Sunday, September 26, 2010

Interview with Justin Long - May 25th, 2009

Promoting: Drag Me To Hell
Venue: The Soho Hotel
Interview type (one-on-two, with Alison Lohman - see below)

Note: This interview was conducted on behalf of FilmStar Magazine (now sadly deceased), where a version of it first appeared.

Filmstar: Justin, this is your first horror film since the Jeepers Creepers movies. How did it feel to come back to horror after so many comedy roles?

Justin Long (JL): I love the genre, so I'm glad to be a part of another horror movie but it didn't feel like doing a horror movie, certainly not like my experience on Jeepers Creepers. My part is much more of a passive role – it was more like doing a romantic movie for me, so it didn't feel like doing a horror movie. But then I did one after this, where I was much more of an active participant in the horror. I'd forgotten how exhausting it is, just how physically demanding it is. And also seeing [co-star Alison Lohman] go through that, it reminded me a lot of that experience, to maintain that level of fear throughout a couple of months and long takes and several takes, it just gets to be really physically exhausting.

But I do love the genre and I had wanted to do more horror movies after Jeepers Creepers. It wasn't for lack of trying, I was always throwing my name in the hat and I auditioned for all the Halloween 12 and Freddy versus Jason versus Alien versus Predator. But then it got to the point where I was starting to be able to be more selective of roles and the truth is that those parts in those movies are a lot more stock and not as interesting as other roles so I just stopped trying out.

Filmstar: What was it like working with Sam Raimi?

JL: He's incredibly giving as a director. He's very patient and incredibly kind and he's funny, he's very funny. He's by far my favourite director I've ever worked with, more for how he treats people and how he conducts himself than for his body of work, which everyone knows is great. So you'd think there would be some element of him that would be tyrannical or officious but he's anything but, he's just so collaborative and warm and a really kind guy, a really great guy.

Filmstar: How does he approach the more effects-heavy scenes?

JL: Off-camera, I think it was really important, because a lot of [acting] is like impulsive and natural and you can't deconstruct it and get heady about it and so Sam would give Alison a lot to respond to. I mean maybe not as much as you'd like ideally, because there's a lot of stuff you just can't do because of the green screen and post stuff, so Sam would be there getting really passionate off-camera, doing the sounds for, like, the Lamia [the film's evil spirit] chasing you up the stairs, anything that you had to be reacting to, he'd be like [puts on monster voice], “And I'm WALKING UP THE STAIRS and I'm BANGING ON THE DOOR” and he got very into it, really passionate, like he was a part of the movie. Much more directly than most directors are.

Filmstar: What are your thoughts on horror generally? Were you a fan?

JL: I realise I'm not as big a fan as other people. I think it might belie how I really feel to say I'm a big fan, like it might be disrespectful to actual big fans. But I really enjoy horror movies. I don't know how big of a fan I am anymore, but I do love them.

Filmstar: Have you seen Night of the Demon?

JL: No, but I know that was a heavy influence for this movie and I'm really curious to see it. And now I'm glad that I redefined how big of a horror fan I am, before you asked that question.

Filmstar: Did you feel left out of the gory special effects scenes?

JL: Oh, absolutely, yes. I mean, at the time there was an element of relief, because Alison was working so hard and I got to go home early and I got my sleep. I even got to shoot another film – I had so much time off that I shot another movie in the middle of this movie. But of course, you just want to play. You feel like a kid and Sam was acting like a kid with the purity and the love of it and I just wanted to get in there and get my hands dirty. And certainly watching, of course, you want to do the fun horror movie stuff. But it was so nice just to be a part of it and to be involved.

Filmstar: What's your next project?

JL: I'm doing a movie this summer called Going The Distance, it's a romantic comedy about two people who are trying to figure out a long-distance relationship. It's a pretty simple, straightforward story, but hopefully done in a kind of raw, much more real kind of like Apatow-ian way. I hate using that, but it applies.

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