A remake of the classic 1980s thriller, the all new “The Hitcher” casts Britain’s Sean Bean in the title role of a grisly, manic serial killer of sorts trying to do the wrong thing by young lovers Sophia Bush and Zach Knighton.
Gathered together to talk to online outlets in a press conference, Paul Fischer was there and spoke with the trio about the project along with director Dave Meyers, and producers Andrew Form and Brad Fuller:
Question: Sean how difficult was this character to play for you because we don’t really know anything about him.
Sean Bean: It was. There wasn’t a great deal of back history to the guy. Not a lot of information about where he came from which I thought was quite interesting really, because it allowed me the freedom to create what I wanted and to invent as a person. I always thought that it was somewhat scarier that you don’t know anything about him or where he comes from. I always find that the less you know about people, the less you trust them. I usually like to have something to go on but for this particular movie I would say he was like an angel of death. Wandering the freeways [inaudible] and that quite appealed to me.
Question: This is for the producers; the fact we don’t know much of the hitcher does that mean will there be a prequel?
Brad Fuller: No. I don’t see a prequel happening. As Sean said, give him a blank slate and let him do what he’ll do with it. There was no thinking about a prequel until you brought it up.
Question: Sophia what are the challenges of playing a girl like this and avoiding the cliches?
Sophia Bush: I think that was a big thing for me and something we definitely looked into in a lot of moments in filming, because I don’t want to be that girl running around whining and irritating, but at the same time I don’t want to come out like Lara Croft with guns blazing, because that’s not quite right either.
I think that it’s something that made it great was or greater for me rather was a lot of what Zach and I got to do together. Because we spent weeks just working on the chemistry of our relationship and how Jim and Grace behaved and reacted and the ways we kind of messed with one another and the ways partners in a long standing relationship sort of do.
So, what we had, I think this gave me some license to go on the emotional roller coaster instead of just being one kind of woman or another was when Grace wasn’t going to make it Jim pulled her up and when Jim wasn’t going to make it, Grace pulled him up. And it was a very symbiotic relationship, so it allowed me to show both sides. It allowed me to flip the scales from her being kind of happy go lucky to her being stripped down and very animalistic. It let me do that slowly more in a see saw than in one quick flip and I think that’s a more accurate of how people change and how people sort of tap into their strengths.
Question: Dave, this is really a lean film. Was there more stuff that got cut? And how was your relationship with the MPAA?
Dave Meyers: I had a really great MPAA experience. I didn’t focus on violence in the film even though there is some. I tried to keep everything on thrills and suspense. We cut most of it out before we actually filmed it which is sort of how we kept the budget was extremely low, and yet we still have huge car action and all that stuff.
So, part of the relationship I had with the producers was trying to cut that stuff before we filmed it. And really cutting the fat everywhere we could. I pulled from my commercials and video background and keeping things really succinct. It’s lean and there is only one scene that has only five different versions of it and that hopefully make it to the DVD.
Question: What scene is that?
Dave Meyers: Am I allowed to say?
Andrew Form: Sure.
Dave Meyers: The motel scene, we shot that so many times I think Sean might be made at me. He was like, ‘Again?’
Question: Dave can you talk about the musical decisions for the film? I enjoyed the scene with ‘Closer’ coming into the scene.
Dave Meyers: I had a play list that I used to inspire me for the characters of the film. And it came through my exposure of music and what I love and I was distinctly told by the producers I’d never afford any of it. So, the film came out we put it together and we had all that music in there as my own personal thing.
Then one day Brad called me and said, ‘Guess what. The studio likes it and they are going to pay for this song.’ I called Dave Matthew’s people and got a deal on that song. And then I started going and Trent Reznor signed off on it, and then like three or four days ago the studio paid for it, so it was just hanging on it. ‘No, no, no, OK.’ (Laughs.)
Question: This question is for Sean, how difficult was it stepping into Rutger Hauer’s shoes?
Sean Bean: I saw the film when it first came out about 20 years ago. And it made a big impression on me. It was a very well constructed film and Rutger Hauer gives a very good performance and I remember being scared by it, and I thought it made an impact but I really didn’t want that running around my head and cluttering things up when we were making our version of it.
So, I think working with Dave and obviously, Zach and Sophie I think we crated quite an interesting new version. And I really didn’t have any reservations or concerns about being compared to another actor. I just wanted to stop and scratch and do it my way.
Question: Zack and Sophia in the same outfits most of the movie, how many different versions were there? How gross did they get by the end?
Zach Knighton: I’ll be back in 15 minutes. (Laughs.) It was the same outfit. I wore the same thing every day. It smelled really bad.
Sophia Bush: Yeah, there definitely got to a point where what did they have? Six? for continuity sake they had to keep a couple of pairs of all that clothes.
Zach Knighton: Yeah, but there were different stages, because we shot out of sequence.
Sophia Bush: There were a couple of days when we would be in sequence and we’d be in the same clothes and he looked at me one day and was like, ‘We smell.’ And I’m like, ‘I know.’ (Laughs.) It was interesting, but then again we were covered in dirt, blood and filth so we probably would have smelled anyway. I don’t think anyone noticed, except for us.
Question: Sophie, Zack and Sean – how is the relationship between you guys and Sean since you had to be scared of him?
Sean Bean: It’s quite good in a way — that they were scared of me.
Zach Knighton: I’m still afraid. (Laughs.)
Sean Bean: The first scene we did in Austin, Texas was a night shoot, was the scene in the car where they are picking up the garage and we shot the interior of the car which is quite a long scene and it was quite good that we didn’t really know each other by then at all did we? Liked each other or not.
Zach Knighton: You didn’t talk to us at all.
Sean Bean: That’s not unusual.
Sophia Bush: It took us a couple of weeks to all get speaking.
Sean Bean: But it actually worked because we weren’t supposed to know each other so I’m glad we did that.
Sophia Bush: Our first conversation was about how hard you could push the knife into my face. And I was like, ‘HI. How are you? Feel free to hit me.’ (Laughs.)
Question: Was it hard to shoot the scenes with the heavy rain?
Zach Knighton: I can tell you if you shoot in the rain you’re going to have a lot of voice ADR to do after the movie and voice looping, stuff like that.
Sean Bean: If you’ve got lines. (Laughs.)
Dave Meyers: I think rain is really restrictive to work in, but In our particular case we had 20 minutes of rain in a car and it couldn’t have been any more challenging to keep it interesting and so that was one of my main focuses.
Shooting a whole bunch of angles and catching the nuances of the scene and stuff so that the tension can stay alive and with the sound effects people, every single day I said, ‘I want 100 different tracks of rain. I want rain for this scene that sounds different than rain for the next scene.’
It’s a really subtle thing and I don’t know how many people will really pick up on it, but I was just worried the same type of rain, for 20 minutes, would put people to sleep.
Question: Sophia, how challenging is it to find quality scripts?
Sophia Bush: I think it’s definitely hard to find films of quality that you want to make and particularly even when this script came it’s like; prior to reading it did I really know it was going to be anything other than a typical movie of a scary genre.
As I was going through it did I realize that there was something special here. Because, not only did that tomboy side of me get to completely freak out and like in my stunt junkie way and do all of these amazing things and watch cars get blown up and watch helicopters fly over our faces and ride around the desert with guns, but there was such a development for this character and a sort of slope for this girl to fall down.
I think that’s it of me is choosing something that gives me some work to do and things that I haven’t done before. It was something just really very exciting. The relationships between our characters is phenomenal and real and something that gets overdone in our age range a lot. And to be working with Sean and it was like, ‘Yeah, I want to make a movie with Sean Bean. Totally scary!’ (Laughs).
It’s so great, because we had a moment in that first sequence, like he says, barely knowing each other and we’re fighting and I’m like, ‘God, this guy is so strong and he has my face in his hand and this is great, this is great.’ And I made some noise that worried him and you looked at me and was like, ‘Are you alright?’ And I was like, ‘OK.’ And you were like, ‘OK!’ And I was like, ‘OK, we’re back in the scene. Beat me up some more.’
Sean Bean: You liked that didn’t you? (Laughs.)
Question: For Andrew and Brad – any update on ‘Friday the 13th’?
Andrew Form: We are working on a script right now. And I think that next year, it’s not in the first two quarters for us, that movie, maybe at the end of the year next year. But right now we are still working on the screenplay.
Question: No director?
Andrew Form: No director yet at all. I mean Jonathan Liebesman is attached to the movie right now, the director of ‘Chainsaw’.
Brad Fuller: But it really depends on his schedule. He’s got a lot of things rolling around right now. So, if he’s available when we have a script, we’d love to work with him again. We had a great experience with him.
Question: Dave, how did you come to the project and was it something you always wanted to remake? And Zack, you spoke a little bit last night, can you talk about the cocksock?
Zach Knighton: The cocksock lives on buddy.
Dave Meyers: Brad, Drew and Michael are big fans of the Hitcher and were sort of circling it and found rights to it. I was circling their operation of sort of being a home for video commercial guys, making that jump to movies. The president of the studio happened —to a year before do a movie with him. All of these stars sort of aligned. I studied the film and realized like Sophia said, there’s character arcs in there. There is something more special than the typical horror film. It just all sort of worked. And to see a guy with a cocksock.
Zach Knighton: I always dreamed of wearing a cocksock so it was the perfect marriage of director and actor.
Question: Sophia, what do you think the fascination with girls kicking ass is?
Sophia Bush: I think what’s great about is that we’ve seen so many great heroes in men and your iconic with “Indiana Jones” and “Dirty Harry”. You’ve got that and we’re at a point where in our sociology we’ve evolved to realize that women can kick as much ass and want to see it. There’s something that’s a little less expected about seeing the girlfriend end up with the shotgun.
It’s exciting and it really gives the guys something to root for, but it gives the girls in the audience something to root for too. You no longer have women being dragged to an action movie by their boyfriend. Couples are going together because they’re both really excited about the film and it’s something I enjoy. I really liked that whole end sequence in the movie. We had a good time with that one.
Question: How close to the original script did you stay to and how long was the shoot?
Dave Meyers: Shoot was 44 days. The original script of the remake?
Question: Your original script of this?
Dave Meyers: The structure of it stayed pretty close. We pretty much improved the whole movie. There was a greenlit draft that had a structure that had certain scenes that are still in the movie. I think one of the biggest things these movies is creating a believability. Everyday we’d show up and see a block of the scene and go, ‘oh that’s not very real.’ So we’d all go back to our corners and a lot of time it was the cast that would find the soul of it and we’d help guide it. That’s why there is an authenticity in the film.
Question: Eric Red gets credited on the film. Is that a WGA thing?
Andrew Form: We had two writers write on it. Jake Wade Wall and Eric Red. We submitted to the WGA and they came back and gave Eric Red credit. We were surprised by that. We had no idea. That was the last thing we thought would happen actually.
Question: Any favorite villains of movies past?
Sean Bean: Other villains? I used to like the old style ones. James Cagney and Edward G. Robinson. People like that. It’s quite hard to spring to mind. I suppose so. Quite rough and ready, no-nonsense gangsters. I tried to play this guy without being too aggressive in a sense. John Malkovich is someone I always admire as a villain. I like him in general, but I think he has an assertive quality about him.
Question: There was recent talk that they might do a prequel to Lord of the Rings and a movie about The Hobbit? Would you consider coming back if Peter Jackson isn’t involved?
Sean Bean: Yeah. I don’t know. It’s very much a creation of Peter Jackson. It’s difficult for me to answer that question because I haven’t heard about it. It depends on the circumstances, the many, many circumstances. The director, the writing, the whole idea behind it and what they are trying to achieve.
Question: What’s next for all of you?
Brad Fuller: We are trying to put another picture for Rogue called “Alone”.
Question: An original script?
Andrew Form: An original script. Can you believe it?
Brad Fuller: We start production in a few weeks on a movie called “Horseman”. It’s a thriller.
Andrew Form: In the vein of “Seven” with Dennis Quaid and Ziyi Zhang.
Brad Fuller: Then we’ve talked about “The Birds”. That’s out there. There’s another movie we might do for Rogue. We might do “Near Dark” for Rogue. We love the way Eric Red works.
Question: The Birds is still likely to happen?
Brad Fuller: Absolutely. Yes. In the next two weeks, or the next week or so I think they’ll announce it because they’re starting to talk about a new writer to come on and write that. It definitely feels like it’s moving.
Andrew Form: And we’re still working on the script for Friday the 13th.
Sean Bean: I’m not really doing anything at the moment. I just finished this film in the artic called “True North” with Michelle Yeoh, but about three characters, but slightly different from this combination. So I’ve been over there for awhile and I’ve been flying around a bit. I’m sick of it so I’m off and looking and just looking at a few things now. Nothing definite.
Sophia Bush: I’m finishing the fourth season of One Tree Hill. We start on hiatus half way through April and so it’s sort of in the next few weeks that we pull things that have started coming together and all the things that will be put together and figure out what pool we feel like diving in for the summer.
Question: How long do you think One Tree Hill will go for?
Sophia Bush: We never really do and I think it’s hard to say. Depends how long the kids keep watching. How long we keep the teenagers entertained. We’ll see.
Zach Knighton: I’m going to start a job as Sean Bean’s new personal assistant. I am currently in the mix for some things and hoping that something works out and basically hanging out on the west side and surfing.
Dave Meyers: I’m just waiting for the movie to come out. A lot of with a first time film, people wait to see the film before they decide what want to offer you. A lot of what I have been offered is sort of clones of “The Hitcher” and I don’t really want to do that. I’m developing a movie called “Witch Hunter” with Arnold and New Regency. That will be the A plan if that actually gets green lit. It’s extremely expensive and I don’t know where it stands, but it’s being read and if that happens then that will be the immediate one. Otherwise, I’ll wait.
Question: Can you talk about casting? I understand Zach went through a rigorous audition process.
Dave Meyers: I’ll hand that one to Brad.
Brad Fuller: Zack specifically? With Sophia it was very simple. She was an actress we had heard about and for Drew and myself we get a lot more from sitting down with an actor and actresses then actually auditioning them. That’s how we found Jessica Biel from “Chainsaw.” That’s how we found Jordana Brewster for the other “Chainsaw”. We had heard wonderful things about Sophia and she came in and we just kind of fell in love with her. We just kind of said we’re working on this thing “The Hitcher” and it was early on. When this script was being developed she was the person we had in mind and we kept her up to speed with what is happening with it. It was always Sophia’s movie. By design she fits the bill for us. We thought she was likeable and at the same time can carry that gun and blow his head off. That worked out. As far as Zack, Zack had a much more torturous process to getting this role. Zach was a guy who we really wanted to be in the “Chainsaw” that we had just finished. For whatever reason it came down to Zach and this other guy and the other guy got the role. We loved him and you gotta choose an actor, Sophia is really hot and you’ve got to choose a guy who you believe is such a cool guy because she can get any guy she wants. You’ve got to get a guy that’s a real guy’s guy. When you’re casting actors, that was always a real hard thing for us to find, a guy who you believe is going to drive a Ford 42 and land Sophia and be in those situations. Zach kept coming back. We didn’t want to cut him and we kept on seeing other actors for lack of a better term, bigger names and people who are more well know. Zach, to his credit, doesn’t have many credits. He did one show and that was pretty much it. But, he just kept coming back and every time he came back, he was better and better. At the end of it you can’t think of the role any other way. He was the only guy who nailed it six times. I think you actually did come back six times. How do you not give the guy the role? He kept coming back. No one else had that longevity.
Zach Knighton: I also happened to be in the habit of drinking beers at the time and I had to drop a few pounds. I actually lost I think I lost 13 pounds in five days
Question: Did you stop drinking beer?
Zach Knighton: Yeah. I pretty much stopped everything. I realized that I’m not the pretty boy type that you see in this film and I thought that I’d try to improve myself physically and mentally for the thing.
Brad Fuller: for Sean too. It was very simple. For “The Hitcher” we were looking for a Sean Bean type, we didn’t think we’d actually get Sean. [We needed] This great elegant actor who could play this role. We’d checked on Sean and his dates weren’t working and it wasn’t good. S
ean had just worked with out partner Michael Bay on “The Island” and Drew and I went to Michael and said ‘come on let’s get Sean. Let’s try to figure it out.’ We moved some dates around and then his dates opened up and we just got lucky.
Question: There was a rumor online about Naomi Watts being up for The Birds?
Brad Fuller: No actor or actress is going to commit to everything with a script. We’ve sat down with her and conceptually I think we all want to make the same movie, but until we have a script and a director, I think it’s a little premature. But, we’ll all talking and she’s who we’d like to have as the lead.
Question: What else do you have planned for the DVD?
Dave Meyers: I dunno, whatever Brad and Drew let me put on there. There’s a lot of material that we can play with.
Question: Sean any plans to go back to the Sharpe series?
Sean Bean: I don’t know. We did one in India last year called Sharpe’s Challenge, which was a lot of fun. It would be good to maybe resurrect it one day so long as there is something to talk about.
As long as we’re not just going on for the sake of it because it was popular and it was successful. But I would like to think there is life in it as long as it’s meaningful and we are just not repeating what we did already. It’s particularly, obviously a favorite of mine.