The name Goosebumps is iconic to millions of young readers as the series of scary fiction books written by R.L. Stine, but instead of basing a movie on a specific story from the dozens of books Stine has written under that brand name, the film adaptation makes Stine himself the lead character, played by Jack Black. Stine and his daughter Hannah (Odeya Rush) live a reclusive life in their house where Stine keeps his original manuscripts safely locked away lest the pages open and release the monsters he has created from his imagination.
When Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette) and his mom move next door to the Stines, Zach is instantly taken with Hannah and suspicious of what is going on in the house. With the help of geeky new friend Champ (Ryan Lee), Zach investigates, but one thing leads to another until all of Stine’s books are opened and their town is being overrun with monsters – and only Zach, Champ and the Stines can stop it.
Screen Rant sat down with the movie’s trio of young stars recently to talk about their own personal experiences with Goosebumps, acting with Jack Black and trying to skate on a melting ice rink…
Dylan, I understand that you’re the big fan of the Goosebumps books —
Dylan Minnette: Yeah, I am.
You’ve read 60 of them or something like that?
DM: Close to that, it’s got to be, yeah. It was a big part of my childhood. One of the biggest. If I could think of things that really resonated with me in my childhood, Goosebumps is right up there at Number One.
Now what is it about the books that make them so great and how do you think that translated to the movie?
DM: Well, the books are short and they’re fun to read and they’re thrilling, and I think at a young age kids have to kind of like dare themselves and it’s exciting to read it even at night. In school they would have a book fair and they would read it to the class, but they were fun to hear and listen to. So I think it was just the entertainment, and carrying that over into the movie was very important.
Odeya, Ryan, either of you ever read any of the books?
Odeya Rush: Yeah, I did, after I got the part. But I knew about them; my brothers were obsessed with them. And I think everyone knows the name Goosebumps and R.L. Stine – it’s a part of the ‘90s and part of our childhood and part of today.
Ryan Lee: I didn’t read them when I was a kid, but while filming got to pick them up and take a read.
Did you guys get to meet R.L. Stine?
OR: Yeah, he came to set and he’s really nice. He’s really funny and witty, and not as scary or anti-social as Jack portrays him.
DM: It was a big moment for me, and I never thought in my life I’d be with the real R.L. Stine and then also with Jack Black playing R.L. Stine. It was never a moment I thought would have happened if I could have guessed as a kid.
RL: A crazy moment – we were at New York Book Fair, or BookCon, and we were sitting right next to R.L. Stine, and to our right was Judy Blume, which was crazy. All our childhood writers.
DM: Yeah, R.L. Stine, Judy Blume, we were like, “Yeah, OK, got it.”
Two cornerstones of childhood writing.
It had to be fun that they wanted to do a lot of practical effects on this. Was it much better to be able to work with as many “real” monsters as possible as opposed to green screens or tennis balls or things like that?
OR: I think it really helps when there’s an actual person chasing you. It makes you, I think, run faster in a way (laughs) ‘cause there’s no way to fake it.
DM: That’s true.
Were some of the most fun or challenging scenes to do?
DM: One of the most fun actually wasn’t even a scene with the monsters. It was in the high school – it was the dance and everyone was jumping, that was fun. The grocery store with the werewolf was fun.
RL: The ice rink was pretty cool.
DM: That was challenging, because sliding around on that ice was difficult and you actually fall and get some bruises easily.
OR: I did fall and get some bruises.
RL: We were filming in Atlanta in the summer and the ice rink would literally melt by 3 p.m.
DM: It was starting to melt by the third day, ‘cause we filmed that for three days. And if you fell you just got so wet. It became a mess.
Jack Black is just this comedic force of nature, so how was it to work with him and have him sort of leading the way?
OR: He’s awesome. I think he kind of sets the tone on the set because he’s so friendly and he kind of wants it to be a family and he treats everyone equally. And he’s always telling a joke or singing a song or something, and it kind of trickled down to everyone else on the set.
What’s up next for each of you after this?
DM: I’m working with my band and I did a movie this summer in Budapest called Man in the Dark.
OR: I have two indies coming out – one called The Hunter’s Prayer and the other is Holding Patterns. And there’s a short film I just directed.
RL: I did a movie called Speech and Debate where I was the bully, which was really cool. Got to be the mean kid.
Thank you all very much.
In Goosebumps, teenager Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette), upset about moving from a big city to a small town, finds a silver lining when he meets the beautiful girl, Hannah (Odeya Rush), living right next door, and makes a quick friend in Champ (Ryan Lee). But every silver lining has a cloud, and Zach’s comes when he learns that Hannah’s mysterious dad is in fact R.L. Stine (Jack Black), the author of the bestselling Goosebumps series. As Zach starts learning about the strange family next door, he soon discovers that Stine holds a dangerous secret: the creatures that his stories made famous are real, and Stine protects his readers by keeping them locked up in their books. When Stine’s creations are unintentionally released from their manuscripts, Zach’s life takes a turn for the weird. In a crazy night of adventure, it’s up to Zach, Hannah, Champ, and Stine to team up and get all of these figments of Stine’s imagination – including Slappy the Dummy, the girl with the haunted mask, the gnomes and many more – back in the books where they belong to save the town.
Goosebumps opens in theaters October 16, 2015.