Beginning his career as an award-winning commercial director before branching out into features with the films “Mr. Woodcock” and “Lars and the Real Girl” in 2007, Craig Gillespie recently completed his third feature, the highly-anticipated remake of the 1985 vampire classic Fright Night.
He was on hand at last week’s Comic Con convention to talk about the film, which stars Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, Toni Collette, David Tennant, Imogen Poots and Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Evil Ed.
Below are a few highlights from our one-on-one chat:On the (frankly puzzling) decision to film it in 3D: “The first meeting, before I got the project, they were like, ‘we’re gonna do this in 3D’. And I thought actually it’d be kind of fun to try that, because you see these massive spectacles like ‘Avatar’ and ‘Alice in Wonderland’ [in 3D], but to do two guys in a kitchen just talking in 3D, where you feel like you want to look around his shoulder…I [thought it] would be really fun.”
On finding the cast, including ice-queen-in-training Imogen Poots-a-bunch: “This movie just came together so quickly and almost effortlessly. I was lucky the whole way through. I met on the project, I got the project very quickly, and the movie was basically cast in the first few weeks. Anton [Yelchin] jumped on after three days, Toni [Collette] called me – we’d worked on together on ‘[The United States of] Tara’ – and then we went to Colin [Farrell], and I met with Colin and he signed on. It was one of those really fortuitous things. The funny thing was, we did a lot of casting for Imogen [Poots]‘ role. And she read with Anton, she was great, I loved her, and we managed to get her. So that took a little longer to get that one nailed down. David Tennant jumped right on board. So I mean, the thing came together so quickly. We were lucky…And Christopher Mintz-Plasse, who actually came in and read, and I loved him in ‘Superbad’, he’s so funny. But I wanted to make sure we could get that emotional side. And he was great.”
On comparisons to the original movie: “I deliberately stayed away from watching [the original]. I remembered certain iconic scenes from the original [from when I was] a kid, but I stayed away from looking at it until we were fully prepped for the film and what we were doing, which was about two weeks before I went to shoot it. Because I wanted it to be its own thing…There [were] some fundamental changes [screenwriter] Marti [Noxon] had [made] where in the original it’s Charlie that thinks there’s a vampire and Evil Ed doesn’t believe him, and this is reversed. Which I thought was a more interesting approach to that. And there’s not a romantic side to Jerry, he’s truly a predator. And that’s what I loved when I read the script the first time. And then I looked at the film, and there were certain things that I thought ‘let’s pay homage to [this]‘, like the apple, which I got to talk to Chris Sarandon about and that was something he’d come up with [for] his character in the original. So we wanted to touch on certain things for the fans of the original.”
On improvisation: “You know, Chris [Mintz-Plasse] came up with the line, ‘wrapped it around your balls and jerked off for an hour’. [Laughs] Which isn’t something you’d see on the written page so much. And David Tennant definitely had some lines…it doesn’t sound funny probably in print, but just when the girl walks by and he’s like ‘I fucked her’.”
On bringing the “R”: “To Dreamworks credit – and [this] was decided before we shot – it’s like, just with the script and what was on the page…there [was] really no way to make this and be true to it as a PG-13 movie. You know, you’re dealing with a vampire who’s mode of occupation is blood.”
On sequel potential: “I don’t like to get that far ahead. I just hope that people enjoy this and that it goes well.”
Fright Night will be in theaters on August 19th.