We’re back with another installment in our extensive Deliver Us From Evil interview series, and today we chat with the film’s star, Eric Bana. Read on to find out what scares him and much more!
Dread Central: So, we heard some weird stuff happened while you were making this movie.
Eric Bana: With me, not much. I mean, the set was pretty gnarly anyway because we were shooting nights on the streets down in the Bronx so the set always was very dynamic. It wasn’t the sort of set where you, you know, like put your phone down and forget about it and go on. You know what I mean? It was like, the crew were constantly on edge because of where we were shooting and what we were doing.
So I think regardless of what subject matter the film was dealing with or anything like that, it had a very edgy feel. Nothing happened to me. Actually, the special effects makeup guys had a lot of weird stuff that was going on for them back at their work shop. That was about the only one that I was aware of. I kind of blinkered myself to a lot of it to be honest because I saw enough in pre-production to sort of have the desired effect of freaking you out, and in order to do my job I was just trying to blinker a lot of that stuff out.
DC: Do you think that subconsciously we suggest things that happen and everything that happens is, “Oh, I saw that happen because I’m talking about that.” We associate things that are not normally happening to something just because we want to do it.
EB: Yeah, that’s interesting. I think there’s an idea out there, a lot of it is about what frequency you choose to tune into and I guess the bigger question is does a frequency occasionally choose you or do you choose the frequency? I’ve got an idea that there are some people that are more in tune to living on that frequency than others and whether that’s a conscious choice. Because there’s no doubt that if you’ve actually been really, really scared, if you’ve seen something that’s made you feel uncomfortable and you’ve gone back to your house and had a few hours where you just really feel like something’s over your shoulder or you catch something at the edge of your frame that’s not there, I think that’s an example of where you’ve chosen to tune in to that frequency, right? So I’ve got an idea that some people don’t have a choice; some people kind of live there. So I’ve gone around in circles, but yes, I do agree that sometimes it’s one and sometimes it’s the other.
DC: What scares you?
EB: Walking down stairs. I don’t have any weird fears other than running down stairs. I don’t like running down stairs. I broke my foot once after a gig on a stairwell where it was in the dark and the stairs went down and then there was a landing and I got to the landing and I thought I was at the bottom of the stairs but the landing went like that and the stairwell went like this and I just walked off the landing and I flew down and broke a foot. Ever since then I’ve hated traveling downstairs fast. So if I’m ever doing a chase in a film, I would say I’ll do anything you want me to do but just don’t ask me to run down the stairs.
DC: You talk about tuning in so what about yourself? What is your relationship with the supernatural? Have you witnessed an exorcism or have you ever had supernatural things happen to you?
EB: The thing that affected me the most was in pre-production Scott shared some materials with us. Actually, I was a little bit pissed off because at one point he just put this particular piece of material in front of us and it happened so quick and I was watching something that I really didn’t want to watch and that really, really affected me. I wouldn’t say freaked me out, but most definitely I saw something that I immediately identified as not faked and something that I knew I wasn’t going to be able to get out of my head. I would ideally want to be able to get it out of my head, and I felt like I didn’t have any say in that. It was like, ‘Okay, I can’t unsee what I just saw,’ but it was very important that I saw it for what we were doing. So that’s probably the most prominent thing for me and it’s probably similar to something you witnessed. It’s someone who’s suffering in a way that you can’t relate to it and you know that they’re not acting. I mean, there’s no actor alive who could do what I saw happening to someone. I have no way of explaining what that person was going through or why. For privacy reasons I can’t talk about what I saw but it was enough to give me a very uncomfortable week.
DC: Do you believe in the effect of exorcisms? What the scientists say, the skeptics, they say that this has to do with culture. They are manipulating, especially the angelic pastors that are doing this, they manipulate and the people who go in are so open and they believe that they have demons and that’s why they also react with screaming and changing appearance and everything. But that in reality it’s just because subconsciously they kind of are open for it and want it to happen and believe that this is what is supposed to happen?
EB: I would like to agree with that.
DC: Growing up did you do the Ouija board and stuff like that?
EB: No, and I’m glad I didn’t because after meeting Ralph and really getting to know Ralph, it made me realize that, you know, getting back to that frequency thing, I think there is something to be said for what you invite in and what frequency you choose to operate on and Ralph’s very deadly serious about a lot of this stuff to the point that he’s told me about going to help people investigate things and then he’s gone into their room and he’s found things like that where they’ve lied to him about the fact. Like, ‘Are you dabbling in any of the following… blah blah blah,’ and he’s gone into their room and he’s found, whether it be an object under a pillow or a bed or something that they’ve lied about, and he just gets up and walks out and leaves and never returns. He’s just not going to help that person, like, ‘You just lied to me, and that’s it. We’re done.’
DC: I think teenagers go through that phase. I mean, do you tell your kids not to use one?
EB: Yeah, I guess I’d probably try and discourage it.
DC: Do you like to feel emotional fear?
EB: I think it’s very healthy. I enjoy it personally and I think it’s like anything else that adrenalizes. I don’t think it’s something that you necessarily have to enjoy at the time. It’s about how it makes you feel afterwards. In the context of a movie, if you go and see a movie like this, and you see it in a cinema, ideally, not on your phone, and you get to walk out of the cinema and its daylight, it’s like, ‘Ahh, I’m so glad I saw a daytime session.’ And I think that feeling is pardoned in teenage years when you are just constantly searching for titillation; you are constantly searching for things that push the boundaries so I can understand why the genre is very popular amongst the younger audience because it just makes sense that you are constantly searching for that hit, for that adrenaline so I understand the reasons for it. I’m not a fan of huge crazy jump scares. I’m not really into slasher kind of movies.
DC: So when you chose this one, where you aware of, like, I don’t want to just do a horror movie that is just not for the actors?
EB: Exactly, yes, so for me I loved the script, I loved the character. I was a big fan of Scott’s work and there’s no way I would have done this film with a first time director. There’s just no chance. I really understood that this was a human story set in a somewhat supernatural world. The film itself has a very kind of skeptical way of viewing the material. It’s hard to talk about without you seeing it but it’s not exclusively for people who believe in this stuff. There are a lot of exit doors for people who don’t. You’re still going to be scared but there are enough exit doors on the ride for you to convince yourself that you can get off if you choose to. And that was very important, I think. Scott’s understanding for the genre… you know, my favorite films are the ones in that ilk like The Exorcist or The Shining where you’re following a person, you’re following a character, and these things happen. It makes it far scarier than a bunch of people just exposed to jump scares.
DC: Would you like to be a policeman?
EB: I did go through a phase as a young adult where I thought I was wanting to join the police force. Fortunately, I didn’t. It was a short-lived fantasy as a young man. When I didn’t have a lot of options I thought that was going to be one of my job options. Ralph was great to hang out with. He was around every day and I spent a lot of time with him before we shot the film. He was a great influence for me. Not in terms of asking him specific information or getting specific stories. I quickly ascertained after spending some time with him that my time was far better utilized with him by asking him nothing. And sometimes it’s the opposite, sometimes all you want is information and stories and things that you can hold on to. So much of the character in this film is about who Ralph is and what’s going on inside of him and his internal journey that as an actor and as a person I felt like the most relevant thing for me to do was to ask him very little and to just soak him up and just spend time with him as a friend. We had a touchstone in that we both loved motorcycles so there was always something to talk about that had nothing to do with the film and nothing to do with the subject matter. I would hear him talk to other people and tell stories that I would inadvertently be listening to but I never specifically sat Ralph down and said, ‘Ralph, you are going to come and tell me the five really scary things that had happened.’ I never did that with him. It wasn’t part of my process of working on this film.
DC: Did you do any ride alongs with the police?
EB: Yeah, we did actually, and that was very interesting and a good little adrenaline fix being exposed to that stuff, but in the long run, to me, the most beneficial thing was just hanging out with Ralph and just by osmosis trying to pick up some of his character.
DC: When you are playing a real person, do you find as an actor that it is more helpful to have that person in front of you, or would you rather play a character who is long dead so that you don’t really have the pressure?
EB: Well, it can definitely go both ways. I’ve obviously been in situations where it’s been the opposite where I’ve spent time with someone I’ve portrayed, haven’t had the ability to meet the person I’ve portrayed because of security reasons, haven’t had the ability to meet the person because they’ve passed so I’ve run the full gamut. I think the most important thing is to be really open. When I came on board to do this film I wasn’t aware that Ralph would be there every single day. In fact that he would be there during rehearsals even. So that was something that had I known that in the beginning, it would have freaked me out, but you just get to a point in your life where you have to go. ‘I’ve just got to breathe and try and make the most of this,’ and not be, ‘This is how it’s going to be; you are not permitted to come on set on the following days…’ I just try to let all that stuff go. So it’s interesting to work the extremes and sometimes it’s very, very beneficial to be able to meet the person, sometimes it’s wonderful to be free of that, so it just depends.
Joel McHale, Sean Harris, Edgar Ramirez, and Olivia Munn star alongside Eric Bana. The film is a paranormal thriller produced by Jerry Bruckheimer Films. Derrickson directs a script he and Paul Boardman (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) wrote.
Look for it in theaters July 2, 2014.
New York police officer Ralph Sarchie (Bana), struggling with his own personal issues, begins investigating a series of disturbing and inexplicable crimes. He joins forces with an unconventional priest (Ramirez), schooled in the rituals of exorcism, to combat the frightening and demonic possessions that are terrorizing their city. Based upon the book, which details Sarchie’s bone-chilling real-life cases.
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