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Set Visit: The Hitcher (3/6)

Nov. 8, 2006by: Ammon Gilbert

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 storys very close to the original. One of the differences though is that we made the protagonist female, which is something weve done in all the movies that weve made. Its kind of what attracted us to it, is the fact that we had some success with the female roles and I think theres no way that these days in todays 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 theres a way to mitigate some of that fear about having someone come in a car with you. So thats 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: Were always looking for new faces, or people who havent 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 weve 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 its 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 thats 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 its early enough in the process.

What about Sophia have you incorporated in the role?

BF: Well Sophia has got a lot of energy, shes funny, so theres a little more humor in it. We incorporated that this girl is interested in fashion. I dont know if Sophia is necessarily interested in fashion, but shes photographed a lot wearing clothes, so we thought wed work some of that in. Little things, little nuance things that hopefully makes the character feel a little more real. Because its 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 hes gonna do. That was a really hard role to cast, I mean its a tall order. We obviously knew all of Sean Beans 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 Do Sean, do Sean, so from early on Sean Bean was like the archetype. I didnt 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 hes relatively unknown?

BF: I think that in a lot of movies, for us its important that the leading guy is someone thats 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 couldnt 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 wasnt a second choice- it was Zack or nothing. To me he is just like, the real guy. A real guy whos charming and lovable and you need a guy whos like that. You dont want a guy who that every guy and girl cant 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 cant relate to him, and hes 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 were doing remakes and it was never our companys design to become a remake company. Let me go through it so that its 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 We want you to remake AMITYVILLE, and we had nothing else, and we had no other movies, so we did that one. And then TCM: THE BEGINNING, everyone said its a remake, its not a remake- its a brand new story, we just use the characters. So its not really a remake, but well put it in a remake column, but its 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 What movies do you guys love?, 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 We loved THE HITCHER. Its such a cool story, and although it was a big movie on video, it didnt 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 and here we are.

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

BF: No. Nothing new, its hard, because the companys the three of us so no ones minding the shop while were here, so nothings happening on anything. Theres no one back in L.A., and Im trying to split my time between this movie and finalizing TCM: THE BEGINNING. So theres nothing that can get done because were all working on other stuff, so hopefully we finish one movie and we hope that theres something for us to do after that. But we never know. Thats the long winded answer on why theres nothing really happening on THE BIRDS.

Are you looking at some original stuff too?

BF: Yeah, we are looking at original scripts. Theres a script that Ive always loved called THE HORSEMAN, and were trying to work that out. Its an original script by David Callahan, who wrote DOOM, and its a really cool serial killer story, but its much more than that. And thats a movie that weve loved for the last four or five years. And I dont think theres much else, the way weve kind of always done it is that were working on what were 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. Ive enjoyed all the SAWs, I think those are clever and well done. I like that they dont 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 Ive met with him and hes great.

Whats 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 dont have a lot of experience. When we started the company, Michael Bay always wanted to take directors who hadnt directed a feature yet and give them a shot. Dave is amazing, he really is amazing. Hes the most story focused director that Ive 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, Daves 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 its better for him. Hes unrelenting and making sure everything adds up.

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

BF: Ill say this: he certainly doesnt give a soliloquy about how his mother beat him as a young boy and thats why he does what he does. I think that we give a little more inside into why hes doing what hes doing, but I specifically didnt want the killer to have that sort of mustache-twirling moment at the end where he explains why hes doing what hes doing because that never really seems that real. I dont there will ever be a full explanation on why on why hes doing it. In terms of the supernatural aspect of it, well have to see how the movie is put together and how relevant that is. I think were 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 thats definitely in terms of what youre talking about. Our story doesnt hinge on the fact that he is supernatural.

Do you know if the French Fry gag will be in this one? Sophia wasnt 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 cant definitely tell that it will or it wont be there, is that a finger in the French fry, when it happened, was an unusual experience. Now, its a way to make money. That moment automatically looses that terror, because its become a joke in our society, so were trying to figure out a way to do something and not produce a laugh. I mean, the one thing we dont is a bad laugh, so well probably leave it out.

Does Rutger Hauer have a cameo in the film?

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

I know youre shooting this out of sequence, but where are is it going to be when youre 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 were gonna be doing it a bit differently, were 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. Were very happy with our crew here in Austin, its the third movie that weve done with them. Its amazing when you look around and you recognize the same crew that youve 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. Hes used to working with the best crews of L.A., and he said hed come back and shoot here again. Yeah, its gone very smoothly, but at any moment I feel like the bottom is gonna fall out, but right now were at great shape.

Have you worked with Sean Bean before?

BF: No, Ive 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 youre in that situation when youre talking to agents and youre saying I want a Sean Bean type, 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.

Whats Daves 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 thats recognizable with some of his work. But at the same time, hes 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. Youve seen the monitor on some of these shots, and it looks good, and it looks real and I think Daves main thing is that he wants it to look real and he wants it to feel real. So its not hyper reality, he wants it to feel like its real. Thats just it, when I read the script thats exactly what I thought what it was going to look like, so Im very happy.

And its going to be rated R, right?

BF: Weve never had a PG-13 movie, Ive never had a movie that wasnt 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 its hard, because obviously you want to be respectful to the process, but at the same time you dont 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 theres a good story, but the gore is important, and its a very hard line to walk. In this movie, we only have one or two scenes that are really bloody. Somebodys going to get torn between two cars, and at the end of the day, the question is, and were not going to answer it here tonight and we probably wont answer it for months, how much of that are you gonna show. So, actually, were going to shoot it like its NC-17, and then cut it back. We dont 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, were 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 its also the evolution of the genre. By the very nature of what we do, people are always trying to push it- theyre 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. Its an incremental thing thats getting it more and more gory, and the question is where are you backed up against the wall and you cant do anything, which I dont think weve gotten to.

The stuff weve done with TCM: THE BEGINNING theres a lot that I thought wed never be able to get let through, and we did. This movies not going to be as gross. Its more of a thriller, and theres a part of me that worries about the horror thing that if we keep making these slasher horror movies, that well 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 Bates 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 Michaels movies and for us, its 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. Ive 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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