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The Cutting Room: Anton Yelchin talks “BURYING THE EX”

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Welcome to THE CUTTING ROOM, a new weekly column on FANGORIA.com that highlights the stories that most share DNA of our print counterpart. Rather than just feature the features, articles and interviews that didn’t make the cut, this column is dedicated to providing a greater lifeline between FANGORIA Magazine and FANGORIA.com.

When it comes to working with a revered genre director like Joe Dante, this writer is sure there are many actors out there who would kill to work with the man. But under Dante’s direction, killing is the last thing on the mind of Anton Yelchin, who plays the mild-mannered and slightly tragic Max in Dante’s most recent fright flick, BURYING THE EX. And when faced with an overbearing, recently undead ex-girlfriend, that’s a bit of a problem. Luckily, Yelchin did find the courage to talk to FANGORIA about working with the esteemed master of horror, as well as his growing filmography of independent fright flicks…

FANGORIA: What initially drew you to something like BURYING THE EX?

ANTON YELCHIN: I think, more than anything, it would be getting to work with Joe [Dante]. He’s a filmmaker that I admire who has made films that I admire, and when I read the script, it felt like a real Joe Dante film. His films almost feel like they’re in their own genre, so that’s really what drew me into BURYING THE EX.

FANGORIA: As of late, you’ve appeared in ODD THOMAS, ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE and the soon-to-be-released GREEN ROOM. What do you find appealing about independent genre films?

YELCHIN: Well, like BURYING THE EX is to Joe Dante, it’s hard to call ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE anything but a Jim Jarmusch film. Even though it uses vampires as a plot device, it’s a Jarmusch film, and the situation was similar to BURYING THE EX because I really wanted to work with Jim Jarmusch. I don’t really make choices based on independent or studio projects; I rather choose a project based on what interests me about the project itself and where I am in my life. I’ve worked on genre films that weren’t independent, so I’m not biased towards one way or another.

FANGORIA: As an actor who was familiar with his work, what was the most rewarding part of working with Joe Dante as a director?

YELCHIN: For me, it was rewarding to really learn from him. He’s an encylopedic source of knowledge when it comes to cinema, and I felt very fortunate to experience that as well as be around someone who could teach me so much about this incredibly diverse and rich industry that we’re contributing to, in one way or another. That’s what I really loved most about the process, and I’m fortunate that I can consider Joe to be a friend of mine.

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FANGORIA: Was it refreshing to get to work on a genre project with a firm sense of humor, especially consider Joe Dante’s humor can be so biting?

YELCHIN: Yeah, it was really fun to be a part of this world since Joe’s films usually have a really fun, campy quality to them. Joe really has a way of playing with realism and stretching the humor of a moment, and Joe’s jokes can be incredibly referential. Even in our performances, Joe will incoporate a referential element as well and that was a lot of fun.

FANGORIA: What was the highlight of filming BURYING THE EX? Was there any moment or set piece that you particularly enjoyed?

YELCHIN: I loved shooting in the shop, since that had a lot of things I found fascinating in there. But, for me, the highlight was seeing Ashley [Greene]’s make-up develop and evolve as she becomes more and more decrepit. I thought they did a wonderful job of maintaining her as a traditional, sexualized genre woman while, at the same time, zombifying her, and I really loved watching her work. The make-up was all practical, and since practical make-up and FX are going away to a certain extent, being around Ashley in zombie mode was really refreshing.

FANGORIA: Working with an old-school director like Joe Dante, was there anything you picked up on that you might not have if you were working with a newer, younger director?

YELCHIN: One of the wonderful things about working with Joe is that he shoots the coverage that he’s going to cut to, and that taught me a lot about practical filmmaking and the Roger Corman school of doing things, like, “Don’t shoot it if you’re not going to use it.” So Joe was editing the film in his mind and shooting only the coverage he needs, and that’s a very valuable lesson in terms of knowing your film. In a way, that’s also a great way of taking control of your film; in fact, I think it was John Ford who never shot any extra coverage so that the studio couldn’t cut to anything else. It’s a great way for a filmmaker to protect themselves.

FANGORIA: Do you have anything else going on at the moment?

YELCHIN: Yeah, I actually finished a couple films over the summer. I recently did a film called THE GREENS ARE GONE, which is probably going to hit the festival circuit at some point when it’s done, and I just got back from Cannes with Jeremy Saulnier’s GREEN ROOM. I also finished a film back in January with a filmmaker named [Gabe Klinger] that Jim Jarmusch was executive producing called PORTO, MON AMOUR, and then there’s EXPERIMENTER which I shot in Portgual and am excited about. And then I’m shooting the new STAR TREK film relatively soon, and that’s what I’ve got next.

Joe Dante’s BURYING THE EX, starring Anton Yelchin, Ashley Greene and Alexandra Daddario,  is now on Blu-ray and DVD from Image Entertainment.

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About the author
Ken W. Hanley
Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel "THE I IN EVIL", and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
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