If you’re easily freaked by horror movies, Leatherface isn’t exactly a guy you want to be spending quality time with. However, while Alexandra Daddario may not have been able to put her fears aside, she did use them to her advantage as the next Texas Chainsaw heroine, Heather Mill.
Texas Chainsaw 3D picks up where Tobe Hooper’s 1974 original left off. The folks living in Newt, Texas were well aware of a number of local disappearances, but it wasn’t until Sally Hardesty escaped the Sawyer family’s clutches that suspicions were confirmed, a town mob taking it upon themselves to burn the Sawyers’ home to the ground, killing the entire family. Decades later, in comes Heather. She inherits the property from her grandmother, but a certain someone isn’t about to let Heather and her friends enjoy her new mansion.
Many know Daddario from the family-friendly Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, but she also starred in another particularly vicious horror film called Bereavement. It’s a good thing Daddario doesn’t mind going head to head with her fears because as someone who’s spooked by a Vin Diesel action film, she certainly had a lot to contend with as the chainsaw-toting Leatherface lurked around set.
To give the iconic slasher a little face time at New York City Comic Con, Daddario came to town signing posters and talking about the franchise’s latest installment, touching on the push to turn the film’s NC-17 rating to an R, her character’s relationship to Leatherface and, in quite the turnaround, a little Fifty Shades of Grey, too.
Screen Rant: Back when we spoke about Bereavement you told me you weren’t a fan of horror movies. Has working on that and then this changed that at all?
Alexandra Daddario: “I think it stands the same because I’m not into horror films because I’m very easily frightened. For that reason I had never seen Texas Chainsaw Massacre, so before I did this film I watched it and I was just blown away by how amazing it was, and it was very scary, but it’s just an incredible film. So I can appreciate horror films, I love The Shining and Silence of the Lambs, certain types of horror films, but as far as gore and things like that, it’s very effective on me, so it’s hard for me to watch.”
Was there any one movie that you saw that made you feel this way? Maybe something from when you were younger?
“[Laughs] When I was younger my dad took me to see Pitch Black. I just remember it scaring the shit out of me. I had nightmares, and that’s not even that scary of a movie. Is it? I don’t know! But it freaked me out. I never was desensitized to that kind of stuff for some reason.”
So how about some of the other Texas Chainsaw movies? Did you watch those, too?
“I also watched the Jessica Biel version. That one was, in some ways, harder for me to watch. I would have to watch it, like watch 60 seconds of it, put it on pause, and go into my bedroom and take a breather and then go back during certain scenes because it’s very gory and it’s a really great film in that way - if that’s what you like.”
How does this one compare to those films? Where does it fall on the gory/psychological horror spectrum?
“I think this one is a little bit more of a mystery in some ways, but there were scenes where I had to shut my eyes, even having been in the movie. There were things that I didn’t watch filmed and some of the ways the CGI is done scared me a lot and I couldn’t watch it. So I think it works in that way and it also has its own story. But it does stand on its own from the other two as well."
Can you tell me about your character? What is it that makes her stand out from past Texas Chainsaw heroines?
“She’s a little bit darker maybe, and she does have an evolution through the film that I really enjoyed playing. She becomes something a little bit different. She has this sort of character evolution towards the middle/end of the film that I really enjoyed playing. I think all of the heroines, in some way, especially when people are being tortured more and more, you start to sort of have a mental break and she has a change for a variety of different reasons, but I think that’s what’s fun about playing the heroine in one of these movies. You get crazier and crazier as the film goes on.”
The next question contains MILD SPOILERS for Texas Chainsaw 3D - if you don't want to be spoiled, skip ahead past the designated break:
I noticed there’s a young version of your character and a young Leatherface on the cast list. Do the two have a history?
“Yes. It turns out, unbeknownst to me at the beginning of the film, that I am Leatherface’s cousin. So that’s sort of an interesting revelation for a girl who - she’s not necessarily a normal, average girl to begin with, but I think that would be a revelation for anybody.”
End of SPOILERS for Texas Chainsaw 3D.
How was it trying to get into the headspace of a dark character and world like this? Did you have to do anything in particular to get there?
“Besides watching films and preparing that way, with that kind of intensity you have to work yourself up at certain times. Once you get there it works, but shaking it off is a hard thing to do at the end of the day. But yeah, whether it’s running around for ten minutes before you start a scene or just sitting in the corner and thinking about something that breaks your heart and just hysterically crying, it can be a very intense preparation. And sometimes there’ll be scenes where you’re being chased and you just start to get naturally afraid, exhausted and freaked out, and you just can’t take it anymore and it works.”
Is there any one thing your character goes through that you were apprehensive to do?
“There were some difficult shoot days. We were shooting in Louisiana in the summer and it was like 106, 110 degrees some days, so it was very tough. I was a little apprehensive about that, but I had planned for that. Sometimes we did shoot with real chainsaws, not where we were in any danger, but you always, in the back of your mind, even if it’s all the way over there, it’s sort of a weird thing to shoot with. But I enjoyed making the film as crazy as it was.”
I heard you managed to shoot the film in just 28 days with a DP switch.
“Was it only 28 days? [Laughs] I think making a film is a very complicated process, any film you make. It did get crazy towards the end, but I found that on every film I’ve done. At the beginning you’re like, ‘Oh, okay, we have all this time,’ and then it starts to get down to the wire and you start to run into more problems as time goes on. But it all worked out and everyone came together professionally and even when there was drama, everyone was very professional and we got it done.”
How much was the 3D a factor? That didn’t slow the shoot down at all, did it?
“It did, a lot actually. Making a 3D movie takes way more time than in 2D because it’s just one more step to go through as far as making sure that 3D is okay, making sure the eyes matched up and making sure nothing was wrong with the way it was shot and all that, and they need more time to set up. But it ends up making for much better 3D I think, so the 3D is really incredible in the film.”
What kind of 3D can we expect? Is it more about depth as far as the environment goes or are things flying at our faces?
“It’s a little bit of both. It doesn’t distract, I think it only adds to the film and there are scenes where things are thrown at the audience, which I think is great, but it also has scenes where it just sort of enhances the scene.”
I hear the film originally got an NC-17 rating. Do you know what they switched to secure the R?
“I heard it was mostly gore stuff, obviously. They wanted to show as much as possible so, this is the way it was explained to me, showing as much as they could and they had to slowly negotiate and scale it back a little bit as far as how much they were showing for how long. It’s very sort of political, I think.”
To wrap up, we’ve all been reading tons about the Fifty Shades of Grey adaptation and your name is always in the mix. Is that on your radar at all?
“Yeah, I’ve been hearing this a lot! I don’t even think they’ve started casting yet, but it’s really nice that people are thinking of me for the role. I should read the book. I haven’t read it yet. But yeah, no, I don’t know anything about casting or anything like that, but it’s cool to be mentioned.”
Texas Chainsaw 3D opens in theaters on January 4, 2013.
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