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SXSW 2012: CABIN IN THE WOODS, Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford Interview

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Cabin in the Woods was written with Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford in mind for the part of the two, I want to say antagonists, but they could just as easily be protagonists. Part of the beauty of this movie is you really get to decide, it is a thinking man’s horror film. Both men said they had no doubts they wanted to do this film as soon as they read the script, even though neither knew initially that the characters were written specifically for them. Jenkins and Whitford are both well established actors and even with all their experience they seemed to be blown away by the script and direction of Cabin in the Woods.

Press: Joss said he wrote the parts with you in mind. When you received the script was it so obvious that it was written specifically for you? Did you feel like you needed to do these parts?

Richard: I think we both felt we really wanted it. I didn’t know he (Joss Whedon) had done that, but it took me about three pages to know I wanted to do it.

Bradley: I said this a bunch, but what really is miraculous about this is you have two guys who are great, imaginative storytellers who said, what would we write if we could write anything.

Richard: I used to think it was a bet that they made. They wrote this unbelievably complicated film and then they flipped a coin to see who would direct it. As good as the script is, the movie is better, which is amazing to see.

Bradley: It’s amazing he (Drew Goddard)’s a first time director because when you’re reading the script…how do you make the elevator scene work, you could really screw up (with all the kids) and trying to keep the human element in it. It was a shock seeing it, to know the original concept was reached with that kind of clarity, it was amazing to me.

Press: Your characters fall into this moral grey area, you’re doing horrible things to these people, but it’s for the greater good.

Bradley: I think it’s like working for the Humane Society.

Richard: I think that’s a good image, someone who loves animals, but has to put some to sleep.

Press: Bradley, what are your general thoughts on Mermen?

Bradley: I didn’t know what a merman was and then it became almost fetishy and creepy. I just want to see it. The merman would get dried out under the lights and they had to moisturize. It was a great, creepy detail.  (Bradley went on to regale us with his uber creepy obsession through slightly nonsensical rants that I couldn’t really piece together for this article, suffice to say it was entertaining).

Press: From a shooting standpoint when did you guys start shooting your scenes? Did you have footage to react off of?

Richard: Yes, we had some footage. The kids filmed half of theirs first and then we came in while they took a break, then they came back and filmed the rest.

Press: When you’re reading the script do you think how much gore is too much?

Bradley: I struggle with it, I have kids. You worry that it’s going to be exploitative. I remember when I saw Pulp Fiction, I grew up Quaker. When I was asked what I thought of the movie, I said it was great, but I want to take Quentin Tarantino and slam his finger in a car door so he knows it’s not funny. I have mixed feelings about [someone laughing about someone’s head being blown off]. I don’t think it’s exploitative in this, I’m fine with violence with consequences. I’m fine with something that I think is an interesting look at why people have to watch this [kind of thing] .

It was easy to see in the interview that Jenkins and Whitford are very proud to be a part of this film. There is a very evident, strong professional respect and appreciation that developed out of all of these wonderful artists working together to bring this script to life and that was the most gratifying thing that I took away from the interview.  Look for Cabin in the Woods to be released this April!

What is your favorite Bradley Whitford and/or Richard Jenkins character?  Both actors have had brushes with horror in the past.  How do you think they’ll do in the key roles in this horror flick?

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @CatEdison for updates on interviews and articles!

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The Author

Cat Edison

Cat Edison

Cat is an Austinite once removed with an affinity for film, TV, comics, graphic novels, and really anything she can read or watch. She gets emotionally invested in movie, television and literary characters, to an unhealthy degree. Cat has always had a passion for writing and there is little she loves more. Hopeful cynic and funny lady.