Exclusive: Eli Roth on The Last Exorcism Part II, The Green Inferno and More
It's not much of an exaggeration to call Eli Roth the busiest man in horror these days- while currently in post-production on his cannibal flick The Green Inferno in Chile, he's also kept busy promoting and wrapping up a few other upcoming projects including The Last Exorcism Part II.
Dread Central recently hopped on the phone with Roth to talk about what fans can expect from this latest chapter in the tragic and terrifying life of Nell Sweetzer (Ashley Bell), who's back once again to battle demonic forces, but this time for co-writer and director Ed Gass-Donnelly, who has taken over the directorial helm for The Last Exorcism Part II. We also spoke with Roth about his thoughts on reteaming with Bell for another chapter and heard more on the lengths the actress was willing to go for her (literally) back-breaking role this time around. Roth also discussed bringing on Gass-Donnelly for The Last Exorcism Part II and briefly chatted about his latest directorial effort, The Green Inferno, as well.
Check out the highlights from our exclusive interview with Roth below, and look for The Last Exorcism Part II in theaters everywhere this Friday, March 1st.
Dread Central: Thanks so much for taking time to chat today- it doesn't seem like you get a whole lot of free time these days.
Eli Roth: (Laughs) No, not really. I'm actually talking to you from Chile while editing The Green Inferno. There's always going to be work, but I'm glad to take some time to talk about Last Exorcism.
Dread Central: Wow- let's talk about The Last Exorcism Part II then. Now that we've seen the trailer, it's safe to assume you guys are going for a more traditional narrative here rather than using found footage. Can you talk about what made you decide to switch things up for the sequel?
Eli Roth: Well, after the first one came out, everyone started asking us about a sequel, and we thought we only want to do one if we can really tell a great story again and make it a worthy successor to that first film so we spent a year working on the script just so we could get it right. Then when we were ready to move forward, we decided to go the straight narrative route but set it within this world where the events of the first movie exist as a viral video on the Internet.
Going that route gave us all sorts of possibilities with this story and with the character Nell; she has no memory of what happened to her whatsoever so imagine that everyone else has seen these horrible things happening to you but it's something you've never watched. She has no idea, and that's kind of terrifying in some ways where everyone else knows something except you.
Dread Central: Do you feel like opening the world up like this also opens up the character of Nell? Do we get more of a sense of who she is then as she deals with all of these horrible things that have happened to her?
Eli Roth: Oh absolutely. And that was part of it, too- for the sequel we wanted to give Ashley so much more to do because we knew she could. We saw who she was as part of this sheltered family and just imagine what can happen with this fractured character when she's placed in a halfway house- bad things are bound to happen. So we really wanted to explore what would happen if she was in society and still forced to deal with what was happening to her without having her family there. It's an interesting dynamic, and Ashley really gave 150 percent on this.
Dread Central: Ashley is quickly becoming one of my favorite young actresses- what do you think it is about her as a performer that really nails these physically grueling roles that also have a lot of emotion and depth to them?
Eli Roth: It's hard to sum it up really, but she's just so fearless and willing to push herself on so many levels to get her performance just perfect. She's just so giving as an actress and there's really no one else like Ashley out there working today. She put herself through so much for this movie- physically, mentally and emotionally.
I mean, look what Ashley did for the poster; that sequel poster isn't Photoshopped at all- it's actually Ashley in a backbend, and she ended up posing for so long that she ended up straining a bunch of her vertebrae and had to go into physical therapy after even. But that's Ashley- she will literally bend over backwards for her work. What other actor do you know that would or could do these sorts of things and just be willing to go there? Not many, if any at all.
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