Posted on Wednesday, February 24th, 2010 by Peter Sciretta
Back in June, I had a chance to visit the set of Platinum Dunes remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street with a group of online journalists. This week we will be publishing the interviews we conducted on the set of the movie. After the jump you can read our interviews with the kids in this new remake: Rooney Mara and Kyle Gallner. We caught up with Rooney and Kyle in a little roundtable interview area off to the side of the set. Read the full interview after the jump.
First up is Rooney Mara who plays Nancy in the movie:
Question: Were you a fan of the original film?
Rooney Mara: I was. I saw it when I was 12 years old, I think. I was at a slumber party, and the older sister of the girl I was friends with was watching it with her friends and I saw it, and I really wish I hadn’t seen it when I was 12 because it really scarred me for life. I remember Tina’s death just freaked me out. I had that image in my head for years, her flying across the room.
Q: Is it weird being in the remake now after all that?
RM: Yeah, it is. It definitely is. I’m glad I don’t have to do that, though [laughs].
Q: Was it overwhelming to take on the role of Nancy, who’s sort of the original “final girl”?
RM: It’s definitely a lot of pressure, but our movie and our Nancy are quite different, so I don’t feel so much like you can compare the two.
Q: Can you tell us something we don’t already know about this version of Nancy?
RM: Um, well she’s described as “goth.” She’s not at all goth, except for the fact that goths are usually coined as disturbed.
Q: You’re sporting some black nail polish…
RM: It’s purple! [laughs] She’s goth in the sense that she’s, quite obviously, disturbed and quite and keeps to herself and can’t really open up to people or connect with people. And she feels really alone in the world because of things that happened to her when she was younger. But throughout the movie you see that change, and you see her grow, so it’s a good arc.
Q: Have you heard any feedback or response from Heather Langenkamp?
RM: No, I have not.
Q: Would you like to meet her?
RM: Yeah, I would definitely like to after we finish, for sure.
Q: What was it about her performance that you liked in the film?
RM: I think everyone liked just how sweet and wholesome she was, but at the same time she was obviously very strong and a survivor and she never gave up. I think that’s what people liked about her, that she was a real girl; she wasn’t like a supermodel or just some pretty face. She was a real person.
Q: Can you tell us what you went through to get all bloodied up like that?
RM: Um, I don’t know. Am I allowed? It happens during a micro-nap. You guys know about the micro-naps, right? I happened during a micro-nap. It’s a really, really cool scene, actually. Happens in the pharmacy.
Q: Talk about working with Jackie and also the first time you saw him in the makeup.
RM: Jackie, Jackie. Jackie’s like the sweetest man ever. When I met him, I was like “Ugh, I have to stay away from him, I can’t talk to him because it’ll just make it too hard.” But that’s impossible because it’s kind of hard to stay away from him because he’s such a nice guy. And the first time I saw in his makeup was on the set, and I actually started crying when I saw him [laughs]. They wouldn’t let me see him until we had to do a scene together. So then he came out, and he had his monk thing so he can hide from everyone. And I was trying so hard not to cry.
Q: What was his reaction?
RM: I was like, “Oh my God, I’m going to cry.” And he was like, “Yeah, so am I.” [laughs] Because it’s quite painful and uncomfortable in all that makeup, which makes me feel really bad for him, which makes it hard do the things I have to do to him.
Q: Can you talk about Nancy’s art and that part of your character?
RM: Her art? Yeah, since Nancy was little–it shows it in the flashbacks–she’s been an artist. I think it’s her only outlet; she just does that, almost to the point of like the way someone with autism does things repeatedly. She’ll just literally paint all night long. And the things she painting are repressed memories that she can’t understand or remember, so her art’s quite dark, and she keeps painting the same things but doesn’t know where they’re coming from or what they mean, and she sort of starts to figure it out throughout the movie.
Q: So do we see her paint throughout the movie, or are they just paintings that were already done?
RM: Um, yeah, you see her painting as a little kid and then throughout the movie, you’ll see her art. But yeah, there’s pretty much just one scene where you actually see me painting. I’m a terrible artist.
Q: Do the dreams or Freddy interact with those paintings in any way, kind of skewed in the dream world?
RM: Um, well a lot of the things that I’m painting are, like, the preschool where everything happened or the boiler room. I’m painting all the things from my dreams.
Q: Did you do any research on your own into dreams or sleep? They talked about the micro-naps and stuff like that.
RM: I did. I did a lot of research on sleep deprivation and the effects of that. And I’ve been trying to sleep deprive myself, which has been less fun.
Q: Any special tricks you do, rubbing your eyes before a shot or stuff like that, that you do to look like you’ve been awake for 70 hours?
RM: The makeup pretty much does that, as you can see right now, I look quite hideous. But no, I just haven’t been letting myself sleep that much. If we have a really intense scene, I try not to let myself get more than three hours of sleeps, and after a few days that’s quite draining.
Q: Does the intensity sort of spill over? Does it get too intense for you at times as a person?
RM: It does. Last night when I went home I was like a wreck. I was really spent, because yesterday was really intense, because it was all day one of the most intense scenes in the movie, crying the whole day. Seventy-five takes of just bawling my eyes out. So yeah, it’s hard to get there and then get home and to leave it. So it has been hard because there are a lot of those scenes in the movie. Tomorrow, especially, is going to be really hard.
Q: So you’ve signed on to multiple ELM STREETs…
RM: I have one sequel in my contract.
Q: So the news story today that said you’d signed on for three films…
RM: I heard that, yeah, that’s not right. [laughs] I mean, there’s only so long you can stay awake, right? You gotta die sometime.
Q: Well, in the original, she reappears in the third film. The second film has nothing to do with anything.
RM: Right. We’ll see what happens. Me and Jackie always joke that we want the sequel to be THE BRIDE OF FREDDY–that me and Freddy run off together. [laughs] She gives into it: “I wanna be your girlfriend, Freddy.”
Q: Did you revisit all the movies before?
RM: No I didn’t. I didn’t want to. Kyle’s actually never seen the first one, so we’re going to watch them when we’re finished. I didn’t want to have that in my head, because it’s so different. I didn’t want that to affect my performance. But we’re definitely going to watch them when we’re finished.
Q: What about some of the Platinum Dunes films. Did you kind of bone up on them?
RM: No, I’ve never seen any of them. I can’t go to horror movies. I watched every horror movie when I was 12 to 16, every horror movie. Then something just…I couldn’t any more, especially, I really don’t like slaughter movies, like SAW. I can’t watch those. They’re just too…
Q: So how would you describe this one though? They’re saying it’s not quite as comedic as the original NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, so will people be traumatized? Is it kind of like that, torture?
RM: Yeah, but it’s not a slasher film. There’s a lot of story in this, and there’s a lot of story between each person’s death. You actually get to know the characters and you actually care about them before they die, which I think is different than the mindless gore that’s out there.
Q: Is that what drew you to it, because so many horror movies skip over the character development?
RM: Yeah, I wouldn’t have done it if it didn’t have that. I like psychological horror movies.
Q: Can you speak a little about to how Nancy’s strength in this one is different than how you remember it from the other ones?
RM: I think because this Nancy is coming from such a weak place to begin with, she’s just so alone in the world; the other Nancy was just a regular girl. This Nancy is very disturbed, so her growth is more. You get to see this girl come out of her shell, form a relationship with Quentin, and in the end she finally figures out why she is the way she is, and she’s able to do something about it.
Q: She embraces that?
Q: Can you talk about her relationship with her mother, because that’s such a big part in the original?
RM: Yeah, we still have a lot to do with the mother. I think her relationship with her mother in this is…they don’t really have much of a relationship, because I don’t think Nancy has much of a relationship with anyone. It’s really hard for her to get close or open up to anyone, including her mother.
Q: And the father?
RM: No father.
Q: No where to be seen? No police officer father?
RM: Nope. Daddy issues all the way–no dad.
Q: Is the reason that Nancy is the way she is when we first meet her–can I go out on a limb and guess that maybe it’s tied to Freddy?
RM: Definitely is tied to Freddy. [laughs] That’s why the payoff at the end is so good.
Q: I’ve heard some things about them changing Freddy’s backstory, so that he could definitely be interacting with your character as much younger children.
RM: Yeah, there’s a lot of backstory in this one. A lot. And yes, there’s a lot with the children that I’m not really allowed to talk about, but it’s really good.
Q: Can you talk about this scene and what’s leading up to it, and where we are in the story?
RM: This scene is way at the end of the movie. We’ve found the preschool that we’ve been looking for. WE go into basement, and where I just was is Freddy’s old bedroom. I don’t know how much I can reveal. Basically at the end, there are so many micro-naps, you never know what’s real and what’s a nap, a micro-nap. And you’ll see the second part of the scene. What I just shot isn’t real; it’s still a part of a dream. And you’ll see that when we film the second half of it.
Q: Do you have any ideas in your head where you’d like to see Nancy go in a sequel?
RM: Besides being the Bride of Freddy? No. I mean, where can she possibly go? She need to be in a white padded room. I don’t know. That’s a good question; I haven’t really thought about that yet.
Q: In the sequels, she’s a therapist for kids. It’s years later.
RM: Yeah. Nancy could definitely be a therapist. She’s definitely been through enough where she could understand people. I’m just trying to get through this. I haven’t really thought about the future of Nancy.
Q: What do you have going on after this?
RM: Nothing. I’m going to do some traveling.
Q: You’re in YOUTH IN REVOLT, right?
RM: Yeah, that’s coming out…we don’t know when that’s coming out. It keeps changing.
Q: I just started seeing posters for it.
RM: Yeah, they just came out with the poster. I can’t wait to see it, but I haven’t seen it yet. I think it’s going to be really good. I love the book, so I’m excited to see it. It was nice to meet you all.
Next up is our chat with Kyle Gallner, who plays Nancy’s friend Quentin in the movie:
Q: What’s it like to see a giant version of your head with a zipper on it?
KG: It’s kind of hilarious. Like, when are you ever gonna see it? You’re never gonna see a giant version of your own head except on a movie set, so…
Q: Especially one with Freddy Krueger popping out of it.
KG: Right. With a zipper on it.
Q: Actually, I think Robert Englund did something like that in “V,” where he pulled his face off…
KG: Yeah, I think Sam did it in a music video too. I think someone unzipped themselves in one of Sam’s videos. I think that’s where he got the idea.
Q: How’s your voice doing after all the screams?
KG: It’s okay. I think a couple more, I would have been fried.
Q: It was impressive.
KG: I think it helps because it echoes through the whole building, but thank you.
Q: Can you tell us a little about your character, Quentin?
KG: Quentin is…he’s kind of like that guy that is, he’s not like the super-popular kid, but everybody kind of knows him a little bit. He’s the kid that walks down the hallway and it’s like, ‘Oh, hey, what’s going on.’ He’s that kind of guy. But Quentin’s an interesting kid. You know, we don’t touch on the fact that Quentin has a mom — he doesn’t really have a mom in the movie, so he’s got like the mom issues on top of the dreams and his dad. I don’t think he gets along very well with his dad. I think he has a little bit of a high stress home life, so he’s kind of got a little bit of anger issues, I feel. I mean, this is the way I’m playing him, with slight anger issues and maybe some daddy issues, and my mom’s not there. I’m also kind of like, you know, I pop Adderall — I’m kind of this weird, offbeat kid. He’s a good kid though. At the end of the day he’s a good kid. It’s just he’s a little high strung and I think what he’s going through, he doesn’t really know how to handle very well, so he kind of turns to drugs a little bit, and he gets very fidgety and agitated by the end of the movie.
Q: So are some of his personal issues specifically incorporated into his dreams? Does Freddy taunt him with things that bother him?
KG: Not really, not so much. I think that’s kind of a separate side. I don’t think Freddy really cares about my issues with my mom and whatever. But … it’s a weird thing. My dreams are almost, they’re not so much like terrifying nightmares — like, I do have some scenes in the boiler room and stuff — but it’s almost like a weird thing where Freddy almost uses me as a bit of a vessel, I guess, to kind of show me what really happened to him, as opposed to just torturing me in my dreams. Like, in my first dream, he doesn’t even come after me. He’s showing me what really happened to him. Later on, he definitely gives me some business in the boiler room, but no, he doesn’t incorporate my own personal issues with his vendetta.
Q: Did you do voice work for podcast stuff?
KG: The podcast was scrapped. That was an original script thing that didn’t end up working out.
Q: What’s Quentin’s relationship with Nancy?
KG: Nancy’s kind of the girl that I think Quentin’s watched from afar for a little while. He’s liked her for a long time and he tries to reach out to Nancy, but Nancy’s kind of so shut down that she doesn’t really let anybody in. So our relationship basically is forced to build through the movie. We’re thrown into a very chaotic, life-and-death situation and she’s kind of the only person I have, so you either trust each other and try to figure this out together, or you take your own separate ways and hope for the best. But we bond and our relationship really does grow throughout the whole movie.
Q: What is you that Rooney said had not seen the original film?
KG: I have not seen it all the way through, no. I’ve never seen it beginning to end. I’ve seen bits.
Q: Was that on purpose when you signed up?
KG: Well, I didn’t plan on doing ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ for, like, 22 years (laughs).
Q: No, I mean…
KG: No, I know, I’m kidding. Yeah, I made sure that once I had booked it, I didn’t want to see it. You know, Quentin is different from Johnny’s character. It’s the same kind of story but different people, and I didn’t want to be influenced in any way. I kind of wanted to make Quentin my own. So I will watch it when this is over, but until then I’m gonna kind of stay away from it.
Q: How much of an awareness have you had, though, of Freddy Krueger, because he is a pop culture…
KG: Oh, you can ask almost anybody and they know who Freddy Krueger is.
Q: And what is your own experience with that? What did you think of him before you signed on to do this?
KG: I always thought Freddy’s story was more interesting than Jason’s or…there’s a psychological side to it. There’s a deeper thing going on with Fred Krueger than there is with a lot of the other killers in horror movies. So that was an interesting thing. And the dream sequences and the whole thing of, like, you have to stay up or you die. You know, there’s a survival thing here where, if you’re asleep, that’s when you’re facing your real problems. But it’s almost scarier when you’re awake, because it’s ‘I can’t fall asleep right now, if I fall asleep I’m gonna die, but I don’t know what the hell to do. Like, I don’t know how to fix this, I don’t know how to stop this.’ So it’s almost just as scary when you’re awake as when you’re sleeping. That was definitely an interesting thing. Like, I knew enough about the story and I knew enough about the character coming into it to — you know, I didn’t come into this blind (laughs). I knew who he was. So, I really like Freddy, I think probably more than a lot of the other ones.
Q: Have you been sleep-depriving yourself like Rooney has?
KG: Yes. When it gets to days that are really intense days, especially days like this where it’s kind of on night six, one of the last days, where you have average four hours of sleep, you kind of just get in character (laughs).
Q: Does Quentin have a history similar to Nancy’s with Freddy?
KG: I think he does, I think the thing is with Quentin — Nancy is obviously, like, Freddy’s girl, you know what I mean? It’s Nancy and Freddy, so she, I think, is tortured by him more than I am, for sure. It’s a thing where I don’t think I remember as much as Nancy does, I don’t think I’m as affected as Nancy is. I think I get more and more affected and start to remember as the story goes on, as does she, but she knows there is something wrong. She’s been definitely affected differently than I have.
Q: Why does he choose you as the vessel to show his past?
KG: I don’t know. I mean, my dad has a hand in his death, I think that’s probably the main reason. It’s almost like — he’s kind of using me as a vessel, but it’s almost like for convenience, because he’s trying to kind of shake things up and show me what my dad did. He just mindfucks you pretty much through the whole movie, he really does. He just messes with you from beginning to end.
Q: You’ve done a couple of horror movies now. Do you personally like them?
KG: I do. I think they’re really — horror movies are really fun. You get to do things in a horror movie that you don’t …you know, it’s very genre-specific. But I think with horror movies you can get a touch of action, you get a touch of drama, and you get the horror aspect of it, as opposed to doing just a straight drama or straight action film. But I think this is kind of gonna be the last one for a while (laughs). You can’t really get typecast, and this is kind of the one to go out, to go out on, I think. You go out with a bang. You fight Freddy Krueger and then you see what happens next. But I’m very material-driven, like if the material’s good, I’d like to do it. So if a horror movie comes around again that’s really, really good, you never say never.
Q: Can you talk about working with Sam, Brad and Andrew?
KG: It’s been cool. Brad and Andrew, obviously they’re veterans of kind of these horror remakes, so they know what they’re doing with them. They have a very specific way of working and they take their time to, you know, keep the story but also kind of make it their own., I guess. And Sam is really good. Sam is very, very visual. Sam’s gonna make this movie look amazing. I mean, we saw like five minutes of it cut together and the visuals of it are really pretty unbelievable. He’s gonna give it a very specific feel and a very specific vibe, and it’s been fun. Sam’s gonna make it look really, really good. And he’s really good about giving us all the freedom we need, almost, like to create our characters and go where we need to go, so that’s been nice. But I mean, if everything gets out of control, you know, if the performance really isn’t working, he’ll pull you back in. He’ll kind of direct you in the right direction.
Q: Can you talk a little about “Jennifer’s Body,” your role in the movie and the rest of the film?
KG: Yeah, the film’s fun. Obviously it’s a cluster of genres, you know. It’s gonna do its thing. I haven’t seen any of it, so I don’t really know what to expect from it. But I play almost like this really small-town Goth kid, who’s really bizarre and weird. I have like jet-black hair and lip rings. It was fun. I mean, he’s very dramatic, he’s got a big flair for the dramatic and kind of a curiosity about death and all things morbid. It was a fun character, but as far as everything else goes, I really don’t — I was only up there for a couple of days, I don’t really know how the shoot went. I only know what happened on my days.
Q: What about working with Karyn, because she’s a pretty hot director…
KG: She was good. Karyn was really, really cool. Karen was probably one of my favorite directors I’ve gotten to work with. She took a big budget movie with a lot of crazy things going on and she knew exactly how to handle it. I mean, she was really good. I’d imagine that if you have a big movie like that, things can get out of hand pretty quickly, and she really knew what she was doing.
A Nightmare on Elm Street hits theaters on April 30th 2010.