CS Interview: Emile Hirsch talks return to horror genre in Son
As the film geared up to head to select theaters and digital platforms, Comingsoon.net got the opportunity to chat with star Emile Hirsch (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) to discuss his return to the horror genre in Ivan Kavanaugh’s Son, in which he stars alongside Andi Matichak (Halloween).
ComingSoon.net: Son it’s quite the interesting twist on the evil kid formula and obviously you’ve worked with Ivan before, but what about this film really drew you to the project?
Emile Hirsch: Well, for me, it was kind of like the familiarity of this genre, that type of film, as you said, like Exorcist or like Rosemary’s Baby, but having worked with Ivan and seeing what a particular type of director he was, that’s sort of what made me really curious to see like what his take on it would be. Because Never Grow Old, the Western that we made together had kind of a similar thing where it didn’t necessarily reinvent the wheel in terms of story, but stylistically he’s such a tightly-controlled director with such a specific vision that he makes it seem fresh because of that, the way he approaches performance and cinematography and sound design and world building. He’s a very meticulous kind of director and sometimes if you’re watching a film like this and it doesn’t have that world-building feel, it sort of just feels like it was just cheaply thrown together. But when you have a director that really emphasizes the details, it feels a lot more lived in and believable and kind of is more effective because of that. There’s more room for suspension of belief.
CS: Sure, absolutely. So your character, without giving anything away, he takes quite the interesting arc throughout. What was it like getting to the heart of your character as he goes through this real rollercoaster of a story?
EH: It was funny because for the most part I was just sort of B.S.-ing my way through the role. I kind of would be very — like the last thing I wanted to do would be for anyone to realize certain parts of story or certain parts of the movie in advance. So I really wanted to just never ever get caught not in my character, so to speak. So the character, he’s not really showy and I kind of deliberately sort of didn’t want him — I just sort of wanted him to be really, really low key, you know, because that way you never really know what quite is going on.
CS: What was it then like for you building up a rapport with Andi and the kid because you play such an integral part in their story as well, that you’re just as important of getting along with them as they are with you?
AH: They were really cool. Andi, she’s so great in the movie and so is Luke and they both have really great senses of humor, so there was a lot of just playing around and being funny and telling funny stories and jokes whenever we had a little downtime. We were out in Mississippi and it was cold and we were all kind of staying at the same hotel, so we were able to sort of all get along and kind of be buddies. It was a really nice shoot, actually.
CS: That’s awesome. Would you say you had any creative challenges going into this role? And if so, what were they?
EH: I think my biggest creative challenge is just being willing to just sort of be hyper low key and kind of realize that for my part to be as effective as possible, I kind of had to just sort of be really low key and let the other characters sort of drive it, you know? Because Paul’s role — you figure it out at the end, but he’s supposed to sort of be somebody that doesn’t attract too much attention to himself.
CS: So you haven’t really explored the horror genre too often, but what is it about the genre that really draws you back on occasion?
EH: Well, I had such a great experience on my first horror film, which was The Autopsy of Jane Doe and I had so much fun making that film. The film, people seemed to really respond to it and it was kind of good that it was such a positive early experience and it kind of made me more excited to go back, especially working with a director that I’d already worked with once. It’s actually the first time I’ve worked with the same director again and that was really cool, because I always hear about other actors doing that a lot that I like. So I was like, ‘Wow, I wonder what it’s like to actually work with the same director twice.’ It was really cool, it was kind of like everything you hope to — you know, there’s a sense of familiarity and comfort and everything.”
CS: Sure, sure. So since you do mention Jane Doe, this year does mark the fifth anniversary of it.
CS: Yeah, I know. And like you said, it’s gotten such a positive response since its release, I mean, I adore that film. But what has it been like for you to see sort of the long-standing ovation, so to speak, still going for that film, especially with its life on Netflix?
EH: It’s pretty crazy. You know how movies that people respond to kind of continue their journey as reviewers, that it’s like that for Jane Doe. It’s like that for Into the Wild and Speed Racer and The Girl Next Door. It’s pretty wild how there’s like some of these films, they have a way of sticking around and in people’s minds. I love a lot of the other films I’ve done, but there’s certain films I’ve done that definitely, it’s almost like a different kind of lasting power or something, and that’s just something that the public decides, you know?
CS: Looking back at Son, there’s a lot of really interesting thematics to the story in addition to the good scares in it. What do you hope that audiences can sort of grasp from the deeper heart of the story?
EH: Well, I think it kind of touches on some ideas of like, a parent’s commitment to their child and how far will parents be willing to go for their children, you know, loyalty that they have, the inherent love, and not just from the mother, but also from the father, you know, ironically enough. It’s like a twisted parenting film, you know? [Chuckles}
CS: With the film gearing up for its release, what are your hopes for it? I mean, obviously a positive response, but what are you kind of hoping that critics and audiences can sort of look at and take away from the film as a whole as it gets ready to come out?
EH: I think first and foremost, I just hope people walk away being a fan of Andi Matichak and Luke and Ivan, even better. But I showed the film recently to a couple of friends, and they didn’t know anything about it going in and they really liked it. So I was pretty encouraged and I had the feeling that people were going to be pretty freaked out. I mean, one of my friends was traumatized after she saw it.
CS: Obviously marketing, you always want to have good trailers, but do you think this is a film better served by going in blind than by looking at a trailer for it?
EH: I don’t know. I mean, I feel like with a film this small, it’s hard to sell people on watching it blind, just because they’re like, ‘Well, what do you mean? I haven’t seen any advertising for this movie. You’re telling me to watch it blind?’ Like that’s a huge leap of faith. Ideally, I think every movie you would see without watching the trailer or almost seeing anything other than maybe the poster. I think that’s the preferred ideal way to watch any film, and I’ve benefitted many times over from that technique. But I think that they did cut a really cool trailer, so if that’s what it takes to get these people into the theaters or to stream it or whatever, however the heck people are watching stuff these days, then so be it.
After a mysterious group of individuals breaks into Laura’s home and attempts to steal her eight-year-old son, David, the two of them flee town in search of safety. Breaut soon after the failed kidnapping, David becomes extremely ill, suffering from increasingly sporadic psychosis and convulsions. Following her maternal instincts to save him, Laura commits unspeakable acts to keep him alive but soon, she must decide how far she is willing to go to save her son.
Alongside Matichak, the cast for the film includes Emile Hirsch (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Luke David Blumm (The King of Staten Island), Cranston Johnson (Hap and Leonard), Blaine Maye (Dirt), J. Robert Spencer (Grave of the Fireflies) and Rocco Sisto (Donnie Brasco).
Son, which is written and directed by Ivan Kavanaugh, is now available in select theaters and on digital platforms and VOD! In addition to the film, Hirsch has also self-released a music album, “Denihilism,” he and his partner The Frenchman have worked on for the past year and a half that is “sort of like electro British pop throwback kind of vibes” and can be purchased here!