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Set Visit: The Fog (Part 3 of 3)

06.01.2005

The second interview on the set of THE FOG remake was a roundtable with Tom Welling (SMALLVILLE), Selma Blair (HELLBOY), Maggie Grace (ABC’S LOST), and Rupert Wainwright (STIGMATA). The whole thing is close to WAR AND PEACE in length, but far more entertaining, so let’s get to it! If you haven't read the previous sections, CLICK HERE for my set visit description and CLICK HERE for my interview with John Carpenter and producer David Foster.

Tom, what drew you to this role?

TOM WELLING: Uh...
(He’s stuck for a bit while Selma Blair gestures at herself)

SELMA BLAIR: Jerk. He's not good at the play along.

WELLING: What drew me to this role? I think it was "The Fog," the original "Fog." I was a big fan of Rupert's. John Carpenter, the script was fun. I knew that visually, Rupert would bring a lot to it and, you know, I found the script interesting because I wanted to do it. And I wanted to do it because I found out it was interesting.

Obviously you had to fill some big shoes with "Superman". I don’t know if you’re quite aware of the cult status that Tom Atkins has in the horror genre.

WELLING: I wasn't. John Carpenter started to talk to me about it, but then we were interrupted by an AD.

He's got fan sites--

WELLING: Really?

T-shirts of him. I mean, like this huge cult following. And I was wondering how the new Tom, what he's going to bring to stand up to the old Tom.

RUPERT WAINWRIGHT: Well, I guess he'd have to have a lot more acne to start.

BLAIR: What? He had acne?

WAINWRIGHT: What other movies was he in?

"Creepshow," "The Creeps," "Escape from New York," "Halloween 3."

WAINWRIGHT: Apart from those (said with dry humor).

"Lethal Weapon."

WELLING: Well, you know, this version of "The Fog" is updated. It's more modern. I mean, the other one was great for what it was. But obviously, as you can see us all sitting here, it's like taking the ages of the original characters and dividing them in two.

WELLING: This film, this is younger. It's quicker. It's a little bit edgier, I think. And I think all of us together are gonna bring that to the film. The character he played wasn't anything that we're modeling, wasn't anything I'm going after. I think this film is making its own - taking its own direction.

Well, his character in the original film, he always plays kind of like the smoking, drinking womanizer.

WELLING: Right. That's Father Malone in this film.

Selma, what happened to your face?

BLAIR: One too many. I'm a drunk driving campaign - what? Actually this is from Stevie's accident. She gets in an accident. I'm a wordsmith, what can I say?

In "The Fog," not a real car accident?

BLAIR: In "The Fog," she's in the fog trying to save the son, 'Get out of the fog, I'm coming home.'

WELLING: Car accident.

BLAIR: Car, inside, stall, hit. I can't talk about the rest. It's too painful. Was I not supposed to say that Rupert?

WAINWRIGHT: No, no, no. It's all good.

BLAIR: I feel like I look a lot worse right now, than...

So she leaves the lighthouse in this version. What else has been ramped up a little bit in the new version?

WAINWRIGHT: Well, see, there's a much more interesting escape, which she barely escapes. We've moved the ending out of the - a lot of this movie is really about the heritage of the town. And before, obviously the journal was found in a church, so it's centered around the church.

And here, one of the things that we really focus on is sort of the nexus of the past and the present, and how the past has come back basically to destroy the present because of what happened then.

So the scene that we're doing right now, which you can see, is in the town hall which is kind of like a museum to all of the things that these townsfolk are so proud of. It's a little like when you go to Monterrey or Carmel, it's like all you ever hear is, 'John stood there, and Fred stood there,' and 'this toilet roll is precious because ' blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And you're like, 'For crying out loud!' And that's kind of what this island is like. But in fact, it's hiding a horrible, horrible secret that eventually comes out during the course of the movie.

Maggie, you play Elizabeth Williams, and that was a role that could essentially be attributed to Jamie Lee Curtis although it was a different name. And her character was sort of more of a scream queen than anything else. How are you different from Elizabeth in this version of "The Fog?" What have you taken from her, and which way are you departing from that role?

GRACE: Well, as Tom said, it's really a very different movie from the original. There's significant plot changes. And really, the character comes into the story with a very different - she's got a lot of unfinished business in town and history with - with Nick.

So she's very much more invested in the situation than before. She's part of this. She is also descended from the perpetrators of the crimes of which you speak. So she's implicated in a much greater way.

Can you say what the unfinished business is?

WELLING: Oh, come on! It's best you see the movie.

GRACE: Yes.

WAINWRIGHT: She's from the town. She's left, she's coming back to the town for a variety of different reasons. And part of that is there's a sort of deeper reality to her character, which eventually gets involved in the world of the town.

When we walked into the stage down there, the first thing that I noticed was the smell...

WELLING: Oh, no.

...of the fog.

WELLING: Oh.

Have you guys had to breathe that stuff in the whole time? Has it been difficult?

WELLING: Yes. They laced it with - on different days, they put lavender, sometimes sage, and it helps...

GRACE: Sometimes chemical drugs.

WELLING: ...keep the mood on set. It's Canada. There's a lot of smoke. What can I tell you?

BLAIR: That makes no sense. Canada is so clean.

WELLING: Vancouver.

BLAIR: Yeah.

I was thinking of something else. Has this been a problem or a frustration for you guys?

BLAIR: You ain't gonna catch me complaining! I'm a saint. Go ahead.

WELLING: Was that for me?

Well, the three of you.

BLAIR: Do you get a headache from the fog? Is the fog - are you thinking of suing Sony? I think that's what they seem to be getting at.

Is "The Fog" scary on the real set? Yes.

WELLING: I don't think we're allowed to talk about that - with our contracts, right?

BLAIR: Right.

WELLING: Right. That's lawyer stuff.

GRACE: Business affair.

Tom, are you still filming "Smallville" right now while you're doing this?

WELLING: No.

You're done with "Smallville?"

WELLING: Last Thursday.

BLAIR: That's the "Smallville" camera right there.
(Points to area directly in front of her across table)

WELLING: Yes. Actually, Selma - I didn't know this, but we wrapped last Thursday on "Smallville." A lot of times, doing our scene, I don't know if you saw it today, they'll have two cameras going. And I didn't know this for the first couple of days. Selma actually just told me. She said, 'See that camera over there?' I'm like, 'Yes.' She said, That's "Fog." I said, "OK." She said, See that camera? That's "Smallville." And they're just getting some footage to use later.

BLAIR: It was funny on that day, because we laughed cause we do and forget it.

Selma, in the original, your character doesn't really interact with anyone else. How happy were you in this one that you seem to be doing more with everybody else?

BLAIR: Yeah, that was a relief. When I saw the original right before I went into audition, she really was obviously very isolated. And I'd never - I really love having the energy of other people around me. That kind of gets me going, for better or for worse. But, you know, that's what I'm used to and love. So I was really scared and intimidated just to be in a room by myself, talking on a microphone.

No, I was. I was very relieved. I wish we had more. I wish we had more scenes with - with these guys. But it's great to have the kid - it's great to have that little kid.

Yeah, because you don’t get...

WELLING: What's his name?

BLAIR: His name's Cole, I hear. So he's Andy - what? I don't do what?

Oh, in the original, you don't save him.

Oh, right. I don't interact with him much in the original, right? You gotta see that movie.

Who's idea was it to go with PG-13 on this? I mean, lately, a lot of the remakes like "Chainsaw," "Dawn of the Dead," "House of Wax," "Amityville" have all gone R and have been very successful. Rupert, was it your decision or was it Sony's decision to go PG-13 like "The Grudge," or "Bogeyman?"

WAINWRIGHT: They already decided that it was going to be PG-13 when I joined. So that was kind of like, you know, a non-starter. I think that the original is in many ways, it's a haunted town story. It's also basically a slasher movie. I mean, guys coming with big-ass hooks to scare the living daylights out of you.

So is that a challenge to make a slash/hook movie with a PG-13 rating?

WAINWRIGHT: It's beyond a challenge, yeah. So there's a variety of other layers that work in the movie, as well as scares. But there's a variety of other things that we can do now with CG, with fog. So there's a whole variety of other things that we can do to make it scary, and ominous and weird, and surprising.

WELLING: And even things you don't see, right?

WAINWRIGHT: Yeah, exactly.

In the original movie, it wasn't even that graphic. And yet, it was an R.

WAINWRIGHT: Yeah. It's fairly graphic for a mainstream movie. But there's a lot of just ice picks and eyeballs, and hooks right in granny's, you know, coming out of I don't know what.

There's not much more you see really, it's just more suggestive.

WAINWRIGHT: Right, right.

But it still got an R.

WAINWRIGHT: Right.

You seem to be indicating that there's going to be a CGI element to the fog?

WAINWRIGHT: Oh yeah, absolutely. We've been shooting...

Like "The Mummy?"

WAINWRIGHT: ...all practical - hopefully not at all like "The Mummy." No, we've been shooting all practical fog so far. But there's certain things that we have to sort of replicate. With real fog, there's like this scene, for example, when someone's out on the beach and there's a huge fog bank on the horizon. Well, unless you just sit there for a month and get lucky and having the actors sitting there and just burning film, that's not going to happen.

There are certain things that the fog does that it just can't do. But there's a lot of times that we get the fog to do pretty weird stuff. And we give this to the CG guys and we go, 'OK, take that. That's how we'll do it in this situation.' So in other situations, just copy that exactly.

Going back to the PG-13 thing. These days, sort of the trend is a movie comes out on DVD and there's like the regular version, there's like the unrated version. Are you taking this into account now as you're filming?

WAINWRIGHT: There's a very hot scene between Selma and Maggie, which I've just done the most basic coverage on so far. But this evening, I'm going to go a little bit more - you know.

Is John Carpenter being involved in this as an executive producer, have you looked to him for any sort of guidance on doing the remake, or does he...

WAINWRIGHT: John didn't really want to be that involved. I mean, I had a drink with him at Russo and Franks, and he goes, 'It's your movie now!' And that was basically it.

Do you like that? Or would you have wanted more guidance from him?

WAINWRIGHT: I don't think it was really an option.

How did you feel about it?

WAINWRIGHT: I felt kind of relieved.

This is for the three actors. How has this film been particularly physically challenging? Has there been anything particularly challenging to you?

WELLING: Last week we did night shoots. We'd go to work when the sun goes down, and you're home when the sun's coming up. And the good thing about that is you're kind of going against rush hour traffic. The bad thing is you have this constant like jetlag feeling, in a sense. And even when we would go in, we would leave, Rupert's still there before us and there after. And I don't think he even went to sleep last week, did you?

WAINWRIGHT: I go to bed.

WELLING: Yeah. I mean, that's physically demanding on everyone, the crew, everyone. It's difficult.

But even in terms of action physicality, is this film particularly grueling. There are a lot of fights.

WELLING: We had to move a bookcase today.

BLAIR: Well, Tom is so tall, and I had this scene where I had to kiss him on the cheek. And that was like really hard. So it's been like really taxing, because I really wanted to kiss him on the cheek, but I just couldn't get up there.

WAINWRIGHT: Selma's being modest. I'll tell you about one of the scenes where her car is crashed into and it rolls down a cliff, and it falls into the water. And she's unconscious because the car rolled down the hill. And we go underwater with her. And we don't know if she's dead or alive, or unconscious. And so we had this car that was 20 foot underwater. And we were like, 'Well, I guess maybe we got like a few shots of her and we'll do the rest of it with stunt guys.' It was sort of like a pop here and a pop there.

And she was underwater non-stop, I guess, for like 11 hours inside the car, underwater, with no breathing thing. You know, with a stunt safety breathing person way off- camera with her stuck, with the water level rising, with her getting the last grasp of oxygen from underneath. We couldn't believe it. We were like watching playback on set, going, 'We can't believe we're doing this to her!' We felt terrible! But it was so cool, we kept on doing it to her.

BLAIR: No, I really loved it. It was great fun. I had such a great safety team on this - in this movie, as there usually are on all movies.

BLAIR: Maggie, you have a little bit of underwater stuff coming up, don't you?

GRACE: Coming up. It's just long going back from day to night shooting, I'm lost for a while.

WELLING: Now, Maggie's being modest. The first day that we worked together was on a Saturday. And I worked on "Smallville" the night before. I get to the set that morning, so I'm like 'I'm used to working like this.' She goes, 'Yeah, I just flew in this morning.' And I'm like, 'Really, from Hawaii?' And she's like, 'Yeah. I said, 'So when do you go back?' She said, 'Oh, in about three hours.'

So she came in literally, for like the workday and left, and went back to Hawaii.

GRACE: I'm going to Hawaii, so I'm like, 'Yeah, Tom. I'm flying to Hawaii in three hours?'

WELLING: Rub it in!

So are the characters that Janet Leigh and Nancy Loomis [played], are those characters not in this version? Or is someone playing those characters from the original film?

WAINWRIGHT: The Janet Leigh character is, and is the mother of Maggie, but she doesn't have an assistant in this, no.

Is the John Houseman character?

WAINWRIGHT: John Houseman character, no. Yes, what am I talking about? John Houseman in playing Macon. Yeah, the guy who's doing the thing with the watch at the beginning. Yes, there is, absolutely. I'm getting him confused with Hal Holbrook. So yes, there is. Macon is in the movie. And Father Malone is a much younger version of the Hal Holbrook character.

There have been a lot of horror remakes coming out in the last couple of years. Having seen any of them, was there anything that you guys were going into this, going 'Well, we want to do this effect to get this right. We're not updating or changing, or anything.

WELLING: I haven't seen any.

BLAIR: You haven't seen any horror movies?

GRACE: Remakes.

BLAIR: Remakes. I don't know if I have either. Should have got someone else. This is so not my genre. That's more of a Rupert question, I guess.

WAINWRIGHT: I was talking to a friend of mine. And he said, 'Oh, "The Fog!" ' And I said, 'Yeah.' He said, "I've always felt that was an excellent half a movie.' And I kind of nodded, because I didn't want to look stupid and not get what this profoundly intellectual statement was. And it sort of buzzed around my head for a long time. And I think that one of the things that you want to know more about at the end of the movie is, who are these guys? What really happened? What was this ship that went - all of those things that you're sort of tantalized with and hinted about. And by the end of the movie, it ends in this very sort of bizarre way with Adrienne Barbeau just going, 'Well, something weird happened last night, and it could happen again any time. Over and out.'

I don't think we're going to give you any more answers in this movie, but we're going to get a lot more into that whole strange event in the past and how it affected the lives, and how basically how the island got cursed.

How do you portray the story of what happened in the past? Is it just through character resuscitation or is there a flashback scene, or anything like that?

WAINWRIGHT: Bedside story. We just thought - no, I'm kidding. Yes, there's a flashback to that whole event.

GRACE: A big book opens up.

WAINWRIGHT: Exactly. The words come alive, they dance across the page.

GRACE: The pictures start to move.

WAINWRIGHT: Yeah. But it's also the elements from that past that literally start being washed up into the present. So weird things start appearing. I feel like, 'That's odd. What's this?' And these things, more and more appear until it gets very strange. And then you begin to realize that these two worlds are colliding.

Just following up on that for the actors. When was the first time you guys actually know something's going wrong in your town?

WELLING: When all the lights are out.

GRACE: Really?

WELLING: I think that's it. We come out of the...

GRACE: Because by then...

WAINWRIGHT: By then, you've seen Spooner on the Seagrass.

WELLING: Yeah, but I just know that something's wrong with Spooner.

GRACE: Well, I think a few of us have a few, almost kind of premonitions.

BLAIR: Yeah, like the lighthouse with the burning brush. Not a burning bush, as Moses had.

GRACE: But a few people were close to dying early on, so it's a pretty big red flag there for me. It's my character going, 'Oh, yeah. My friends are dying.'

Rupert, I'd like to know what some of your favorite ghost movies are, and what some of your personal favorite supernatural haunting type movies are.

WAINWRIGHT: I like "The Ring" a lot. I think that was kind of an interesting...

GRACE: "Stigmata," "Stigmata," "Stigmata." My scariest movie.

WAINWRIGHT: It is, actually.

GRACE: Well, it's kind of...

WAINWRIGHT: It's very specifically a ghost story. Yeah, I mean, that's one of the things you don't realize it is until the end. But the entire movie is about a ghost who has a secret who wants to get that secret out and kind of can't. I think "The Ring" was good. What I liked about "The Ring" is, you know, it's not cold revenge story of the little girl who got pushed down the well.

GRACE: Should be. It's a good title.

WAINWRIGHT: So you're fooling around with this videotape and then, there's the image, and what the fuck is that about? So it takes its time to - you're intrigued, you're hooked. You're like, 'What is going on?' 'Why are all these strange things happening?' I hope that we can sort of dance in that kind of area with this, with sort of the strangeness of "The Fog" being interesting in and of itself before you start to investigate. Before you start to really find out the answers of what causes it to be like that.

Are you saying that with CGI and the fog, are you planning on having the fog actually shape into different things, or is it still going to be a naturalistic type of fog? Do you even know?

WELLING: It's not all CGI fog. We did a sequence where we're in the truck and this cloud of fog is coming toward us. And literally, the first time I saw it, it was like ‘they've got some well-trained fog’, because this thing came around the house, came at us. And all of a sudden, I heard this thump. And these three guys stood up with these lights on their chests and these fog machines.

So I mean, they were inside the fog, but they can't see. They were just taking steps, and they ran right into the truck.

WAINWRIGHT: We have all these different versions of the fog. What he's talking about is angry fog. And what angry - it's great fun, but I'll tell you. You mustn't talk - promise not to put any of this in your stuff.

(And so I won’t, but suffice to say there are multiple fog personalities and they sound very cool!)

WELLING: You're on set and this fog's coming at you. And it's creepy.

WAINWRIGHT: Very, very weird.

WELLING: It's maintains a certain height, and it envelops you and it's just...

It also sounds like the "Seven Dwarfs" fog. Is it a happy fog, or...

WAINWRIGHT: There's lots of grumpy fog, trust me.

Describe the grumpy fog.

WAINWRIGHT: The grumpy fog doesn't do anything, which is about 60 percent of the time.

The original was pretty much just a straight ahead horror flick. One of the lines we heard today was, I guess Spooner was saying that, "I'm from Chicago's South Side' which sounds like its kind of going for funny. So did we happen to catch one kind of funny line?

WAINWRIGHT: There's one joke in the movie, yeah. And you just happened to be there. I'm only kidding. I can't bear kind of fake laughs that are like thrown in. And I have to say, DeRay is a comedian and he's very funny. But what I've really been impressed with DeRay is he just wanted to come to set to be that character. And so, he's in character. Occasionally he's funny, and when he's not, it's just great too, because you're with him.

Selma's very funny. She has a whole bunch of - she's sitting in the lighthouse very wacky...

BLAIR: Funny? Oh, I'm sorry. Was I supposed to be?

WAINWRIGHT: No, no, no. It's how it's supposed to be. It's unintentionally funny. She was trying to act, and we just happened to cut - she just has her own sort of like wacky little - she goes off on her little tangents and...

BLAIR: I don't now what you're talking about.

(Blair reaches into blouse and pulls out a falsie, tossing it at Wainwright.)

WAINWRIGHT: That's OK.

BLAIR: I'm just speaking out for all flat-chested girls across America.

GRACE: You don't know what it's like until you get whacked in the cheek with one of those things.

You know what that would go for on eBay?

BLAIR: About a buck 50.

I have a question for Selma and Maggie. You just said this is not your genre. So what is it that drew you to this role then?

BLAIR: You know, it was actually…

GRACE: (Whispering) It's Rupert.

BLAIR: You know, I really think "Stigmata" was gorgeous, you know. I really thought it was really a stylish, beautiful film. And quite spooky, what I saw. I didn't see the whole thing.

But anyhow, and then I read the script to "The Fog" and I actually thought there was a quiet same kind of stylish element that was there. I'm afraid of horror movies, but...

And Tom, I'm a fan of Tom's, and now, Maggie. Wow, making friends! What's wrong? Are these not the right answers?

Maggie, same question for you.

GRACE: Well, Rupert has a really great pitch. And I very much concur. Elizabeth, she's quite well developed. I mean, I don't want to generalize, but some films in this genre sort of plunk down characters in a situation, and we're expected to investigate what's happening with them and not really know who they are. And I liked that this script certainly made an effort to explain who these people were and why they cared about each other, and why we should care about them.

And yeah, it was - she drives the movie and she's...

BLAIR: Who drives the movie?

GRACE: We all do.

BLAIR: It's a joke! It's a joke, sorry.

GRACE: It's a starring female role, and you don't come across that a lot, someone that actually gets involved, you know. Isn't being dragged through horrific circumstances, crying all the time. She does have to sort of figure out what's happening.

WELLING: But again, I've said this before. This is not the first time I've said this. But don't let the title fool you. This movie is about the fog.

Has the whole film, or is the whole film going to be shot on sets, or are there practical locations?

WAINWRIGHT: Oh, no. We're all over the place. One of the main reasons why we came to Vancouver, is its got this great Pacific Northwest location. So we're all over the place. We're on the big island of Vancouver. We're on this little island called Bowen Island where we're shooting a bunch of stuff. We're all over town here. We're using this place to the max.

So Maggie, this has been a very big year for you. So how's the becoming famous on the cover of magazines and stuff. How's that?

GRACE: I wouldn't go so far as famous.

I think you're getting fairly well known.

GRACE: Uh, I come from Hawaii most of the time.

Are you hearing from a lot of people, or are people recognizing you? Is it a big change?

GRACE: Yeah, it's been a pretty crazy ride this year. I've gone through it with a really amazing group of people. So I couldn't think of a better way to do it. And I'm going through it with another amazing group of people. And Tom gave me some tips, because he can't leave his house. Tutoring me in the ways of walking out the front door.

Rupert, you said you came to the great Pacific Northwest. Obviously, the fog comes in even without you wanting it. Did the weather present any problems?

WAINWRIGHT: One of the problems that we have is that we have diminishing night hours.

BLAIR: We got fogged in. The plane couldn't land because of the fog.

WAINWRIGHT: Yeah. Every time we want fog, it's good. Every time we want a clear day, it’s fogged, you know. So I said in the middle of prep, you understand that the movie - there's some scenes we can't shoot because there's fog.

And everyone's like, 'What?' And I said, 'Well, if there's daylight scenes where it's sunny and you're supposed to see more than 20 feet ahead of you and it's fogged in, it'll be a weather day.' They're like, 'Yeah, sure. It'll be a weather day.' And we've confronted a couple of those. And they weren't weather days, we just kept on shooting. Yeah, a couple of times we've been a little bummed.

And that was that. A great group of people who were gregarious in their energy and gracious with their time. If enthusiasm translates to quality, then this is one remake that should totally kick ass! If not, you’re still guaranteed a good time with the cast interviews on the eventual DVD release's Special Features.

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