In the first Saw, that horror film that first introduced audiences to the macabre world of Jigsaw, there was no way of knowing that Shawnee Smith, whose character survived, would be around for a third film. Not even the actress herself could have predicted how her career would have evolved and that her Amanda would rise though the ashes.
“She was the only one who survived, and I think it came out of this line ‘he helped me’ – and whatever was present in that moment when she said this, was some substance there and it caught on.” Smith suddenly found herself at Sundance with the movie “and this line ‘he helped me’ I think spurred the concept for part two.”
The 37-year old had been acting for close to two decades before being cast in Saw and laughingly admits “it’s hilarious yet it’s just this low budget independent horror movie that breaks my career.” Now there’s a third Saw, and this time her Amanda and the dying Jigsaw have one final deadly game to play, The actress suspected that with the inevitable success of Saw II, a third film would end up being made.
“There was talk about it when we were doing press for Saw 2. I had already given birth to my son and we were all at some function together and Leigh Whannell and I like sat down and threw around different concepts, a few that included me and there were a couple that didn’t and it just went in that direction. So we had like 3 weeks to write part 3 of this successful franchise. It was clear that a lot was going to hinge on buying the relationship between Jigsaw and Amanda in a substantial way, not just the cliché of master/apprentice.”
Given the constraints of the genre and the speed in which the Saw films have been made, Smith says that Amanda has developed throughout what became the trilogy. “When you first meet her right she’s at the bottom, she can’t go any lower and it’s the combination of that and having nothing left to lose and finding someone to love and to sacrifice for.”
While not being able to completely identify with Amanda, Smith says that she admires her. “Obviously she’s tragic, but 95% of her was capable of growing the strength to serve and sacrifice for another human being. Now that’s rare and it takes strength, courage, practice, diligence, and a fearlessness to build that.”
Now a mother of two, Smith says her criteria of picking a project is “college funds. Work is work, I believe in work and appreciate it and when it’s offered I like to show up.” And the Saw films have opened up her doors wider than before, she happily concedes. “I’ve been lucky to work consistently.” Smith just completed a film for television called Undercover, that I think is good. We shot 171 scenes in 13 days and we made a decent movie.”
The actress is now happy to promote what is likely to be her final Saw, be with her children and play roles that will continue to challenge her.