Interview with Kristen Connolly and Fran Kranz from "The Cabin in the Woods" [SPOILERS]


It's always refreshing to interview people who have never gone through the PR grind before. It restores your faith in the process. Neither Fran Kranz nor Kristen Connolly,  newborn stars of the Drew Goddard directed, Joss Whedon produced cult hit in the making "The Cabin in the Woods," have done any press for movies before. But they've been sidled with the big and paradoxical responsibility of talking about a movie full of twists and surprises about which they are forbidden to talk about. Needless to say, I tried to take advantage of the situation, so you are forewarned that there are spoilers to come.

PK: This must be a kind of new experience for you.

Fran: This is a first time because I am doing a play in New York ["Death of  Salesman"] this is literally my first time doing press release. I've done a couple phone calls, you know, but I'm sort of stuck in New York, so they wouldn't let me out for South by Southwest. Kristen was in Las Vegas and I know that they're going all out but because these are close to New York, I think the producers of the show are like "Ok, those are safe." So my day off, you know.

[Enter Kristen]

Fran: Is this a good layout?[indicating seating arrangement]  I was sitting here, I don't know if-

PK: I don't know, you're the pros, you should tell me.

Fran: I don't know, she is more pro than I am.

K: No, I've just been doing a few interviews.

PK: Congratulations on your response at South by Southwest.

Fran: I hear it was pretty epic.

PK: Were you there?

K: Yeah I was, actually, it was pretty awesome. It was pretty amazing. It was like -- sitting in that movie theatre it felt like a rock concert- and I think Richard Jenkins [plays "Sitterson" in the movie] actually said that.

Fran: Yeah, no I keep hearing those words "It was like a rock concert" and just that there was actually cheering. Obviously, there is going to be a friendly audience, but I think that audience is all over -- I'm pretty confident that this movie -- that a lot of people are going to respond to it great. It's so entertaining and it's so unlike anything that I've ever seen, so I just think that people will eat it up, I hope that people will eat it up.

PK: I went to the screening here and everybody liked it, but someone said "I think it's going to be a big fan boy kind of movie." Not that there's anything wrong with fan boys and girls, but are you hoping that it might cross over into a wider audience?

Fran: Yeah, well that's well obviously if people will think it's a horror film, it's a genre film, you know I already bump into people that say "Oh, I get too scared at horror films." But this movie is also so funny, and original and it has you know, action and science fiction. I really think it has a huge, a wide audience, but we'll see.

PK: Someone described it as a "Scream" for the new millennium.

Fran: I'll take that.  Heard someone mention "Ghostbusters." I'll take that one too.

K: Yeah, I like that one a lot.

PK: It's a funnier movie than "Scream. It reverses all your genre expectations from the get go. For example,  when you see your character prancing around [SPOILER!] in her underwear, you know she's going to be the first person to get killed.

K: Right.

PK: Your character, coming in with the smoke coming out of his car. What happened to that, what's going to happen with that bong by the way? Is that going to be merchandised?

Fran: That's what I --I hope so. You know, at the time we were filming it we would all say they're going to sell this bong contraption in head shops everywhere. And I hope that's the case because it actually worked. It was a functioning -- you could drink coffee out of it, and you could smoke -- I had to take lessons in, you know, rolling joints and smoking fake marijuana.


PK: It's a [SPOILER!] weapon against zombies, too.

Fran: It's a weapon yeah -- it's a very important weapon against zombies, yeah.

K: Yeah, put that on the box.

Fran: Yeah, yeah, yeah it worked. But supposedly it cost 5,000 dollars to make. I was, like, "What were you using?"

K: Yeah -

Fran: What material is this made out of? But the prototype I guess is always more expensive, that's what they said. But no that was the one and it worked and we'll see. Hopefully, the movie is a huge  hit and that stoners are like, I need the coffee bong!

PK: Did you actually use it?

Fran: Uh, yeah, no, I had to. I smoked so much fake weed over the course of that shoot. At one point we talked about Marty having a joint or a some smoking contraption in every scene, but then we realized that would take away -- it would just be kind of silly. But when I first got there, you know, everyone else was learning how to ride motorcycles or scuba dive, or fight with a chainsaw, and I would just roll joints for like two hours a day.

K: We would all like reconvene to get dinner and be like ‘How ya doing?' And you'd be like (silent).

Fran: (laughs)

K: I'd feel like so weird.

PK: You didn't know how to roll joints before the movie?

Fran: I'm pretty bad at rolling joints, it's a shame. I wish I could have gotten better, you'd think with all the training I had, you'd think-

PK: You must have gotten practice in "Orange County."

Fran: Yeah that's right, and in "Training Day" I'm buying pot. It sort of appears I am someone who would enjoy marijuana, so yeah it happens. Every now and then I get cast in that light. Honestly, it's embarrassing and I shouldn't say this because it takes away the illusion of the character but yeah, I'm terrible at rolling joints. It's definitely, it's camera tricks that roll the joint. In fact, we had joints on set because I am so bad and we were in a moving RV and I'm rolling and spilling the fake weed everywhere. So they had a perfectly rolled joint off camera ready for that final line when everyone got to see things my way.

K: It was just right there.

Fran: It was that my joint was pathetic so I could just grab that one and just be like ‘Haa'

K: Because there was no time, we never stopped, we never stopped.

Fran: It was tough. Oh yeah, and I had -- there was a version of where this joint should be. Oh, and when I talked about how concrete -- about filling in the cracks in society -- so there were specific motions I was really set on having for all my joints. So it was a matter of timing and it gets tough. It's embarrassing ,but it's hard to multi-task on camera.

K: Yeah, cause you're trying to do one thing and then it's like "Oh, God." And then there's always that one thing that's like "How is this going? Is it going okay?"

Fran: Yeah, it's bizarre. Anyway,  if you want to smoke a joint ask someone else to roll it.

PK: Do you think this is a pro marijuana movie?

Fran: Pro marijuana movie? Well, you know, I think, you know we all know people smoke pot. I think Marty is a character that you've seen in horror films. I don't think it's so pro- marijuana as it is playing on those sort of common tropes and characters that you see in horror films. And if you're making a movie about some kids having a fun weekend in the woods and there's no pot, something's wrong. You know what I mean? I think it's sort of honest to the genre and to life in general; they're college kids having a fun weekend it's sex, drugs, and rock n' roll. And then bad things happen. I don't know -- I know we're not supposed to talk about where the movie goes, but considering what happens, it might be anti-marijuana.

K: But I end up smoking one or two.

Fran: But you know [SPOILER!] we blow up the world. That's very careless.

PK: Let's talk about your character who also starts out as sort of a stereotype and then turns out to be [SPOILER!]


like Jamie Lee Curtis in "Halloween." You know the woman who is like really in charge --  or am I giving away too much by saying that?


Fran: No no, but see, I don't know, it's always tricky like, what can we say -- I think, you know, that's in your hands.

K: Yeah, and I think they have something-

Fran: I just sure hope you make us look good without giving away too much.

K: Yeah.

Fran: But the movie really is so much better not knowing.

K: It really is.

Fran: Although, I think it's that kind of movie that is great the second and third view. And now that you see it you say "I want to go back and see."‘

K: All the stuff in the basement

Fran: Oh yeah, totally great call. Oh sorry now I - forgot what the question was. I think it was your question.

PK: We were talking about Jamie Lee Curtis and -- you have to kind of play the stereotypes and kind of undermine them at the same time?

K: Well we were talking about this, I think that the way how Drew directed us is that we played it just as real as we could. And we played it sincerely as a group of friends that love each other. And I don't think that any of us were thinking too much about doing anything tongue in cheek, commenting on it from the outside much. I mean, I think there are moments.

Fran: Yeah, I think it was in the script; it's in the wardrobe

K: That kind of gives it away.

Fran: It's there. I think Drew wanted us to play against it and play real people that love each other and that are having fun and when the bad things start happening to play the fear. Play honesty, and the rest of it -- the sort of making fun of the genre or the sort of subverting of these stock characters, that's in there. We as actors don't have to worry about that.

K: And we don't even know that's happening. We just go with it.


Fran: but we were talking about that the characters, as they sort of settle into the cabin and this sort of control, mind control manipulations begin, that the wardrobes sort of become that sort of stock character. Kirk all of a sudden has this letterman jacket. You are sort of buttoned-up, Anna loses her clothes, Jessie gets a pair of glasses, it becomes that sort of cartoon and then for us to play against it is important. Because you want to be real human beings.

PK: So you're very manipulated by your director.

Fran: Yes, exactly.

PK: So it's sort of an allegory of the movie-making process.

K: Well Joss and Drew sort of think of themselves as manipulators.

Fran: Yeah they do. But I sort of always had this fun idea, and again this is kind of a second half, but because there is this sort of surveillance going on, I always had this fun idea that this is in fact, in the world of "Cabin in the Woods," that that is where horror films come from. That horror films are in fact these real surveillances of these awful situations that adults have to slay kids, that's -- the genre itself comes from the actual sacrifice.

PK: That seems like a sort of popular theme,  like in "The Hunger Game,"  that young people are being sacrificed to an evil system and that's sort of what's going on here.

Fran: I hope that everyone who went to see "Hunger Games" comes to see "Cabin in the Woods."

F: That'd be nice

Fran: I think it's kind of  -- It's weird because of the Internet and all the resources at your fingertips these days, kids are very empowered. Young people have to be their own censors because they have access to everything. But I do think that as empowering as that is, young people are more vulnerable than ever because they are susceptible to all forms of manipulation. You know, they can go online and find whatever they want. So they are actually sort of, I think, exposed to whatever marketing forces are out there. Good or bad. And I think that is sort of where some of this comes from, kids killing each other or just this idea that the interest in youth in general, that there's this sort of sense of youth being out of control right now. They have access to whatever they want, for good or bad. That's sort of exciting and sort of terrifying. I don't know if that answered anything.

PK: I thought that maybe the young people are thinking more of themselves as victims by having access to-

Fran: Yeah, I guess that's sort of what I mean. I think it's very- young people are vulnerable because as much as I think it's probably exciting to be- you know I can go on an be whatever I want or see whatever I wan- then ya you know you're exposed to all kinds of forms of marketing and manipulation.

PK: You've got a sort of similar situation with your iGirl on iChannel.

K: You saw that?!

Fran: What is it?

K: This is a web series I did a long time ago.

Fran: Oh, cool.

K: But yeah it's sort of the same thing where, I think in that case [the iChannel] it's sort of the audience is really controlling what happens, but I guess it's not that dissimilar. And sort of weighing in that you should do this or you should do that, you know being manipulated on the outside by someone who is watching you and just what it does to a person just being watched I think.

Fran: Well, there's this scene that Marty has where he realizes or comes to the conclusion that he's on a reality show and it's actually very comforting. He was sort of terrified, and then it's like "Oh, it's just a reality show." And that insane situation they find themselves in that is so awful, that for it to be just a reality show, that he's actually ok with it.

K: It's a "What the hell, oh thank god" - Except for when he thinks "What are my parents going to think about it?"

Fran: Yeah, except for yeah "My parents are going to think I'm such a burnout." Yeah, I love that line.

PK: He seems the opposite of your character in "Dollhouse." 


Fran: Well in "Dollhouse," he is sort of the mind controller. He is sort of the puppeteer.

PK: Are you referring to that in the movie when you keep talking about  "the puppeteer?"

Fran: Yeah, you know that's funny.  I didn't even think of that, but you know its Joss Whedon and you know, I think his work is so original and always so fun and interesting. Certainly that might have have been on his mind. That's something I've got to ask him. But that's sort of fun. I didn't really think about that. I do know that in both "Dollhouse" and "Cabin in the Woods," I'm responsible for sort of [SPOILER!] ending the world, so that's sort of cool. Sorry, by the way. But  I know you've seen it.

PK: So there's no [SPOILER] sequel?

Fran: Yeah you know, I was wondering. I think "Cabin in the Woods" would make a sweet video game, because in that basement they have access to all these potential sort of...[SPOILER!]

K: ...Deaths..

Fran: ...sort of predators, so I think it would be an awesome sort of role-playing game of you know- you pick your-

K: What you're going to be up against

Fran: And then you fight the [SPOILER!]  merman.

PK: You have to fight the merman.

Fran: I know right? I think that love story kind of steals the whole movie --that love affair.

K: Yeah the merman- it's great.

PK: Maybe they can do a sequel..

Fran: Yeah, there's something there. Yeah, yeah,

K: Maybe a prequel

Fran: Yeah you know, everyone wants to have a franchise these days and I love "Cabin in the Woods" for sort of demanding that it [SPOILER!] can't.

K: Yeah!

Fran: It sort of stands on its own. But at the same time, there's so many infinite -- there's infinite possibilities of what could happen to that guy.

K: Especially because I've never...

Fran: ..and they're all so fun I could run with that forever.

K: And I feel like Joss and Drew just have, like, an unlimited imagination.

Fran: Oh yeah, I just came onto the set one day and they were just shooting it was second unit, shooting in [SPOILER!] the elevator and they just had a line of different creatures to put in the elevator to shoot.

PK: These aren't CGI?

Fran: No, I remember they had like [SPOILERS!] a hawk, or an owl, they had a snake. They had two German shepherds. I was like, you guys are running out of ideas, that's just ridiculous.

K: Yeah, they had two dogs fighting

Fran: Yeah two dogs, but they realized, you know, we gotta, we gotta fill up the space with these monsters.

PK: Sequels or not, you must be happy just to have the film out.

K: Yeah absolutely.

PK: It was like three years ago you started making it.

Fran: Yeah, it's just been like marinating for three years yeah. Yeah, I don't know the full details of why it took so long, but it just - honestly- it just makes it that much more satisfying that it's finally here.

K: And the people that are enjoying it, and just that reception at South by Southwest was amazing. And it's with Lionsgate, which is perfect. It ended up with where it needed to be and where it should be and at the right time.

Fran: I remember when some of the first cuts were coming out I started to hear about some of the things we were losing and I couldn't believe it because I thought some of these things were so funny- the whole [SPOILER!] subplot in Japan was cut-

K: Really, I think that's funny. I love that part.

PK: So there's your sequel

Fran: We're not supposed to talk about that...

PK: . I guess we have to stop;  we've crossed the line...

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