The Hitcher ( Interview)


Set: The Hitcher 6/6
Nov. 10, 2006
Source: 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:
What’s your scene tonight?
Sean Bean: Well, I haven’t received my call sheet yet, so I don’t really know.
I mean, I know what I’m doing- I’m sitting in the cab of the big rig and I
jump in… it’s hard to tell when you’re not on the set. Asking what it’s like,
can’t really envision what’s going on. It’s pretty much the end piece before
the police finally arrive.
You’ve been doing a lot of horror movies lately. Do you like them, or is it
just what’s being offered?
SB: I quite like them, I’ve always like watching them, particularly thrillers.
I’m 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 don’t
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. I’m
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 what’s coming and you know what’s happening
next, so it’s not quite as scary because you see all the workings, you know
what happens.
What’s it like filling the role as THE HITCHER this time around?
SB: 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 haven’t seen it since then, so I
wanted to start afresh with my interpretation of it and I didn’t want
my portrayal of the role to be colored by something that had been done
before, as I said I’ve seen it and I wanted to stay on my way.
Have you heard anything from Rutger Hauer then?
SB: No, no I haven’t. He made quite an impact on people. I think that for
many people it’s sort of nostalgic. I think for the people who have seen it,
I think the script more impressed me, the script’s a real page turner. The
characters are good, the character roles are really three dimensional and
they’re not sort of cardboard cut-outs. So there’s a lot of potential there,
and I feel as though there’s a great deal of a jump for the character that
I’m playing and I think Dave Meyers, the director, feels the same way.
So that was part of the attraction. They’re making them more rounded
and more psychologically interesting.
I have a two-part question about your co-stars. They all say they’re
afraid of you.
SB: Did they? Good. [Laughs]
They both said they really look up to you. How does that make you feel?
SB: Oh, that’s quite flattering. I’ve been doing this for awhile now, and
sometimes I forget how long I’ve been actually doing it for. I’ve been
fortunate enough to be able to play what I want to do. I’ve had it good,
I suppose. It’s good to work with people like Zack and Sophia, they’re very
good actors and they’re passionate about what they’re doing. And they
play the part, they’re direct and there’s no side or pretentiousness about it.
They are very much involved with what they are doing and it’s flattering to
know they feel that way. I just wish I could be a bit friendlier with them.
[Laughs] I can’t.
Is that part of getting in to the head of your character?
SB: Yeah. I’m not a method actor, but I feel, obviously, every part you play
there’s some psychological impact in your character and the way you see
things during the time you’re playing the role. I wouldn’t say I’ve gone out
of my way to be unfriendly or intimidating towards them, but I don’t think it
hurts to be doing it that way. I can joke around and I laugh and I like to do
that, I’m not at the point where I’m not going to talk and I’m not gonna laugh,
you know. But when I’m working and you’re in the scene during the scary
parts, I think it’s important to have certain focus and concentration
established because at the end of the day, that’s all that matters- what
you see on the screen.
Has playing Rider given you any nightmares by being inside his head for
SB: I think he’s 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 there’s that kind of scary element
to playing the part, which I guess is what he’s all about. It’s fun to do,
but there is that sort of underlying feeling of being not quite right,
unpleasant and it’s unsettling and disturbing to play this kind of role.
I’m not going to go and have nightmares though. It does have some
psychological effect. You know, you find those feelings coming through
when you’re playing the part and it’s quite disturbing and quite unsettling.
You realize just what type of guy you’re actually portraying. But, I suppose
that’s the way you would feel if you were a mass murdered. I do and try
and keep the acting just when I’m in the role.
What are a few of your favorite scenes that you’ve shot so far?
SB: They’ve all been quite memorable. The way they’ve been filmed, the
first time we meet and I get in the car with them and we’re just chatting
away and Grace is in the back listening to her iPod and Jim is just driving
along and we’re just chatting. Rider suddenly flips and you just kind of
realize what’s happening there and it’s truly horrific because you’re in a
car in the middle of nowhere. That was quite an interesting, long scene.
You see that fear in Jim and Grace and there’s this big switch in us all,
so that was a fun scene for me. But they’re all very powerful scenes with
them. I think every scene has been a real joy, and there’s not been that
kid of experimental plot. Everything is much directed characterly, you
can see what he’s feeling and it’s just a very powerful story.
Is Ryder an American?
SB: Yeah, yeah I’m playing him as an American- an American that could
be from anywhere, there’s just a general American feel for the guy. He’s
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, he’s asked twice in the film, and he just say’s “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 that’s what’s scary is that
he doesn’t look scary, he doesn’t have a scary face. He’s just this sort
of regular guy and that’s what’s challenging and exciting for me is that
he’s that and you got to be careful.
Is that why you think they came to you with the role, because you’re
such a regular guy?
SB: Yeah. I wanted to present him as a regular guy to the point where
he can’t be perceived as a regular guy. The short amount of time that he’s
on film in the beginning, where he’s not doing anything particularly
sadistic, I thought it was important to play him normal and very ordinary.
Because after that you already know that he’s the bad guy. I feel like
that was in the past and I feel like that’s the way we filmed it, that you
actually know who the bad guy is and I think that’s interesting. I tried
to get as much mileage out of being a regular guy as I could because
the rest of the movie, there’s no question.
How does he kill? Does he use guns, or does he set up other people to kill?
SB: He’s very intelligent and he’s very calculated, and he’s very semantic.
He’s nice, but he will use what’s in his grasp- he uses riffles, and pistols
and a telephone cord- I don’t think it really matters to him. There’s no
real murder weapon of choice, he just uses whatever’s 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 isn’t a particular reason, he keeps murdering because
he can and nobody’s stopped him yet, so why not? As he says in the
beginning- “Why not”?
If he’s cold, does he get any sort of feel or satisfaction?
SB: 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 he’s 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
it’s sort of a way to spoil her, or corrupt her. I think he wants to be
stopped, but he’ll carry on until he is. He’s not the sort of guy who’s
doing this and says please help me or stop me. I think there’s a
combination of factors and feelings racing around in his head, and
there’s not one particular reason why he’s doing it. He says, if I can
carry on doing this, then I’ll 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?
SB: I give people I know a ride, but I’ve never stopped and I’ve never
asked for one. I haven’t really. Not in the middle of nowhere. I’ve maybe
considered doing it in a city or in a town, but with friends or other people.
But I’ve never put myself in that situation. I know people who do it and
I think that’s fine, it can be a good way to get around sometimes and
have a good chat and see the world, but it’s something that I’ve
always been a bit hesitant about.
Are you looking forward to shooting in New Mexico and not shooting
at night anymore?
SB: Yeah, I am. We’ve 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.
It’ll be awfully hot out there in the sun.
SB: Yeah. I think I prefer the cold, because you can wrap up. It’s been very
hot out here; it’s been sunny and humid.
What’s it like to work with Dave as he’s a first time director? Is it a
different style with him than with others?
SB: He’s very confident and he’s a very visual filmmaker. Dave’s very
familiar with that kind of look, and there’s moments and times when
the shots are very stylish and as I’ve said, there’s no loose materials
around, the nitty gritty is at the heart of the piece. I’ve been very
impressed by working with him, he’s 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, Jim’s a great cameraman,
who’s 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 he’s trying to do, he’s very much into trudging out every piece of
twisted kind of humor and that’s something that I feel comfortable with.
When directors are looking into the character, not just as a set piece,
which he could, because he’s a great visual director, but I think I
know what he’s trying to achieve, that sort of visual side and that’s
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, they’ve always had this great interest and this great passion
and they bring out what the characters are feeling. They’re very
visual directors, but they also have a sense of what the characters
are all about, and to an actor, that’s very interesting. It’s 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.
It’s 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.


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