Edit Bay Interview: Fright Night's Anton Yelchin

By Eric Eisenberg 2011-05-13 00:57:55discussion comments
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Starring in a remake is hard enough, but it becomes even harder when youíre remaking a bona fide cult classic. This August, when the Craig Gillespie-directed Fright Night hits theaters, critics and fans are going to be endlessly comparing Anton Yelchinís performance to William Ragsdaleís, the actor who played Charley Brewster in the original. Luckily for Yelchin, he has a few key character changes on his side.

Two weeks back myself and a group of other journalists were given the chance to visit the edit bay for Fright Night and in addition to getting the opportunity to watch four separate scenes from the film (see my reaction HERE), we were also granted time to speak with the star of the show. Check out the interview below in which Anton Yelchin discusses how Charleyís personality has been altered, balancing the comedy and the horror, and his experiences working with Colin Farrell and David Tennant.

Whatís your relationship with the original Fright Night? Are you a fan?

Yeah, I think itís great. I love it. I think itís a really smart film because itís more about the horror genre itself than anything, and so I think thatís what makes it extremely smart and interesting. Even from the opening shot, going through a window on to a TV screen, already it sets up how self-conscience it is. It reminds me ofÖthereís a [Peter] Bogdanovich movie called Targets. It has that same kind of ďgenre movie yet not a genre movie,Ē super self-conscience genre movie quality. And I think Targets is really great Ė Boris Karloffís in Targets and it has that aging movie star thing, and I think itís great.

From what we saw in the footage, a lot of the film has changed quite a bit. For example, itís Evil Ed that thinks Jerry is a vampire first. Does that same rule apply for the role of Charley Brewster?

Yeah, In the remake, like you said, Charley isnít the first one to get paranoid. In this one specifically too, he doesnít seek out Evil Edís help, itís the opposite. I think, ultimately, thereís more of a journey for this Charley to take. In the original he gets scared, then he kind of stays scared, and then he has to fight. Here he starts off sort of super confident, feigning this kind of machismo; high school kid trying to keep up and seem kind of confident and cocky, when the reality is that he and Evil Ed grew up as best friends and thatís what they were in to. And he sort of rejects his friend to try and be more successful in the social end of school and because he then realizes that this mass-murdering vampire is living next door, all of those values, all of those false values that he had, become challenged and he has to actually become confident and strong to fight this horrible force that threatens to destroy everything he cares about. It gets his friend, it attacks everyone around him, it threatens to get his girlfriend, you know? So thereís really a definite arc from someone that is faking his way through something to then actually growing in that place where he can battle this vampire.

How action heavy is this role for you?

Itís very action heavy. Itís exciting; itís a very fun movie. Whatís good about it is that Jerry fucks shit up. I mean, you guys obviously saw that. And itís gory and violent and at the same time it has a certain amount of heart in the sense that you really feel for the decisions that Charley has to make. Itís not an easy decision for him to reject his friend. You grow to care about his friend because you see what happens to Ed Ė and in the original it does it really well too, it kind of breaks your heart to see what happens to Ed and itís the same thing with this movie. So yeah, it has a healthy dose of everything, but definitely a lot of fun action and good action sequences.

How was it balancing the horror elements with the more comedic elements?

Charley is, to a lot of it, these characters, like David Tennantís character, Peter Vincent, heís kind of the straight man. But thereís a lot of room to be funny, in the scenes with Chris [Mintz-Plasse] and the scenes with Imi [Poots] and even the scenes with Colin [Farrell]. Whatís funny about him at first is that fake, macho thing that heís doing, but itís kind of humorous when he starts to trip out and this sort of mania starts to get to him that next door is a vampire. But then very quickly it just gets dark and scary and intense, which is good. I think it transitions from a lighter place to a darker place.

How do the transformations look? Did you get to see the make-up and all of that?

Oh yeah! Itís awesome. All I can say is that itís definitely gruesome and frightening. Itís good because I think in recent years all the vampires look good and they just have fangs, and youíre like, ďAlright,Ē but here itís a monster. Itís great because it transitions out of Colin, who is this awesome, handsome dude, into this terrifying, terrifying monster.

Is it physical effects or CGI?

Thatís another amazing thing. A lot of it is. There were transitions to the make-up artists. Howard [Berger], I think he won an Academy Award for Narnia, thatís who did [the makeup]. Thatís great, because itís kind of a dying art form, so itís pretty amazing to see it when itís all actually there and itís real and itís not just people with dots on their faces.

Is this your first experience shooting in 3D?

Yes it was.

Was it any different for you as an actor or was it largely the same?

Realistically itís not that different. I thought it would be, but itís not. The rig is a lot bigger because itís two cameras shooting, one shoots this way [points in one direction] and one shoots this way [points in the other direction]. At times the focus doesnítÖ their pulling Z-focus. If one of the cameras is off, it canít shootÖrealistically the amount of times that happened out of the fifty days that we shot, for all the scenes, maybe it happened 10 times at most. And itís not like itís a major delay, itís like a five or ten minute delay, so itís not really that differentÖ I realized it wasnít that different.

Iíve heard that those cameras are really huge.

Well, itís not different for me. It must be different for the operator and I know itís different for the steadycam operator because the rig is suddenly twice as big and not what he is used to carrying.

Itís not distracting at all because youíre wondering about the camera?

No, not really. I was kind of curious because I kind of like to geek out on the technology, but it wasnít too different, no.

When they were shooting the original, they didnít show William Ragsdale the vampire make-up until they were actually shooting so that they could get a natural reaction. Did they ever try that during this production?

In the sequence where heís Ė I think you guys saw it, where he has the girl in the chamber Ė that chamber is actually really creepy. Itís like some rapists cell. Like Silence of the Lambs, uncomfortable, and that was creepy. It definitely had a creepy quality in the things we were shooting, especially towards the end when weíre actually with the vampires. Inevitably youíre scared because youíre already in that mind.

Why is it, do you think, that vampires have become so popular in recent years?

I really donít know. It must have something to do with the fact thatÖ I donít know what socially vampires represent now to people. In the old school Nosferatu, the really old one, it was actually similar to this: an all-powerful dark menace that started to consume the place that it was going to, which obviously has a lot to do with the pre-war German psyche; itís not related to whatís going on [now]. I donít really know. I was never a Twilight reader. I didnít even know what it was. I had no idea that it was that huge and that many pubescent girls were in to it. So I donít really know. It might be that the way that theyíve accessed vampiresÖ it might just be that. Vampires now are accessible to a new audience, especially with the Twilight thing. Itís all about these little girls who want to fuck these vampires. What I like about this one is that itís actually a scary vampire. Itís not like, ďOh, Iím in love,Ē like ďIím going to fucking kill you. Iím sorry, Iím a vampire, itís what we do.Ē Thatís what makes it exciting and fun for me. Thereís no romance. Itís not like Interview with a Vampire. Heís scary, heís a monster and heís going to destroy you. Itís kind of how he is in the original, except heís a little more love sick. I think this one specifically targets that original, ďWe want gore and we want a monster thatís going to kill things.Ē I didnít see 28 Days Later, was that vampires?

No, that was kind of zombies.

Yeah, I didnít see that. I think thereís a lack of vampires destroying things that I can think of. Theyíre more in love or whatever and this takes it back to the original.

Craig Gillespieís background is more dark comedy/drama and not really a genre director. Was that a plus?

Yes, absolutely. I think CraigÖ in Lars [and the Real Girl], Ryan Gosling, itís totally about the performance, so that was definitely great for me because heís a filmmaker that likes to work with actors, obviously, and now I know this from experience. Just having seen the movie, itís just like, ďThis is someone that likes to have actors give interesting looks, that bizarre look at things.Ē So that was definitely a plus.

Jerry really has a complete sense of how powerful he is and really plays around with Charley, and just from what we saw from David Tennant in the footage it looks like heís going over the top and really having fun with it. What was it like working alongside Colin and David?

Itís great because Charley is kind of the straight man for those two Ė theyíre opposing forces, but theyíre such characters, you know? And it was a lot of fun, because with David Tennant, Charley is either trying to get him to be on his side Ė kind of like in the original Ė or heís just terrified and coming to him. With Jerry, especially at the beginning, thereís that definite false kind of machismo that Charley tries to put on to counter Jerry, which is a lot of fun to play. Itís all false, itís not real. Itís him doing what he thinks will make him look tough. And of course Jerry totally sees through it, heís about a thousand times stronger than he is and more menacing, but it was fun. It was a lot of fun.

Have you seen the script for Star Trek 2 yet? Do you know when it might go into production?

No, I haven't seen the script. I'm not sure. I think we're doing it at some point soon, I don't know when though. No idea.

Have you spoken with JJ Abrams at all?

No, JJ's, I think, doing Super 8 now and he's doing press for it. I haven't because they'll get to it when they get to it. I'd love to get together with those people again, I really love that whole cast. It would it be a lot of fun to do it, but it's kind of one of those things.
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