Interview: 'Fright Night' Director Craig Gillespie

Recasting Previously Established And Vividly Drawn Characters:

SR: Some of these characters remain vivid in the minds of horror fans: Stephen Geoffreys as Evil Ed, Chris Sarandon as Jerry Dandrige (the vampire) and David Tennant's character, Peter Vincent (originally played by Roddy McDowall). How do you approach casting a film like that?

"I was so lucky with the actors that I had, and the range that they had. And they're all very generous. It's like in the case of David Tennant - he showed me an old 70s classic English film with an alcoholic because that was the large part of his character in this film. As successful as he is, he has this incredible self-loathing and self-destructive quality that you see, and you wonder where it's coming from - and as the film progresses you see where it's coming from in his youth. Then within that there was a range of how comedic that should be. And he would give me that range, you know he would give me stuff that was more like loaded with drama and then stuff that played more off the humor of it, and he worked that dance beautifully. We had an embarrassment of riches in the edit."

SR: How much did they bring to the film in terms of improvisation?

"We stuck to the script a lot but within that I always give room for improve because (as long as the intent is there)  it keeps things fresh... Great lines can come from anywhere - Christopher Mintz-Plasse' line came from his audition.

SR: Which line?

"Take Stretch Armstrong and wrap it around your balls"

(Both laughing)

Putting The "V"icious Back In Vampire:

SR: Nice. You know we often see such a romanticized and sanitized version of vampires today, but Colin Farrell's vampire Jerry is just about as animalistic and bloodthirsty a beast as you can get without actually being a killer shark. Was that a draw for the both of you? I know Colin had been a huge fan of the original.

"Colin will say this as well - what I immediately responded to with Marti's script is that he is such a brutal villain - a brutal monster. And almost like a serial killer - is where my head went. Particularly with that scene in his house early on in the movie. It was one of my favorite scenes, and it gave me a lot of information about how to portray that character in the sense of a serial killer. He's incredibly charismatic and unassuming and alluring, but then he's also devoid of emotion. And then we go into all the back-story of you know, he's been doing this for 400 years, anyone would be bored to death. You know it's the tedium of waking up every day and saying, 'what do I do now?' And basically he's got to feed, and you get into the psychology of all of that and just the primal aspect of it. So he has a girl that he keeps, there's no hunt involved in that now, so how does he get himself worked up to show his fangs? We went into all that with make-up, and the psychology of that in a primal way - when he would flare up. When his adrenaline would kick in whether it was for an attack or defense... So it became a very primal, animalistic kind of thing that we added into it. And I loved that it was devoid of the lovesick aspect. As much as even in the old vampire and 'Dracula' films, they really are yearning for that because of their eternal life - there's that love that they're missing. It was kind of refreshing, and what excited me was to have this practical, brutal killer. That was exciting to me to get that on the screen, I wanted to see that vampire."

Many horror fans agree and are more than ready to see a depiction of a vampire that truly is - a monster. They will get that chance this weekend when Fright Night opens in theaters.

Craig Gillespie directs a cast that includes Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, David Tennant, Toni Collette Imogen Poots and Christopher Mintz-Plasse from a script by Marti Noxon.

Fright Night opens in theaters today.

Follow me on twitter @jrothc

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