Winstead, Mary Elizabeth & Merriman, Ryan (Final Destination 3) - Dread Central
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Winstead, Mary Elizabeth & Merriman, Ryan (Final Destination 3)



By now, hopefully most of you guys have gotten out there and seen Final Destination 3 (check the links below for our review), so you know that Mary and Ryan are the principal characters who are trying to cheat death”s master plan this time out. I recently had the chance to sit down with the duo as part of the FD3 round-table and got some good stuff as a result. Hope you enjoy!

Question: What were some of the wildest days on set?
Ryan Merriman: The drive through scene; in the car. That one got really crazy. You know what I mean. Bang! And then the thing comes down… 
Q: What”s it like shooting a scene like that, where there”s a lot of safety issues? It must take much longer than it looks in the finished product?
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: Yeah, and also you have to like rehearse it over and over again with the stunt coordinator to make sure you”ve got it down.
RM: Yeah, it”s kind of like, if you”ve ever been skydiving or something, you know what you”re about to do is going to be really crazy and awesome, it”s just the anticipation. Having another actor in there allows you to feed off the energy of each other. So it”s cool because we had nowhere to go but we could totally bang up the car. They were like, “Go apeshit in there!” And we did.

Q: How many times did you shoot it then?
MEW: Over and over again. We did everything over and over.
RM: We actually did the windshield gig a couple of times because I was…
MEW: Kicking it too hard.
RM: Yeah, you do it. I can”t say this because then I sound…
MEW: You sound cocky right?
RM: Yeah, I kicked it a couple of times…
MEW: The first couple of times it was like … it didn”t even crack, it just went straight flying out.
RM: They actually ended up drawing it in, to give it that fractured look, which was cool.
Q: And then how long after you guys had wrapped did you go back and re-shoot that whole subway sequence?
MEW: A while. We wrapped in July and went back in November so…
Q: You went back to Vancouver?
RM: Yeah, but it was great because you know, when we first made it obviously you have expectations to live up to with the whole second sequel thing. The first one did great, the second one did great, but you know if you”re making a third one you”ve really got to make it tight. There can”t be any questions, so it was good because by the time it came back to re-shoot it we knew that everybody was interested and they had put in more money for the new ending. The big ending so it was nice.
Q: Did you guys yourselves get to see that first cut and see what the crowd meant by their comments?
RM: Oh, yeah!
MEW: I saw some rough edits and things like that and from the beginning I didn”t really know if it would be a full finished ending the way that it was written in the script, so everybody was doing endings like this (spoken in a whisper).
RM: I kind of had said the same thing too. I was like, is this really on game? Because it”s like the last… You guys will see, the whole bicentennial thing is like bang, bang, bang, bang. And then it ended like right after the plane went down. It just ended. I was just like, what? What do you mean; it”s over? So it was cool till we got the extra you know…

MEW: Yeah, I think maybe from the beginning they were gonna wait and just see, probably planning from the beginning that they might do a new ending but you never know.

Q: Do you guys have a favorite death in this movie? 
MEW: Just because I”ve only seen it recently: the new ending. The whole sequence, because I just loved it so much whenever we were doing it I just knew it was going to look awesome. So I”m still really excited about that, I love watching that.

RM: Mine was the ah… It”s either between the weight room and the drive-in. I mean it”s unexpected. Everybody thinks we”re gonna die and then all of a sudden…

Q: Now at the drive-in, how gory was it on set compared to the final product? How much was added later in that particular one? 
MEW: It was very gory. That was actually Sam”s fake head. It was pretty disgusting.
RM: But it was weird because obviously they used one for the impact. But then they used Sam”s real head for you know sitting there. That was weird watching them sit around because you look at him and you”re like, “Jesus!” Like you know, it”s like watching Hellraiser sitting right next to you. You”re like, “God, man you look bad”. You know the way the brain and everything…
Q: What did he think about seeing his own head? Being gored in by that thing?
MEW: He loves having the actual fake head sitting next to him. He was wigging out with it.
RM: He”s a bit of a wild one.
MEW: He was having full conversations with it. So he was enjoying that I think.
Q: How do you feel about watching yourselves die on screen?
MEW: For me it was easier because there”s no gore. I never get sliced in half or decapitated or anything so I think it”s more for him.
RM: I did it twice. It”s cool but it”s weird that when you say it looks so unrealistic but really when I did research on deaths and these crazy accidents, when people die like this it really does look unrealistic, like it looks fake. I guess to see a body inanimate like that is weird but… I don”t know it was fun for me because I knew it was going to happen. For the audience I guess it”s shocking. My mom might not like it. She”d be like “No, no…”
Q: You did research?
RM: Well yeah, I wanted to have some smart topics to talk about as far as freak accidents that happen. Growing up I knew a guy whose dad was driving on the highway behind a pipe truck and one of the pipes actually broke loose, bounced and bounced just right and it came through the windshield and decapitated him. Cut his head off. That sounds like an FD3 scene but stuff like that happens all the time, you know. 
Q: Did you do any research, Mary?
MEW: No. I think for me I just wanted to go into it like everything was new. Like I”d never been in any of those situations before, which was good… I was kind of going for a more innocent standpoint I guess. 
Q: Off the subject of FD3 for a second, you were one of the only people to survive Halloween, Ryan. Is there any chance that if they made the offer that you would possibly reprise your role?  
RM: I did. I did make it out. You”re right. I don”t know, I cannot comment on that whole thing.
Q: Has any offer been made?
RM: No. I don”t know why, either, because it was still making money back then. It made like fifteen the opening weekend or something like that.
Q: There”s another one coming so…
RM: Oh. Well, maybe.
Q: I”m just wondering if you would be willing?
MEW: You can”t say no right now!
RM: No, of course not. I love the Weinsteins. I mean they”re awesome. Both those guys are really cool and it was a fun script. \\We”ll see. Depends on the script.
Q: Did you ever meet Moustapha Akkad? I mean, you heard he passed right?
RM: I think I actually did on the set. I was seventeen when I did that, so it was while ago. Harvey was on set a lot. He was really cool, a really nice guy. And Rick Rosenthal, he was a really good director, so I had fun with that.

Q: So what else are you guys doing? 
RM: I”m currently still shooting a film with Harry Grossman and Dana (Danielle) Panabaker called Home of the Giants. It”s kind of like Friday Night Lights was for football… basically Indiana basketball, which is really serious. I mean it’s like Texas football, you know what I mean? It”s got a little bit of gambling thing in there and there”s a question of throwing the big game. It”s cool; it”s a really good script. I haven”t finished yet. I don”t know when it”s coming out but I have a week left to do on that so… 
MEW: I just finished a film here called Bobbie that was written and directed by Emilio Estevez and Anthony Hopkins and just a really huge list of really great people in it, and next week I start filming Black Christmas with Jim and Glen. So, all the FD3 crew.

Q: What role are you going to play in that?

MEW: It”s completely different characters. I mean it follows the same pattern like a lot of similar types of rolls. But there”s all different names and there”s really no lead.

Q: Have you seen the original?
MEW: Yeah.
Q: Can you say which character you think yours compares most to? Compared to the original.
MEW: I think mine is sort of a mixture. There are two other girls in it who are really most like Clare and Jesse. Jesse was the main in the original. Jesse and Margot Kidder”s character sort of have the same types and then I”m sort of a mixture of all the other ones basically. I”m kind of a brand new one. I”m a Southern debutante, conservative, uptight, so it”s going to be fun.
Q: You don”t end up with a plastic bag around your head, do you?
MEW: No! I don”t go in that way, but it”s going to be fun.

Q: Do you both actively seek horror movies? 

MEW: No.

RM: Yeah, I just find them really interesting. I mean obviously the first one I did, Halloween, had a huge following. You know Jamie Lee Curtis was in it and like it was a good time and then Ring Two was … for me it was a totally different you know type of horror film. 
FD3 is really smart. I wouldn”t exactly even say it was a horror film. More like a thriller to me, you know what I mean? I mean there”s definitely horror in it with the deaths and everything but there”s no like zombie chasing us with a knife. It”s all very smart the way it all happens.
MEW: I feel that Black Christmas is going to be my first real, real horror movie because it”s just disturbing on a very different level than FD3. To me it”s more in the horror genre so it should be fun. 

Q: Yeah, you need to get into an original horror film.
RM: I know, I think this is my last horror check card. I think I”ve cashed in my last one.
MEW: I think Black Christmas is going to be probably mine. Cause you can”t keep doing it forever you know. It just doesn”t work.
RM: Halloween, Ring Two then I did a short from Rings, then FD3, so that”s four.
Q: Jamie Lee did a pretty good job of starting her career off with horror.
MEW: I know.

Q: Does this film make you contemplate your own mortality? You”re both pretty young.
MEW: I think while we were filming it, at least for me, I thought about death all the time because I was in that constant emotional state of my boyfriend died, my best friend died… so I thought about that all the time. Just imagining in my head that my boyfriend was dead, and my best friend was dead and my family was dead and everybody was dead; so I was in that constant sort of depressed and emotional state while we were filming. I”d have to go out afterwards and try to have fun as much as possible because on set I was a little…

RM: It definitely brings your awareness up; you really do think like wow, this could happen. If you think about it like those are all situations, especially in these type of films, they put you in a situations where you”re not in control, it”s not done because you screwed up. It”s death finding a way to get to you. So it definitely brought my awareness up, but I wasn”t like walking on eggshells I guess you could say.
Q: Have you been on a roller coaster since then?
RM: No, no I have not.
MEW: It doesn”t really give me fear necessarily, it”s just the memory of the feeling after riding it for twenty times.
RM: I think that”s why audiences really like this movie, because it puts you in a realistic situations like a roller coaster, you know what I mean? Everybody”s ridden a roller coaster, and that really puts you in a state of mind where “God, that could happen,” so I think what”s cool about this movie. Somebody watches the movie and they liked it but three years from now if they ride a roller coaster, they”re gonna go “remember Final Destination when the roller coaster wrecked?” I think that”s the cool part about the movie. 
Q: Sort of like in Jaws; people didn”t go to the beach for months.
RM: Tanning beds! Nobody is going to go tanning after this. After they see this movie spray tanning is going to be huge!
Q: So how often did you guys sit around the set in between takes and like try to think of your own inventive kills?
MEW: We didn”t get into that. We talked just nothing involving the movie. You know you have to take yourself and just be normal, goof around like anybody else. Then once you”re back on the set and back to work then you have to put your mind back…
RM: The best thing was is that you know if you told most people “You know, I”m doing FD3″ and they”re like, “Cool, who”s all in it?” and you say, “Five, six different twenty-two year old kids.” They would be like, “Oh, so you guys partied a lot,” but really like we all stuck to … we went to bed, we did our jobs and I think it really helped pay off because if you tell most people you”re doing a movie like that with a bunch of twenty-two year old guys they think it”s just a big party-fest.

Q: Vancouver is such a big party town — (laughs)

RM: Oh, yeah.
Q: When we were on set, we talked to Glen and Jim, and it seemed that Glen is the guy who is really twitchy and scared of roller coasters and freaked out on home improvement… Did you get that from him as well?
MEW: Oh yeah. He”s sort of —
RM: Eccentric.

MEW: He”s the eccentric, really quiet, really in his own head. He writes in this little space in his attic with like cobwebs all over the place and the dark. But it”s great, I love that about him. I”m getting to know him more now that I”m doing Black Christmas and it”s really cool. He”s a really cool guy.

Q: What”s it like when you have the writer on the set? Do you defer to him to ask about back stories about your characters?

MEW: More so about like if we felt lines didn”t work we could go right to him and say is it all right if maybe we changed this around a little bit.
Q: And what did he say?
RM: Most of the time —
MEW: Most of the time, “No, just say that.”
RM: Or, “We”ll do it both ways.”

Q: And their way ends up in the movie.
RM: But there were a couple of times where I was like “Dude, I”m not saying this.”
Q: And you”ve worked now with Jim as a director and with Glen as a director…
MEW: Well, we”ve started some rehearsals, and we”ve done some preliminary stuff.
Q: Are they really different?
MEW: They”re pretty different. Jim is a little more sort of happy-go-lucky like, “Ok! Moving on to the next!” and Glen”s a little more like intense and sort of deeper into things. 

That was the fairly abrupt ending to the round-table. Thanks to New Line for letting us take part and to Mary and Ryan for giving their time to chat with us. Final Destination 3 is in theaters now, so make sure you get out there and show your support!

Sean Clark

Discuss Final Destination 3 in our forums!

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