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Tigers, Hurricanes and Briana Evigan in ‘Burning Bright’!

One of my most anticipated films of 2009 is Lionsgate’s Burning Bright, which follows a 20-year-old and her autistic little brother who are trapped in a house with a ravenous tiger during a hurricane. I needed to know more, so got in touch with star Briana Evigan who talked in depth with B-D about her role in the film. Beyond the break you can read our extensive conversation, which does contain some spoilers. Buyer beware.
Burning BrightAfter starring in NBC’s Fear Itself, Briana Evigan has lined up roles in S. Darko, Sorority Row and Lionsgate’s Burning Bright. Briana talks exclusively with Bloody-Disgusting about landing this intriguing role as Kelly in Lionsgate’s tiger-gone-wild thriller.

I got an offer on the script while I was still filming S. Darko. I told them I wasn’t crazy about the script,” explaining that she thought her character was underdeveloped. “My character was just too vulnerable and weak for a girl to be having all this going on and having to take care of the brother (played by Charlie Tahan),” she continues, “so if she had got eaten by the tiger, my questions was, who cares? So we ended up really working on the character and changing it completely to make her much more strong. She has her issues with her brother, but while we were able to work on all that I decided [that] I absolutely wanted to do this. I found out it was going to be a real bangle tiger that was going to be in the house. I thought because it hadn’t been done yet, it was going to be so cool…this is a kinda suspense/thriller/action thing for me to do. I said yes, and when I got back from Utah a week later I left and went to Florida.

The real spin on the story isn’t just that there’s a tiger loose, it’s that Briana is trapped in a house with the tiger as outside a full-blown hurricane is underway. Briana tells us the tiger concept was the cooler of the two concepts.

Definitely the tiger concept. I had never heard of anything like that. How do you get stuck in a house with a tiger?! I thought it was so cool too and I loved the concept of her in a house bolted up for the hurricane and having to find a way to escape knowing there’s a hurricane outside. She can’t go outside, and the tiger’s in the house, how long can she hide from it?” She continues explaining that the autistic brother only makes matters worse, “She [also has] the autistic brother that’s just as bad as the tiger. He doesn’t respond to her, he makes noise, he yells, he wants to pet the tiger. She has three major obstacles to get around, it’s like, how can it be worse? It’s such a simple concept and that’s what I really loved about it when I read it.

While the film has a man-eater running loose, the film is more suspenseful than gory.

It is very suspenseful, it’s not gory. There are a couple of little things that happen with myself and the tiger…but nothing extreme. It’s definitely not a gory movie. I think they’re actually going for a PG-13.

The question that was pinging around in my mind was, how did the tiger end u in the house? Briana explains that the stepfather could be to blame.

The step dad has a ranch of animals,” she explains, “It’s a beautiful house they chose to film out and he has other animals there like alligators and orangutans, all different types of animals . He gets the tiger as an investment. The whole family is miserable, the step dad has the responsibility of my character and my brother, and that is because the mom has killed herself. It puts a damper on the family; it’s a whole new way of living. I would say from my perspective of my character that the step dad is trying to kill us so he has nothing else to worry about. He can move on, be done and blame it on the animal – blame it on whatever he wants, move on and get his life back.

For those of you who want a taste of what’s to come, Briana talks us through her favorite scene in the film. Be warned of spoilers!

One of my favorite scenes is in the washer room. I get up on top of the washer and dryer – I’m in my PJs, in a pair of shorts and a tank top, barefoot the entire movie; that kind of adds a little bit to it – I get up on top of the washer and dryer and I’m banging on the wood trying to break through to get outside and the tiger is banging on the door trying to get into the laundry room. Another thing they did was make everything very claustrophobic, to make a point of it that I’m very stuck – and I’m trying to bang on the wall, the tiger ends up breaking the door, and I have no choice other than to try and get into the laundry shoot and climb up. So right when the tiger breaks in I jump up in there. The whole next minute is dead silence and the tiger walking around the laundry room because he smells me. They added a CG drop of sweat from me, that drips down the laundry shoot the whole time the tiger is walking around in there and it drops to the floor. The tiger looks up and it’s just a chase trying to get up, while I’m slipping and barely about to make it out. [It was] very exciting and suspenseful – it’s real, the tiger really went into the laundry shoot! It’s real, there’s no CG tiger!

While the film has a real tiger on screen, Briana never crossed actual paths with the feline. “I was never in the same room with the tiger, it’s too much of a liability to have the tiger work with the actors. I got to see it in his cage, really close up, right in front of it, even closer than at the zoo.

Lionsgate is said to be testing the film for release later this year, early next.

Burning Bright