Pet Sematary marks the second Stephen King film that producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura has worked on. He now helps usher in this highly anticipated adaptation of the famed King novel. We interviewed him the day after the film premiered at SXSW. We got to talk about the film's reaction, the casting of Jeté Laurence as Ellie and we even talk a bit about the future of another little series of films you might have heard of….the Transformers.
How do you feel about last night's screening?
Lorenzo di Bonaventura: It was a ball. It was great. It was great to have such an audience that was so into the subject matter. They really got the jokes, they really got the fear and they really understood what we were trying to do. It was really fantastic.
It definitely felt that way, it felt that the SXSW audience really vibed into what you guys made last night.
Lorenzo di Bonaventura: Very much so, it was very satisfying.
Yeah, I can imagine. I wanna first talk about, since he’s not here to join us to talk about the film, John Lithgow.. fantastic in the film.
Lorenzo di Bonaventura: Always.
Right? Not a surprise.. how did John get involved?
Lorenzo di Bonaventura: We were trying to imagine what Jud was like because Jud is a very interesting mix were he seems very menacing but he seems really friendly and he seems really tortured, so there are a lot of qualities. So when you look at that kind of actor, he’s on of the names that immediately comes to mind.
Absolutely, he always brings warmth but definitely that untrusting when he wants to turn it on.
Lorenzo di Bonaventura: Yes exactly.
Which is what he does perfectly well with Jud. And speaking of another great actor, Jeté.
Lorenzo di Bonaventura: How about that?
Wow. What was it about her in the auditions that you kept coming back to her…?
Lorenzo di Bonaventura: Well, it’s the hardest thing to pick a child actor I think because you don’t really have a body of work to look at. You also...there's an unpredictability to how they feel that day. And so we torture ourselves over it, but the thing about Jeté was she had such extremity in her audition. She had really scary intensity and really sweet and I think that was really why we picked her she had the broadest rang.
For sure, when she comes back, and the girl that we meet all of a sudden very different...that’s when I went...oh wow, she’s very good in this. Now the directors. I’m curious about this, was there anything that the directors brought to the table that you liked, but you kind to have to fight for to keep in the film?
Lorenzo di Bonaventura: I don’t know that I had something to fight for, but I will say this, when we saw their movie (Starry Eyes)...the combination of surreal, intense, scary all were the right qualities for this film. Then I think the disintegration of the lead character in Starry Eyes, the de-evolution is a perfect fit for Louis. So we in their work that they really had the abilities to deal with our subject matter, and when we met them they’re giant giant Stephen King fans. So it really was a natural fit.
They brought a lot of that to...
Lorenzo di Bonaventura: Very much so. We had a lot of arguments. They wanted to be so literal about things sometimes, we were like nobody will understand that. There’s a line in the movie that I will defy anyone to tell me what it means but they had, the stone in the man, the heart in the man is stonier that the hard ground. You’re like, what does that mean? But they were like, we have to have it!
I know we’re here for Pet Sematary, but you also produced the Transformer movies and I LOVED Bumblebee.
Lorenzo di Bonaventura: Thank you.
Anything you can hint about the future of that franchise?
Lorenzo di Bonaventura: Well we’re gonna approach it in two ways. One and let’s call it the main franchise and now the Bumblebee side of things. So there's a script being written in the main franchise right now, and we’re meeting with writers right now about what we’re gonna do with Bumblee.
Sound great. Thank you so much.
- Pet Sematary (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019