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Writer/director Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room is a crazy stressful movie. The entire movie basically hinges on a showdown between a punk band and a crew of murderous Neo-Nazis, and once the tension ratchets up to 10 in the first act, it doesn’t let up until the end credits begin to roll. Watching it, one can’t help but imagine that the intense atmosphere in the tone was reflected on the set, and you’d be 100 percent correct. In fact, Anton Yelchin told us that things got so bad on some days that members of the crew actually had to walk off the set and take a breath before continuing – but it was all worth it, because it just made the film that much better.
With Green Room now out in limited release and set to expand nationwide at the end of the month, I had the pleasure of hopping on the phone with Anton Yelchin to talk about the new film, and I took the opportunity to ask about exactly how the tension in the movie was created on set. The young actor pointed to the fact that the film – which is basically set over the course of 16 hours – was put together in just a little over 20 days, and that led to a high level of "concentration" during production that really put a certain kind of poison in the air. Said Yelchin,
If there’s just one person in the room, seven people in a room, that are putting out a lot of incredibly painful and volatile energy, you end up feeding off of that. There was a point which I looked around and Alia [Shawkat] was crying, Joe [Cole] was crying, Callum [Turner] was crying, Imogen [Poots] was crying. Eric [Edelstein] was on the ground, like suffocated and huffing and puffing, and I thought I was going to lose my mind. That was every day for 20 something days, and I think that inevitably, that’s what maintains that tension. I know that for the crew, there were days that they couldn’t watch. People walked out. There was really tough on everyone.
That’s a pretty damn vivid word picture, and hearing it I don’t think anyone would fault Anton Yelchin negatively looking back on the experience of making Green Room. Fortunately, that’s not the case, however. While the pressure was incredibly high, and the atmosphere on set incredibly stressful, Yelchin believes that it was ultimately what the movie needed in order to be as effective as the final cut is:
It registers that way on screen, so there’s really… you know, when I watched the film, and I’m hyper-critical, but it doesn’t feel false to me. It feels pretty, accordingly intense.
In the film, Anton Yelchin plays a member of a punk band that is wrapping up a show at a Neo-Nazi compound when they witness the end result of a murder. When they try and fail to call the authorities, they wind up getting trapped in the backstage green room, and must find a way to escape before the gun-toting skinheads kill them all. When you see the film for yourself, you will perfectly understand why the rough atmosphere pays off.
Green Room will expand to theaters nationwide on April 29th.