The Hitcher - Interview


The Hitcher: Star Sean Bean
On the set in Austin, Texas: June, 2006
By: Slice

BD: We’ve been watching some of your stuff on the monitor down there,
it’s hot down there.
SB: Oh, you’ve been down there?
BD: Yeah, we were watching your altercation with Zach.
SB: Yeah.
BD: So how’s the shoot going for you so far?
SB: Good, I’ve been here just over a week now and we’ve done quite a
fair amount of work. I mean, we started up with a scene, it was the scene
in the car with Jim and Grace when we first meet and so you know, we
did a big chunk there. Which was probably good because we didn’t really
know each other in the scene and we didn’t really know each other as
people, so that’s good. It’s been really good and really exciting. It really
comes alive, really comes off the page.
BD: Had you seen the original film?
SB: Yes, how long ago was it?
BD: Almost 20 years ago.
SB: Yeah, I went to see it at the cinema and it made quite an impression.
BD: Did you revisit it at all before this?
SB: No, that was the last time I saw it, maybe 15-20 years ago, when it
first came out in cinemas. And you know when I was going to start doing this,
I didn’t really want to revisit it at all because I thought it was a good film and
an exciting film, I just didn’t want to have something in my head that wasn’t
going to be in this film. I always sort of like to make the part mine rather
than seeing someone else play a role and then recreating that.
BD: Does that come from your background in theater? Because I know that a
lot of theater actors believe that no one actor owns a role, they kind of rent
it for a while.
SB: Yeah, I suppose with something like film, it’s different because doing
something like Lord of the Rings, for instance, I’m playing a character in
that, it’s something you don’t very often get the chance to do and that’s
sort of set in film for the next 20 years or whenever they decide to make
another Lord of the Rings, which you know, is probably doubtful in the
near future. So I suppose with theater you can, like Shakespeare, there’s
many people that play many parts like Macbeth and Hamlet, Othello,
people are always playing those parts all over all over the place, whereas
on film, in something like “The Hitcher” it’s something that’s being done on
stage or anything. And so it’s good to have to opportunity to do something
like this and sort of stamp your authority on it and create a character.
BD: What do you see as John Ryder, your character’s motivations for
terrorizing these kids?
SB: We’re still sort of figuring that out at the moment. It’s kind of a journey
for him, it’s probably a journey he’s done before and I think he just feels
kind of frustrated and amused by the fact that he can get away with
anything and nobody’s stopping him. He’s pushing the boundaries and
nobody’s pushing back. He wants to know where to stop and when to stop
and how to stop. I think he’s kind of happy about it but he thinks if there’s
someone up there or some kind of spirit, then why is he not stopping me
from doing what I’m doing? Who is going to stop me from doing what I’m
doing? Maybe I see Grace as a woman who can but you know, it’s not in the
text, it’s not mentioned of him having a previous life. I imagine him as sort
of a ghostly character that lives in the shadows that does this thing probably
on a quite regular basis and gets away with it and sees no reason to stop
and he probably gets pleasure from it and finds some sort of peace in that
BD: He’s kind of a traveling angel of death type character?
SB: Yeah, he’s not particularly vicious. I don’t even know if you ever see him
killing anyone in this film. In fact, you don’t see him killing anyone, you see
the aftermath and you see the results of what he’s done. But he’s not a
particularly angry man or a vicious killer, he’s very controlled, methodical and
quite charming in a sense.
BD: He seems like he’s inhabiting his own realm, he’s just on a different plane .
SB: Yeah, he’s on a different level really I suppose.
BD: In the original film, in the first scene where he meets the C. Thomas Howell
character, there’s immediately a disturbing presence about him, does your i
nterpretation of the character start off as a friendly guy and then he segways
into who he really is as something darker or is he menacing from the minute
he gets into that car?
SB: Sort of. He’s pretty lucid at the beginning, seems pretty friendly, a quite
affable guy, the sort of guy that you maybe would give a lift to a motel.
I didn’t want to sort of start him off as the bad guy right from the beginning,
I think it’s more interesting to see…there’s not much time to show his friendly
side so I thought I’d make the most of it at the beginning and try to portray
other aspects of his character, the more human side to his character. From
then on, once they give him the lift, he’s pretty ruthless.
BD: What was it about the role or the project in general that attracted you?
I know that you were just coming off another movie and you were probably
very tired from that production so what was it that grabbed you and made
you say you’re going to do this?
SB: I just read the script and I was very excited by it. It was a real page turner
and it was very exciting and I thought there was a lot I could do with the
part that wasn’t restricted in what you could do. There wasn’t a lot of exposition
to the character, you don’t have to explain things, he just is who he is,
therefore that gives you a kind of freedom to experiment and try things out.
I thought there was a lot of potential there and working with Dave, I’ve worked
with Michael Bay before and I enjoyed that experience. With Dave, he’s got
such good ideas, he’s very stylish, very inventive, and I think with the script
being so good I thought a combination of those factors made it very appealing
to me. And it’s something unusual, it’s not very often you get to play this
sort of phantom of death and the opportunity to take things to extremes
which I like to do if at all possible.
BD: A lot of the other actors and the producers commented on how well you
can be in the character and be evil and then snap out of it and ask “are you
okay?” How do you manage that as an actor to go between evil villain and t
he normal you?
SB: I’ve never found it a problem really, there are some characters where
you’re working very intensely for a certain amount of time where you take
away some residue of that character and that can filter into your everyday
life but I’ve always found it quite easy to snap in and out of a character.
I try to find out as much as I can about what I’m doing, do my research and
study so that when it comes to the moment of really putting it on the floor
and acting, I kinda know what I’m doing. I think it’s too much to carry that
weight of a character around in your daily life. I just think I can compartmentalize
that I suppose which I always have done.
BD: Do you think that actors that do carry it with them, is that a sort of
narcissistic or self-destructive behavior for them to bring it home with them?
Should they be able to turn it on and off?
SB: I don’t know, I suppose every actor has their own approach to their work,
it just happens that I try to distinguish between reality and fiction. I feel that
otherwise, being the person that I am, I would get a little disturbed by it.
I mean, everyone has their own approach and that has to be respected.
Every one has their own method of work and as long as you portray it as
truthfully as possible and immerse yourself in your work when the crunch
comes then it doesn’t really matter how you approach.
BD: Are you more at peace now with the idea the Hollywood has generally
cast you as the heavy, even though overseas you’re Sharpe?
SB: I don’t really have a problem with that. I really enjoy playing these kind
of sinister, idiosyncratic roles which have got meat and juice to them. So you
know, I don’t have a problem with that and I feel as though I can flip from one
to another, I have the ability to do that. So it’s not as though I have a problem
being the bad guy. It’s just the way you’re perceived in certain circles, perhaps in Hollywood I’m seen as kind of a bad guy because I’ve played a lot of good
bad guys, if you know what I mean, successful bad guys, convincing bad guys,
so therefore I suppose people approach you to play them again.
BD: A lot of the villains you’ve played are kind of justified in what they’re doing,
at least in their own mind. There’s an emotional justification for what they’re
doing, whether it’s in Patriot Games or even in GoldenEye. Is that something
you’re cognizant of when you’re picking villain roles or is it just so happens
that that’s kind of how it is?
SB: I suppose it’s more of a rounded character, more three-dimensional
character. You do look for the human qualities and virtues if you’re playing a
villain especially. Everybody’s got that capacity for the dark side, for hatred,
and anger and darkness, I think it’s just a matter of what level it’s at. You
know, we all feel that at some point in our lives and I suppose for some
people, you feel it more than others, I mean, the characters that I’ve played
have often felt it quite a lot.
BD: Did you audition for the role of Bond back in ’87 or something and what
do you think of Daniel Craig?
SB: No, I didn’t audition for it, there were sort of rumors going around that
I was up for the part and I might’ve been at the time. I was before I played
006, that sort of put the kibosh on me playing Bond. Many actors look to play
James Bond, so no exception, but I thought Pierce Brosnan made a great Bond
and I enjoyed working with him on GoldenEye. And I think they made a good
choice with Daniel Craig. I worked with him on Sharpe, he was in that, and
I met him on several occasions over the last few years and I think he’ll do a
good job. He looks the part.
BD: Do you have any favorite villain characters? In your head, who’s the
quintessential bad guy?
SB: I remember Boris Karloff and all those kinds of guys, I used to watch all
those films and I suppose those spring to mind. And Anthony Hopkins in
“Silence of the Lambs”, I think he played that to perfection. I mean James
Cagney and Edward G. Roberts and all of those guys, I know they played bad
guy gangsters, but at that rate, with a very believable, human side to them and
charm. You could go with them and sympathize with them and that’s something
I try and do, try and make people sympathize with your cause, even though it’s
not a very admirable one. You’ve got to allow people to get into your world and
feel sorry.


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