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Ex: Fede Alvarez talks The Girl in the Spider's Web, Don't Breathe 2 & more!

Uruguay-born filmmaker Fede Alvarez has already nailed down his horror cred thanks to the one-two punch of the EVIL DEAD remake and DON'T BREATHE, but he's stepping into the big leagues with THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER'S WEB, the adaptation of 2015's continuation of Stieg Larsson's incredibly popular Millennium book trilogy. Not a sequel to David Fincher's THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, SPIDER'S WEB effectively reboots the franchise, and its main character, inscrutable hacker extraordinaire Lisbeth Salander, bringing a new actress (The Crown's Claire Foy) and electricity to the brand name.

I recently spoke to Alvarez about the appeal of the character and series, how his horror movie background played into this big budget hopeful blockbuster, finding the right actress for the job and what the future of EVIL DEAD and DON'T BREATHE might be.

Obviously there was probably a lot of competition for this directing job, so what do you think you brought to the table in order to get it?

This was just after Don't Breathe and before the movie came out the studio was happy with it, so we were having conversations about what to do together, and one of the things they brought up was this movie, the fourth book. The character I find fascinating and I wanted to do my own version of it and get a chance to jump into that world. Also, it wasn't the second and third book, which would have been a direct continuation of the first movie, which I only wanted Fincher to do that, to continue his own world. This was a chance to start from scratch, and I had a chance to bring my own cast in, to choose who got to play Lisbeth this time, and do what I do, basically. I make more pulpier movies than what other adaptations of the books have been in the past. If you read the books, from the first one to the fourth one, even by the third one things got a bit crazier in that series. They got more fantastical, they're just pulpier in general. So that was the kind of world where I thought, I could have fun there, I can tell the story with my own vision, we don't have to continue something necessarily.

You mention your prior work; how did your horror movie background play into making this film? What tools did you use from the horror movie part of your brain to bring this story to life?

Last night I was smiling, every few minutes the audience cringed, because there are a few cringe-worthy moments. [Laughs] There's not a gory moment, but there are a few unsettling moments in the movie, I really realized how much I enjoy making the audience squirm. But I think it's just the tension in general, this is a story that needed to be suspenseful, I need to keep you at the edge of your seat. That was the thing in Don't Breathe, that was a big exercise in suspense, you get to play with some of those tools here. But it's a bigger canvas, a longer movie, you cannot keep them in that state for all that time, for two hours, but there is definitely some of that tone. And there's some of that darkness as well, I think. I just like movies that allow themselves to be perverse.

You worked on the screenplay, Steven Knight as well. For those of us who haven't read the book, how closely did you stick to it and how many liberties were you allowed to take?

What Steven Knight did was choose some of the main storylines that were going to be taken from the book, and then Jay Basu and myself wrote it to make it our own. We made sure that what was at the center were the themes that I find relevant. The movie is about the same thing all my movies are, I think, they're always about guilt and secrets and shame, and how the secrets of the past can destroy us if we don't face them eventually. They're all about taking the main character and bringing them down into submission and make them beg for forgiveness. Always in my stories, someone has to atone for something they have done. So you really bring that to the center.

What was the process like of finding the right Lisbeth? How many actresses would you say you talked to before landing on Claire Foy?

I always send the casting director to just go and get a lot of people on tape or people to read for the role so we can get an idea of what's out there. In the middle of that process I saw The Crown and I saw Claire on that, and all it took was to see a little of her work to say, "Okay, this is the person it should be." Obviously you go, "Playing Queen Elizabeth?" It is a character who is way more similar to Lisbeth than we might think; mostly it's a character that requires certain abilities from an actor. The Queen is not allowed to say what she thinks all the time, she's in a constant state of repressed emotions. And Lisbeth is like that, she doesn't allow herself to show her heart to herself. We needed an actor that, you put the right lens in her eyes, and she acts like she doesn't want you to know anything about her. Just by putting the camera in her eyes, you don't know as an audience how terrified she might be, or happy, or nervous about a situation. Believe me, that's a gift that very few actors have.

Did you have a rehearsal process? How long did you work with Claire beforehand?

I don't rehearse, I'm a big believer in figuring it out on the day. Mostly because I'm the first audience of the movie behind the monitor, and I want to be surprised, I want to see something once I say action that I don't know what it's going to be, to see the scene unfold in a way I didn't expect. Rehearsals sometimes make people repeat what they did that day; it's just not what I do. I don't storyboard much, unless it's something very technical, I like to see it on the day. You never know exactly how the set is going to look until you show up. Going back to Claire, she had her own preparation, her own homework, which meant going through all the books again, do the training. I don't do green-screens and I don't do a lot of CG, usually that means my shoots are quite miserable, for the actors and crew and everybody involved. [Laughs] I have to go through some level of suffering to give the audience a unique experience that you wouldn't go through on your own.

What do you think the future of the character is; can you see going back to one of those earlier books, or do you only see making new stories for Lisbeth?

I've never been interested in doing a sequel to one of my movies, to stay in the same place, but mostly because I write and direct my own movies, it takes me a lot more time than a director who gets a script. I work on the script for a year at least, and then another year making the film, so to stay in the same world making two movies for about five years of your life, I never do that. But I wouldn't be surprised, obviously, if the studio wants to tell more stories, and I think they should, because characters like her are pretty unique. You need to keep telling stories about her, otherwise they disappear. As much as we hate remakes and reboots, they're necessary to keep those characters alive, they'll die otherwise. Back when I made Evil Dead, a lot of people weren't happy with it, but if it wasn't because of that film there wouldn't have been the TV show that came afterwards, there wouldn't have been all those things that kept that brand alive.

That said about sequels, we've of couse heard you were doing a sequel to Don't Breathe. What's the status of that?

We have a script, and we love it. If I'm going to direct it or not is something I don't know yet, but we love the story. Right now all I have in my head at this point is maybe I'll take a break, just because I've been working on this movie for two years. I never really jump to another movie once I finish one. I take some time. I really don't know at this point what I'm going to do next.

Do you think another Evil Dead is off the table?

No, it's not off the table, not at all. Like Don't Breathe 2, those are fascinating worlds, and I love those movies. I think there are still things to do in that world, so it's totally not off the table.

THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER'S WEB opens today.

Source: JoBlo.com

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