Relativity Media releases director Mark Tonderai’s House at the End of the Street this Friday, September 21st. The PG-13 thriller stars Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games) and Max Thieriot (My Soul To Take).
Myself and a few other journalists sat down with Thieriot today and spoke to him at length about the film, his preparation for the role and whether he brought any lessons from Wes Craven to set with him. We also talk about his new role on “Bates Motel”.
In the film, “Seeking a fresh start, newly divorced Sarah (Elisabeth Shue) and her daughter Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence) find the house of their dreams in a small, upscale, rural town. But when startling and unexplainable events begin to happen, Sarah and Elissa learn the town is in the shadows of a chilling secret. Years earlier, in the house next door, a daughter killed her parents in their beds, and disappeared – leaving only a brother, Ryan (Max Thieriot), as the sole survivor. Against Sarah’s wishes, Elissa begins a relationship with the reclusive Ryan – and the closer they get, the deeper they’re all pulled into a mystery more dangerous than they ever imagined.“
What’s your process to approaching a role like this? “Before each scene I like to know where I’m at. Even if it’s something as simple as coming up with an idea of what just happened prior to that, where I’m coming from. You see a lot of different layers of Ryan throughout the film so it always has to be on my mind. I don’t want to slip up.”
You’ve worked with both Wes Craven (on My Soul To Take), was there anything you learned from him that you could bring to set? “Wes is Wes. I love the guy. And he’s iconic. He has an old-school take on horror and genre films. Mark has a new look to it all. I didn’t bring the Wes stuff in because I wanted to fully take on Mark’s style. He had this really detailed bible that even went down into stuff that we didn’t see onscreen, like the lineage of my character’s grandparents. I also watched videos of famous people who have made poor decisions in their lives [to try and shape the role].”
The film has a lot of running, jumping and chasing in it. A lot of physical elements. What was one of the most challenging things to pull off? “Physically? Lifting of… people? I think it shows some of that in a trailer so I guess I’m not spoiling anything. Lifting dead weight is not easy. It’s different than picking up a sack of rice or something, it’s awkward.”
Did you watch any iconic films to prepare for the role? “‘American Beauty’. Wes Bentley’s character in that film and just kind of the way he acted around people. I wanted Ryan to be sweet and somewhat approachable, but somewhat mysterious and unknown. [It was] kind of a fine line keeping all those things combined.”
You were recently cast in “Bates Motel”. Can you tell us a bit about that? “I was kind of surprised. I was like, okay, ‘fill me in. What’s going on? Am I playing Norman Bates?’ Which I’m obviously not, I’m playing his brother who they are creating [for the show]. Which for me is maybe more exciting because I’m playing a new character. He could do anything – there’s a lot of room to play there. It’s amazing. [The world of] Alfred Hitchcock is amazing. ‘Psycho’, ‘The Birds’… his movies are pretty amazing. It’s pretty exciting to be a part of something like that.”