The Devon Sawa of today and, specifically, his badass character Joseph in Hunter Hunter could probably beat up the teenaged Devon fans have come to know over the years. Final Destination and Idle Hands show a more adorable version of Sawa as an actor similar to Ethan Embry’s dorky accessibility in Empire Records or Can’t Hardly Wait. Just as Embry became virtually unrecognizable as a rough and tumble slacker in Cheap Thrills or a hard-nosed survivalist in Masters of Horror, Sawa should surprise you with just how convincing he is as another kind of survivalist in Shawn Linden’s brutal new film.
In fact, Sawa is even thinking about signing on to a legit action movie for one of his next projects. In the below interview, we started off with a bang chatting about the actor’s over-the-top excitement for the just wrapped Black Friday! starring Bruce Campbell and Michael Jai White. Would Sawa return for another entry in the Final Destination franchise? Read on below to find out that answer and more about his surprising turn as an expert hunter who may have finally met his match.
Also, for any fans of the band Danzig, Sawa gives us some info on Glenn’s second directorial effort, Death Rider in the House of Vampires! The actor who appeared in Eminem’s video for “Stan” also praised Pete Davidson’s impersonation on the recent SNL Christmas spoof.
Synopsis: Hunter Hunter follows a family living in the remote wilderness earning a living as fur trappers. Joseph Mersault (Devon Sawa), his wife Anne (Camille Sullivan), and their daughter Renée (Summer H. Howell) struggle to make ends meet and think their traps are being hunted by the return of a rogue wolf. Determined to catch the predator in the act, Joseph leaves his family behind to track the wolf. Anne and Renée grow increasingly anxious during Joseph’s prolonged absence and struggle to survive without him. When they hear a strange noise outside their cabin, Anne hopes it is Joseph but instead finds a man named Lou (Nick Stahl), who has been severely injured and left for dead. The longer Lou stays and Joseph is away, the more paranoid Anne becomes, and the idea of a mysterious predator in the woods slowly becomes a threat much closer to home.
Dread Central: Thanks for giving me a few minutes, I really appreciate it. I love Hunter Hunter.
Devon Sawa: I would do anything for Dread Central. You guys have been so awesome to me over the years. Thank YOU for speaking with me.
DC: Are you in the middle of shooting Black Friday! right now?
DS: We’ve got two weeks left so we’re coming to an end.
DC: That’s exciting. Is there anything you can talk about? Have you had any scenes with Bruce Campbell and Michael Jai White?
DS: Bruce and I have done many many scenes together and so has Michael Jai White. The movie is bonkers and frightening. It’s going amazing. They’re getting great stuff. I couldn’t be happier. This is the first time I’ve felt like I’ve done one of these kind of movies since Slackers or Idle Hands. It fits on that shelf.
DC: Are there a lot of practical effects on set as well? It seems like it’s going to be bloody as hell.
DS: Yeah, Bob Kurtzman is the special effects guy and he’s done everything, Doctor Sleep and he was on Dusk Till Dawn. He’s one of the masters at this and they put a lot of money into the special effects and he built some very original stuff. We’ve got everything from animatronics to big tall guys in old grandma suits. It’s nutty. It’s nutty and hysterical and frightening. Bruce is being this different character that I’ve never seen him play. Michael Jai White is kicking a little bit of ass so it’s all there, man.
DC: That sounds wild. You’re saying that you really think it tapped into something special. With the experience you’ve had, can you tell while shooting that a movie is going to be really good?
DS: Yeah, well, yes. You can. At the same time, sometimes you think a movie is going to be really special and then it kind of fizzles and dies. For instance, I thought The Fanatic was going to be…while shooting it I thought this is going to be something special. Everybody is going to love this and then it didn’t get the reaction I was hoping for. This one feels good, it feels really good.
DC: Did you feel like Hunter Hunter was going to be a special horror film? I think it’s in my Top 10 for this year.
DS: Yeah, I did feel that. The director who also wrote it gained my confidence really quickly. The performances when you look at the other actors, they were all there.
DC: I just spoke with Nick Stahl last week and he remembers you both auditioning for for the lead role Idle Hands. Do you remember that?
DS: I don’t remember Nick auditioning, no. First of all, that’s like twenty something years ago. When I go into those rooms for an audition I’m kind of in a spacy zone. I will say that it wasn’t really Idle Hands when we both auditioned for it. The mother gets possessed and one of the audition scenes was a hand bit but that was the only bit in the movie. I went in there and basically did my best Bruce Campbell. There were Sony executives and casting directors and I just remember being completely fearless at the age of eighteen and throwing myself into a wall and over the table. The scene was done and there was just silence. They didn’t know what the hell just happened. I got the part and the hand just became the central point of the whole story.
DC: That’s a great double feature to do: Idle Hands and Evil Dead 2.
DS: But Nick and go I back. I think I may have auditioned for Disturbing Behavior. We go back, you know, mid-90s.
DC: You and Nick’s character, Lou, play two sides of the same coin: you’re order and he’s chaos. Does that sound accurate to you?
DS: Yeah, how I look at it it’s this guy who won’t accept change. He’s done things the same way his whole life and then the Lou character comes in and it’s the ultimate change. We are the polar opposites.
DC: It seems at first that the woods are the scariest thing but it’s actually the people in the woods that are really frightening.
DS: And the fact that no one is around is frightening as well. They’re just out there in the middle of nowhere with nothing they can do.
DC: What kind of training did you do for this? You really come across as an expert tracker and an experienced survivalist.
DS: The director, he comes from that kind of world. I was able to put my entire trust into him when he was teaching me the proper ways of doing certain things. We had to do it really quick…we were shooting within two days. While camera’s moving and setting up, he was teaching me not to pierce the stomachs of certain animals and how I was not going to look authentic with sharpening a knife or rolling those cigarettes. I wasn’t a smoker and by the time that movie finished I was buying my own packs. He wanted me to be a chain smoker in the movie. Within two hours, you’ve just smoked half a pack of cigarettes, half a cigarette at a time. It was gnarly.
DC: I was already fully invested in Hunter Hunter as a quest story where you hunt a killer wolf. That’s already a compelling movie for me and then it takes a turn. Was part of you wishing it would’ve stayed on that track?
DS: No, I probably wouldn’t have done the movie. If it went that way, I wouldn’t have done the movie, for sure. It would’ve been corny. Everybody thinks they have the movie figured out. You get everything from the wolf is a werewolf and what not. The brilliance of what made me jump on this script right off the bat was the turn it took halfway through and the other turn it took at the very end. That’s what makes it smart and original and one of these movies that separates itself from the rest of the typical horror genre films.
DC: People are not ready for this ending. I was talking with Keegan Connor Tracy not too long ago and, of course, Final Destination comes up because there are so many fans. She seemed open to returning to the franchise. Since they’ve played with time before, is that something you’d be interested in doing or is that franchise completely in your rearview?
DS: It is definitely completely in my rearview, not because I don’t love the film or don’t love all the sequels. I absolutely think they’ve done a fabulous job with most of the sequels. Especially number 5, number 5 rocked. Would I revisit? Sure, if they came up with a good idea of how to incorporate me back into the movie. That’s something I would definitely revisit but I don’t think that’ll ever happen. I think they’ll do it properly with rebooting it with new, young fresh talent. I’m just happy being a fan of the franchise. Again, if they said, hey check this out and it was something that made sense then, why not?
DC: I’d be into it, too, but I think you’re right to keep it in the past. Speaking of the past, did you see the SNL parody of “Stan” this past weekend with Pete Davidson?
DS: I did. I don’t think I’ve smiled so much in a long time. Pete Davidson absolutely killed it. He mimicked some of the nuances that I did during the video. I thought blowing the pencil off and some of the eye rolls…he killed it in a great way. I laughed and I smiled and I’m flattered that I could be a part of that video and that it’s still being talked about twenty something years later.
DC: God, has it been that long? It’s definitely part of the culture now. Is it true that Dre saw you in Final Destination and wanted you in the video or is there another story there?
DS: No, that’s the story that I heard. It was interesting because my agents and managers at the time didn’t want me to do the video. No one was doing music videos. I had just come off Final Destination and Idle Hands and they couldn’t understand why I wanted to go and do a hip-hop video. They didn’t get it. The word was that Dre, yeah, had been a big Final Destination fan and that’s how I got it.
DC: That’s wild. Well, before I ask my last question I just wanted to thank you for the Dread Central love and saying so much about Black Friday!. Now, I’m really really excited. And just to wish you luck and say what a great movie Hunter Hunter is. Now, I want to see you in a straight up action film.
DS: You know, it’s strange you should say that because I got an offer on a movie that shoots in January that couldn’t be more action. It’s great and I’m really considering doing it even though I haven’t been to a gym in eight or nine months!
DC: You could definitely pull it off. Speaking of a movie you may or may not be attached to…it has to do with Glenn Danzig and Death Rider in the House of Vampires which is a rad name.
DS: I thought I was going to escape this day with no one bringing that up but here it is! Glenn Danzig questions. Yeah, I did a movie, it’s…(laughs)…it’s a movie that I did with Glenn Danzig.
DC: Oh you guys have shot it, ok.
DS: We shot it, I was coming off the Winnipeg project and my creative juices were flowing and I was pumped. And then I got this script and this is how it’s pitched: ‘So, we got this movie and it’s a vampire spaghetti western directed by Glenn Danzig.’ And I said, ‘Holy shit. That sounds awesome.’ And I went and did it and now we’re just waiting to see because Glenn Danzig is an interesting cat. I didn’t know about Verotika. I will tell you this, he had way more budget and a lot of actors on this one for the first time. So, it could be…different, I’ll say. Here’s the thing, I’m not worried people aren’t going to see it, I know people are gonna see it, I just don’t know what they’re going to see yet.
Hunter Hunter is available in Select Theaters, Digital and On Demand December 18th.