EXCL: Elisha Cuthbert Interview

Shock talks to the star of Captivity

You and I will never, ever – like, never ever – know it first-hand, but Elisha Cuthbert sleeps easier at night when she’s working on a thriller. She tells you this with the sort of grin that made your knees buckle watching The Girl Next Door, the faintest trace of her Canadian roots coming through her speech. “Yeah, I don’t know what it is, the energy or what, but when I do thrillers I sleep great. When I do comedies, I toss and turn.” We’ll just have to take her word for it.

Cuthbert appears fully rested when ShockTillYouDrop.com meets her at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood. She has broken from a morning junket for After Dark Films’ latest ominous offering, Captivity, her return to the horror genre after Dark Castle’s House of Wax.

In this latest warm dip into the world of “torture” directed by Roland Joffe, Cuthbert plays Jennifer Tree, a fashion model kidnapped by a malicious manipulator and locked away in room that will later become her torture dungeon. But she’s not alone. In the next cell over she discovers another victim (Daniel Gillies) and together they work to break free from their prison of pain.

ShockTillYouDrop.com: Let’s dismiss the torture porn label for a sec and get down to the nitty-gritty. At its core, what is “Captivity” about?

Elisha Cuthbert: It’s about a woman who’s abducted, finds herself in a room and has to find her way out. In the midst of that, she finds that she’s not alone, falls in love and has to survive. She just so happens to be a high profile model. This isn’t someone who has been abducted in the streets, it’s someone who has been stalked for a really long time.

Shock: And because your character is someone in the celebrity spotlight who is “locked away,” I would think the timeliness of this film’s release isn’t lost on you.

Cuthbert: With “24,” I found ourselves being ahead of the time. And since then I’ve found myself on projects imitating the news before it actually happened. We shot [“Captivity”] in 2005, but I see a resemblance with Paris Hilton in that she’s someone in the public eye and is forced to be in a situation that’s completely foreign to her. That’s what Jennifer Tree is going through, so it is timely now. Her struggle to survive in that. I find that really bizarre. I mean, every woman has to be conscious of her surroundings, this isn’t just about a celebrity thing. Women always have to be on guard, guys too, when they go out with their friends and put themselves in situations.

Shock: Are you purposely finding projects that are delayed in their release?

Cuthbert: [laughs] I know, right? It’s so funny. Well, with every movie I’m learning. I was sitting in the midst of reshoots on this going: Does every actor deal with this? Am I just sorta always in these crazy situations? I realized that we all go through it. With “The Girl Next Door” it was about marketing, how do we promote this film in the midst of “American Pie?” At least with “Captivity” people know what they’re getting.

Shock: Well, the ads certainly leave no room for guessing. How is Jennifer different from the archetypal female in peril this genre has seen over and over again?

Cuthbert: Proactive, I tried to make her proactive. There are moments of breakdown but I had to find those. Where are they? Because I don’t want every scene to be the same – deal with things in a different way. But you’ve got to play it real. I didn’t want Jennifer to be a whiner; I’m female, you’ve got to be strong, you gotta go through the character and the steps in a strong way. I try to portray women to the best of my ability and not make them weak in any way, but she’s a real person too so she has her moments. You’ve got to break down the script: Where can she do this? When is it enough? When is it time to collapse? Cry? Scream at the top of your lungs? Be pissed off. There’s all of these things and you’ve got to find the right times for them otherwise it’s…

Shock: One note.

Cuthbert: I hate that, I can’t stand that.

Shock: There are even some interesting, and unsettling, sibling subtleties in “House of Wax.” The jealousy that comes out of Chad Michael Murray’s character who plays your twin brother is bizarre.

Cuthbert: There are some interesting things in that. Our director Jaume Collet-Serra was crazy, from Spain. But you know what? That’s so cool because with a film as big as that for a studio, for Jaume to find his own mark in a film, that’s a big feat. To make your mark on a film when the studio has such a grip.

Shock: And how is Roland Joffe in comparison?

Cuthbert: Joffe is so calm and quiet. It was amazing, very easy to work with. He had his own ideas for the visual aspect of it, it didn’t matter if it was – 1/8th of a page or a huge massive scene. Everything was an epic for him, everything was a moment. I remember when Daniel [Gillies] and I are running from one room to the next and Joffe was like, ‘Maybe we should stop and maybe…’ And I was like, ‘No, Ro, we’re just running from one room to the next. Let’s run, let’s move!’ And we would laugh about it because every scene that he captured was a moment, he had so much love going into it.

Shock: Well, here’s a guy who made DeNiro climb up the side of a waterfall in “The Mission,” so I would think “epic” is in his blood.

Cuthbert: If it wasn’t for him I don’t know if the movie ever would have gotten finished. The circumstances of being in Russia and the language barrier… Everyone bowed down to him, he never raised his voice once. He conducted himself with this calm demeanor and everyone was in awe of that, he got things done and it was cool to be a part of that. You can be strong and be the most gentle person in the world. You understand why he is where he is and that’s really cool.

Shock: You wrapped this picture, went to work on other projects and was later called back for gruesome re-shoots including a bit where you’re force-fed a rich smoothie of blended body parts. Was that frustrating? Easy? Over-the-top?

Cuthbert: You see movies nowadays that come with alternate endings, you can screen test the film and see what the audience thinks and you modify. That’s what this was all about – to clear up some things and to make things make more sense, even thought I hate doing that because I feel like audiences are so much smarter. But sometimes things get a little wishy-washy and you got to tie things up a bit. There were so many endings [on “Captivity”]. I was like wow, this is a different film, in a way that added so much flavor to it…

Shock: Literally, given the blender scene…

Cuthbert: [laughs] Yeah, that was nasty and tough. I had finished this romantic comedy and I had put “Captivity” to bed so it was like being thrown back into the mix. It was tough mentally for me. But again you press through. You want to make the best movie you can and hope it all ties together. To keep my creative opinions still there and keep it hopefully as close to the original film as I signed up for.

Shock: Between this and “My Sassy Girl” coming out within the same year, it must be nice to see that dichotomy being reflected in your career.

Cuthbert: It’s good because people can say, ‘Oh, she can do both.’ I know people pin me for the heist-type chick in peril, but I’ve got other things goin’ on.

Captivity opens on July 13th.

Source: Ryan Rotten


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