Exclusive Interview Part Two: William Friedkin on Enduring Characters, Spandex Movies, The Exorcist and More - Dread Central
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Exclusive Interview Part Two: William Friedkin on Enduring Characters, Spandex Movies, The Exorcist and More

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Exclusive Interview Part Two: William Friedkin on Enduring Characters, Spandex Movies, The Exorcist and MoreIn Part 1 of our interview with William Friedkin, the iconic filmmaker discussed his latest project, Killer Joe, how a real-life act of violence defined him as a director, and why he’ll always be a “one take” kind of guy.

In this second installment of our chat with Friedkin, we pick up right where we left off discussing the director’s ability to captivate us with brutally honest characters throughout his career. We also spoke to him about The Exorcist, faith and his undying belief in the characters he’s brought to life over the last 45 years.

You’ll find the rest of our interview with Friedkin below, and be sure to check out Killer Joe (review here) when it hits limited theaters this Friday, July 27th.

Dread Central: Maybe I’m wrong on this, but you seem to specialize in creating brutally honest characters; it’s something that we’ve seen in so many of your films over the years, and how you paint these characters in Killer Joe feels akin to a car wreck. You know you shouldn’t stop to look at the carnage, but you can’t help but stop. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but…

William Friedkin: Oh, I know what you mean; I’m just not interested in making ‘spandex’ movies. I’m not interested in seeing that stuff so I’m not interested in doing it. I’m much more interested in watching films that go deeper, and there are certainly a lot more filmmakers out there that go deeper into the well than I do so those are the ones I’m interested in.

Dread Central: I would love to hear more about how you shot the final kitchen scene; I think your claustrophobic shooting style really lent itself well to the intimacy of those moments of tension. Was it a challenge at all for you to keep the intensity going when shooting?

William Friedkin: Not really; this kind of style happens a lot in many great films with a claustrophobic setting like ours. There’s All About Eve, an extremely well-acted and wonderful film that did claustrophobia well. See, where dialogue is the most important in a film is in scenes like that final one in Killer Joe. It’s not just their body language; it’s through their words. That’s not a challenge; that’s a gift.

Most scripts now don’t have real words; it’s always like ‘Hey! How have you been?’ ‘Good! And how have you been?’…that kind of stuff. Who gives a crap- that’s not real dialogue. This guy (Letts) is a real writer; he writes character and he writes subtlety. His metaphors are so subtle that you don’t even recognize them. This movie is only about what it is about; these characters aren’t there to ‘stand for something’ unless you want them to.

But I love these characters in Killer Joe; they’re so finely drawn that, to me, they’re like characters you’d see in a painting. Like the people you’d see in a Rembrandt canvas, I believe in those people. Or when I see Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” portrait, I can see that girl really existing. I’ve spent an hour and a half alone in front of the “Mona Lisa” and she’s lit up with a ton of these tiny little lights that just light up her face so well; it’s breathtaking just to imagine.

And when they take those lights away, though, it’s almost like she dies; she becomes virtually invisible, which is so interesting to me. But I love just standing there and taking in this woman and thinking about her actual existence and the fact that there is a life there that is so important, it was captured in that painting. And that’s the mark of a true artist really.

I’ve made a couple of films where I believed that the characters existed; sure, they’re not “Mona Lisa’s” but I believe in Ellen Burstyn’s character, the mother from The Exorcist, completely and wholly. I believe in Jason Miller’s character, too, the young priest who questions his faith. You know, whenever I see clips of that, I instantly regard them as people not as actors playing a part. And the people in Killer Joe do that for me as well.

Of course some of what you see is drawn from within the actors; to play any role convincingly, you have to find the character within yourself. I love Juno; I see so much of Dottie inside of her, but of course, she’s not like Dottie at all. And Gina- I love Gina; she just found something good inside of Sharla amongst all the bad. I like these people, these characters, and so we had a shorthand on set which helped so much.

If I actually had to go out and direct them and had to say, ‘Do it like this,’ it would have been an awful movie.

Dread Central: When you’re filming tough scenes, like a lot of the scenes in Killer Joe, how important is developing trust between an actor and the director?

William Friedkin: I think one of the most important things you can do as a director is create that kind of atmosphere so that the actors can feel free to create and not feel as though they’re being judged in any way.

Dread Central: Now, that Killer Joe is getting its release, what are you looking for in potential future projects?

William Friedkin: Something different, something that I feel is both challenging and unique and that surprises me. The greatest direction, or advice, I’ve ever heard a director give a performer was something that Sergei Diaghilev said to (Vaslav) Nijinsky, both being involved with the Russian ballet of Monte Carlo. And before Nijinsky would go out and dance “The Rite of Spring,” Diaghilev took him by the shoulders and said in French “Étonne- moi!” which meant “Surprise me!” and I have often said that to actors just right before a take. I say, “Now, surprise me!”

I mean, they know about the scene, they know what they have to do so now it’s time to forget all of that and surprise me but also, surprise yourself. That’s the only direction I’ve ever used and that’s the kind of feel I look for in a script. Now with Killer Joe, the script surprised me. It really did; I thought that if you could cast this picture right, get someone to finance it, hopefully get some people to see it, that it would end up becoming a surprising experience. That’s what I look for.

Really, I’ve only made 16 films in 45 years, and yet, I work all the time. I’ve also written a number of my own scripts; I did the final version of The French Connection, I wrote To Live and Die in L.A. and I wrote a couple of others, but it is hard for me to write. I’ve only seen ‘it’ just a few times with a few writers like (Tracy) Letts, Harold Pinter and even Bill Blatty for his script for The Exorcist, which was really great.

Dread Central: Speaking of The Exorcist– Is it hard to believe that the 40th anniversary of the film is already coming up next year? Frankly, I’m still kind of stunned that there’s been no remake, but I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that the movie is still scary as hell. Do you see that terror as a big part of its enduring legacy then? I feel like that’s part of what makes The Exorcist an untouchable film.

William Friedkin: I’m not aware of that; what I AM aware of is that I didn’t make that movie just to scare you. It’s a movie about the mystery of faith, and that’s something that occupies a lot of people; it even occupies some of the people who call themselves atheists who don’t even believe in God. We all think about these things: Is there anything after this, or is it all over? We have no say whatsoever about how we come into this world or how we leave it so everything is a mystery- birth, death, life, love- all of it is a mystery.

And so The Exorcist touches on that mystery; the fact that it was based on an actual case helped me to make it real, not make it as a horror film. I made it as though I believed in the story but not as though I know from whence that story came. It’s also explores the idea of why bad things happen to good people and that helplessness when you can’t save someone you love, and while maybe I don’t believe in a tangible ‘devil,’ I do believe in pure evil, and I think that’s another view that people can relate to. I don’t know; maybe that’s why this movie’s legacy has lasted as long as it has.

But the sequels to it were all done to cash in on the name of the original, and the guys who did them believed in nothing- well, nothing except separating people from their hard-earned money.

A very special thank you to William Friedkin for taking time to speak with Dread Central!

Exclusive Interview Part Two: William Friedkin on Enduring Characters, Spandex Movies, The Exorcist and More

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Michael Bay Adapting Duke Nukem with John Cena in Talks For Lead Role

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I think we can all agree that this may very well be one of those times when we see an announcement and go, “Huh… That actually makes 100% sense and I’m completely behind it!”

It’s been announced that the classic FPS shooter series Duke Nukem is getting a film adaptation out of Paramount with Platinum Dunes, the company owned by Michael Bay, Andrew Form, and Brad Fuller, producing the movie. As of now, there is no script but the plan is to have WWE superstar John Cena taking on the lead role. As of now, it’s still in early stages but this is actually very exciting news as this combination seems like a match made in heaven.

Just think about some of Bay’s films, like Transformers, Bad Boys, The Rock, The Island, etc… Now imagine that kind of gleeful explosive action as the backdrop for Cena to kick untold amounts of alien ass. For those who worry that Bay won’t go hard enough in terms of violence or offensive language, don’t forget that both Bad Boys films as well as Pain & Gain were rated R for very good reasons.

Duke Nukem was originally released back in 1991 in the self-titled game made by Apogee Software. The character has since been in multiple sequels, although there are only four titles to the main storyline, and spin-offs as well as appearing in cameos in other games such as Death Rally, Blood, Serious Sam 2, Balls of Steel and can be seen in the trailer for Ready Player One. Nukem’s last video game appearance was 2011’s Duke Nuke Forever, a game that went through countless delays only to be met with critical panning upon release.

Horror fans who have played Duke Nukem will recognize many of the character’s iconic one-liners as being lifted from several horror films. Quotes from They Live, Army of Darkness, Aliens, Predator, Jaws, Full Metal Jacket, Evil Dead 2, and many more. The references were littered throughout and many delighted in their homages. However, Bruce Campbell wasn’t a fan when asked about the game back in 1999. He told IGN, “…they’re rip-off artists. Let them get their own damn material. It’s called hiring a writer.” [Source].

That being said, how cool would it be if Campbell made an appearance in the film to put Cena’s Duke Nukem in his place should he use one of those quotes? Apart from being a treat for fans of the games, it’d be a great moment in a film that’s meant to be chock full of bravado, machismo, and strong chins!

Coming back to Platinum Dunes’ adaptation, we’ll be keeping a very close eye on this project! In the meanwhile, why not tell us your favorite Duke Nukem moment in the comments!

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Ellen Page and The Cured Come Home to VOD

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We’ve been talking about the new zombie flick starring Ellen Page entitled The Cured for quite some time now, and we’ll soon be able to sink our teeth into it courtesy of IFC Films.

The flick stars Page (Juno, Hard Candy), Sam Keeley (Anthropoid, In the Heart of the Sea), Tom Vaughan-Lawlor (Avengers: Infinity War, The Infiltrator), and Paula Malcomson (The Hunger Games trilogy, “Ray Donovan”) and is directed and written by David Freyne in his first feature film. Look for it in theaters and On Demand on February 23, 2018​.

Synopsis:
What happens when the undead return to life? In a world ravaged for years by a virus that turns the infected into zombie-like cannibals, a cure is at last found and the wrenching process of reintegrating the survivors back into society begins. Among the formerly afflicted is Senan (Sam Keeley), a young man haunted by the horrific acts he committed while infected. Welcomed back into the family of his widowed sister-in-law (Ellen Page), Senan attempts to restart his life—but is society ready to forgive him and those like him? Or will fear and prejudice once again tear the world apart? 

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#Brainwaves Episode 74 Guest Announcement: Creature Designer Mike Hill – The Shape of Water and More!

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We’re getting monstrous on Episode 74 of Brainwaves Horror and Paranormal Talk Radio as joining us will be award-winning artist, filmmaker, and creature designer Mike Hill, whose work you can see right now in a little film called The Shape of Water.

Join us this coming Wednesday, January 24th, at 8:00PM PT/11:00PM ET for all the shenanigans fit to be had!

It’s radio without a safety net, kids. It’s Brainwaves: Horror and Paranormal Talk Radio.

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Spooky, funny, touching, honest, offensive, and at times completely random, Brainwaves airs live every Wednesday evening beginning at 8:00 PM Pacific Time (11:00 midnight Eastern Time) and runs about 3 hours per episode.

Knetter and Creepy will be taking your calls LIVE and unscreened via Skype, so let your freak flags fly! Feel free to add BrainWavesTalk to your Skype account so you can reach us, or call in from a landline or cellphone – 858 480 7789. The duo also take questions via Twitter; you can reach us at @BrainwavesRadio or @UncleCreepy, @JoeKnetter, or @MrDarkDC using the hashtag #BrainWaves. You can also check us out on our Brainwaves Discord channel!

Have a ghost story or a paranormal story but can’t call in? Feel free to email it to me directly at UncleCreepy@dreadcentral.com with “Brainwaves Story” in your subject line. You can now become a fan of the show via the official… BRAINWAVES FACEBOOK PAGE!

Brainwaves: Horror and Paranormal Talk Radio is hosted live (with shows to be archived as they progress) right here on Dread Central. You can tune in and listen via the FREE TuneIn Radio app or listen to TuneIn right through the website!

For more information and to listen live independent of TuneIn, visit the Deep Talk Radio Network website, “like” Deep Talk Radio on Facebook, and follow Deep Talk Radio on Twitter. And don’t forget to subscribe to Brainwaves on iTunes.

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