Interview: Drew Goddard and Kristen Connolly Talk Scream Queens, the Logistics of Blood and Doing Things in Their Underwear for ‘Cabin in the Woods’

Kristen Connolly in 'The Cabin in the Woods'

What can be said about a movie that you’re not supposed to talk about? A lot, apparently. Recently, Kristen Connolly, star of the new genre-bending horror film Cabin in the Woods sat down with us to talk about her role in the film and the production in general. She also let us in on a few secrets about her earlier career in soap operas and what she wears to cook eggs in the morning.

At Kristen’s side was director Drew Goddard to throw in his two cents about how the rumor mill has been treating his movie and why he doesn’t like movie trailers or even posters.

And there’s blood. Lots and lots of blood.

Is there more to the character of Dana than just a scream queen?

Kristen Connolly: Oh, absolutely. In this movie, you get to play every kind of scene. There’s funny scenes. There’s scenes that break my heart a little to watch. There’s just so much that’s happening in it, so many real human things. I think that’s something that’s really special about the movie. The characters feel very real. And it’s a genre where that’s not always the case. But these are people that you really care about.

Did you like playing an archetype?

KC: I really didn’t think of it as an archetype. I don’t think any of us did. We really just focused on – and Drew said this from the beginning for all of us – that we’re a group of friends. They love each other, and they’re placed in this kind of extraordinary situation. But it’s not about playing the archetype because Drew really does that for us. The costumes do that for us. The writing does that. And the audience’s knowledge of these movies does that.

Your opening scene features you packing for the trip in your underwear with all the windows wide open.

KC: Oh yeah, yeah.

Do you normally pack in your underwear? Do you run around in your underwear with all the windows open? Was this a new experience for you?

KC: I try to do everything in my underwear. Cook eggs, you know all those things. [Laughs] It didn’t seem ridiculous to me, but I could see why people who know the genre very well would latch onto it as a thing. But I didn’t really question it. I was like, “She’s just packing in her underwear.”

Drew Goddard: Because we had so little real estate to show these kids are not their archetypes, it was crucial to show that Dana is not the virgin. If you look at that scene, all five of them, they’re doing something counter to what they become.

Are you a fan of horror movies?

KC: I didn’t know all of them, no. I do love scary movies, though, and there were a lot of things I did recognize. Like, I didn’t know it was the Evil Dead cabin, that the cabin looked so much the same. Then I saw the Evil Dead. So there were a lot of things like that I didn’t catch. But I knew horror movies well enough to pick up on a lot of stuff.

What’s your favorite scary movie?

DG: I have so many, but if I had to pick one, It’d have to be The Thing because I feel like Carpenter’s my favorite. I’m a child of the 80s, so Sam Raimi and John Carpenter are two people whose shoulders I stand upon with this movie. I think The Thing is so good because it’s not just a scary movie. It’s also social commentary, which works on multiple levels, which is something I really respond to.

What about you, Kristen?

KC: I love Jaws. I loved The Descent, which Drew introduced me to. Oh, my god, it was so good. And so scary.

DG: A lot of blood in that one.

KC: A lot of blood.

DG: I wanted to get you used to blood early.

Speaking of which, you get a little bloody in this movie, don’t you?

KC: Yeah, a little bit. A little bloody.

Was it easy to wash away the blood at the end of the day?

KC: Well, we spent a lot of time on that. What I can tell you is there are different kinds of blood, which is something I learned the hard way. There’s blood that the make-up team puts together, and that comes off very easily. But there’s blood that the props put together, and that’s just meant to be on the floor. It’s not necessarily meant to be on a person.

DG: But that’s the blood that splatters. If something splatters, it’s prop blood, not make-up blood. And that’s much messier.

KC: And if you, say, dump a lot on a person. Especially a person like myself who’s very pale, it can take a long time to get out and several people scrubbing you. There was a day that I was pink for like two days.

DG: I take my blood very seriously. We worked a lot on the blood. I like to feel the blood oxidize, like real blood does. So I’d put multiple layers on them to just make them feel real. So god bless my actors because they put up with a lot from me.

How does that much blood affect the shooting schedule?

DG: Oh my God. The logistics of blood is something that I didn’t even understood as a first-time director. Not just actors and make-up, but once a set gets bloody, you don’t un-blood it. Once something gets bloody, you either rebuild the set or you just don’t get the shot. You really have to get everything done ahead of time because there’s no going back when it comes to blood.

KC: And it’s also really sticky. I remember we were rehearsing something one time, and there was blood. And I had my little Ugg boots on just for practice. And I went to run, and I left both of the boots.

Did you enjoy directing?

DG: I loved it. I love it all. I guess I’m just the kind of person who likes to do it all. It’s fun to put on the writer’s hat and go hide by myself with my computer for six months. Then it’s fun to come out and put the director hat on and deal with all the things that a director deals with. Then it’s fun to just be the producer and, um, not do anything. [Laughs]

Any conflicts with Drew Goddard the writer?

DG: Oh my god. The amount of times I would curse the writer on this work. I can’t believe the stupid writer wrote another night shoot for us because it’s so hard. And then as a writer, you’re hoping the director doesn’t screw this one up. So I definitely find myself arguing with myself.

What did you think when you first read the script?

KC: I didn’t read the script actually until I already had gotten the part because it was so secret. I read some crazy scenes, like audition scenes that had pterodactyls in it.

DG: Yeah, we wrote fake sides.

KC: So I was kinda of like, “It’s a cabin with pterodactyls? I didn’t see that one coming.” But yeah, I didn’t know much going in, but then I read a scene which is in the movie with Fran [Kranz] for my audition. At that point, I was really confused.

DG: Where do the pterodactyls fit into this?

KC: Yeah, I was like, “What happened to the pterodactyls? Because now we’re somewhere else.” But then when I actually sat down to read the script, I read the whole thing in one sitting which I don’t usually do sometimes. [Laughs] I get distracted and do other things. But I read the whole thing, and I read all the scenes that I wasn’t in, which is another thing I don’t always do.

DG: Actors never do.

KC: Yeah… [imitates flipping pages] Bullshit, bullshit, my line. [laughs]

I really got sucked into the story, and I wasn’t really thinking. Of course, you imagine yourself doing the things. I wasn’t thinking about it from an actor’s point of view, like, “Do I want to do this?” I was like, “I want this to happen.” I was really into the characters and the story.

Kevin Carr crawled from the primordial ooze in the early 1970s. He grew up watching movies to the point of irritation for his friends and was a font of useless movie knowledge until he decided to put that knowledge to good use. Now, Kevin is a nationally syndicated critic, heard on dozens of radio stations around the country, and his reviews appear in a variety of online outlets. Kevin is also a proud member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Central Ohio Film Critics Association (COFCA).

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