The Hitcher (JoBlo.com Interview)
Set: The Hitcher 6/6
Nov. 10, 2006
Source: JoBlo.com/Arrow in the Head
by: Ammon Gilbert
The visit to the set of THE HITCHER remake has been one wild ride, as we
had a chance to chat it up with director Dave Meyers, producer Brad Fuller
and stars Zack Knighton & Sophia Bush. But what I looked forward to the
most was talking with legendary badass Sean Bean, who has taken over
the role of Ryder, the hitch-hiking psycho Rutger Hauer made famous.
How will he do filling those big shoes? Read on to find out:
Whats your scene tonight?
Well, I havent received my call sheet yet, so I dont really know.
I mean, I know what Im doing- Im sitting in the cab of the big rig and I
jump in its hard to tell when youre not on the set. Asking what its like,
cant really envision whats going on. Its pretty much the end piece before
the police finally arrive.
Youve been doing a lot of horror movies lately. Do you like them, or is it
just whats being offered?
I quite like them, Ive always like watching them, particularly thrillers.
Im not really into watching people get pulled apart. You know, limbs
chopped off and their heads blown off. I kind of like the suspense, and it
scares me more than anything. The kind of Hitchcock type. You dont
actually see Rider kill anyone, except of course at the end. But you do
see the aftermath, which is much more powerful, I think anyway. Im
excited to see scary movies, I like being scared- most people do anyhow.
I just like that sensation. I like it. The thing about playing the part in
the movie is that you know whats coming and you know whats happening
next, so its not quite as scary because you see all the workings, you know
Whats it like filling the role as THE HITCHER this time around?
Good. I saw the film when it first came out at the cinema with my
girlfriend at the time, and we watched it and I was very impressed by it.
It was a disturbing piece of work. I havent seen it since then, so I
wanted to start afresh with my interpretation of it and I didnt want
my portrayal of the role to be colored by something that had been done
before, as I said Ive seen it and I wanted to stay on my way.
Have you heard anything from Rutger Hauer then?
No, no I havent. He made quite an impact on people. I think that for
many people its sort of nostalgic. I think for the people who have seen it,
I think the script more impressed me, the scripts a real page turner. The
characters are good, the character roles are really three dimensional and
theyre not sort of cardboard cut-outs. So theres a lot of potential there,
and I feel as though theres a great deal of a jump for the character that
Im playing and I think Dave Meyers, the director, feels the same way.
So that was part of the attraction. Theyre making them more rounded
and more psychologically interesting.
I have a two-part question about your co-stars. They all say theyre
afraid of you.
Did they? Good. [Laughs]
They both said they really look up to you. How does that make you feel?
Oh, thats quite flattering. Ive been doing this for awhile now, and
sometimes I forget how long Ive been actually doing it for. Ive been
fortunate enough to be able to play what I want to do. Ive had it good,
I suppose. Its good to work with people like Zack and Sophia, theyre very
good actors and theyre passionate about what theyre doing. And they
play the part, theyre direct and theres no side or pretentiousness about it.
They are very much involved with what they are doing and its flattering to
know they feel that way. I just wish I could be a bit friendlier with them.
[Laughs] I cant.
Is that part of getting in to the head of your character?
Yeah. Im not a method actor, but I feel, obviously, every part you play
theres some psychological impact in your character and the way you see
things during the time youre playing the role. I wouldnt say Ive gone out
of my way to be unfriendly or intimidating towards them, but I dont think it
hurts to be doing it that way. I can joke around and I laugh and I like to do
that, Im not at the point where Im not going to talk and Im not gonna laugh,
you know. But when Im working and youre in the scene during the scary
parts, I think its important to have certain focus and concentration
established because at the end of the day, thats all that matters- what
you see on the screen.
Has playing Rider given you any nightmares by being inside his head for
I think hes quite disturbing on occasion, you know I watch television to
see parallels between the character and certain individuals that do some
monstrous things and become killers, so theres that kind of scary element
to playing the part, which I guess is what hes all about. Its fun to do,
but there is that sort of underlying feeling of being not quite right,
unpleasant and its unsettling and disturbing to play this kind of role.
Im not going to go and have nightmares though. It does have some
psychological effect. You know, you find those feelings coming through
when youre playing the part and its quite disturbing and quite unsettling.
You realize just what type of guy youre actually portraying. But, I suppose
thats the way you would feel if you were a mass murdered. I do and try
and keep the acting just when Im in the role.
What are a few of your favorite scenes that youve shot so far?
Theyve all been quite memorable. The way theyve been filmed, the
first time we meet and I get in the car with them and were just chatting
away and Grace is in the back listening to her iPod and Jim is just driving
along and were just chatting. Rider suddenly flips and you just kind of
realize whats happening there and its truly horrific because youre in a
car in the middle of nowhere. That was quite an interesting, long scene.
You see that fear in Jim and Grace and theres this big switch in us all,
so that was a fun scene for me. But theyre all very powerful scenes with
them. I think every scene has been a real joy, and theres not been that
kid of experimental plot. Everything is much directed characterly, you
can see what hes feeling and its just a very powerful story.
Is Ryder an American?
Yeah, yeah Im playing him as an American- an American that could
be from anywhere, theres just a general American feel for the guy. Hes
got nothing specifically in his character or his actions that would place
him down to any particular area. He could be from anywhere. Like he
says, hes asked twice in the film, and he just says All over. Which is
quite spooky because he could be anyone, he could be a guy down the
street, that guy there reading a paper, and thats whats scary is that
he doesnt look scary, he doesnt have a scary face. Hes just this sort
of regular guy and thats whats challenging and exciting for me is that
hes that and you got to be careful.
Is that why you think they came to you with the role, because youre
such a regular guy?
Yeah. I wanted to present him as a regular guy to the point where
he cant be perceived as a regular guy. The short amount of time that hes
on film in the beginning, where hes not doing anything particularly
sadistic, I thought it was important to play him normal and very ordinary.
Because after that you already know that hes the bad guy. I feel like
that was in the past and I feel like thats the way we filmed it, that you
actually know who the bad guy is and I think thats interesting. I tried
to get as much mileage out of being a regular guy as I could because
the rest of the movie, theres no question.
How does he kill? Does he use guns, or does he set up other people to kill?
Hes very intelligent and hes very calculated, and hes very semantic.
Hes nice, but he will use whats in his grasp- he uses riffles, and pistols
and a telephone cord- I dont think it really matters to him. Theres no
real murder weapon of choice, he just uses whatevers at hand. He can
set people up to kill each other or to create havoc and confusion and fear
within this circle that he inhabits. He does it with no remorse and is quite
cold right up to the end. You wonder why people do things like this.
Sometimes there isnt a particular reason, he keeps murdering because
he can and nobodys stopped him yet, so why not? As he says in the
beginning- Why not?
If hes cold, does he get any sort of feel or satisfaction?
I think he probably could. To get some satisfaction from the fact that
he would like to pass that feeling on to someone else, to have someone
to identify with, or- I think with Grace, he feels as though hes quite
fascinated by her and by her independence and her strength and her
character. And he wants to pass on what he has on to her. I suppose
its sort of a way to spoil her, or corrupt her. I think he wants to be
stopped, but hell carry on until he is. Hes not the sort of guy whos
doing this and says please help me or stop me. I think theres a
combination of factors and feelings racing around in his head, and
theres not one particular reason why hes doing it. He says, if I can
carry on doing this, then Ill carry on doing this, why should I stop now?
He must be enjoying the feeling of power and that liberating feeling
that perhaps taking a life gives him.
After doing this movie, will you ever pick up a hitch hiker? Or have
you ever picked up a hitch hiker before doing this film?
I give people I know a ride, but Ive never stopped and Ive never
asked for one. I havent really. Not in the middle of nowhere. Ive maybe
considered doing it in a city or in a town, but with friends or other people.
But Ive never put myself in that situation. I know people who do it and
I think thats fine, it can be a good way to get around sometimes and
have a good chat and see the world, but its something that Ive
always been a bit hesitant about.
Are you looking forward to shooting in New Mexico and not shooting
at night anymore?
Yeah, I am. Weve been shooting nights now and it can be quite
confusing. When you have a day off, or a night off, you sort of loose
track, you get out of it.
Itll be awfully hot out there in the sun.
Yeah. I think I prefer the cold, because you can wrap up. Its been very
hot out here; its been sunny and humid.
Whats it like to work with Dave as hes a first time director? Is it a
different style with him than with others?
Hes very confident and hes a very visual filmmaker. Daves very
familiar with that kind of look, and theres moments and times when
the shots are very stylish and as Ive said, theres no loose materials
around, the nitty gritty is at the heart of the piece. Ive been very
impressed by working with him, hes always knows the piece inside
out and to hear about what he wants and what he wants to achieve
is always great. He has a great cameraman, Jims a great cameraman,
whos created this wonderful, claustrophobic piece of work in photography.
So after they go down, I like what Dave trying to do with these characters,
what hes trying to do, hes very much into trudging out every piece of
twisted kind of humor and thats something that I feel comfortable with.
When directors are looking into the character, not just as a set piece,
which he could, because hes a great visual director, but I think I
know what hes trying to achieve, that sort of visual side and thats
wonderful. It looks classic, it looks stylish, and moves along at great
But at the same time, from working with Kristoff (SILENT HILL) and
Dave, theyve always had this great interest and this great passion
and they bring out what the characters are feeling. Theyre very
visual directors, but they also have a sense of what the characters
are all about, and to an actor, thats very interesting. Its very
confident to know that the director feels the same way you do
and not just there as a set piece to scare. You try to find out the
idiosyncrasies and the habits that the character might do along the way.
Its actually quite challenging.
I'd like to say THANK YOU to Sean for meeting us off set at his hotel
just to talk with us for a few minutes. All in all, I had a blast on the
set of THE HITCHER remake, and while it pains me to say it, I'm
really looking forward to checking it out on the big screen. Be
sure to get your HITCHER fill on this February, when THE HITCHER
rides into theaters everywhere.
Return to the Main Features Page
Return to The Compleat Sean Bean