Stephen Lang Interview

Interview: Stephen Lang Discusses Don’t Breathe 2, Norman’s Motivations Changing

Don’t Breathe 2 releases on Friday, August 13 exclusively in theaters. The horror film once again stars Stephen Lang as the “Blind Man” Norman Nordstrom. He’s joined by Madelyn Grace and Brendan Sexton III. The film is written by Fede Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues with Sayagues directing.

“In Don’t Breathe, Norman Nordstrom (Stephen Lang) was underestimated by everyone because of his blindness: he revealed an unflinching will to survive and get what he wants… but also a monstrous, evil side of his personality, as nothing – no person or conscience – will stand in his way,” says the official synopsis. “Now, in Don’t Breathe 2, eight years later, Nordstrom lives with 11-year-old Phoenix; he has recreated the family that was stolen from him by a drunk driver and has found the twisted justice he’s always felt was his due. When intruders once again come to his home, this time focused on Phoenix, Norman will reveal for a second time what’s hidden inside him… and again, it will be in new and unexpected ways.”

ComingSoon’s Sabina Graves spoke with actor Stephen Lang about his portrayal of Nordstrom in Don’t Breathe 2, how he prepared for the role, and the nuance he puts into the character. Check out the video below or read the full transcription.

Sabina Graves: Your portrayal of Norman is always so chilling and in this one filled with so much nuance. I do want to talk about continuing this collaboration with Rodo this time at the helm, uh, what intrigued you about returning to the character?

Stephen Lang: I had a wonderful experience the first time out. It was fun in a very serious kind of way. I learned a lot and it was challenging and new unique. So the idea of going back was great. Not necessarily to repeat the experience, but to further develop and explore some new horizons. The idea of doing it with Rodo at the helm was absolutely intriguing to me. Because you know, Fede and Rodo are both extremely unique individuals, and at the same time, they operate very, very well as a team together. I thought Rodo did an absolutely splendid job directing this. He has a grasp of the language of cinema that really comes with being a veteran and this was his first time out. Of course, he did have the benefit of terrific producers and a wonderful team of designers, Fede being a kind of an off-screen voice, and of course, Pedro Luque who is a superb cinematographer and has really joined at the hip with both Fede and Rodo.

I wanted to ask about in the first film, Norman’s home is almost like his superpower. How did your research maybe change in making this character go out into the world and expand his skills to still be rooted in realism without him going to superpowers?

That’s just it. That’s it. You’re dead on. I never thought of it in terms of being his superpower, but he was in his domain and he could set the terms for anything that happens there. It seems to me. Now in this, it’s completely different in this one. So the preparation had to really encompass learning about orientation and mobility as a sightless person. So it was clear to me the work that had to be done, what had to be accomplished. I was very fortunate to find the right place to do that work and the right people to do that work with that being the Northeast Association for the Blind in Albany, New York, and their superb director of orientation and mobility, Samantha Gartland. I worked with her for weeks on what it meant to function usefully and effectively as a sightless person in environments that are new to you, how to orient oneself, how to move with some cautious independence, whatever it may be.

It’s interesting too, because I was doing this during the pandemic. So not only was I blindfolded, I also had a mask on. So I was really kind of bereft of my senses. A lot of it, it was fascinating.

I really found the relationship between Phoenix and Norman so intriguing in this film. Can you talk a bit about how maybe Norman’s motivations have changed by creating a found family?

Well, he views it as she, in a sense, Phoenix washes up on the shores of his life and that there’s gotta be a reason for that. It’s not a question of him being given a gift so much as him being handed a task and a responsibility. I think that he sees this as an avenue towards some type of redemption and that he really is tasked with this by the universe. There’s almost a classical, you can picture him as a very small man in a very large universe who spends most of his life shaking his fist at whatever it is that has brought this sea of troubles upon him. Now what it does, is it brings this little girl. It’s like, shut up, quit complaining and do your job, take care of this child. That’s how he processes it.


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