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INT: Matthew Davis and Jennifer Morrison

09.30.2000by: The Arrow

The Arrow interviews
Jennifer Morrison and Matthew Davis

Below, you will find a transcript of an ijunket interview that I took part in last week. The two cast members present for the interviews were Jennifer Morrison (JM) and Matthew Davis (MD). The movie is the sequel to "Urban Legend" entitled "Urban Legends: Final Cut".

Q : This is to both of you. What made you decide to do the film? Was it the script or the opportunity to possibly get killed on screen?

MD : Oh, no, it - - [LAUGHTER] both.

JM : Yeah. I thought - - I was really totally attracted to the character when I read the script. And, you know, I thought that it was a great part. And that was - - from there on, it was more about wanting to get killed on screen. I'd already actually had that experience, so.

Q : So which one did you like better?

JM : I liked 'em both for very different reasons. I like this one better. [LAUGHTER] I actually - - both were really great experiences. It was just totally different experiences.

Q : Do you believe in any urban legends?

JM : I don't know if I necessarily believe in any.

MD : - - no, I was driving down the street the other day, and I flashed some guy, 'cause his lights weren't on. And I happened to think there for a minute, what if he turns around? I looked my - - checked in my rear view mirror. [LAUGHTER] He didn't follow me though, so I guess I don't. [LAUGHTER]

JM : - - no, I've definitely heard them before when I was younger, and believed them initially, and then realized that I was just really gullible. Like I'm a very trusting person. And I had heard the story - - and I think it was actually in the first Urban Legend about the roommate was in the room. Yeah, it was in the first one, where the roommate's in the room, and the other roommate gets killed, and leave the message in blood on the wall. You know, someone had told me that when I was really young, and I was all like, oh, my God, I'm never going to college, you know. And then I realized that it was OK. And now I'm a college graduate.

Q : Matthew, is making a film really as hard as it looks?

MD : Uh, no. I think it's - - has it's demands. But I mean, you're making a movie. I mean, it's pretty fucking cool. [LAUGHTER] I mean, I think if there's anything hard about it, it's quickly overlooked. Because, you know, you're doing something you want to do, and you don't want to be ungrateful. And you just grin and bear it. So I would say, no, it's not hard. I think there's scenes that you want to do well in, and so you expect a lot of yourself. And I think as an artist, [LAUGHTER] you are hard on yourself. But I don't think the experience is necessarily hard.

Q : Ask for both of you, what do you think was gained by placing part two in a film school setting?

JM : - - I don't know what you would say by gained - -

MD : Target audience. I don't know, just you - -

JM : - - it adds opportunity for the illusions that you were talking about earlier. It adds the opportunity for - - sorry, you weren't here for that. But it does - - it creates the opportunity for some really kind of back and forth switching between what is reality and what isn't reality, and what am I filming and what's really happening, and what's actually the film and what's actually my film. And, you know, it does provide that sense of tension between the - -

MD : - - a college campus can provide.

JM : [LAUGHTER] Well, the film student aspect of it, yeah.

Q : Are either of you horror genre fans?

MD : Yeah, I love it. I think it's great.

JM : I'm becoming one. I'm definitely wasn't when I was younger, and being a part of this have given me a totally new respect for the technical elements and the writing elements. And it's really difficult to write a scary movie. It's really difficult to make something scary, and intense, and suspenseful. So it's - - I've definitely had my interest peaked.

Q : Matt, what's the relationship between Travis and Amy?

MD : Travis is an aspiring film student who Amy kind of admires - - admires his work. And so I think they have a mutual respect as talented young folk in the college setting.

Q : Is this really the final cut, or was there room left for another sequel, or can you divulge that?

MD : I think there's always room for a sequel - - always room. We'll see. I hope I can be in it, though. [LAUGHTER]

JM : Matt and I won't do it unless, you know - -

MD : - - there's another sex scene. [LAUGHTER]

JM : Of course, it might involve someone coming back from the dead. You never know.

Q : Matthew, how difficult was it to play twin brothers? Did you experience double role playing before this movie?

MD : No, I didn't. It was - - it had its own interesting challenges. I liked to believe - - I don't know. It's - - I call it my hair acting [LAUGHTER] debut. My hair was up and blond for one brother, and down and brown for the other and I think that helped me get into my character [LAUGHTER] and distinctively differences between the two. And it really helped me find the motivations there.

JM : That was something that we talked a lot about when were at the table reading and stuff. And that was like a time when they were really trying to establish some differences, they really tried to create like different backgrounds for those brothers - - you know, the kind of shady past of one brother and the really driven successful past that another brother took.

MD : I think that if there is anything difficult and out of script on doing a film, is that it's always changing. And so it's hard to start with one script - - the beginning script and say, I'm gonna base all my character choices off this script. 'Cause it's changing. There's always rewrites, so it's hard to - - I think it's hard to really build a foundation for a character when it's always changing. And so a lot of it was just trusting the rewrites, trusting John, and trusting Jennie, and [LAUGHTER] hoping that the sets, and the character costumes, and all, kind of speak for itself. Because when it's always changing, it's hard to really get - - sink your fingers into it.

Q : You're both relatively new to the limelight. Do you have any insider advice for young actors who are trying to break into the business?

JM : The only thing I would really say is just do whatever's making you happy - - you know, don't kill yourself doing something that's making you miserable. That's probably not the right thing to be doing with your life. I've always based my choices on either taking something, or turning something down, or going for something based on is this choice gonna make me happy? Is this going to [LAUGHTER] - - are you laughing at me?

MD : Yeah, that's kind of silly - -

JM : Not it's not, it's true. I mean, you had to make some sacrifices and be really driven. But like ultimately, you have to choose what's right for you. And if you do that, you're gonna hopefully find success, you know. And you just have to work really hard. And if you want to be an actor, take as many classes as you can possibly take, and just do as much work as you can possibly do, and audition for everything you can possibly audition for - - you know, just getting yourself out there and doing everything you can to be the best you can possibly be at that career.

MD : Yeah, I would definitely take as many acting classes as you can. That helps, quite a bit, so.

JM : Yeah, as much experience as you can just doing material. Whether it's on camera, or on stage, or in a rehearsal room, whatever you're doing, it's always gonna help you be a better performer.

Q : What's the most challenging aspect of acting in horror?

JM : I found with this character, the most challenging thing was to really watch her development of dealing with what was going on around her. Because if I stayed true to exactly what was in the stage direction, I would of been crying from page two - - you know, it was just like - - would of been screaming and crying the whole way through. And to keep your audience and to keep true to the experience, I really had to choose very carefully where and what really freaked her out, and where and what really pushed her to a point of just like not knowing what to do with herself, or what was a shock, or what was gonna make her cry, or what was gonna make her scream. And so just really being selective about those kind of things and trying to figure out, if I was really in that situation, how would I react to this, what would this do to me, and trying to create what is the most true thing you can possibly do with it.

MD : I think the most difficult thing is when all your friends get murdered, you still stay. Like no one [LAUGHTER] - - if all your friends get killed, you're not gonna leave. I mean, you're - - who's the killer? Who's killing my friends? [LAUGHTER] so I think the hardest part is just like trying to find the motivation. And so why the hell am I staying?

JM : Exactly. I kept saying that to John too, the night that I like wander into the bell tower - - the dark tower. It's like, I'm not gonna walk in. [LAUGHTER]

MD : Three of my best friends were just killed there. I'm gonna go find who did it.

JM : Right. [LAUGHTER] But that's part of the genre that you have to accept and, you know, play into it.

Q : Jennifer, what did you learn from director John Ottman to help you direct - - help you when you directed?

JM : No, when I directed - -

Q : When you played one on TV.

JM : On the TV. [LAUGHTER]

JM : I've directed theatre. I haven't directed films. I learned this sense of like a million things going through my head at once - - you know, I would look at John standing on set sometimes, and he would just be like - - and you would know like a million things were going through his head. And then he was like, OK, we need to set up this and this has to happen. And like you always have to be five minutes ahead of where everybody else is or ten minutes ahead of where everybody else is. And I really kind of took that in and wanted to put that into how Amy was. And so in the scenes where she's actually directing, it's like - - at least from my standpoint on - - who knows what reads on camera and what someone else thinks when they're watching it. But, you know, it was just like trying to think ahead of where I would be at that point, you know, and putting everything in place, and thinking about how it would be edited together, and how - - what shots, and what angles. And so I know he's especially like that, 'cause he's an editor. So he's always thinking that way.

Q : Matthew, unlike other characters, Travis has an agenda. Describe how the death of his brother affected him.

MD : I think actually Travis was the one that got - - what was the question?

Q : Travis - - wait Travis - -

JM : - - Travis affected Trevor?

MD : Right. Well, I think he was deeply hurt by the loss of his brother, I think as anyone would be, especially a twin brother. And I mean, clearly the death of his brother motivates him to come into the story and find out who the killer is. Who killed my brother? He's avenging his brother - - unless of course, he's the killer. I don't know. You'll have to go see the movie.

Q : With all the gory makeup effects on hand, was there any practical joking going on, on the set?

JM : There really wasn't.

MD : I don't think so.

JM : - - good time. But there was never really like any major like planned practical jokes that I can really think of.

MD : No, I don't think so.

JM : We were just so well behaved. [LAUGHTER]

Q : Should we go into this film with any expectations?

JM : To like it, I think. I mean, I wouldn't go into it - - like I know you're talking earlier with John about the expectations of the Urban Legends and all that stuff. But I mean, I don't know if these people are saying the same thing or whatever. He was talking about the expectations of Urban Legends, and going into it, and what'd you think of it? And I don't know, I think just go into it and let it - -

MD : With an open mind.

JM : Yeah, seriously, let it be what it is - - you know, 'cause even - - we were just talking about before this. Even having known the script and having known it was - - I really - - you know, taken by a lot of it. Because we hadn't seen it cut together, and it's so different to see it up there cut together. And it flew by really fast, and I was really enjoying what I was seeing. So I think it's definitely gonna be something that people - -

MD : - - should expect a difference. It's a different movie than the first one. It's not solely centered around urban legends. I mean, there are urban legends in it. But it's not - - like the first one was like all these urban legends are happening. And it's - - they're kind of a side piece to what's really happening. So I think just to go on, it's a different movie. It's more of a thriller than a slasher, if that has any sort of bearing at all, that difference. I don't know.

Q : That's exactly what John was saying earlier. And even that what was it like to work with John Ottman?

MD : It was great.

JM : He's awesome.

MD : - - my first time - -

JM : - - someone to direct a film, you should get John Ottman. He's great.

MD : Yeah, he's very cool.

JM : He's the best. Honest to God, he's great with the actors. He's great with the crew. He's just totally on top of everything technically. It's just - -

MD : He's very open to suggestions, and to your input, and to what may work and may not work for you as an actor, and what - - you know, he's very good about coming in with his vision and saying, how does it work with yours, and then finding - -

JM : - - not like, this is how it is. And it's not like, oh, you're just free rein - - you know, he's - -

MD : - - imposing his ego on you at all so.

JM : It's not like he has an ego.

MD : No, I don't think he does.

Q : Did either of you watch any particular horror movies, or directors, or actors to help prepare for the making of Final Cut?

MD : I watched Urban Legend I over and over again.

JM : Did you really?

MD : No. [LAUGHTER] I saw it once.

JM : Yeah, I saw it once too. Oh, really? I mean this is a lot more pulling, I think from our own experiences. The characters were very similar in terms of what their experiences in their lives were.

MD : It was my first film, so I was pretty scared throughout the whole thing. So I think that kind of helped motivate everything I was doing. I was pretty nervous, so I think that played into the whole - -

Q : Was there any romance on the set?

JM : No comment.

Q : How did Urban Legends II compare to Pearl Harbor?

MD : It's night and day. It's - - well, first of all, the budgets - - you know, for Pearl Harbor, I think it's like almost 200 billion dollars or something like. And it's just the spectacle of it is much more vast. And I mean, it's just a completely different genre, completely different story, completely different setting, yeah, just different planets, equally enlightening experience but very different, so.

Q : I saw a lot of secrecy on the set regarding the plot, and the killings, the killer's identity, although, what happened with Scream III?

JM : Not so much within the cast and crew, 'cause the cast and crew was aware of what was going on. But when there was outside media or - - you know, there was always like someone telling us what we could and couldn't say - - what was allowed to be given away. And like you have to say this so that they're wondering, you know. [LAUGHTER] And so in that aspect, there was a bit of secrecy floating around.

Q : Had you seen the original film?

JM : Yeah.

MD : Yeah.

Q : Over and over?

MD : Over and over again. [LAUGHTER]

Q : Have you received lots of scripts for teen horror movies since you've finished Final Cut?

JM : Some.

MD : Yeah - - no, not - - I mean, one or two.

JM : - - there's a lot out there. I mean, there's so many other films for people our age are horror films, you know? And it's just people know that it's what people want to see right now. And so there's a lot of stuff floating around out there.

MD : Yeah. People don't send me any scripts really. So [LAUGHTER] it's just if I get one, I'm kind of excited. [LAUGHTER]

Q : What was it like to work with this cast?

MD : It was great.

MD : - - it was one - - like I said, it was my first experience working on a film. So it was really great to kind of bond with everybody and get along as well as we all did. Everyone was really good sports. I don't think there was really - - aside from Jennie, there wasn't too much ego going around at all. [LAUGHTER] I'm kidding.

JM : Really there wasn't though, actually. It was pretty surprising - - to find a group of people - - of young actors like that and really feel like - - you know, we could hang out on the weekends, and we could do whatever. And you weren't like, oh, I hate you from set, so I'm not gonna deal with you, you know.

Q : Jennifer, did your role as a student filmmaker give you a new appreciation for the collaborative craft of filmmaking?

JM : I don't know if it was a new appreciation. I mean, I think it was something that I was aware of from the time I was young, when I first did Intersection. That was really my eye-opening experience of realizing, oh, my God, you know, there's 200 people on this set doing this and this and realizing that, you know, if one person isn't doing their job right, then everything falls apart, you know. If - - you know, you can't just say like, oh, I'm the lead actor, and I'm the most important thing. I mean, you're nothing compared to the people setting up the lighting, and running around getting the equipment, and making everything work. And I think that my biggest lesson - - and that was the first film that I worked on and just being on set the first day and going, oh, wow, so.

Q : And Matthew, do you think with someone with a face like yours can only be the good guy and never the murderer?

MD : [LAUGHTER] I don't know? I think I can be a murderer.

JM : He's a little scary, actually, if you actually knew him. I mean - -

MD : I can be pretty scary. Yes, I think I can be a murderer. [LAUGHTER] Yes, I can. [LAUGHTER]

Q : What freshness do you feel Urban Legends Final Cut brings to the table after part one?

JM : Well, I think it's just a totally new approach - - like Matt was saying earlier, it's just - - we don't have a killer in like a parka and an axe - - you know, it's a different approach to horror. It's more of the suspense, and the terror, and - -

MD : I think the cast alone is just - - because we're relative - - I mean, we basically come out of nowhere. And so we don't have any baggage in terms of - - for the most part, none of us have any baggage. So I think we bring a freshness to the cast.

Q : And Jennifer, what was the one thing you learned? What was the one thing you learned from this film?

JM : One thing I learned from this film - - let's see here. I learned that - - gosh, I learned a lot, but it's hard to put into words what you learn, you know? I learned that Matt's a pain - - no. [LAUGHTER] I'm trying to think. I just - - I learned a lot about having to carry a film as the lead actress - - you know, there was like forty-six days of filming, and I worked forty-two of those forty-six days. And sometimes they were like eighteen hour days. And there was a fourth call. And just I basically worked and slept, you know. And so it's definitely - - you have to be incredibly focused for an incredibly long period of time and really be devoted to it, if you believe in it that much. So I think that was probably the most important thing I learned from that experience.

Q : How is Urban Legends different from the rest of the scary movies that are out there?

JM : We're in it. [LAUGHTER]

MD : There's a lot different. I think it's actually - - original - - as original as you can be with a horror movie. It's strange because they're all linked together because everyone - - people are murdered. It's hard to be different when people - - when everyone is getting killed. I mean, it's just new twists - -

JM : - - in the sense that like in a lot of horror films, everyone knows that someone's murdered and everyone's dealing with it, be it like knowing that someone's murdered. And there's a lot of these murders where it's like, oh, no, she's off doing this or oh, no, he could of - - this was an accident and this was. And everything is really set up in a way that it kind of messes with the mind of my character, where she's going, well, maybe I am freaking out. Maybe this is totally not happening. So it's a much more of like, I think, kind of the same thing you're talking about with the illusion and reality, going back to that, playing with the suspense of the illusion reality, rather than just being like this person is murdered. We're staring at this murdered person, and we're dealing with it right now, you know. So I think that's something that's definitely different than a lot of the other horror films.

Q : How much homework did you do for the role in the film?

MD : I watched the first one. [LAUGHTER]

JM : I actually - - [LAUGHTER] I kept a detailed journal of her relationships with people in terms of like how she related to each character. I find I was really gonna need that. We got our final script really late. And that, as he said, was continually changing. So I really needed to have a sense of no matter what was on the paper who she was anyway. And so I kept a journal of like how she got along with people or like what her family life was like. I just created a world for her, so that when I was put in a situation on set, I knew how to deal with it as Amy, rather than being like, oh, God, what would she do? How - - why would this happen, and why would that happen, you know. And then besides that, you know, I was a psychology student, so my homework was in my life.

Q : Matthew, who would you most like to act with?

MD : Marlon Brando.

Q : Having spoken with John Ottman about the script changes, I was just wondering how that affected you?

MD : I remember there were a few days where we rewrote the scene right before we shot it. So - - I think it kept you on your toes a lot. You didn't know what to expect, so I think it kept it - - the scenes spontaneous. A lot of the times, it really forced the actors to listen to each other so there wasn't a lot of people acting in their own worlds separate of what was happening. So I think it kept us together.

JM : And it made us really pay attention to everything in the script - - you know, you couldn't really avoid knowing the whole show really well. You know, you had to show as if it's a play. But the whole script really - - well, you know, 'cause he's like, well, if we change this, then this doesn't get tied up, and then that doesn't tied up. So just understanding how everything fits together. It was really fresh in the top of our mind all the time with things kind of keeping us on our toes.

Q : Well, you said - - you mentioned show as in play. You're doing a play next, correct?

JM : Oh, no, I just spent the summer doing a lot of theatre work. So I love theater, and that's where all this originated for me. So my language always tends to always back to that.

Q : So what is next for both of you?

JM : Right now, I'm in the middle of working on an independent film in Chicago, called Design. And I play the daughter of Daniel J. Traventi. It's this kind of really sort of obscure piece about all these people's lives, and how they all end up intertwining in very bizarre ways, sort of very like It's a Small World kind of thing but really real, and really gritty, and really different. We're doing some really cool stuff tacking in with the filming, so it's great.

MD : I just - - I actually was lucky enough just to book a really great part in a movie called Legally Blond with Reese Witherspoon.

JM : Wow, that's great. Congratulations.

MD : Thank you. So I'm excited about that. So we'll start shooting, I think, the beginning of October. But that's what's next for me. I'm excited about that, yeah.

Q : Any interest in Urban Legends III?

JM : It depends on if somebody writes an Urban Legends III, and it depends on if we live through Urban Legends II.

MD : It depends on how much you pay me. [LAUGHTER]

Q : Matt, this being your first film, what about the process surprised you?

MD : Oh, God, everything surprised me. I think one of the main things that surprised me the most was - - normally from all the classes that I've done - - like acting classes, you're in a scene with your scene partner, a two person scene. But when you're doing a scene in a film, it's kind of a three person scene with a camera. So having the camera and everyone surrounds you was very intrusive. And I had to learn how to kind of include everything as a separate actor in the scene. So I think that was a surprise. How willing everyone is to cater to you was a surprise. Everyone's so willing to like bring you water and Cokes, weird. Having a very nice hotel room was a surprise, which is - - I mean, they're like of the nice things that came with it were a surprise and a greatly appreciated surprises. But there were lots of surprise.

Q : What movies scared you both the most growing up?

MD : Jaws. I still have nightmares.

JM : Yeah. Oh, God, Jaws was awful. I was terrified when I was really young. I was at a birthday party, and they showed Cheerleading Camp or something. [LAUGHTER] It's terrible. I was traumatized. And it's an embarrassing story, but I was really young. I was only like nine-years-old and no one knew who the murderer was. And it was just this really graphic slasher film. And I was traumatized for the rest of my life by this film.

MD : I think the first two Nightmare on Elm Streets were pretty scary. In fact, I just had a dream last night about Freddie Kruger. It was really, it sounds strange, but it's true. I had a dream about Freddie Kruger last night. 'Cause I had this horrible dream when I was about ten about Freddie Kruger coming to kill me. And I has to sleep with my parents and all that crap. And it was weird, 'cause I remember having the conversation with Freddie - - I can't believe I'm telling [LAUGHTER] this story. My conversation with Freddie Kruger in my dream last night, I was saying, hey, it's good to see you, because I hadn't had a dream about him in like ten years. Anyway, it's a stupid story, [LAUGHTER] sorry.

JM : No, but when I was young and saw that movie, I - - my mom was up with me for three nights, and I was like a mess.

MD : Freddie Kruger was in my dream. [LAUGHTER]

Q : I didn't sleep after I saw the first one either.

JM : Oh, God. Scream scared me. I mean, all those movies. I get so into whatever I'm watching. I just get so freaked out.

Q : So what you like to do - - would you like to do more horror films?

MD : No.

Q : This is enough for you?

JM : Not necessarily. I may think it would definitely depend on the script and how - - what it was about. And there's a fine line with horror, though. I mean, there's some like - - you know, some people would consider Sixth Sense a horror film, you know. I mean that, you know, depends on what you're considering a horror film. It depends on the kind of character it is.

MD : I'd like to just start to just do different things. I don't think, you know, you want to pigeonhole - - no, it's not like it's a bad thing to do. It's just, you know, you want to branch out and try and do more while you can.

Q : It's almost the difference between being commercial and being an actor. Jennifer, how did being an up and coming young actress influence your portrayal of an up and coming young filmmaker?

JM : It definitely was a parallel to my life as a young actor, the same kind of being driven and devoted to wanting to be successful, and like I said earlier, taking as many classes as I could take, and being as devoted to doing as much work as I possibly could do. That kind of drive definitely influenced the way I looked at Amy as someone as a film student - - you know, she was going to film school and doing everything she could to be successful there. So I think that their paths were very similar. So in that standpoint, it was very helpful.

Q : When did you decide that acting was your calling?

JM : I've always kind of known. We talked about this. Both of us kind of always knew, right?

MD : Yeah, I guess so. What was your story? You just - - you were born and you knew?

JM : No, when I was really [LAUGHTER] - - when I was really little though, I was doing a lot of performing. I started dancing when I was little. And, you know, I was in kindergarten, and the second and third graders were doing a play. And I went down and asked if I could audition. And they're like, well, as long as you can read. And I could read, so I auditioned and got a part. You know, it was just like every time - - ever since I was really young, it fascinated me. And I just would like jump at the opportunity to be a part of it. So I probably would - - you know, I knew I wanted to make it a part of my life professionally when I was - - I guess sometime in high school.

MD : Yeah, me too. [LAUGHTER]

Q : You play a film student in this movie. Did you ever think of going to film school?

JM : Yeah, I have. And depending on how things work out, I - - you know, I think it'd be something that I'd definitely consider.

Q : Your character, Amy, is a strong woman. And is that important for you to play a powerful woman in a film?

JM : I think in this standpoint, yes, it was really important to me, 'cause I - - that's what attracted me to the character. But at the same time, I have a really great respect for playing all sorts of characters. I mean, my character Samantha in Stir of Echoes was someone who's one of the weakest, most vulnerable people that I could possibly imagine. And the contrast of this character to that character was really appealing to me. To show the versatility of what I could do as an actor was appealing to me. I personally - - in my own life, I'm very driven and very confident. And so in that standpoint, that I respected Amy for that - - you know, like the character for that. But there's definitely something to be said for being to able to play, you know, more vulnerable, weaker sort of kind of women from an acting standpoint.

Q : So we'll pretty much wrap this up here. For both of you, last question. What was it like working with pop super star, Joseph Lawrence?

MD : It was great. Joey's great.

JM : Yeah, he's a good guy.

MD : He's a very sweet guy, yeah. He's not - - I expected him to be kind of an asshole and really cocky. But he's a very sweet guy.

Q : Thanks guys.

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