Elijah Wood talks “MANIAC,” upcoming fear features; NYC appearances this weekend!


Following our Times Scare party celebrating IFC Midnight’s release tomorrow of MANIAC (see pics here), star Elijah Wood will be appearing live at a couple of the movie’s Manhattan showings. Read on for details, some comments from the actor on MANIAC and news of his other forthcoming genre films.

Wood will appear this Friday, June 21 and Saturday, June 22 at the 9:20 p.m. shows of MANIAC at the IFC Center (323 Sixth Avenue); see more details here.  The remake of William Lustig’s splatter classic, directed by Franck Khalfoun and scripted by HIGH TENSION and THE HILLS HAVE EYES’ Alexandre Aja (also one of the producers) and Grégory Levasseur, sees Wood portraying disturbed mannequin restorer Frank, who stalks and scalps women amidst the dark streets of Los Angeles. In a unique and unnerving touch, the story is told almost entirely through Frank’s eyes, with Wood seen only intermittently in reflections.

FANGORIA: As a horror fan yourself, what were your initial feelings about taking part in a remake of a classic?

ELIJAH WOOD: Well, it felt like this had a genuinely new approach, which I think is essential; if you’re going to remake something, you might as well try something different. I was intrigued by that, and I was a fan of Alex Aja’s as well, so the idea of getting a chance to work with him was exciting. And as an actor, I was intrigued by the prospect of doing something in which you wouldn’t be seeing the character for 90 percent of the movie. I thought that was really interesting.

FANG: Did it help that Aja had done one of the better modern remakes, THE HILLS HAVE EYES?

WOOD: Yes, it did, exactly—one of the exceptions! And I also love his PIRANHA remake, particularly because it embraced a corniness and cheesiness that was sort of true to the original’s era and brought it to our current time; I thought he did a fantastic job with that as well.

FANG: Frank is obviously a great departure from the kinds of roles you’ve played before; have you been offered parts like this in the past?

WOOD: Not really. The only time I’ve ever played someone remotely close to this would be in SIN CITY, the Kevin character—the major difference there being that it was a much smaller role with no dialogue. Typically, I don’t read a lot of horror scripts; I’m a huge fan of the genre, but it’s not exactly something I read a lot of as an actor. So MANIAC was a unique opportunity, and that was another interesting thing about it: getting an offer to play something so different from what I’d done before.

FANG: You recently starred for TIMECRIMES’ Nacho Vigalando in a thriller called OPEN WINDOWS, co-starring Sasha Grey and KILL LIST’s Neil Maskell. Can you talk a bit about that?

WOOD: Sure; I’m a huge fan of Nacho’s, ever since TIMECRIMES, and I’ve always wanted to work with him. We met at Fantastic Fest in Austin in 2010; I actually met him and [director] Eugenio Mira at the same time, and we all became friends. Over the course of the year that followed, I heard about his idea for OPEN WINDOWS, which sounded really intriguing—a movie that would take place entirely on a computer screen. I figured, leave it to Nacho to figure out something like that. I ended up doing a film with Eugenio called GRAND PIANO, and around the same time Nacho told me, “I have the script done for OPEN WINDOWS,” and it didn’t look like the timing was going to work out. But there were some delays on that film, so it happened that I got the chance to leave Barcelona and go almost straight to Madrid to do OPEN WINDOWS. It was a lot of fun; Nacho’s personality and enthusiasm are totally infectious.

That particular film is easily the most experimental I’ve ever worked on. All of the cast were shot individually, because a great deal of the film takes place on this computer screen, and the interactions are, for the most part, via webcams. So a great deal of my time on the movie was sort of isolated—looking at a camera and imagining that I was looking at a computer. It was very technical; everything had to be timed out very specifically to align with the communications and specific things that were occurring on the screen at any given time. It was a blast, and I’m intensely curious to see how it’s all going to be put together. I’ve seen bits of footage, things they’ve shown at the Berlin Film Festival to buyers, and it totally works!

FANG: You now have your production company, set up to produce low-budget horror films; what do you have in the works?

WOOD: It was originally called The Woodshed, and we’ve now changed the title to SpectreVision. I started it almost two years ago with my friends Josh Waller and Daniel Noah, who are a director and a writer respectively. We met on another project, became friends and realized we have a shared love of horror movies, and I had always intended to start a company to produce films. The idea of being involved with something from its inception and seeing it through to completion was always very exciting to me. We recently wrapped our first feature, A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT, which is an Iranian vampire Western that’s entirely in Farsi. It’s in black and white, and it’s beautiful—shot with anamorphic lenses on the Alexa. It’s gorgeous.

FANG: That’s a pretty esoteric-sounding project.

WOOD: [Laughs] Yeah. It’s pretty extraordinary; I’m really proud to be a part of it. That’s in post in the moment, and then in July we start production on a project called COOTIES, a child-zombie film that takes place at a school. It’s a horror/comedy that Leigh Whannell [of INSIDIOUS and SAW] and Ian Brennan, who writes for GLEE, scripted together. It’s going to be directed by Honest, which is a two-man filmmaking team [Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion]. And we’ve got a few other films probably going into production by the end of the year. It’s been a blast.

Read more comments from Wood on MANIAC in Fango #324, on sale now.

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Michael Gingold
Michael Gingold has been a member of the FANGORIA team for the past three decades. After starting as a writer for the magazine in 1988, he came aboard as associate editor in 1990 and two years later moved up to managing editor. He now serves as editor-in-chief of the magazine while continuing to contribute numerous articles and reviews, as well as a contributing editor/writer for this website.
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