Here is the second part of my interview with The Cabin in the Woods‘ director and co-writer Drew Goddard and star Jesse Williams. Be warned; there are spoilers ahead…
Jesse, what was it that attracted you to The Cabin in the Woods in the first place?
JW: A couple of things I think, first it was the material – you know, you are reading 6 scripts a week, desperately trying to find a place for yourself in some of these screenplays and this just stood out to me.We didn’t even get the full screenplay, we just got a couple of audition sides, and I got a couple of different sets 2 pages here, 3 pages there of things that they had just cooked up, that they had no intention of putting in the film. They had some extra imagination and wrote up really elaborate crazy monsters, I had a molesting jacuzzi in one scene and you have to act this out in a little office space. I was a New York actor at the time so often it has to go on tape to be sent off to Los Angeles, right, so you don’t get the feeling of being in a room with a person you kind of have to pull it together and on top of that, I had to be, you know sexually assaulted by a jacuzzi in an office and fake that it felt like I was going to be on candid camera, it felt like I was being set up for a reality show or something. But what I loved about it was that it was really appealing to me and the voice was very clear, but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was, right. It’s hilarious, but it’s terrifying but there is monsters and the imagination is making it so that I can’t even really tell if this is the real world or where is it. It was really genre bending but really engaging and the voice was just so clear to me that I didn’t feel that I didn’t feel like it was forcing itself. It’s not a comedy that’s trying to scare you and it’s not a scary movie trying to get a couple of laughs in, in order to break the tension, it’s all of these things in a really honest way.
Is it hard for you to balance Grey’s Anatomy with films, as it takes 10 months of the year to film Grey’s?
JW: It’s very difficult to balance Grey’s with films. You not available to do much of anything and it would be a pain for a studio to try to make that happen and fight with the Network to make that happen. That is the business side of it. That is the gift and the curse of one job is going to prevent you from getting other jobs. But 7% of actors work so I’m very, very grateful among the few that right now to have a job. So no complaints, but it is a balancing, act for sure.
In The Cabin in the Woods you define 5 stereotypical roles, which would you both be in real life?
DG: I was definitely the virgin. Boy I wish that wasn’t true.
JW: I was somewhere in between Marty and Kirk. I was, you know back at that time an athlete and wanna be tough guy but I was like 90 pounds and smoked a lot of weed though. So somewhere in there.
DG: High school’s hard.
JW: Yeah, I was not Holden that is for sure!
Do you think, as a horror director, clichés are necessary for the horror genre to exist?
DG: I think clichés happen for a reason, they happen because they work, things become clichéd not because everyone doesn’t like them, they become clichéd because everyone likes them, and then they start to wear out their welcome. So much of Cabin is about how we deal with mythology, and not just in a horror film, but mythology in general and what it is we do, and how we compartmentalise this and analyse things and then destroy it. It happens over and over and over, and that’s what happens with clichés, and I don’t… this movie comes from a place of love. We’re celebrating a lot of the things that we’re also poking fun at, I don’t hate these things, I’m just fascinated as to why we do this, I’m fascinated as to how things, through the action of storytelling, how things become rote, how archetypes take on a presence that’s larger than the sum of its parts. It’s interesting to me.
Who came up with the idea for the merman?
DG: I remember saying that it would be great if one of them wanted to see something, it would be great if a guy wanted to see a windigo, because he had never seen a windago before. And as we were working on the script, we kept talking about how it would be great that this guy wanted to see a windago. Then we realised that neither Joss nor I were sure what a windago was! So we were like, “well, that might be too hard, let’s switch it”. Then we switched it and it became a merman. But at a certain point we realised that we didn’t even know what we were doing!
Who came up with the idea for the making out with the wolf scene, and why?
DG: That’s a really good question, there were parts of this that I don’t remember who came up with what because they all just run together, because of the way we did it. I actually don’t know, but it definitely feels like both of us. I wouldn’t put it past either of us to come up with that scene, I don’t know. But I feel it’s crucial to the movie. It really was. It’s one of those things that’s not just there because it’s off-putting, it is about the progression of the story.
JW: Was it always a wolf, was it ever a moose?
DG: It was always a wolf, the wolf was very important to the horror film mythology in general.
Did you write Sigourney Weaver’s part for her?
DG: No, we wrote it a-sexual, the part is just known as The Director, but we were thinking of a man because that’s just what we do ourselves being sort of sexist about it, but we weren’t excited. When we talked about names, nothing excited us, and one day we just looked at each other and said “Lets just switch it, lets make it a woman” and as soon as we said that, Sigourney’s name popped into our head. “Oh, she would be perfect for the genre, and she’d be so good at this” and just that day called her up, and she said “Yeah, I’m in”.We’re like “Really? Are you sure?” but she was “No, I love you guys, lets do this” which was exciting. She knew Joss from the Alien days, and it was nice. She was so fun, the first question every day when she showed up on set was “When does the Werewolf get here?” “First of all, Sigourney, it’s not a real Werewolf” But she was just so excited. It was nice to see someone whose done what she has done still have the enthusiasm for her job, it gave us all a tremendous burst of energy to have around. But don’t say any of that until after.
The Cabin in the Woods is out in cinemas now.