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Set Visit: The Hitcher (5/6)

Nov. 9, 2006by: Ammon Gilbert

The set visit to THE HITCHER remake has been super fun so far (check out part one HERE), as well as chatting it up with director Dave Meyers, producer Brad Fuller and star Zack Knighton. While I was there, I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing robo-babe Sophia Bush, who has wowed many folks from her appearance on NIP/TUCK, as well as her role in ONE TREE HILL. She recently starred in the horror 'miss' STAY ALIVE, but is looking to revive her genre presence as the hero of THE HITCHER. Check out what she had to say:

Sophia Bush

Sophia Bush: I have nothing valuable to say so... You brought me over to prevent further torture.

They don't call you the talent for nothing right?

SB: No, it's just... you know.

So we saw you running and...

SB: Yeah, they try to squeeze us in, in between takes and when we can catch our breath so...

So are you enjoying the night shoots and getting acclimated and all that?

SB: Yeah! It's been great you know I think it's good because we've been on nights for a month now so your pretty much used to it. It's telling on me because I usually sleep about five hours a night and on night shoots I've been sleeping a full eight hours every day. You know I think it has something to do with your body clock being off, and something to do with how physical the movie is. It's been really interesting because I'm a person who doesn't sleep and now I do. So it's great!

What other physical things besides running have you had to do that might be a little different from what you're used to?

SB: Well it's part of it you know it's um... When you look at how many shots and how many takes it requires to put together a scene. When we're running, we're running all day. We shot a scene the other night with me having to sort of attempt to wrestle out of the grasp of two police officers. Between the handcuffs and their arms, I walked home with bruises everywhere and woke up the next day and knew muscles I didn't know I had in my back. My legs were so sore from the writhing and the kicking and trying to get out their hands.

I had big thumb prints all over the insides of my arms and it was pretty wild! You know there's that and then we did quite a few stunts things with the car. With the four-four two. I did a 360 spin in the car with a stunt driver that was amazing you know four hundred feet down a highway ah, in the pouring rain. It's sort of things like that. It's a very physical movie.

What's it like running in those boots?

SB: It's interesting! You know they're heavy and pretty tough so it takes a bit out of you but I feel like it sort of adds... you know it's nice at times, when you're supposed to be very uncomfortable on film to have something that is uncomfortable. It's great!

Can you describe your character? Is it Grace?

SB: Yeah, It's funny you know because you're doing a re-make but we've really sort of reinvented and revamped the film in a lot of ways and Grace is not your Jennifer Jason Lee she's ... she's a girl you know, a girly girl but she's got that sort of "I can hang with the guys." side. She's going on this road trip, just her and her boyfriend in his old car that is his baby. His classic love, and it drives her crazy cause there's no air conditioning, and she sort of gets put to the test. There I think is that instinctual thing when a girl is with her significant other, to really look to him for strength, or want to be taken care of. She's got to sort of learn to go without that in the movie.

She's got to learn to really stand on her own two feet in this sort of situation that most people thankfully don't ever get put in. So it's been really fun. I think that what's great about that is it's very realistic. We tried to put a lot of realism in this movie. Take the things from the last one that seemed a little too vague, or that had a little too much license with the home movie magic and tone them down and really chip everything away. Find causes and effects that would fit today. That will fit in a movie now, set now. Why do we pick up a hitchhiker in the first place? You know nobody does that anymore. It's sort of all the situations that we get put in that are beyond our control. We have to try to figure out how to get through them and who we are in those scenarios.

Did you like working with Sean Bean?

SB: Oh god it's amazing you know it's ah, it's really incredible. We've had a great time you know. He's very much on his own, but at the same time just the kindest person. So nice to talk to, but when we're away from work you know, he really sort of steals away and stays in his zone and it's just great to watch. It's amazing you know to be at the place I am in my career to be working with somebody like him. I get giggly when I think about it. I can't even talk. Our first week we shot some pretty heavy, pretty violent scenes with us and you know he and I rehearsed certain things before the scene. You know he's got this whole moment with sticking a knife in my eye. He really wanted to make sure he wasn't going to hurt me, but as committed as he was to making sure that I was comfortable, I was to making sure that we really made it real.

You know he's got to grab me by the back of the head and shove my face into the car seat from the back seat. It's a really violent thing. He and I were both like, "Are you good?" , "Yeah. Are you good?", "Great!". And we went for it. I got home the next day and had bruises all over my right side cause that's the side that hits the seat when he pulls me and it was fantastic! I got to work the next day, and me and the hair and makeup girls are joking around and we were like "Look how sick and twisted we are!" cause the three of us are crowded around. We're like "Look at my bruises! It's so awesome! It's going to be huge!" We were so excited about it because you sort of come away with battle wounds that service the rest of the movie, so it's great.

Is this one of the most challenging role that you've done to date?

SB: Yeah, you know I never want to do something I feel like I've done already. That's part of the reason I wanted to do this film. Because it is different than anything that I've done. You know we're shooting a thriller, we're shooting a movie that is so based in incredible suspense and as you see, there's a lot of time in between set ups, and scene changes, and location changes. To keep yourself in that heightened sense all day, and to keep yourself vulnerable and emotional and traumatized over such a long period of time is a real challenge.

It's something that I'm really, really enjoying you know. Figuring out how to maneuver that while I'm on a set with a bunch of people that I love and make me feel really comfortable that I kind of just want to hang out with. We're fortunate enough to have a great cast, and we have got incredible producers. Just to work on a film of this scale and this size is... It's exciting! You know it's invigorating and it's a new set of challenges all the way around but that's what I wanted it to be.

Are you a fan of horror movies?

SB: I am and you know it's exciting because I worked an a horror movie a year ago and to be taking sort of a combination of the genre film and doing a movie that, yes, is a horror film but really is based in a thriller. You know horror fans are going to get what they want to see, but people who might not necessarily want to go and see a horror movie, I think will really be attracted to this film.

Will you talk a little bit about what came with your director because isn't this his first movie?

SB: Yeah it is. It's Dave's first film. I knew from the moment that I first met with him that he was going to be incredible because he just was so well versed on every beat and every line and every little thing in the script. He's really poured over the pages and made change after change to take something that's good and make it great. Then take what's great, and make it awesome. He has really slaved over this project. He has such vision and he's so talented visually as you...

You can't help but see from his video's. He's really getting to put that into the genre of his career that he's always wanted to and it's his scripts that all of us here are so passionate about and so excited about. It's amazing really to watch him work, and watch him oversee the crew and watch the way that he designs his shots and sets up the lighting and the mood of a scene. It's really incredible to work with somebody that's as experienced as Dave.

So besides trying to maybe ground it in reality now days, what else can horror fans, or even thriller fans look forward to in this film? Like I heard there was a bigger back body count or ah...

SB: Yeah, it's intense because I think we have. You know, just as time has past since the last film was shot, we've had such advances in what we can do via a gravestone scene. The things that we pull with the cars and with the big action sequences are going to be big. Guns are out, people are screaming, and its all of those things that are going to get your heart beating in a scene that you want to see when you go to see a movie like this. What's also interesting about it is when you don't expect to see a body. You get surprised. The body count will be up there but it's really... it's interesting to see how we're changing the way that it gets done. You know What things get discovered rather than necessarily seen while they're happening. There's just going to be a lot of surprises. I think there's going to be quite a few jumps when people go to see the movie.

Do you know the famous french fry scene is still in?

SB: Ah, we don't have much going on with food in the movie at all. Ah, sort of adds to Zack and I's characters. They're exhausted, you get to a point where you haven't slept and you haven't eaten and your world is falling apart and it all feels really good.

Did you get any training to use the guns that you use in the movie?

SB: Ah, yeah. Definitely we're going to go out to a range to use a few of the ones that we're specifically using in the film but I'm lucky, you know. I've used you know, starting as a kid at summer camp and such. Now I'm just making sure that I know what I'm doing for my job. I'm pretty comfortable with guns in general so it's a lot of fun for me to get out on the shooting range and do that whole thing. It was very funny when I went in you know.

I had my initial meeting with Brad and Andrew and I went to have a meeting and sit down and read for Dave and Brad and Andrew and Michael and we're all sitting around and we go through a scene and there's that beat and you know your either waiting for somebody to say "Great! Lets do it this way." or you know discuss where you're coming from and nobody says anything. They're all kind of looking at each other and I'm like "That's a good face people are making. Ok, Great!" Michael Bay looks at me with this weird __expression and I'm thinking "Oh, he's really not the one that I don't want not to like what I just did." He goes, "You hold a gun like a cop." and we all just started laughing!

He was like " Do you, I mean you obviously know what you're doing." I was like "Yeah!" I hadn't thought about that. I can hold a gun like a girl who has no idea how she's doing it for one second you know. It's so funny cause there was that nervous tension in the room like "Did I get it?" and then "You hold a gun like a cop." I was like "Ok! Great!" It was moment in there but you know it's there hasn't been to get from the long winded way of answering your question.

There hasn't been a lot of work with the guns just cause I think we're pretty comfortable with them as they are, but there will be. More of what I did to get ready for the film was I started training really hard. Fitness exercise in general has always sort of been the bane of my existence and when you're young and your metabolism is still going, you think "Oh, I don't have to exercise yet!" and I knew that I was going to come out here and really get my ass kicked so I started with a trainer and started working really hard back home just to get to a point where my body would be prepared to take the beatings every day and prepared to run through the desert all day on some days and you know dive into and under things and be manhandled and thrown into rooms by large men in the cast and you know all of those things.

It was definitely something I had to discipline for and decide to go the extra mile. I told my trainer all the time back in LA, I'm like "I owe you so much!". You know even just knowing how to stretch after a hard day is um... knowing what I need to sort of take care of myself and even how to handle stunts properly, it's big so...

What's been one of the most fun scenes you've shot this time?

SB: Oh god, um, we've been great you know. Zack and I had a lot of fun sort of establishing the relationship between Jim and Grace our first week of shooting. We were still going during the day. Really sort of showing you why this couple loves each other and why the audience will love them and that whole thing. We didn't want to make out all shmutsy and schmoozy and over the top, but we wanted it to be real. We wanted to have that great sense of good chemistry for people.

You did mention that you guys hung out together when you were not working because that established that.

SB: Yeah, well and it's good too because Zack and I especially for the first week of rehearsal, and the first week of shooting, we were here alone. You know Sean wasn't here yet. That's sort of the advantage of a small cast is that you are forced into a new place together. We started off right away spending time together. Our flight out here was delayed twelve hours so it was he and I at LAX going to Starbucks and sitting in Chili's trying to figure out what we were going to do to try to kill time. Really just spending time getting to know each other and spending a lot of time with Dave working on the beginning of the script.

Bringing our life experience and the way that our respective senses of humor kind of volley off on another. We brought all of those things in to really try to make that stuff feel real and to make it organic and we're lucky cause we get along really well. You know, he's totally a friend that I will keep after this movie. It's nice when you have a natural chemistry with a person, to be able to channel it from a friendship that you forge on set, to push that into something that can be a really beneficial basis for when the cameras start rolling and suddenly you have to be in love.

Are you looking forward to shifting back to days and the desert?

SB: Um, you know, Yes and no. I'm excited to be back on days because it'll be nice to be back on a regular schedule, but it's been really nice not be out in the sun all day every day. But I'm looking forward to it just for the change of scenery and the change of pace and to get to some of the really big big moments in the movie.

That's going to challenge your trainers training right there.

SB: Yeah, exactly! You know I'm really going to have to watch myself and... I'm prepared. I know that I'm really going to get beat up when we hit New Mexico. I've been beat up already you know. Like I said, the first week we had it easy and I think one of the best scenes we've shot so far was the second. The scene where Sean really reveals himself to be maniacal in the car with us was incredibly taxing and so much fun to do. It's sort of the odd thing that when you finish a scene like that, you're so jazzed because you've just gone to such a scared, awful place.

Then when your finished it's like "Yeah! That was great!" You know and again it's the same thing we all sit around and it's like "We're so twisted!" that we're excited about knives in the eye and violence in a scene and the bruises we come home with. It's sort of the big stuff that are make or break moments in the movie. When you walk out of something and you feel like it's just been nailed it's such a good feeling.

So this movie is going to be R-rated? I think that's the consensus.

SB: Ah, yeah. I think that's... Yeah. I think that's definitely the consensus. So you know all of the younger fans that we have are going to have to go see it with their parents. Or you know, someone old enough to buy them tickets. No sneaking! No sneaking. You've got to support... Yeah, totally! You know, and the thing that I think is great is the young kids you know that we all have from various projects in our fan base, will be able to go with their parents because their parents saw the original. So if it was a movie that you really loved when it came out, why not go see how it's been done now. I think it works out kind of cooly because of that.

So they talked about a role reversal a little bit. That you kind of swap roles and your character is a very strong woman. Do you ever have any moments of vulnerability though? Where you really break down and...

SB: Absolutely! Well I think what's been really important and really a crucial element in shooting a movie like this is obviously we shoot very often out of sequence. So you don't have the previous scenes that you've shot to look at when you're moving forward. It's been important for me to map out the emotional journey of this film, because you don't want something just to ramp up. You don't want something to go up and plateau. You want to really be in that position where your naturally vulnerable, and where certain moments, you don't think you can do it. A minute later you're ok, and just when you think your going to make it something else awful happens to you . You know that feels much more real. So the journey for Grace is going from you know, yeah, being a girl who has grown up well spoken and is educated and just cool you know. She can kick it with the guys but she still takes care of herself. She still takes pride in being female.

Being a girl who under normal circumstances would probably be considered, "Yeah, she's a strong girl." but it's when you get taxed, when you get tested, and everything falls apart. I'm really making sure to show that shrinking, and that terror, and those things that would be so difficult as a young woman who's never really been through something like this. Who's had a pretty great life, is pretty happy go lucky, and when the rug gets pulled out from underneath you and you hit the floor, of course your vulnerable. You're terrified. There's a lot of that in the movie but, it's her finding the real strength that she's always sort of thought she had it's finding that and expanding it and developing it and really realizing that she's got it by the end of the movie. It's that sort of thing that's important.

Thank you so much. Thank you for your time.

I'd like to say THANKS AGAIN to Sophia for taking the time out of her busy schedule to talk with us. As she's super hot (not to mention super nice), I wouldn't be surprised if she becomes the next 'IT' girl of 2007. Stick around for our last interview from the set of THE HITCHER remake, as we talk to the great Sean Bean about taking on the role of Ryder for a new generation.

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