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Interview: Elisha Cuthbert


Most people know Elisha Cuthbert as Kim Bauer, the “daughter in danger” on TV's "24". But she’s been making an impressive move towards the cinema, with head turning roles in OLD SCHOOL and THE GIRL NEXT DOOR. This month she’ll be melting onto screen in the teen horror romp HOUSE OF WAX. was recently invited to talk with Elisha about her role, and the physical challenges it involved, as well as her future involvement with "24". Judging by the sophistication she exudes, we’ll no doubt be talking about Elisha for years to come. It also doesn’t hurt that she’s from Canada ! Canucks get much love here at!


You’re getting quite experienced at getting out of life threatening situations.

For me, Kim Bauer was sort of…reactive. Things happen and come about, and she’s there and sort of experiences them. Where I think Carly is proactive in the situation and that transition she makeS throughout the course of the film makes her realize “okay, I have to do something about this situation or I’m gonna end up like everybody else.” Which to me was a difference, but I understand the comparison.

Are you more like Carly or Kim?

Oh I more like Carly. I think she has a very determined state of mind. She’s off to New York , she wants to be interning at a magazine. She has a lot of goals and aspires to do a lot of things. I feel that way about myself. I’ve felt that way since I was very little, trying to convince my parents to let me move to Los Angeles and become an actress, and they thought I was nuts. Being the oldest it was a big deal. So, I think there are a lot of things that tie in with being driven as a human being. I think Kim is driven too, but I think there wasn’t a lot of room to play up that sort of idea. I think with television it’s very quick, you’ve gotta come up with ideas and stories.

Can you talk about the scene where your mouth was glued shut?

Let me tell you about the lips, this is actually really interesting. As much as I would like to do things on my own, and do my own stunts, and want to be as believable as possible…we had this glue that we put on the lips, that basically was gonna act like I couldn’t tear my lips apart and I said “you know what, I’m good, but I’m not that good.” I can’t simulate my lips pulling apart from one another. So I said we need real glue, someone get real glue, we’re gonna really glue these lips together. So they brought it out and they glued them shut. And for that one sequence where you see my lips sort of tearing apart from each other was the real deal. Obviously a blood capsule in my mouth.

But the actual idea of it was really happening. There was no way to simulate it. There was no way to simulate having my lips glued together. I can go “mmmmm” all day long, but I can’t really make them really tear apart from each other. And I can’t simulate that they’re stuck without having them really stuck. It was a little nerve wracking because I felt like I couldn’t convey to the director or talk to the first A.D….like I’m stuck in this chair and I’m like “mmmm-mmm”, and you can’t go anywhere but where you are. So I had to calm myself down a little bit. Especially when you’re shooting those sequences, because you’re so amped up, you’re so revved up, and the whole binding in the chair…the backhand, the whole bit, was two minutes in the movie, but it took me five days to shoot. So you’re constantly at it, and you’re constantly there…just get out the glue, we’re doing it!

Do you think more actors should be like that? A lot of them are primma donnas.

I think if you’re really into what you’re doing, there’s sort of that idea that you just wanna do the best job that you can. When you’re there you go “how can I make this what it has to be?” Okay, I can tell them to bring out the glue, or I can tell them not to bring out the glue…I can understand why there’s some actors that don’t want to go there. But for me it’s important to convey the reality of what the situation is.

Was it just one take?

We did it a number of times. I think it’s about 4…4 or 5 times.

Do you think starting out in things like Popular Mechanics for Kids made you more adventurous to do stuff like that?

That freaks me out more I think, to be perfectly honest. The funny thing is, when I started PMK, I was like “Okay, I just hit the lottery, I’m like 14 years old, I’m on a show, this is what I want to do. Although I’m playing myself, not really, but technically, and I get to do all these great things.” And then, as each season went on, I think the more afraid I got. I think, it’s almost the same as riding a horse, the older you get the more frightened you get because you’re aware of the dangers and the risks. And I think that’s what sort of happened to me on that show. But at the same time those life experiences I think made me who I am today. I think there’s a lot of things that I’ve gotten to experience or do that sort of has molded me and my personality.

Are we going to see you on 24 before the end of the season? I see your hair’s blonde again.

Ah, it is. Well, you know, the thing is for me, I think the reason for getting rid of all the main characters on 24 was to change the idea of the show, to keep it fresh. It’s such a particular idea, and I loved being on it. The thing is, there’s been talk, I’m not gonna lie. We’ve been talking about concepts and ideas for me to come back. But I don’t wanna come back unless it’s incredible and amazing and something wild and fun. Because I feel like Kim was such a character, she portrayed so much on that show. If I come back I wanna come back in a big way.

How do you see yourself coming back?

Maybe a one sort of episode event or something, where she kinda comes back, whether it be a big way or not, just something interesting. I think that works with television. The show is so high energy and so exciting as it is, that…she’s been gone for such a long time that I think it would be important to come back in a great way.

Are you watching this season?

I’ve TiVoed it, I haven’t had time to watch it.

This season of 24 has been kind of chock full of Canadians. Do they cast that with shooting in Canada in mind?

I relate that to Joel Surnow working in Canada and working with a lot of Canadian actors…I think he sort of had all his experience with LA FEMME NIKITA, I think was based on the Canadian thing, maybe that had something to do with it. Or it could’ve just been a fluke coincidence. I know that when it came down to the wire, just going “I’m Canadian too” sort of was like…wow, that would be bizarre. But it just so happened that the mother, me, Kiefer, the cinematographer…a couple of editors, some writers. It was pretty wild.

Were you able to bring any of your 24 experiences to HOUSE OF WAX?

I bring it to everything, because television taught me one thing, and that was to get out what I needed to get out in the first five takes, otherwise they were moving on and I was gonna be horrible. It taught me to be quick on my toes, know when to do what I needed to do, and to prepare and understand what I needed to convey before we got there. And I take that with every movie. THE GIRL NEXT DOOR was all creatively rewritten and done with sort of myself and the director. Before we got on set I knew exactly what I wanted to do and convey. The same goes with the independent films and HOUSE OF WAX. I read the script, I looked over Carly and I broke it down, and I said I know this is gonna be intense. The bat sequence at the end of the film, I saved all my energy for, I wanted that to be the satisfaction of the film, whether it be the most gruesome thing in the film, I think it was the most satisfying for the end of this, and the most important for me.

Talk about working with Paris Hilton, who’s not as trained as you, and hasn’t been doing this as long.

I think like any other actor, you start to understand their techniques, their ideas. It doesn’t matter if you get your takes out in the first four, and the other person goes from four to eight, doesn’t make them a better or less of an actor than anyone else, it’s just all about timing, and where they’re comfortable. 24 has trained me to be fairly quick on my feet. But Paris was really excited about coming out and really trying to make a character out of what it was. I think you’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with. I think you wanna work with filmmakers, you wanna work with great producers like Joel Silver, you wanna work with great actors, and I think the two of us together…she sort of stepped her game. I think in this movie…I think she’s really strong. That whole death sequence happened in the span of two weeks, whether it takes four or five minutes on screen, this is like a two week process, that is very grueling and late nights, and she showed up on time and I think she pulled it off. I think she did a great job.

What’s next for you?

Well I just finished in Austin, Texas, an independent film which I produced and starred in. Edie Falco is in the film, she plays my mother and…my character is being molested by her father. So, it’s very high drama. It’s a very dark, deep movie. It’s about women going through challenges and changes, and it’s gonna be a different audience. But it’s important.

Is the title of it DOT?

No, it’s gonna be THE QUIET. While we were shooting the film, that (DOT) was the title. After it being cut together, it just didn’t feel right, we sort of decided that, when you see the film you’ll understand why we called it THE QUIET. It made more sense for the film.

Was there any question for you to do nudity in HOUSE OF WAX?

There always is. I think as a female…every film, there’s questions, there’s “what should we do here, what should we do there?” But luckily I think I’ve proven myself with THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, I think that’s really helped me, I didn’t think it was going to come into play so many times later. The idea of going… we can make a teenage sort of comedy, romance comedy, about a boy and a porn star and not show anything. That was a big task, and a big hurdle for me. But to bring that onto this film and every film after that and go “it’s not about that, it’s about entertaining, it’s about conveying a character, it’s about making a fun movie without having to go there.” But that’s not to say if somewhere down the line I feel like if nudity is required, or needed, that it may come into play. I don’t want to take it out of the loop, or the idea that it’s possible. But for right now, it just doesn’t make sense.

What did they ask you to do?

They didn’t really ask me, but you kinda go, the sequence coming out of the tent, what’s she wearing at night? There’s all these things that kinda go along with moviemaking.

Did you go out nightclubbing with Paris? Did she show you how to step up your game in that regard?

Her acting game stepped up, my partying stepped up. Yeah, we went out, that’s for sure, it’s hard not to. Is the Pope Catholic? She actually just used that earlier, so I stole it from her.

What would you guys do?

We went to a few places in the Gold Coast. There isn’t really much to do, except shoot the movie and go surfing, and I don’t surf, because I don’t like the water. But we went out a few nights, we went out for dinner, and her sister was there and I got to meet Nicky, and she’s a sweet girl, and Chad had his girlfriend, or wife now, there, and Jared had his girlfriend, and I had my fiancée. When you’re thrown into a continent where you know no one and all of a sudden you’re put into a situation where the crew sort of becomes your family and the cast become your friends, we kind of experienced the movie together.

Could you talk about the head dive into the deer carcass?

Wasn’t that an interesting dive? Okay, that was a stunt girl. But a lot of was me actually. I did the first fall, and that leap, jump, flip thing was definitely not me.

And you fall through the floor.

I fall through the floor, I definitely did that. That was one of the scariest things.





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