Spiral Director Explains Why Saw Actor Tobin Bell Wasn’t Included

Tobin Bell in Saw
(Image credit: (Lionsgate))

After a few years without the gory traps of Saw, the famous horror franchise recently returned with Spiral: From The Book Of Saw. But for the first time ever, the series’ core antagonist Jigsaw/John Kramer, played by Tobin Bell, did not make a single appearance in the film. Instead, the movie focused on a mysterious copycat killer setting up bloody traps as Chris Rock’s Detective Zeke Banks follows the trail.

While Jigsaw actually died back in Saw III, leaving the door open for a host of apprentices to follow in his footsteps, Tobin Bell has continued to find a role in each of the films, even through short flashback sequences. So why couldn’t Spiral find room for him? The film’s director Darren Lynn Bousman recently answered the question with these words:

We were talking about putting Tobin in up until the last day of filming. There was a constant struggle with us and I think we all went back and forth on it. It was a hard thing because the minute you put Tobin Bell in the movie, it becomes Saw 9. If you think about Jigsaw or some of these other films, he had like two minutes of screen time and that was it. I killed him in Saw III, I killed him 16 years ago, so to keep finding clever ways to bring him back in, I didn't want to do a disservice to this film. No one can compete with Tobin Bell, you can't, he is Jigsaw and there's no way to live up to what he brings on-screen, so I didn't want to fuck with it, I didn't want to do it. It was, I felt, a disservice to this film and previous films to try to do that.

Well, there you have it. Darren Lynn Bousman simply didn’t want to and it didn’t feel right for him for this particular movie. Though as he told ComicBook, it was most certainly in discussions a ton during the filming. I can imagine it was tough to let Tobin Bell’s presence go from the franchise this time around, but the filmmaker didn’t just want to shoehorn him in just to keep a streak going, and that’s a respectable decision too.

Darren Lynn Bousman has long been a major player in the franchise considering he also directed Saw II, Saw III and Saw IV before stepping away from the franchise completely. Bousman also shared how there was a distinction that needed to be made between it being a Saw and Spiral film, and with Tobin Bell in the mix, it would have leaned into the territory of the next Saw film.

The filmmaker did share one idea he had to have Tobin Bell in the movie somehow. Darren Lynn Bousman had toyed with the idea of using Bell’s singing voice (which is apparently very good) on the soundtrack with the actor’s Johnny Cash cover. The song was originally going to be in the finale gunfight in Spiral, but once they had it in the movie, it felt too “gimmicky” to him, so he decided to cut it.

It would have been an interesting way to still have Tobin Bell in the Saw spinoff, but instead, Tobin Bell has no presence in the film. Spiral: From the Book of Saw is playing in theaters and will become available at home this coming Tuesday, June 1.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.