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INT: Saskia Mulder

Aug. 3, 2006by: JimmyO

This coming Friday is the official release of, in my humble opinion, one of the best films I've seen this year (or last year if you're from the UK), THE DESCENT! With an amazing ensemble cast, the brilliant Neil Marshall second feature is a good as horror gets. This is one of those rare films that has the gore but is loaded with everything else that makes a movie great. So yes, I urge you to go see it… you'll thank me later.

And in the past few days I got a chance to have some one on one time with the beautiful and talented Saskia Mulder who plays climbing expert Rebecca in the film. It was her first time in Los Angeles and she had high praise for her experience here so far. Warm, funny and smart, she was perfectly cast in a film with incredibly beautiful women who truly have the talent to back it up. It was truly a pleasure getting to chat about the opening, mountain climbing and how cool horror fans are. She defiantly made a fan of me. By the way; did I mention… Go see this movie!

Saskia Mulder

The Descent opens here in the states this Friday, are you nervous… excited?

I think mainly excited. There’s something with this whole film, it’s just been such a pleasant surprise, one after the other.  I literally went from receiving the script and meeting with Neil and he had made Dog Soldiers before so that I kind of knew that this one was going to be good but working with five other girls, could be either good surprise or bad surprise.  It was a very good surprise.  And then it doing so well and being critically, really quite acclaimed and it kind of seems like, for a small budget British film this thing has just been going huge.  So, I’m just kind of riding the wave.

So working with the five other girls, what was that like? In a genre where the women are sometimes dumb, scared…

I know.  I was saying that to my friend yesterday that that’s one of the things I loved about this film is that all the girls in it are very capable.  We don’t do anything stupid, well, granted besides going into the cave.  But there’s no… I always have this thing that I absolutely hate in the female contribution to horror films where it kind of seems to be, the scenario is, there are five murderers in the house and the girl goes, “Oh my God, I forgot my handbag!”  And I’m like, go in bitch and die you’re too stupid, you deserve to die.  [Laughs] So that was a great thing because it’s not that often that you get to do a film with only girls where it’s not just about the good looking girls in spandex and, you know, it’s nice that that’s there too, but there’s something quite empowering about these girls just being human, just being clever and capable.

Well, they're very well written, they're layered, these are not you’re typical average stereotypes.

Yeah.  There’s very little what I always call profile acting, you know that thing [posing for the camera] and I think that’s how it should be and I love going into make-up and getting my "mud".  There was very little mascara going on in my part and that’s very liberating because I think in Europe you do have that a little bit less but it is very focused on looks and that’s fine and I like that too but there’s something quite cool about just being outright dirty, and its fun.

How were the working conditions? You worked at the studio…

It was so hard.  So hard.  The thing is, it’s a studio, sounds warm, but you’ve got all these security things where basically there’s these huge hangers and these huge doors that if it’s two degrees outside then it’s two degrees inside and we were soaking the whole day and it was just so hard and I’m not a wussy but after like week five of making really long days it was physically very, very tough.  And being absolutely drenched and cold, there were just times like, “You’ve gotta be kidding me!” and when the make-up artist comes to you again and is like hosing you down [Laughs] (the make-up artists are) enjoying this. [Laughs]

But there is something about working with five girls, with six and five other girls, we were all kind of tough and we were all kind of trying to out do each other.  Not in a nasty way but kind of something where if no one else is complaining… “No, I’m not gonna say anything.  No, no, I’m fine!”  So it kind of was stimulating, you know when you work with five other girls and one starts moaning and being like a real girlie girl then that’s it.  There’s gonna be no end.  So, it was great.

Have you guys remained friends?

Yeah.  It’s funny because it’s one of the things you wish for but we really have.  Were really seeing each other on a regular basis and we celebrate our birthdays together, it’s really nice.  I think one thing that, with this film, that it really bonded us because six girls together can really be a recipe for disaster, well cause it only takes one that has to be a bit conniving and that’s a really bad thing but because of all the training we did for the film.  If you’re hanging somewhere a hundred meters up and your new best friend of half an hour is holding the rope, you better trust each other, because it’s so scary.

And none of us are wussies but, you’re learning how to climb, there’s moments where you hit (the fear) where you’re hanging there and suddenly you’re looking down and everything started trembling and all you wanna do is cry out for your mom [Laughs].  And it’s literally the other girls that are standing at the bottom going, “Come on.  You can do it!” so it’s a very bonding experience.  They have like, you know in businesses they do that, to have teams formed… and we kind of had one of those through the climbing.  And I think it shows on the screen as well, I think you can kind of see that there’s a real connection.

Absolutely. Now with the climbing, have you ever climbed before?

I had actually, I had only once.  And Neil (Marshall) loves teasing me about it that when I came into the audition obviously I played it up a bit.  So now it’s like, “So I’ve been climbing the Everest lately.”  [Laughs]  But I had climbed once and I was struck by how much I liked it because I have a little bit (of a) fear of heights so it’s definitely a case of look upward and never look downward.  There’s something beautiful about when you’re climbing in nature as opposed to climbing walls, it sounds really weird but you kind of feel one with the rock.  It’s really odd.

No, I don’t think so; I know what you’re talking about. It’s like surfing or anything like that when you’re out there…

You become one with the element.

Yeah.

It’s kind of where human beings are supposed to be, in nature.  You know, were not created to be living in air-conditioning. [Laughs]  But I just really enjoyed it.  But one of the other things we did for the preparation was actual caving and that was one of the greatest experiences ever.

You’re not terrified of that?

It’s very strange because that’s what everybody said because it was really, really, really deep.  And you actually went into the crawlspaces.  The scenes, like in the film, where there was literally a little river going.  So you really had to… you could only have you’re head like that [lifting her head] cause if you went like that [bringing her head down] you’d be having water and you couldn’t go more like that [lifting her head up higher] cause it was so tight, I mean really like [moving through the cave] centimeter per centimeter cause the trainer who also trained us for the climbing kind of pulled a trick because we were all so boyish while we were learning how to climb and (he was) like, okay let’s see how much, how crazy they really are.

So he sent us in this thing, he’s like, oh you’ll see when your there; he never expected us to go that far.  So we were, six of us in a row, this was the only time where it’s like okay, mind over matter and just breathe, continue breathing one breath at a time and that was seriously freaky.  So we were crawling and then, the girl in the front goes, “Alright guys, we’ve reached the end.  We’ve gotta go back.”  And then, it was the one part it was like… Oh my God!

Did you have fun with all the special effects and all the gore?

It was fun. [Laughs] Honestly, it’s just fun and they were so talented. These guys are just incredible.

Had you done horror before?

Never, never… and also I was never a huge horror fan, I’m a squeamish girl. [Laughs] I need to sleep at night, I get too scared but Neil, kind of during the rehearsal period, he sat us down after rehearsal and made us watch a lot of horror films.  And that was in a castle in Scotland where it was honestly like The Shining.

Ah, neat.

Yeah, nice [Laughs]; and the rumor went that it was haunted.  I don’t know if it was any one of us that got that rumor into the world but it was just really freaky.

Anything happen? No ghost showed up?

[Laughs] No.  But actually there were a couple of people who had, you know, were feeling presences.  I’m too down to earth for that… unless I see the actual chair flying the room, I ain’t havin’ it.  [Laughs]

Now, with the “crawlers”, you didn’t see them for awhile, did you?

No.  We were absolutely forbidden to see them and I think he (Neil Marshall) was quite right because for us, we had the tension of knowing that we were going to see them… it makes it a lot more exciting, it makes it more scary.  And when it got to the point of knowing, you know you’re looking at the script that day and you’re going to see the crawlers and Neil (said), girls, you’re going to be seeing the crawlers today and you know, basically react however you want because he wanted to film our natural reaction.

And by the time it comes to seeing the crawlers, within a second, all of us are on the other side of the studio cause we’re so freaked out.  They were just so scary.  They were, honestly, they were so freaky because they’re real people, you know, it’s different when its computer animated.  But for the first two days honestly I couldn’t talk to them, they were just so scary.  And then, you know that kind of goes away, but within a week; these poor guys walking around butt naked and its two degrees, and they can’t have a blanket or anything because they have six hour make-up and we kept going… “You want a cup of tea?”  So we got kind of mumsy with the crawlers which is very funny, when you see them because they’re so heinous.

Very seldom do movie monsters live up to being actually scary, but they do here.

Yeah, but I think because they were still kind of… you could see the humanity in them.  Because they are people obviously and I think there’s something, kind of, when it doesn’t become too outrageous.  Cause there is also something I think with films, the things that are really scary are things that might actually happen.  It could be that if you go caving that the cave could collapse and who knows what lives there, you know, we don’t know what’s in the universe, there’s still things we discover, who knows?  And I think that thing of… that there’s a possibility of… that makes it really freaky.  I mean, obviously most people wouldn’t go into a cave anyway so it doesn’t really matter.  [Laughs]

Do you go caving often, now?

You know, it’s funny because after going caving for real, I just loved it; it was one of the best days of my life.  And after actually seeing the film, I'm a bit doubtful.  [Laughs] And also, you never hear good things about caving, you know whenever (there are) cavings in the news (it) is when they lose someone.

That's true.

And it's kind of like, it's just kind of not very clever, I think.

Yeah.

But I must say that the film had a lot to do with it.

I'm sure.

[Laughs] Cause I really loved it because you go into these places and it's not just rock, you've got waterfalls and fossils.  It's just absolutely amazing.

Sounds amazing.

It is absolutely beautiful.  It's funny, not doing, but since seeing the film, I'm like [shaking her head] nah. [Laughs]

You were saying you're not a big fan of horror so what was it like growing up in Holland, is horror popular there?

It's not so much about me not being a fan, I get too scared.  You know, I see a film and I'm  laughing, crying, I'm crying more than the people on screen, kind of thing.  So if I see a horror film I just get really freaked out.  But I must say that through seeing them quite a lot, I'm just really starting to respect the genre.  I really see the difference between the good ones and the bad ones.  And I think in Holland it's kind of like in America where right now, it's becoming more mainstream with films like Scream that are getting more…

Popular…

Exactly.  Wider (release) like Saw.  Before there was kind of like a really hardcore horror base, you see all the films.  That's one thing I absolutely find fascinating doing this film is that the people that really love horror, they know everything.  They know EVERYTHING, and I'm like, "Oh my God, you know more about my film than I do."  It's really quite admirable, people have a real passion for it.

Well, they love it because its such a… the genre definitely gets looked down upon.

Not anymore I think.

You don't think so?

No. I think it's really changing, I mean, maybe I'm saying that because it's from my perspective.

You also did a very good film.

Yeah, that's true.  Exactly.  Exactly.  That does make a difference.

How much has your life changed since The Descent had been released?

Ahhh.

Like you're doing interviews right now…

Exactly.  Exactly.  But I was in a television show in England so that kind of thing I kind of had before, but what I do realize now is that… meetings are a lot more easy to get.  [Laughs]  And also because I got to do some of my own stunts in the film, you kind of get to be, you know, when I do that thing I'm crossing, that's really me.

That's awesome.

Yeah, I know.  It's so rare for a girl to be able to do that.  So you kind of get into a different league where before I'd always be doing the goofy comedy bit whereas now I'm getting more into action and serious roles.  And people tend to go a lot… "I know you from somewhere."  [Laughs]  But otherwise it's not like your life actually changes, but I don't know, we'll see… it might still.

Yeah, hopefully we'll be seeing more of you.

I hope so too.

It was nice meeting you.

Thank you, so much.

Let me know what you think. Send questions and comments to jimmyo@joblo.com.

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