Anton Yelchin: "Nosferatu was made in, I want to say, in the 1920s so the vampires always had the potential to represent dread and destruction. And so in that way I guess it's a traditional kind of quality. I feel like we use vampires because it's more politically correct and you can obviously make a ton of f--king money by making them vehicles for suburban drama or melodrama. But, I like that in this film, Jerry is going to kill you."
The original film has a totally differently tone. Did you get that impression when you initially read the script, that the tone of this wasn't trying to go ofter the original's?
Anton Yelchin: "Yeah. And I mean there are certain elements of camp. There are definite moments with the stake where David Tennant yells, 'Charlie!' and then it cuts to the stake. There are definite moments of camp, but it goes against that. But I think that the '80s had a lot of that. I'm a big Troma film fan and Troma's total blown-out over-the-top campy. So, this one has those elements but it definitely goes for the gore and then it goes for the reality of whenever you see Jerry bite into a victim it doesn't feel campy, it just feels horrific which is great. I love it."
Can you talk about working with David Tennant?
Anton Yelchin: "He's great. We got along so well. One of the defining things about David is I remember him...it's interesting because you get together with somebody and don't really know what to expect. He's a very disarming human being. He's just very easy-going and light and wonderful off screen, and then just a pleasure to work with - and so funny. Even the thing he did for the panel, that's his sense of humor. It's just light and he's great. We got together and there were heavy scenes, there were four-page scenes that we did."
Did you have any time to do any bonding before shooting started?
Imogen Poots: "Well, we didn't. I kind of ruined that by ruining your film."
Anton Yelchin: "She did. She was awful."
Imogen Poots: "No, I mean your camera film - but also your film. We went to see a film and we went to get some food before and we were standing in the queue. I took his camera and was fiddling with it..."
Anton Yelchin: "She opened the back."
Imogen Poots: "And managed to expose the film to the light."
Anton Yelchin: [Laughing] "I realized at that point that she was a moron and didn't want to hang out with her."
Imogen Poots: "And that was at the beginning and it was like during the bonding time."
Anton Yelchin: "We all hung out quite a bit, I feel."
Imogen Poots: "We did."
Anton Yelchin: "Because in Albuquerque you guys were down the street from me."
Imogen Poots: "Chris [Mintz-Plasse] and I were in a different place from you."
Anton Yelchin: "You were down the street from me in like a hotel."
Imogen Poots: "There wasn't really anywhere to go, as well."
Anton Yelchin: "Yeah. Remember, you came over and we watched movies at my place? It was great."
Imogen Poots: "Just like Friends."
Anton Yelchin: "Just like Friends. Who are you on Friends?"
Imogen Poots: "I would be Joey. You're Monica."
Anton Yelchin: "I don't know the names. Who's Monica?"
Imogen Poots: "Okay..."
Anton Yelchin: [Laughing] "Oh, sorry I'm not in the Friends loop."
Imogen Poots: "Whatever."
Anton Yelchin: "Okay, now you can see what our relationship was really like."
You were saying that Craig Gillespie was one of the reasons you wanted to do the movie. What is it that made you want to work with him?
Anton Yelchin: "I think Craig, and I don't know if it's because he started as an indie director - I don't want to just say that indie films just represent this freedom - but to a certain extent he just gave us a lot of room. And lwhen I was doing stuff with Imogen, he knew what I really respect about you is that you are so free. Craig embraces freedom, you know? Freedom to just do whatever you want and make the moments as exciting and interesting as possible. He really let us just do whatever."
Imogen Poots: "Yeah, he did. But, also, he has a really light energy about him. No matter how dark the subject matter of the day, or if people's energy was dropping down, you just want to do a good job for him at the end of the day. He's a really stellar guy."
Anton Yelchin: Great guy. Awesome guy, a beautiful human being."
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Fright Night opens in theaters on August 19, 2011.
More Fright Night Interviews:
Exclusive Christopher Mintz-Plasse interview / Colin Farrell and Director Craig Gillespie interview