This month New Line Cinema unleashes the third installment in their highly successful “Final Destination” horror franchise with some old dogs behind the camera, and some fresh faces in front. Set six years after the original, the latest installment in the series centers around a high school senior (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who has a premonition of a fatal roller coaster accident involving herself, her classmate Kevin (Ryan Merriman) and all her friends. When the premonition proves true, those who have “cheated death” and survived the accident are forced to deal with the repercussions of escaping their fate. Recently, Dark Horizons spoke with two of the cast – the aforementioned Winstead and Merriman, in Los Angeles where they were promoting the film and were happy to discuss the consequences of death, along with their upcoming projects:
Question: Were you prepared for all of the heavy lifting, running, and crying?
Winstead: I was excited about it. I read the script ‘I was like there is a lot of cool stuff to do in this.’ It was challenging. When I got into I was like after awhile ‘don’t make me cry again.’ But you know when all was said and done it was so much fun to be like challenged everyday. Everyday was like high energy and high stakes, almost passing out.
Merriman: None of it was fluff stuff, especially when you’re doing a movie like this. Some people come to see the blood and guts, but there’s also a really good story which is why I thought the third one was so good is because especially our relationship in the movie it was interesting because we weren’t like lovers or anything like that. We’re friends both thrown into the circumstance of you know I lost my girl and she lost her guy. We both kind of try to go on this journey together. It was fun though. I had a good time.
Question: Now you guys did a lot of your own stunts?
Winstead: We had good stunt doubles definitely. If anything was really dangerous you know they’re not going to let the actors do it.
Question: So what were some of the stunts you guys did?
Merriman: All the rollercoaster stuff and the truck; I didn’t do the horse scene though because that looked awesome. I was like ‘damn Clay just got dropped.’
Question: The truck you mean in the drive thru scene?
Merriman: That was all me baby.
Question: How many times did you have to do that scene.
Merriman: Many times; I feel cocky telling the story. Mary you tell them.
Winstead: The first couple of times he did it it wasn’t made strongly enough I guess so he kicked it out, but it went flying out as one piece. Like it didn’t shatter. So they sort of like had to drill it into the truck so that it would shatter in the middle where he kicked it.
Merriman: But, it was great. It was one of those scenes and we both agreed that if you’re going to do a movie like this, obviously you can’t research these situations or base it off a character you’ve seen. You’ve just got to do it. You’ve just got to make it real to you at that moment. So that was especially one of my favorite scenes because we’re trapped. I couldn’t get out, she couldn’t get out. We’re banging, screaming, honking the horn, kicking the wind shield. Running, jumping out so it was cool.
Winstead: We had the scene where he’s like the explosion burns his face and everything. I had to run in, grab him and pull him out. There really was the fire there. It was a little hot and toasty.
Question: How many times did you guys have to ride the rollercoaster?
Winstead: We did it and it was like three nights.
Merriman: One night it was like 27 times.
Question: Anyone get sick?
Winstead: We thought they would, but nobody did. Your head feels like it’s going to pop off of like your neck. It’s just insane. I’ve never felt that way
Merriman: It’s like a whiskey hangover, not beer, it’s like whiskey. Your equilibrium goes ape sh*t because you just rode it 20 times.
Winstead: And our voices got like so low I sounded like a man.
Merriman: All you can do is scream you know what I mean. You never know what they’re going to use so every time you’ve got to give it 100% because they could use the one where you’re like ‘aaahhh’ you know what I mean.
Question: So are you guys over amusement parks?
Winstead: I don’t really have a desire to go anytime soon to any of them. We spent two consecutive weeks there every night. All night long and you know.
Merriman: But we only did get to ride two rides. I was bummed. I wanted to them to give us free reign and say ok guys we want you to ride everything you can. We didn’t get any of that.
Winstead: There was one really huge roller coaster that was down the way a bit. We ran over there and got a guy to run it for us. I almost flew out and I almost died.
Merriman: It was an old wooden one.
Winstead: And he’s like wearing this big coat because he’s bigger than me. It’s like out to here on me and he’s like filling it out and everything. He tells me to put my arms up when we’re going down. I put them up and I go flying.
Merriman: I did to though. But no she really went flying. That was cool. It actually got voted one of the scariest rollercoasters in Canada. It was an old wooden rollercoaster and it was all perpetual motion. So each drop like it what gives it it’s energy to the next one.
Question: When you make a movie like this how conscious are you of day to day dangers?
Winstead: When I was making the movie I tried not to think about it so much. You think about it so much while you’re in scene that once you’re done you just want to think about something funny. You know it was like get it out of my head. But, afterwards when you’ve seen the movie it almost made me think about it more watching the movie than actually filming it.
Merriman: It definitely makes you aware; you think about things more. I’m sure the next time you guys go tanning you definitely think about those chicks who got their asses fried. You know the drive thru is cool. You think about things, especially home improvement stores. I mean because I went in one day and I was buying tar for my dad. I was looking around and was like ‘good Lord there’s an 80 pound bag of concrete 13 feet above my head.’ And there’s some guy who just got done smoking a joint at lunch operating a crane you know what I mean. You think about stuff like that. It makes you aware and I think that’s what cool about these movies is that you can incorporate that into real life actually. I mean if it was a zombie with a knife you would say oh that was a good movie and never think about it again. But this actually kind of follows you home a little bit.
Question: Do you guys actually believe in premonitions?
Winstead: I think some people have them. I think it’s definitely possible. I mean I’ve never had one. I don’t what it’s like so I had to make that up. But yeah I think it’s possible and I think people may tune into intuition a little bit more than other people. Some people say it’s more supernatural than that.
Merriman: It’d be nice. It’d be nice to predict how much money this is going to make.
Question: I think one of the best lines in the film is f-u Ben Franklin. Is that scripted in the beginning or was it thrown in there?
Winstead: That was scripted. I laughed when I read that.
Merriman: You know what there was two lines for me that…a lot of the stuff is tricky because you’re explaining what’s going on. It’s very literal. You have to say everything to a point. So there was the Sponge Bob Square Pants line. Sponge Bob lives under water. I was like please God don’t make me say this. But it got a laugh every time. And then yeah f-u Ben Franklin. Once I saw the movie I saw the guy he’s like ‘let’s hope for some lightening.’ I was like fuck you Ben Franklin. And it worked. It really did, but you can’t always see that whole…
Winstead: Sometimes the director does know more.
Question: In one of the long shots it looked like you could see your breath.
Winstead: It was freezing. My mouth started freezing and I couldn’t get the words out. My lips started going numb. So the lines by the fifth take or something were like brr. So they had to take me and blow dry me and warm me up with blankets.
Merriman: My whole speech too outside the window. That wasn’t exactly a short monologue. Sure enough it was raining and pouring and she was like waiting to drive off. The funny thing was sorry Mary I’m bringing this up…
Merriman: For like five takes, five takes this Volvo she was driving. There was like park, reverse, drive, neutral. It was just a weird assembly. She was like ‘f*ck you Kevin’ and then errrrrrrr.
Winstead: It was like the first day too. It was like the most embarrassing day of my life. Everyone was like ‘what an idiot she is’. I could look down because I had to be all intense like fuck you. I couldn’t look down and be like fuck you. It wouldn’t really work.
Question: Are a lot of the scripts you’re getting horror genre movies?
Winstead: There’s a lot of it out there so yeah.
Merriman: It sells. The last number one movies were Saw 2, Hostel, what else? I don’t know what else came out. But, it’s a good thing. Especially with this one I’m really excited because not only did we make I think a good movie that’s not exactly a carbon copy of the first two. There’s definitely new characters, it’s got a new idea with the pictures and the audience can really tap in and try to figure it out. But, you also get that following from the first two. I mean it made a quarter of a billion dollars the first two.
Winstead: To me it just seems like more and more horror being out there every year. It seems like there’s more scripts coming in so I think that any time you can do something different that stands out its like people want that. The Final Destination series is just something that’s different.
Merriman: I just don’t want the Wayans brothers to make fun of us. It’s already in the works.
Question: Mary you’re following this with Black Christmas?
Winstead: I just did Bobby so I’ve got a non horror sort of thrown in between. Then yeah I’ll go onto Black Christmas.
Question: What will you be doing?
Winstead: It basically centers around four sorority girls. It’s an ensemble so I’m one of the girls being stalked by this crazed killer. I don’t know if anyone’s seen the original, but it’s sort of a prequel and sequel kind of combined. The first big chunk of the movie follows Billy’s back story as a child and what made him the way he is. Then it kind of picks up to present day with the four you know sorority girls and the house and him coming back to have a visit.
Question: Does that mean it’s not set up as a surprise as to who the killer is?
Winstead: There’s a lot of twists in it. It has a lot of surprises. It’s definitely different than the original, but it’s based on the original.
Question: Who do you play in Bobby?
Winstead: I play, it’s a huge ensemble that follows tons of different. I play this struggling wannabe actress that’s trying to get discovered by working at the Ambassador Hotel as a waitress. I can’t get an agent. I can’t get a job. It’s sort of a depressing sob story.
Question: Who did you get to interact with?
Winstead: Most of my scenes were with Shia LaBeouf and Brian Geraghty. We were kind of a threesome and I had scenes with Anthony Hopkins, Sharon Stone and a lot with Christian Slater and Joshua Jackson.
Question: What was it like working with Anthony?
Winstead: I didn’t have much with him but he was always there because he was originally a producer on the project so he had a lot of interest so even when it was just me working with other people he’d be there like watching the monitors. It was pretty intimidating especially in the beginning. It was kind of scary.
Question: What about you Ryan have you shot anything else?
Merriman: Yeah right after I finished my agents were like ‘you’ve got to come to LA. You’ve got to do auditions.’ I was like G-d you know this was a physically type grueling of thing. But, I actually booked a film. I have a week left to shoot on it called Home of the Giants with Haley Joel Osmond and Daniel Panabaker. It’s a dramatic film about high school basketball in Indiana. So it’s kind of like Friday Nights to football this is like for basketball. It has to deal with high school and the gambling you know. Things that go on and how I get treated.
Question: Are you a basketball player?
Merriman: I am; I’m like this town stud. It sounds horrible but it shows the whole world of sports and how it’s like believing in God. If you don’t play basketball in Indiana it’s the whole serious look at life as an athlete in high school. It’s based off a true story also. The writer and director it’s based off his true life stories and two of his best friends. His brother is in jail and gets out. He owes a drug dealer money and I have to get asked to throw the game. It’s really cool. I’ve always been a good athlete. I grew up in Oklahoma so football, baseball…But they did two weeks of training. We were in North Carolina shooting it. That’s the home of Michael Jordan so everybody that lives there grows up playing basketball. There were kids that were 16-17 years old that were I was throwing alee (SP) hoops. The hardest thing was learning to throw alee hoops because you know I’ve never played with somebody who could do alee hoops. So I’m like sitting there and I said what do I do? He’s like just throw it up there man. Go get it. I threw it up and this kid we called him go get it he had you know the box above the rim. I threw it up and I was like shit. It was take five and it was way too high. He’s supposed to dunk it with his right hand. He jumps up and in mid air he grabs it with his left above the box and dunks it. He’s 16 years old. He’s the top five junior in the country right now. There’s another guy 5’10 who could honey dip it which means you put your whole arm in the rim. It’s ridiculous. So there was that whole aspect, but I got my shot down towards the end. But, in the beginning all these guys have been playing since they could walk. And I was hitting rim. You know I’d dribble and miss and hit my foot.
Question: Do you guys have a favorite death scene?
Winstead: I love the end sequence because I think it really takes the movie out with a bang you know. Since we just did that so far after you know it’ still sort of in my head as being the coolest thing.
Question: How long since you shot the scene?
Winstead: We wrapped in July and filmed that the end of November.
Merriman: I would say my favorite is the drive thru because it’s unexpected like it just happens. Obviously they think we’re going to bite the dust or one of us is going to bite the dust and it totally you know throws them off on what happens.