Capone trembles in the presence of THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT's Krug a.k.a. Garret Dillahunt!!!
Published at: March 10, 2009, 1:05 p.m. CST by Capone
Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here.
More with the folks who made THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT remake a truly disturbing reality. Garret Dillahunt might not be a name you recognize, but if you do, that's probably because you think he's a primo bad-ass actor. Seriously, the guy right now can do no wrong, and in LAST HOUSE, he does about as much wrong as a person can. Dillahunt plays the personification of evil named Krug who commits unspeakable acts on a young woman and her friend, and just makes the world an unhappy place for everyone in his path. Dillahunt is just plain nasty in this movie, and he's playing nasty before, particularly in two different roles on HBO's "Deadwood." You might also know him from roles on such shows as "E.R.," "The 4400," "The Book of Daniel" (in which he played Jesus!), and "Damages." 2007 was something of a banner year for Dillahunt, scoring high-profile roles in NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (he was Tommy Lee Jones slightly dense deputy) and THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JANES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD, in which he played Ed Miller. Speaking of Cormac McCarthy, he's also featured as "The Gang Member" in the long-delayed adaptation of THE ROAD, starring Viggo Mortensen and slated for release later this year.
In addition to playing Krug in LAST HOUSE, Dillahunt can also be seen on Fox's "Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles" as the childlike, but no less dangerous, terminator John Henry. His exchanges with both Shirley Manson and Richard T. Jones are some of the best moments the series has to offer. But for all of the bizarre characters this guy has played over the years, turns out he's one of the flat-out nicest guys I've ever talked to. Hope you find him equally cool. Enjoy…
Capone: Hi Garret, how are you?
Garret Dillahunt: I'm well. How are you?
Capone: I'm a huge admirer of all of your freaky work, so let's just dive right in here.
GD: [laughs] Sure.
Capone: In many ways, the character you're playing in LAST HOUSE, especially in the way he was played by David Hess in the original, marked a turning point in the way evil was depicted on screen, and the evil that men do. Where is the starting point for you in bringing a character like that to life?
GD: I guess it's different for every part. Some you kind of know. Sometimes you're like, "I've met this guy." I've certainly never met this guy. I did read a lot. I got one of the Amazon Kindle things, which I thought I would hate, but I really love, and I packed it with 15 or 20 books I thought would be of interest, about serial killers and spree killers. There's one in particular, and I can't remember which one it was now, that kind of detailed a whole bunch of different killers. I think I was looking for little clue to explain why he was the way he was. I do think he's a spree killer, not a serial killer--I learned the difference in that. Do you remember Andrew Cunanan?
Capone: The guy who died in Florida, sure.
GD: Yeah, the guy who killer Versace. I never would have thought that I'd find a lot for my guy in him, but I did, because there was this one story, really horrible. I guess I didn't really know about all of the other people he'd killed on his way to Florida. There was one in particular that was a home invasion--I think he needed a new car--and he must have surprised someone at home. It was an older gentleman who had a military background, and they said he killed him so viciously and it was odd because that kind of cruelty is usually reserved for people that know the victim.
Capone: Like crimes of passion.
GD: Right. And he was taking out all sorts of other things on this guy. They thought he might have reminded him of his father because he probably didn't back down or he called him a punk or something. He was a tough old fellow, and he probably just enraged him. And I thought, that's how this guy is. He takes everything really personal; everything is an affront. I found that very helpful in understanding a rage-a-holic.
Capone: As in the original, there's not a whole lot known about where Krug and his band come from or what he did to get himself thrown in jail in the first place. Does that sort of detail matter to you?
GD: It's always helpful for you to know, but it's not important for the audience to know all the time. I don't think it's important in this case, because that's kind of almost the point. This is evil; evil has come to your door, and what are you going to do? There's no explanation for it, it makes no sense, it's something outside your realm of understand, but it's here, so what do you do? And there are all sorts of parallels to that going on in the world today, however you define evil.
Capone: Do you ever get people reaction to you in person where they tell you they're scared of you a little bit?
GD: It's funny when they say that. I do, but it's like, "I'm so nervous to meet you. You're so nice and soft spoken." Like you're going to be an actual psychopath. "We went to an asylum to cast the part of Krug." I hope the character worked for people, we'll see. I don't know if it worked for you, but I hope it did. This story has to have a bad guy, and he better be really bad.
Capone: It worked for me just fine, thanks. I don't think many people are going to realize that you and Sara Paxton [who plays Mari, Krug's primary victim in LAST HOUSE] have worked together before.
GD: I don't think they will. I don't think that [a pilot for an attempt relaunch of the "Mr. Ed" TV series] ever saw the light of day. No one will know unless we tell them.
Capone: Did having worked with her before help at all in staging that horrific rape scene?
GD: It was helpful. But it was both, I think. Because you don't want to do that to your friend, and I considered her my friend. I kept saying how nervous I was and that I was more nervous that she was, and she misunderstood my nerves. It wasn't that I was nervous that I could do it; I was nervous that she wouldn't like me after I did. Because I like her. She was 15 when we worked together the first time, and she was 19 or 20 now, and I like her and feel protective of her. So in the end, I think that it was helpful. That scene has to be about her. She's going to go to a real dark place all day long, and I'm going to grind her in the dirt. There's no room for joking around between takes. Let's just be focused and not to this 100 times. We'll do a good job, and between takes, I'll help her up and put a blanket around her and make sure she's safe. I think we made it the least weird we could. She was real nice to me and grateful.
Capone: That's especially good to hear because, if you believe the stories, the actress to played the role in the original essentially lost her mind because of those scenes.
GD: Yeah, there are different philosophies about how to act. I personally don't think it should be psychologically damaging. There's no money in that. [laughs] That's not acting. I prefer a little more craft than that. I don't see why I would be needed if I actually had to become that thing.
Capone: I'm also a fan of "The Sarah Conner Chronicles," so I have to ask about John Henry. There's so much being made about how the shift to Fridays is a bad sign for the show's future and the rating, and they're kind of missing the point that the show has never been better, especially those scenes with you and Shirley Manson.
GD: I guess I like to be different with each character if I can, and I've been fortunate to have some options that way. Krug was certainly a departure from the last thing I did. And since I got to do something like four characters to play on "Terminator"--John Henry, Cromartie, George Laszlo, and that Beast Wizard character--I just wanted John Henry to be very different. I thought, he's going to be so much smarter because he'd plugged into this supercomputer, and he seems interested and curious in humans, so it seemed like a great opportunity to explore human emotions and learning and what I don't know at times. And I like Shirley a lot, really fun, very well read and articulate, and everything just sounds cool with a Scottish accent.
Capone: That's true. This is really the first thing she's done as an actor. How has it been working with her and watching her get her feet wet.
GD: She seems pretty at home to me. She's made lots of music videos. She might be a bundle of nerves inside, but she's hiding it well. She can do whatever she wants. She calls me "Ghar-rit" [said in his best Scottish accent], so she can do what she wants. [laughs]
Capone: So where does John Henry go from here. Does he finally get to leave that room?
GD: He does get to leave the room. I wish it had been a little earlier, but I will eventually get to leave that room. There are big fingers crossed for next season where I'll be going, but I don't know; we'll see where that goes.
Capone: Is there still more learning to do for that character?
GD: I don't even know what episode we're on. I play with lots of toys. Later I get in a fight, a computer fight, that is quite traumatic for him. He loses his innocence a little bit. I'm sorry I'm being so vague.
Capone: No, no. It's the nature of the beast with these sort of shows.
GD: I know. Your surprises are so small that you want to keep them close to the vest.
Capone: I've been hearing for a little while that we're going to lose a major character.
GD: I think there are a couple. I'm not completely in the loop on that. It's funny how separate we are, the storylines. I almost never see Summer, Thomas, or Lena anymore.
Capone: It's a whole separate show with what you're up to.
GD: Sometimes I'm surprised when I see the episode.
Capone: When you went to Comic-Con last year, were you pleased and surprised how many people show up to something like that?
GD: That was my first one. I've always wanted to go. I have 11 boxes of comics at home. I have my friends in the room with me now, and I just admitted that I have comics in front of them [laughs]. My mom knew. So I always wanted to go to Comic-Con to find great deals or great books.
Capone: Did you get to shop while you were there?
GD: I did a little bit, not much. What I really liked was meeting some of the artists--my generation artists--that have their booths there. Guys like [Walt] Simonson, [Bernie] Wrightson, Jim Starlin, my god! It was fun.
Capone: Speaking of being in a separate story from the main plot, you and Tommy Lee Jones had your own little movie going on in NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN.
GD: Javier [Bardem] was talking about how wild it was that we won this ensemble award at the SAG Awards and we barely got to work with each other. Each of us had our own movie. That's not really what ensemble means but it was interesting. I never crossed paths with Javier or Josh [Brolin].
Capone: Being a part of that film had to mean so much to you…
GD: Yeah, I was just happy to be a part of it. I'm a big fan of Cormac McCarthy's work, and I was determined to be in every Cormac McCarthy movie there every was. So far two! It was actually "Deadwood" that made me just want to do stuff I was proud of.
Capone: And with "Deadwood," they loved you so much, they couldn't let you go even after your character died.
GD: I know. Thank God, right? That's my niche. I'm dying for a niche.
Capone: Who do you play in THE ROAD?
GD: Well, it's weird because it's really about The Boy and The Man. No one has names in the book. Viggo Mortensen plays The Man, and Kodi Smit plays The Boy. I play The Gang Member. We all had two days if we're not Kodi or Viggo, and it's a great group of people who are willing to do that. Robert Duvall is in it, Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce is great. Molly Parker from "Deadwood" is in it as well. It was just cool to be a part of. I'm a big fan of THE PROPOSITION. Have you seen that movie?
Capone: The Australian film, oh yes.
GD: Good, right? Same director.
Capone: I sat down with Viggo in October right after they'd announced that THE ROAD was not coming out at the end of last year as originally intended. He just really wanted to see it because he hadn't at that time.
GD: I think it deserves awards. I'm sure he's seen it by now. I saw a screening here about three weeks ago, here in L.A. I think it's pretty beautiful. If you're a fan of the book, you'll be a fan of the movie.
Capone: Anything set in a post-apocalyptic world, I'm on board for.
GD: Yeah, it's pretty well imagined.
Capone: Aside from THE ROAD, what is next for you?
GD: I'm filming a movie right now called WINTER'S BONE, based on a book of the same name by this guy named Daniel Woodrell. He wrote the book RIDE WITH THE DEVIL was based on. Do you remember that?
Capone: The Ang Lee film?
GD: I think that film is kind of underrated. I like that. Same author, but it's a little more contemporary. It's about hillbillies cooking meth in the Ozarks. I'm a sheriff in that one, back to playing good guys again. I'm not always bad guys.
Capone: Well, you did play Jesus.
GD: Can't get much better than that. You played him, you can play as many bad guys as you want.
Capone: Why do you think guys like ["Deadwood" creator] David Milch or ["Terminator" creator] Josh Friedman or Wes Craven see you as the bad guy? Are you giving off some vibe?
GD: I don't know. I just like interesting role and good stories. And often, the villain is the most interesting role. Maybe they understand that no one is just good and just bad. It's always surprising.
Capone: You tend to alter your facial hair for each part, does that inform you into the character's state of mind in any way?
GD: [laughs] I guess I do. I don't know if it specifically it does, but it is like any other part of your costume. I need the right shoes. I remember reading about Michael Caine. If his feet aren't in a short, he's going to wear his old comfy tennis shoes, even if he's wearing a suit or something. That's the kind of thing that throws me off completely. I need my heavy boots on for Krug.
Capone: I should ask about working with [LAST HOUSE director] Dennis Iliadis. He's a relative unknown, but I knew him from HARDCORE.
GD: Did you like it?
Capone: I'm not sure if "like" is the right word. I was moved by it, for sure, in the way that was intended, but I'm not sure "like" covers it.
GD: It was different than you expected, wasn't it? It's so beautifully put together. I liked Dennis. It wasn't without its bumps. His real name is Denicious, and I loved to call him that. He taught us a few choice Greek phrases that we would shout out. But I just trusted him, and I trusted him more and more as time went on. He's got a really sensitive bullshit meter. He's not going to let anything cheesy get up on screen, and that's a good feeling.
Capone: Did he mention or did Wes mention something they had seen you in that made them think you'd be right for this role?
GD: I guess Dennis had seen--I think it was probably helpful because if I'd had to audition for this part, I'm not sure I would have gotten it--JESSE JAMES. I don't know why Ed Miller made him think I could play Krug, but I'm glad it did. I went in for a meeting, and I tried to dress as big as I could. In the script, it kept describing him as hulking--"the hulking Krug in the background"--and I'm rarely described as hulking.
[The publicists breaks into the call to tell us we have to wrap things up.]
GD: Was she listening the whole time?
Capone: Probably. I actually have to talk to Sara in about two second here. Is there anything I should ask her?
GD: If you want to get her going, keep asking her questions like, "What was it like working with Garret?" "Were you nervous about working with someone so amazing?" "He said he really went to bat for you to get this part, do you feel like you owe him anything?"
Capone: Sounds good. Garret, thank for talking.
GD: Nice talking to you too. I'm sure we'll talk soon.