Have no fear: this is a spoiler-free interview with the lovely Kristen Connolly in support of one of 2012's most entertaining films, The Cabin in the Woods. Trust me when I tell you that the less you know about this particular horror comedy, the more you'll enjoy taking in a screening. And heading out to the theater to see this long-delayed film from the creative minds of Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard is something you should definitely do.
The basics: five friends head out in a motor home to spend a fun weekend in a cabin in the woods. What happens there is totally unexpected.
Exclusive Interview with Kristen Connolly:
How do you talk about a movie you can't talk about?
Kristen Connolly: "It's not the kind of movie that you can say all that much about. It's really hard to do interviews about it. The way that I've been talking about it is the experience of shooting it and also the things that I think are cool about it that people might not know, just from watching a trailer. One of the things about the trailer is that it looks like it's just a scary movie when really there's so much comedy in it. There's so much other just crazy stuff in it. You kind of get a little sense of the crazy twists and turns, but you don't really get a sense of just how funny the movie is when you see the trailer."
It takes you completely by surprise. I didn't expect it.
Kristen Connolly: "No, nobody does. It's like, 'What the hell is this?' I feel like it's a roller coaster ride where you just sort of go with it. It's better when you don't know what's going to happen and you just ride the ride. When I've gone to the screenings, I see people coming out and they're like, 'What was that?!'"
That said, what happens in the cabin is something you can actually talk about without giving too much away to audiences, right?
Kristen Connolly: "Yeah. The cabin is crazy! And all of that stuff was really fun to shoot because we were outside, we were in the woods in Vancouver and it's beautiful. It was really fun."
How tough is it to act like you're scared to death for such an extended period of time?
Kristen Connolly: "It's actually really exhausting, which I didn't realize going into it. I was like, 'Oh, a horror movie - it'll be fun and it'll be easy.' But it's actually an enormous amount of energy to be scared. And our director, Drew, really pushed us to be really in it, in a very honest and engaged way. He wanted it to feel really real, so he really pushed us to go there emotionally. And to be in that state of terror...because then you're working 18 hours a day...it's exhausting. I would go home and just collapse. Thank god there were people to help me get the make up off! It was tough."
And then you would have to get back into it the next day.
Kristen Connolly: "Yes, and then you're right back into it the next day. A lot of it's at night because of what you see in the movie. And any horror movie is always at night, I'm sure. Nobody watches a horror movie that takes place at 10:30 in the morning."
Well, how difficult was it to find that same level of feeling terrorized every single day?
Kristen Connolly: "It was really tough. Especially in this movie I feel like one thing leads to the next. You're kind of flying by the seat of your pants - the characters are - and just sort of getting out alive in each situation and then you're hit with another one. You have to sort of remember everything that came before when you're shooting each scene. It can be hard to do, especially if you're tired and your brain is fried. You're like, 'What the hell? Great. What scene is this?'"
Was it shot in order or did you jump around?
Kristen Connolly: "Kind of. I think they tried to shoot it in sequence, but it's Vancouver and there are elements. There was a lot of rain. It rained for about a month straight, so there was a lot of shifting that took place. That's just part of it. Yeah, when it would change you had to kind of remind yourself of what happened."
"One of the things that was great is that scene when we're all together driving to the cabin in the RV, we shot at the end. I think it was the last day that all five of us were on set together. It was so nice because after shooting the whole movie where we're all just like a mess, we were all clean and happy and dry and warm. It was heaven! We were like, 'This is the best.'"
And that probably also helped filming that particular scene at the end because by then you'd spent so much time together it should have been easier to act like friends.
Kristen Connolly: "Yeah, absolutely."
How easy was it to bond with this cast?
Kristen Connolly: "It wasn't hard at all. We all really hit it off, which was lucky. We all got along really well. We were all staying in the same hotel and we had a lot of intense stuff to do together, and I think that sort of bonds you closer. [Laughing] I mean, I suppose if it's people you don't like, it could just make them more annoying..."
You would be happy about their possible impending death on screen.
Kristen Connolly: [Laughing] Yeah, like, 'When is so-and-so going to die?' But, no, everybody was awesome. We had a great time. We took a road trip up to Whistler and it was kind of what you see in the movie. Like, Chris [Hemsworth] was driving and I think Jesse [Williams] was in the front seat giving directions. I think Fran [Kranz] and I were in the back looking out the window."
Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon are quite a team. Did you immediately look at the script and know you wanted to be a part of The Cabin in the Woods?
Kristen Connolly: "Well, you know what's funny is I didn't get to read it until after I'd been offered the role. They were being really secretive about it, so I had a fake audition sides. I think that in mine I was getting attacked by a pterodactyl; I was being chased by a pterodactyl. It was my character and Chris Hemsworth's character, Curt, and we're having this whole conversation: 'We've got to get to the tunnels! These monsters, what are they?' And there were pterodactyls and it was crazy. I was like, 'This movie is called Cabin in the Woods. Where are these pterodactyls coming from?' It was crazy. So, I didn't get to read it."
"I went to LA for my audition and I met Joss and Drew. Fran was actually cast already and they had us read a scene together. And then once they offered me the role, somebody sent me the actual script and I got to read it. I was like, 'Where's the pterodactyls? Wait a second...' But, yeah, it was crazy. It was one of the only scripts where I read it from beginning to end. I didn't get up and do stuff during it. I actually read everybody's lines - not just mine."
How close was that script to what we see on the screen?
Kristen Connolly: "Very close. I mean, there were things that were cut probably for time or for clarity. But, for the most part, what I read on the page is almost exactly what you see on the screen."
I can't imagine that you'd play around much with Drew and Joss' writing.
Kristen Connolly: "No, not at all. I come from working on soaps where it's almost like nobody cares what you say. It's like, 'Just say something.' People would change the lines left and right; you just make something up. It's like, 'Yeah, good enough. Keep going.' So I was a nervous wreck. I was like, 'I don't want to screw up one word. These guys really know how to write.' So, yeah, it was crazy."
Was Joss Whedon on the set very often?
Kristen Connolly: "He was definitely around all the time. I mean, Drew was definitely the director. It never felt like a co-directing thing. It never felt like anybody was the director but Drew. But Joss was around quite a bit and he was always there to hang out with on set, or just to talk about movies or anything. He was very present, but in a nice way. I think we all felt very supported."
Are you a horror fan?
Kristen Connolly: "I am. I sort of stopped watching horror movies for a while. I saw Scream when I was in high school and I loved it. I had seen a bunch of horror movies."
This is like a Scream type of movie.
Kristen Connolly: "There are a lot of comparisons and I can see where they come from, but it is very different. That it feels fun, I think, is the bottom line. I think that Joss and Drew really wanted to create something that felt fun, like where you go to a theater and it's fun to scream and laugh with people. In a way, it's something that I don't think I've seen anything like in a long time."
"I really don't like the torture-porn movies. I hate those movies. They are just awful to watch. It's like, 'Why am I watching somebody get their toenail ripped off?' I don't like it. I like feeling scared, but I don't like feeling sick. And I think this film, in a way, when I talked to them when they offered me the role and I was talking to them about the movie and what their vision was for it, they were very clear that that was not what they were after. In a way, this is almost a response to that."
Cabin in the Woods is fun.
Kristen Connolly: "It is. And a good question to ask is why as a society do we want to see young people tortured all the time?"
There are zombies in this and other creatures that we won't describe specifically, but is there one creature that stood out from the pack as the one that truly scared you?
Kristen Connolly: "Oh my gosh, yeah. Most of them were so crazy. I think the evil molesting tree - or the angry molesting tree - is hilarious. You're like, 'What?!' I know that there's one in Evil Dead that grabs the girl and she comes in and says, 'I was just molested by a tree,' and everyone is like, 'Whatever,' and keeps drinking beer. I remember watching that because they gave it to us for research and thinking, 'What is this? This is so crazy!' The angry molesting tree is good, and I like the little ballerina. I think she's terrifying. She's just the sweetest little girl just walking around and I was like, 'This is really scary.'"
What was the set like when you're walking around with people in all these different types of creature make-up?
Kristen Connolly: "It was really weird. Especially because a lot of the time you're barely getting any sleep and you're just like, 'What the hell is going on?! Is this my job?' It's bizarre. You're at the salad bar and you look up and there's someone with an ax through his face. All you can do is say hi."
You filmed this so long ago. Is it tough to talk about it?
Kristen Connolly: "You know, it's funny. My memories of it are very vivid because it was, in a lot of ways, the most exciting and hardest thing I had ever done and have ever done, still. It was really hard. I think we all cared about the movie a lot and when I read the script and when we started rehearsing and shooting, it was something that - and Fran and I have talked about this a lot - we felt very much like it was personal to us. You know, for it to not come out for a while it was like a little frustrating but it was also that I never thought, 'What was that thing that I did?' It meant a lot to me."
Are you surprised that after all this time there really haven't been spoilers released? People seem to be trying to be extraordinarily careful in how they discuss it.
Kristen Connolly: "I think it's awesome that people are doing that. It's so cool and I think it really speaks to how much people respect Joss and Drew."
That's true - and how much they respect the movie.
Kristen Connolly: "You know, there have been one or two things that people have spilled, but you have to really look for them to find them to find them. It's not like it's all over the place. I think it's really cool. I mean, how often do you get people doing that?"
I looked for spoilers online to see if there are people trying to ruin the experience and couldn't really find any.
Kristen Connolly: "They haven't. People have been amazing. It's really, really cool. And it feels sort of like there's a coming together or something where it's being protected. I think it's also part of what makes the movie is the not knowing anything about it. It's nice to see people taking care of their friends. I feel like especially today when everything is a spoiler and everything is online, you can find anything, and to not find spoilers is really cool."
After putting yourself through this kind of an experience where it was so intense every day, would you do it again?
Kristen Connolly: "Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. It's really hard but I kind of feel like it's not really worth doing if you're not going to give it 100%. And everybody on this movie gave it 100% - the cast, the crew, Joss, Drew, everybody, the visual effects, the hair and make-up people. Everybody worked really hard and you could feel that people cared about it. And I think that watching the movie - maybe I'm just biased - but I think that as a viewer you can tell that people cared about it. And that all rolls down from the top."
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The Cabin in the Woods hits theaters on April 13, 2012.