Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. When I found out I was getting the chance to spend some phone time with Cabin in the Woods’ Kristen Connolly, I joked on Twitter that my first question was going to be “Will you be my girlfriend?” and my second was going to be “Why not?” I was trying to be funny. Cute actress, nerdy film blogger, yadda-yadda-yadda.
Then the interview happened and Ms. Connolly was even sweeter and more adorable than she is in the movie, which I wasn’t sure was possible. Of course she probably wouldn’t have been that nice if I actually did what I joked about doing, but I have the good sense not to throw that kind of hoodoo on a potentially fun interview.
It’s so nice getting to talk to someone involved with Cabin in the Woods and go into the big twist of the picture. So, yes… there are plenty of spoilers in the below chat, but I imagine most of you reading have seen the movie by now so I don’t feel bad at all!
I’m not sure if you guys read my interview with director Drew Goddard back in April, but we also got to talk about the nitty-gritty of one of the most fun movies of the year. Check it out here if you haven’t read it yet… or if you just want to revisit it for shits and giggles, that’s cool too.
But now here we go with the lovely Kristen Connolly. We talk monsters, the crazy item-filled basement, Sigourney Weaver’s awesomeness and much more! Enjoy!
Kristen Connolly: Hi, Eric! How are you?
Quint: I’m doing great, thanks for asking. And thanks for taking the time to talk with me about Cabin in the Wood. I’m a big fan of the movie.
Kristen Connolly: Oh, good, good. I’m glad.
Quint: We at Ain’t It Cool were pretty crazy supportive of the film…
Kristen Connolly: I know, I remember. When it was delayed I’d go onto your website to see if you guys knew anything that I didn’t know. (laughs)
Quint: I’m glad that it finally got out there because there’s usually…
Kristen Connolly: Yeah, me too.
Quint: (laughs) Yeah, I bet! Because you filmed it, what? 17 or 18 years ago?
Kristen Connolly: Yeah, something like that. I think I was in grade school.
Quint: But there is that stigma with shelved films and for good reason. Nine times out of ten shelved movies are shelved for a reason.
Kristen Connolly: Sure. I thought that myself about movies. “Oh, apparently it sucks.” (laughs)
Quint: One of the many reasons I’m glad to talk to you about Cabin now is that the film has been out, people have seen it so now we can talk a bit about the second half of the movie.
Kristen Connolly: Sure!
Quint: Now that you can talk about the monster side of the film, what was your personal favorite combination of creature and totem in the basement?
Kristen Connolly: Oh, that’s a good question. I loved the little ballerina. She’s so scary and I loved the little music box. Then of course the merman is just spectacular, especially because of Bradley (Whitford)’s performance.
Quint: Yeah, the Merman has one of the best build-ups. The second Bradley mentions it you know that’s going to pay off.
Kristen Connolly: You were at that screening (the SXSW premiere), so when you just hear that flop sound when everything’s crazy and you can’t even see the thing through all the smoke… but people just went nuts. “It’s gotta be the Merman! He’s here! He’s finally here!”
Quint: Then the nice exclamation point to that scene with all the blood coming out of the blowhole.
Kristen Connolly: Exactly. Drew was really excited about that. (laughs) Yeah, the monsters are just awesome. They’re so great. All the little things, like the stuff in the basement, were so thoughtful. Everything in there had a tie to something that comes later, even stuff you don’t see. I don’t know if some of that stuff is going to be on the DVD, but the art department was incredible. They did such an amazing job.
Quint: I’ve seen the movie a few times now and haven’t found it yet, but Drew told me there is even a Unicorn tapestry in the basement that made it into the film.
Kristen Connolly: Really?
Quint: I haven’t found it yet, so when I get the Blu-Ray that’ll be me freeze framing through the basement scene.
Kristen Connolly: That’ll be what you look for. That’s crazy, I didn’t know that. I’ll have to look for it, too.
Quint: Let’s talk a little about the elevator scene. That’s such a great plot device to get us ready for the insanity that’s about to be unleashed and introduce us to some of the crazier monsters.
Kristen Connolly: Right.
Quint: Did anything stand out to you filming that scene? Was it just a day of having monsters paraded in front of you?
Kristen Connolly: Yeah, we had a ton of them. It was crazy because we were just in this little box, basically, all day. We were wet and gross and just looking at all these different monsters. They had one monster that they ended up not using. It was an alien. It looked kind of stupid. Fran (Kranz) and I were like, “That monster doesn’t look that scary.”
All the monsters were done by the same group of people, pretty much, and then this other one came in and it just wasn’t that scary-looking. I mean, it was probably that there were guys in greenscreen outfits moving the thing around, but it just took forever to get right.
At some point Fran was off to the side and Sigourney (Weaver) came in and was watching… This is according to Fran, but apparently she was like, “It’s hard to do a good alien.”
Quint: (laughs) And she would know.
Kristen Connolly: “Yep, I’ll take your word for it.” We thought that was pretty cool. For the most part they were great. The little ballerina girl terrified me and the guy with the blades in his face… But then you’d see them out at crafty or at lunch and just sitting down and eating with everybody and just go, “What’s happening here?!?”
Quint: So, the ballerina’s face was done with practical make up? The creepy lamprey teeth?
Kristen Connolly: It was on there. That wasn’t CGI.
Quint: Sorry for the language, but fuck that. I couldn’t handle seeing that in real life.
Kristen Connolly: It was terribly upsetting. And seeing her walk around I was just worried about her. She was so little and I was like, “Can you even see anything?”
Quint: Were you a monster fan before Cabin or was this like a crash course for you?
Kristen Connolly: I didn’t recognize all of them. Some of them I recognized from other movies, but I haven’t really watched that much (horror). I know other people were like, “Of course, that’s that monster from this movie,” but I didn’t recognize all of them. Monsters just scare me! I don’t watch that many monster movies.
Quint: Now your character is a very specific archetype and on the surface a common horror trope, but like everything else in the movie there’s a few layers to it and stereotype is turned on its head. How did Drew work with you on your character specifically? Was there a moment where he sat you down and outlined the different layers of your character?
Kristen Connolly: Yeah, yeah we did. We all had meetings at the beginning. I think we all wanted to play the characters really believably and Drew really pushed us in that direction. He did not want us to be playing the meta aspects of the movie. He didn’t want us winking at the camera. I think he wanted us to be invested in it in a real way.
Some of the stuff we talked about… you know, they’re just regular kids. Their friendships are important to them. Drew said it drives him crazy in movies when somebody’s best friend dies and nobody’s upset about it, they’re just like “Whatever, let’s just keep going” or whatever. I think he really wanted to deepen the friendships and wanted it to be a big deal when somebody dies, that it is horrible.
Does that answer your question? I wasn’t thinking so much about playing “The Virgin” and I don’t think any of us were.
Quint: Were you ever told where your characters were before the movie starts, because when we meet the character they’re already not themselves.
Kristen Connolly: Yeah, exactly. We talked about it and I think that they’re all great kids. We talked about what their majors were. We talked about that stuff, definitely, and I think part of what you see in the movie is all of us enjoying each other, just hanging out, because we all hung out all the time. We were all living in the same hotel in Vancouver and we’d go out and get drinks, watch scary movies in somebody’s room, and go out to dinner. I think investing in the friendship was our starting point.
Quint: You mentioned Sigourney earlier and you obviously have that big, crucial scene with her at the end. That must have been a trip. She’s had so much influence on pop culture, especially to our generation.
Kristen Connolly: Oh my God, yeah! I think there was a phase where I watched Ghostbusters every day after school. She’s incredible. She’s so amazing and I was totally nervous when she showed up, but she was wonderful and she was so game for everything and really went for it.
That scene was really fun. I think we shot it over two days and it’s just crazy. Like, we had werewolves… it was just nuts and she was just totally onboard.
Quint: Since you had so much time between wrapping and seeing the finished film and had a little bit of distance from it, was there any particular scene or moment that you found defied your expectation?
Kristen Connolly: The movie is a lot funnier than I think I thought it was when we were shooting it because what’s happening is really not all that funny to Dana, I guess. (laughs) But when I watched it I was laughing. That dock scene is so gruesome, but the way that they show it is darkly funny. But for me shooting that was two days of being soaking wet… I had to look like I had just come out of the water, so I was literally being sprayed with a hose and lying on this wooden dock and I was like, “What in the hell am I doing?”
I was getting beat up, there was a point where I was throwing up blood… it was crazy. It was really difficult. It was a long two days. It was just excruciating, but then when I watched it in the movie it was just so perfectly juxtaposed with the party they’re having… it’s awesome the way they did it. I was excited to see it that way because I was kind of worried. I was like, “I don’t know if my mom’s going to be able to handle this, I’m just getting brutalized for minutes on end.”
But yeah, that was surprising and cool. Even though I knew what they were going to do it was one thing to read it and another to see it.
Quint: What’s next for you? You just worked with Barry Levinson, right?
Kristen Connolly: Yeah, I worked on this movie called The Bay that opens November 4th. It’s another scary movie, but it’s much more in the vain of Paranormal Activity. It’s not at all like Cabin.
Quint: What is, really?
Kristen Connolly: Yeah, I know. There’s no way to compare anything to Cabin at all. There’s nothing like it. Yeah, so that’s coming out and I’m shooting House of Cards, a new series for Netflix and David Fincher is directing and is executive producing. We’re on the 9th episode now, we’ve got four more to go and then we’ll take a little break then shoot the second season.
Quint: Exciting. Thanks for taking the time to talk monsters with me.
Kristen Connolly: Absolutely. It was great. I’m glad we could talk freely about the movie. It’s a treat for me.
I was also able to score some phone time with Cabin’s Fran Kranz, so look for that to hit Monday. Hope you guys enjoyed the Connolly chat!