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Set Visit: The Hitcher (3/6)

11.08.2006

We checked out the set of THE HITCHER remake earlier this week (read part one HERE), and had a chance to sit down with director Dave Myers (check that out HERE). Next up was our time with Platinum Dunes producer Brad Fuller, who was cool enough to chat it up in between takes during filming, and gave us some insight into the whole process of picking THE HITCHER (amongst hundreds of other candidates) to remake, as well as a bunch of other cool shite. Check it out:

What is the difference about this remake and the original?

Brad Fuller: The storyís very close to the original. One of the differences though is that we made the protagonist female, which is something weíve done in all the movies that weíve made. Itís kind of what attracted us to it, is the fact that we had some success with the female roles and I think thereís no way that these days in todayís era that anyone picks up anyone on a one on one basis on the highway. So we figured that if we had a couple traveling together maybe thereís a way to mitigate some of that fear about having someone come in a car with you. So thatís why we put her boyfriend with her.

You did a great job in the past with casting a female lead. How did you find Sophia and what was it about her that you thought made her really nail it for the role?

BF: Weíre always looking for new faces, or people who havenít been established as movie actors, and our budgets force us to find new faces, as opposed to paying someone a ton of money to play the lead. Sophia is someone who weíve been hearing and reading a lot about, and seeing some of her work and being a fan. We had a meeting with her, and the same thing that happened with Jessica Biel: we had a meeting with Jessica Biel, we loved her just as with Sophia, and itís the same way we cast Ryan Reynolds too. When we can sit down and really talk to an actor, not in the audition, but talk to them one on one, talk to them about what the role is to see if thatís something that they would want to do. We can almost tailor the role to that person, because we start doing it at that moment because itís early enough in the process.

What about Sophia have you incorporated in the role?

BF: Well Sophia has got a lot of energy, sheís funny, so thereís a little more humor in it. We incorporated that this girl is interested in fashion. I donít know if Sophia is necessarily interested in fashion, but sheís photographed a lot wearing clothes, so we thought weíd work some of that in. Little things, little nuance things that hopefully makes the character feel a little more real. Because itís supposed to.

How did you decide on casting Sean Bean as the role of The Hitcher?

BF: That was what made it so hard because it is such an iconic role and you need an actor that people can relate to. Charming enough to get into the car, and horrible enough to do the things that heís gonna do. That was a really hard role to cast, I mean itís a tall order. We obviously knew all of Sean Beanís work, and he just worked on THE ISLAND with Michael [Bay], so Michael had a relationship with Sean obviously, and when I started talking with Michael about people, he was always like ĎDo Sean, do Seaní, so from early on Sean Bean was like the archetype. I didnít think we could ever get him, but he was the guy that we were always looking to hire. The dates just fell into place, and we got very lucky.

How did you go about casting Zack, as heís relatively unknown?

BF: I think that in a lot of movies, for us itís important that the leading guy is someone thatís kind of relatable. Zack was someone who almost got TCM: THE BEGINNING, the one that we just made. We were down to Zack and the guy who got it and loved him, and we felt so bad that we couldnít make it work. Unfortunately he had to come in 5 or 6 times to get the role, we just kept bringing him back, but the weird thing was every time we brought him back he did better, I mean his acting was better, he understood the role more and more, and I think every time he was in the room with us, we gave him better direction and he understood the role better.

Really, it was one of those things when there really wasnít a second choice- it was Zack or nothing. To me he is just like, the real guy. A real guy whoís charming and lovable and you need a guy whoís like that. You donít want a guy who that every guy and girl canít relate to because you have to believe this couple, and when what happens in the end happens, you have to be in love with them to feel the story. And we felt that Zack had all of those things, he was a stud, but not so much a stud that people canít relate to him, and heís very relatable and he has a nice sense of humor. There was no one else.

Why did you decide to do a remake of THE HITCHER now?

BF: Well, we get a lot of crap because weíre doing remakes and it was never our companyís design to become a remake company. Let me go through it so that itís clear: TCM was, we were three guys who were starting a company, and someone brought us the rights to TCM, and we just kind of made that and we had no idea what would happen. So when that movie opened, the only thing people were bringing us was remakes. So when AMITYVILLE came to us, and MGM came to us and said ĎWe want you to remake AMITYVILLEí, and we had nothing else, and we had no other movies, so we did that one. And then TCM: THE BEGINNING, everyone said itís a remake, itís not a remake- itís a brand new story, we just use the characters. So itís not really a remake, but weíll put it in a remake column, but itís a brand new one.

And then while we were dealing with AMITYVILLE, Drew and I were having lunch with David Lindy, who had sold TCM for us and is now at Universal, but then he was with Good Machine, which was doing foreign sales on TCM, and said ĎWhat movies do you guyís love?í, and everyone in the company, Drew, Michael and myself, all loved THE HITCHER. And my wife loved the movie, and kept on saying that we got to redo this movie. So when I was at that lunch with David Lindy and he asked if we could do a remake, which one would we do, and I said ĎWe loved THE HITCHERí. Itís such a cool story, and although it was a big movie on video, it didnít really get a proper theatrical release, and we could do it at our budget level. And low and behold, David Lindy becomes the chairman of the studio and is able to deliver us the rights to that title, and so it just became this fortuitous thing andÖ here we are.

Whatís going on with THE BIRDS, is there anything new with that?

BF: No. Nothing new, itís hard, because the companyís the three of us so no oneís minding the shop while weíre here, so nothingís happening on anything. Thereís no one back in L.A., and Iím trying to split my time between this movie and finalizing TCM: THE BEGINNING. So thereís nothing that can get done because weíre all working on other stuff, so hopefully we finish one movie and we hope that thereís something for us to do after that. But we never know. Thatís the long winded answer on why thereís nothing really happening on THE BIRDS.

Are you looking at some original stuff too?

BF: Yeah, we are looking at original scripts. Thereís a script that Iíve always loved called THE HORSEMAN, and weíre trying to work that out. Itís an original script by David Callahan, who wrote DOOM, and itís a really cool serial killer story, but itís much more than that. And thatís a movie that weíve loved for the last four or five years. And I donít think thereís much else, the way weíve kind of always done it is that weíre working on what weíre working on and hopefully we get other opportunities.

Do you ever have time to watch some of the recent horror movies that are coming out lately?

BF: I liked EMILY ROSE a lot, that was a good movie. Iíve enjoyed all the SAWís, I think those are clever and well done. I like that they donít have a ton of money, but they have no less impact for not having a ton of money. I saw THE HILLS HAVE EYES, I liked that too, I thought it was pretty cool. I liked the original and I liked that one. That director, Alexandre [Aja] is a very talented guy and knows how to put a camera someplace and Iíve met with him and heís great.

Whatís it like working with first time director Dave Meyers?

BF: Working with first time directors, as a rule, is usually a great thing. We pick guys who are really talents, but donít have a lot of experience. When we started the company, Michael Bay always wanted to take directors who hadnít directed a feature yet and give them a shot. Dave is amazing, he really is amazing. Heís the most story focused director that Iíve worked with. Most of the time directors are concerned about performance and the shot. And during the entire prep period, all Dave was concerned about was the script and the story. And that was a new experience for us. You know, Daveís real. He knew he could get the shooting part out of the way, but he had never really developed a script before, and so he really put all his energy into that. I think itís better for him. Heís unrelenting and making sure everything adds up.

The original HITCHER did some things that couldnít really be explained. Are you trying to explain them in this one?

BF: Iíll say this: he certainly doesnít give a soliloquy about how his mother beat him as a young boy and thatís why he does what he does. I think that we give a little more inside into why heís doing what heís doing, but I specifically didnít want the killer to have that sort of mustache-twirling moment at the end where he explains why heís doing what heís doing because that never really seems that real. I donít there will ever be a full explanation on why on why heís doing it. In terms of the supernatural aspect of it, weíll have to see how the movie is put together and how relevant that is. I think weíre gonna try and lean away from that. There will be a couple moments. It is a remake and we want to pay homage to the original and what they did there, and thatís definitely in terms of what youíre talking about. Our story doesnít hinge on the fact that he is supernatural.

Do you know if the French Fry gag will be in this one? Sophia wasnít really clear if it was going to be included or not.

BF: Right, none of us are really clear on that. The problem that we have with that scene, the reason why I canít definitely tell that it will or it wonít be there, is that a finger in the French fry, when it happened, was an unusual experience. Now, itís a way to make money. That moment automatically looses that terror, because itís become a joke in our society, so weíre trying to figure out a way to do something and not produce a laugh. I mean, the one thing we donít is a bad laugh, so weíll probably leave it out.

Does Rutger Hauer have a cameo in the film?

BF: You know, Iíll be honest with you, I really wanted to do that, and it just didnít work out. In all of our movies, we end up going to someone from the original and trying to get them. And dates, where weíre shooting it just didnít work out just didnít work out. We definitely tried to do it, and sadly we couldnít make it work. It was the forefront in all of our minds.

I know youíre shooting this out of sequence, but where are is it going to be when youíre shooting this in the desert sunlight- is it towards the end of the movie?

BF: The movie takes place over a 40 hour period. The first movie was really action packed, and we were trying to do the same thing. But weíre gonna be doing it a bit differently, weíre going to be doing the end a lot different than the first one. But the final scene will play out on the hot highway in the daylight. Things are always changing here though.

Has this been a pretty good shoot?

BF: Well, I never like to jinx it. So as far as day 17, things are going really well. Weíre very happy with our crew here in Austin, itís the third movie that weíve done with them. Itís amazing when you look around and you recognize the same crew that youíve done two or three other movies, many of which were on TCM: THE BEGINNING which we just brought on through. And that makes it easier for myself and for Drew, and I think is Dave is very pleased with the work you can find here in Austin. Heís used to working with the best crews of L.A., and he said heíd come back and shoot here again. Yeah, itís gone very smoothly, but at any moment I feel like the bottom is gonna fall out, but right now weíre at great shape.

Have you worked with Sean Bean before?

BF: No, Iíve never worked with Sean. I met Sean in an elevator at THE ISLAND junket. But like I said, he was the guy that we always wanted to play the part. So when youíre in that situation when youíre talking to agents and youíre saying ĎI want a Sean Bean typeí, and then you get the actual guy, he is so professional and so thoughtful in terms of his character and adding things but at the same time being receptive as to what Dave wants to do.

Whatís Daveís visual style for this movie? Is there a color palate picked out?

BF: Yeah, he certainly has a visual style and a palate picked out thatís recognizable with some of his work. But at the same time, heís trying to create a different look. You know, with his videos are only 30 seconds long, and so that look is to get people to look at the screen and get their attention. Youíve seen the monitor on some of these shots, and it looks good, and it looks real and I think Daveís main thing is that he wants it to look real and he wants it to feel real. So itís not hyper reality, he wants it to feel like itís real. Thatís just it, when I read the script thatís exactly what I thought what it was going to look like, so Iím very happy.

And itís going to be rated R, right?

BF: Weíve never had a PG-13 movie, Iíve never had a movie that wasnít NC-17. On TCM: THE BEGINNING , we just got it through this week. And that was the hardest one. That movie is so brutal and over-the-top, I mean that movie is really brutal. With the first TCM, we turned that into the MPAA and they said we had to cut some frames when the girl blows her head off. In this movie, they came back and said that there were 17 scenes that were NC-17. As a producer itís hard, because obviously you want to be respectful to the process, but at the same time you donít want to gut your scene.

People are going to see TCM: THE BEGINNING more than THE HITCHER, people are going to see the gore. Hopefully thereís a good story, but the gore is important, and itís a very hard line to walk. In this movie, we only have one or two scenes that are really bloody. Somebodyís going to get torn between two cars, and at the end of the day, the question is, and weíre not going to answer it here tonight and we probably wonít answer it for months, how much of that are you gonna show. So, actually, weíre going to shoot it like itís NC-17, and then cut it back. We donít ever want to be accused of wimping out early, and having to add it in later, so we always try and go over the top and then we pull back.

So will there be an uncut or unrated DVD then?

BF: I want audiences to go into movie theaters and love it. I think that as a company, weíre not going to pull punches.

Do you think that Rob Zombie and Eli Roth have paved the way to help make the ratings board a bit more lenient on horror these days?

BF: Yes, I think those filmmakers have definitely helped, but I think that itís also the evolution of the genre. By the very nature of what we do, people are always trying to push it- theyíre trying to push it in terms of the subject matter in a drama, or in the stunts that you would do in a Michael Bay film, or in our case, how far can you push the gore. Itís an incremental thing thatís getting it more and more gory, and the question is where are you backed up against the wall and you canít do anything, which I donít think weíve gotten to.

The stuff weíve done with TCM: THE BEGINNINGÖ thereís a lot that I thought weíd never be able to get let through, and we did. This movieís not going to be as gross. Itís more of a thriller, and thereís a part of me that worries about the horror thing that if we keep making these slasher horror movies, that weíll be a relevant production company. The changes that are in this movie to me, personally represent kind of a movement away from that one passion.

Are the car stunts in the film elaborate?

BF: Yes, our stunt man, Kenny BatesÖ the great part about working with Michael is that you get access to Michael Bay people at Platinum Dunes prices. So, Kenny did the stunts on THE ITALIAN JOB, and all of Michaelís moviesÖ and for us, itís huge having a guy like that in and coordinating all of our car stuff. We get the benefit in that our car stuff should be really great. Iíve never done this type of stuff before. We flipped a car in TCM: THE BEGINNING and that was the first time we ever did that, and that was kind of cool.

I'd like to give a big THANK YOU to Brad for his time and his insight into the movie-making process, it was an absolute blast to pick his brain and hear how it's done from the inside. Stick around for my interview with star Zack Knighton, as our set visit of THE HITCHER remake continues!

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