'Cabin' Star: Thanks For Keeping Our Secret!
By now you've heard from countless critics that Cabin in the Woods is one of the most exciting, inventive and outrageous horror movies to come out this decade -- you've also probably heard how essential secrecy is to enjoying the film. That presents a unique problem when it comes to presenting you with my Fran Kranz interview.
I wanted to find that line between tantalizing and too much, while also giving people who've seen the film something to enjoy and discussing what will be the film's finale legacy. To that end I've decided to split this interview into sections -- the first, spoiler-free, and then after a very clear divider (the kind so distinct, Chris Hemsworth would definitely see it), Fran gives his take on everything that happens after we progress beyond the Cabin.
Insider.com: This film took years to actually make it to theaters. What was it like to watch the public become so ravenous for it during that time?
Fran Kranz: It took so long, Chris [Hemsworth, who plays Curt] has made three superhero movies in the interim. It's kind of absurd. The whole thing was extremely discouraging, but I like your more encouraging perspective. It's sort of been this dormant volcano. Now it's starting to spew lava, the hope is that it has this explosive opening. I think the movie's so fantastic that I would love to see that cult classic label attached to it. Something that remains entertaining and important and fun forever. And I think it will because it's still super current and original despite being made three years ago.
Insider: Are you amazed that the secret remained throughout that time?
Fran: I'm shocked, honestly. I love seeing people say, "This is the greatest movie but I won't say anything about it." A lot of people have complained that the reviews don't tell you anything about the movie, but I love that this secrecy still remains. I know you can find spoilers if you REALLY want, but for the most part, people are playing along.
Insider: Don't you feel like that's partially because Joss [Whedon] has cultivated the kinds of fans who recognize the importance of it?
Fran: Totally. I was reading something that compared this to M. Night Shyamalan – where there's this big twist. I find that interesting because I was in The Village and I felt that his audiences were almost irresponsible. They went just for the twist – forgetting that there was a story attached to it. Joss really does have great, loyal fans – but also responsible and intelligent fans. They know that you should enjoy the ride too.
Insider: The first half of the film is presented as a very straight-forward horror movie, while the latter half is where things get really crazy. Would you have been interested in making the first half of this film were it not for the second?
Fran: I love horror films. I love Evil Dead, which is a great movie, but I also love bad, B-movies. I think they're fun. It's part of our film culture and I embrace that. As generic as the first half appears to be, there's still a lot of funny stuff there. Plus, I always wanted to be in a Jason movie. In college my friends and I would have Friday the 13th marathons – I always wanted to get beheaded on the shores of Crystal Lake [laughs]. I was into that. It would have been great fun, so I would have been on board this movie to begin with.
Insider: I know it was a long time ago, but do you remember your reaction to reading this script for the first time?
Fran: I had just come off working on Dollhouse with Joss, so I knew what he was capable of -- but I had no idea what I was in for with this script. When we originally auditioned, we got these fake sides. They were very campy, silly scenes. Based off that, I expected to read a straight forward cabin in the woods movie. So when I actually got through this script, it was so thrilling. But I put this enormous amount of pressure on myself afterwards because once I realized how awesome this movie was, I would be destroyed if I didn't get it.
Insider: So being part of the Whedonverse didn't play into your casting that much?
Fran: I couldn't say for sure, but Joss is so loyal to the people he's worked with -- and on the flipside, we're loyal to him. Everyone that works with Joss wants to work with him again and again. I don't know anyone who has ever had a bad experience with Joss. He's such a lovely person. He's so smart and creative and original. It's not like anything else. For actors, that's exciting. You want to have your stamp on something and that's what he's about. And it makes sense because if there's one character in that group of kids who could be played by someone from the Whedonverse, it's Marty – he's the only one who feels the sneaking suspicious that things are not right. That kind of intuition is indicative of a Whedon character. Someone who is smarter than the genre they're a part of. That characteristic almost defines a lot of Joss' heroes and heroines.
Insider: Marty is a massive stoner -- how did you create him?
Fran: I'm not going to lie, I know a lot of people like Marty. I actually based a lot of him on an ex-girlfriend. She wasn't that big of a stoner, it was just more like her mannerisms. For whatever reason, she has this way of switching topics in the middle of talking. It wasn't a weed thing, it was just this very charming characteristic about her that I think applies to being stoned – the lack of focus. Marty's got all these ideas swirling around in his head, but he's so high they come out jumbled. I also think there is a coziness to stoned people – that relaxed smile. That was a helpful idea to have with Marty.
Insider: Favorite movie stoners?
Fran: I'm a big fan of what [James] Franco did in Pineapple Express. Brad Pitt in True Romance is another one. Obviously Sean Penn in Fast Times too. But I didn't look at a lot of other stoner performances for this role. There are a few things I've taken in, consciously or not, that maybe inspired the role.
SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT ONWARD!
Insider: Getting Sigourney Weaver as The Director was inspired -- what was the on-set reaction when she arrived?
Fran: It's funny, this is actually the third movie I've done with Sigourney. I was in The Village and The TV Set with her. Everyone was so excited -- it was such a big deal that she agreed to do this cameo. Everyone was flipping out but when she came onto set and said, "Hey Fran" all casual with me, everyone was in shock. [laughs]
Insider: You two really have to go at it -- did having that history help?
Fran: Absolutely. There were takes where she'd stop me and say, "Sweetheart, you really, really have to grab me. Don't be afraid to be rough." She really wanted me to squeeze her neck and I basically ended up choking her. If I hadn't known Sigourney before, I feel like I would have been terrified. That friendship was a real blessing because we spent about 4 days beating each other up.
Insider: How much time did you spend on that dungeon scene?
Fran: About four days. The fight took a while, but also the dialogue was so important and intricate, so we were there for a while. Because of that, Sigourney became a real part of the film. It wasn't just a one day thing. Which would have still been cool – but she was in it and down for anything. Also, it's not like she's a stranger to the genre. Originally when I was in the elevator with Kristen [Connolly, who plays Dana] and we're seeing all the monsters, one was the alien from Aliens – we had these guys in green suits holding up this alien puppet that I thought was amazing, but I guess it didn't work on camera. Sigourney was around and eventually Drew [Goddard, director] said we'd have to cut the alien and Sigourney goes, "Well it's hard to do a good alien." [laughs] That was kind of amazing.
Insider: Speaking of amazing, the ending is something that really left people talking. What did you think of it?
Fran: I think I freaked out the first time I read it. The hand? Come on! This movie truly just gets better and better and better as we build to the ending. I don't know any other movies that have this kind of velocity. This kind of kinetic energy where it just gets better and cooler and more fun. A lot of movies have a climax and resolution, but this movie ends with this explosive crazy ending. We end on the climax.
Cabin in the Woods is now playing