Recently Dread Central participated in a roundtable interview with The Cave star Cole Hauser, and here is what the colorful, pull-no-punches Mr. Hauser had to say about his experience working in Romania on The Cave:
Q: So, have you been cave diving lately?
Cole Hauser: No. I’ve been on land, thank God. It’s been nice. I’m more of a land animal myself.
Q: How did it feel being wet all of the time?
CH: It was pretty miserable being wet to the bone all of the time. Towards the end of the film it was pretty nice because it was about ninety-eight degrees, and getting in the water was the best thing possible because we were in this huge tin-like shed, you know one of those big stages and obviously it holds in the heat, so we would have our wetsuits on and we would just be sweating just standing there. So when they would say get in the water I would be like, “Thank God!” It was great.
Q: How much training did you have?
CH: We did two weeks here, and then we pretty much trained all the way up to the last day. You know the thing with open water, just regular dive open circuit, is pretty basic and you just basically breathe normally and try to stay as comfortable as possible. The rebreathers part of it is something that usually takes up to six or seven years to actually understand how the computer works and then the diluents too and if it breaks down how to fix it and all these things. Jill and Wes, who were the two kind of head cave divers there who have done like a million expeditions, were pretty much around underwater making sure our computers were working because with those things you could kill yourself under four feet of water. I mean you can start hallucinating and then all of a sudden (snaps fingers) pop! It was pretty intense. So throughout the whole three months we were there, they were very adamant about not jerking around or fooling around playing with somebody’s stuff. Don’t do any pranks or shit, this is serious. Everybody took it very serious.
Q: Did anyone get hurt during filming?
CH: I got kind of messed up a couple of times, but it wasn’t from the underwater stuff; it was doing the wire work. I kind of had a trial by fire, three-day program on how to do wire work, which usually takes a long time to learn how to do it. They had the guys who did The Matrix, and they were great, but the thing is when you are depending on someone else to pull you and make sure that you are going to actually fly over something and they don’t do it exactly when you do it, you know it’s kind of human nature that there are going to be problems. I got flung into a wall a couple of times, and thank God I had a helmet on and pads so I didn’t get any broken bones, just bumps and bruises.
Q: When you were working onscreen with the creatures, was there actually an actor there in a suit, or was most of it added in later with CGI and you had to pretend they were there?
CH: Obviously in sci-fi there is a lot of pretending. The puppeteers . . . more so Morris, Lena, and Eddie got to struggle and fight with it because they have that last kind of scene where the creature tries to attack him, and they all kind of gang up on him. The only thing that I ever really did was the CGI jump where I tackle it, and that was it. I didn’t really have any other kind of contact with it other than that.
Q: Did you get to see any picture or drawings of the creatures before hand?
CH: Oh yeah. Before we went to Romania, Bruce and Andrew Mason took me to this bizarre place in the middle of the Valley somewhere, and they kind of showed me the little kind of mole that Riggs finds. I got to see a lot of it in the beginning – parts of the creature like the head and stuff.
Q: Was that at Patrick Tatapolas’ shop?
CH: Yeah I think so. That sounds like it, yeah. They did Underworld and Pitch Black.
Q: What was the smell like on the set?
CH: (laughs) Well, Romania has a distinctive smell of its own. (laughs) So I think the set stunk, but getting to set stunk even worse. And then you are in confined places with guys who – Europeans are not noted for their hygiene so . . . I don’t think there is too much body deodorant in Romania either – sweating and then on top of the food, it was definitely an experience as far as being in very tight quarters with a lot of people.
Q: Did it get claustrophobic at all?
CH: You know, I’ve been asked that question a couple of times, and there was one portion of it that was a little claustrophobic for me. That was when I was going in the scorpion cave. I had to actually shimmy myself through this thing that when I looked at it I didn’t even think there was any way I could get my head through it. And they were like, “Oh no, you will be able to do it. We measure you and we measured it for you.” And I was like, “Well, God, maybe I’ve lost a couple of pounds.” So I got up into it and I kind of got stuck, and in the scene it actually works because you really would kind of get stuck for a second and then you would have to get your elbows and arms through it. And there was one other incident where I was under water and actually had to go through something that’s actually not in the movie and I don’t know why. It’s one of the most freaky things you could ever see. In the beginning of the film where Tyler goes through to study the inside of the caves to see where it goes, I go in after him. I have to shuck my rebreathing and go in and get him. Again I got stuck going through, but it was good because they have rocks and stuff that I could pull away. But really it gave to that underwater stuck, holy shit, what is going to happen; where’s the open circuit; is he going to get to his area? So I thought it was a really interesting way to open up the movie in a sense that you would really have gotten right away how dangerous the job is and how he can die within like thirty seconds. And it kind of kicks up the film and makes you think that these guys are kind of crazy and they are. The people who do it, Wes and Jill, I’ve asked them why or what is it. They have many different answers, but the coolest one Wes said was, “Hey, I’m Earth’s astronaut.” And I was like, “Wow, that’s kind of cool.” And he is like, “We don’t know half as much as we know about space as we do our own Earth.” That kind of hit me and made me understand why they do it. And Jill’s answer was, “I’ve always liked dark small places.” (laughs) I was like, “Okay, that’s interesting. What, did you used to hide in closets or something?”
Q: Being the only women in the cast, how did Piper and Lena fit in with the boys?
CH: It took them a minute. There was a lot of testosterone on the set for sure. I think Lena especially it took her a second, but as soon as they started doing the rock climbing and the water caving, they were just as good or better than any of us.
Q: When you get a script like this, what is it that attracts you to it? Is it the fact that it has a lot of action or the fact that your character has an arc?
CH: Probably everything you just said, but the immediate thing that jumped out at me was the cave diving aspect of it because I didn’t even know people did this stuff first of all. Or that they would go for twenty-four hours underwater and find caves and get out and study plants and species and test water and all that. It was all really a shock to me and I thought, “What a cool idea for a sci-fi film.” I’ve seen Pitch Black and Aliens and I’ve seen outer space but never on our own planet like that before. So that was the first thing, and then Jack is an interesting guy in a sense that he is a leader number one, which is fun to play as an actor, and then he goes through an enormous change from a guy who you wanna like and be around and trust and want to be in a bad situation with to making that change. The transition for me and Bruce in the film was difficult because should we do prosthetics? Should we just do the eyes? Should we do just nothing and let me act? That was a whole journey in itself, and we kind of found a happy medium. There are things that I think they could have done in the film that would have made it more of a transition and less on the nose but that’s my feelings. When you are so involved with a film and you see things get cut out and you just go like, “Why?” You’re missing the story and the character and beats and story development, but I have no control over that yet.
Q: Are they doing anything special for the DVD?
CH: There will be a director’s cut for sure and all the things I’m talking about will be on there.
Q: Like what for example is missing that is disappointing to you?
CH: I think just a lot of the story. I think the character development. I think the beginning. I think the middle and the end. Like I said, I am one of those guys that will shoot you straight and say that there is a great, great idea there and I think in the days of science fiction and genres sometimes people forget to just let it breathe. And being in your face all of the time and stuff and just cutting and cutting and cutting doesn’t make for a great film sometimes. Story makes for a great film. I don’t care if it’s a comedy. I don’t care if it’s a drama. I don’t care if it’s a sci-fi. I don’t give a shit what it is. Story starts and ends everything.
Q: You keep referring to the film as a science fiction film, but it does take place on Earth as you pointed out yourself earlier. It seems to me to be more of a horror film than a sci-fi film.
CH: Well, it’s got a little bit of everything I think – thriller, drama, sci-fi, action.
Q: Do you enjoy that genre of horror or sci-fi?
CH: Yeah. Done right, it’s awesome. Absolutely.
Q: In many of your roles your characters tend to be quite menacing. Where does that come from?
CH: (laughs) I think it’s the characters I play. I think the scariest thing about – I don’t like to use the word “bad” guy because I don’t think there is such a thing but I guess I’ll use it – but the thing is that the most menacing people in the world are the people that just look you in the eye and basically say, “I’m going to fucking kill you.” And there is no rage behind it or anything. If you’ve ever had anybody really seriously look at you and say something where you are like, “Wow he’s not even really angry about it. It’s like very second nature to him that he would just break my neck, really.” You know what I mean?
Q: What are the odds of a sequel to The Cave? But you couldn’t really be in it, correct?
CH: I don’t know. If it makes enough money, they will find a way (laughs). Maybe my brother can’t leave without me and he goes down and there’s Jack. Maybe they find a cure, who knows? You never know, they’ll find something.
Q: While filming in Romania, were there any local legends or things the people were telling you about?
CH: We went up to the Carpathian Mountains, which is kind of where Dracula is from. I don’t believe in any of that bullshit so I was just sitting there like, “Right – Dracula’s castle. Oooooh.” Eddie is walking around with his wife going, “Wow this is really cool,” and I’m like, “Fuck you, the building is cool, but don’t act like Dracula was walking around with his fangs and shit.” I was not impressed.
Q: Was it uncomfortable to wear the contact lenses?
CH: Yeah. Oh yeah. It was a pain in the ass.
Q: Was that the first time you’ve had to wear contacts?
CH: Yeah. Well, first off, you’re on a set where you are tripping when you don’t have contacts in. Then you put them in and . . . I don’t know why. I don’t get it why they haven’t perfected those contacts where you are able to see out of them. There is like a glaze over you. It’s like a haze like you are in a room full of smoke. So all of the walking and physical stuff I had to do, thank God we could take them out for certain things, but certain things you just couldn’t. If I had to step up and say something to somebody, I would slip on a rock or – it was just embarrassing. I feel like a retard. Acting is using your eyes too, and not having your eyes was just . . . So that was an interesting experience, and then you have smoke and fire and sand, and all of that stuff is getting in your eyes. It was definitely a pain in the ass to say the least.
Q: It was surprising to see Morris Chestnut survive and break the horror stereotype.
CH: (laughs) Let me just tell you that when we were at the press junket, every Black guy that walked in looked at Morris and said, “Man, you made it, brother!” I was like, “Oh my God.” It’s so funny because they came in every time so amped up like, “Yeah, all right! The brother made it!”
Big thanks to Kara Silverman and the good people at TriStar pictures for all of their hospitality!