*Editor’s note: For a good ‘welcome to the team’ kind of trial by fire, I sent our newest contributor, Graham, to sit down and interview director/actor Eli Roth regarding his upcoming film AFTERSHOCK, which he stars in and co-wrote with the film’s director Nicolas Lopez. Roth was nice enough to talk about his experience on the film, along with HOSTEL, and his upcoming return to the director’s chair, THE GREEN INFERNO. Read on!
How does it feel for you to go from dreaming of wanting to be a filmmaker your whole life and then eventually growing up to not only be that and succeed at it, but to also now be known as an actor in the process?
Well, it’s great. I feel like I’m getting to live my dream and there’s really no better feeling in the world. I think one of the keys to that is that I’ve taken chances and I’ve never played it safe on anything I’ve done, and a lot of times there was an easier route or something that was a safe and comfortable choice, whether it was a job right out of college or even growing up and being a doctor or a lawyer and saying no I really want to make horror movies, and I want to make this movie or fuck it why not? Like “I’m going to go to china to do a Kung Fu movie” or “Yeah, here’s this opportunity to act in this film and I’m going to go to the fucking gym everyday and throw myself into this character”. It’s been a wonderful, crazy ride, you know? Every time I do something I try to put myself out there and do something that’s fun and innovative and different and. I spent a long time learning and I worked on sets for ten years before I made my first movie so I really understood where money got wasted. It’s not that I wanted to make low budget movies, it’s that my ideas were so out there, I couldn’t get anyone to give me money for them and it’s so satisfying now to not only find an audience, but to have that audience grow and to see that years later people are still arguing about the HOSTEL movies and they’re still showing on IFC. People are going back from INGLORIOUS BASTERDS and rediscovering CABIN FEVER and going “What the fuck was that pancake scene?!” (laughs) All of this stuff, people going “ Oh yeah we get stoned to your movies all the time!” or people like “No I’m not going to watch HOSTEL, it’s a piece of shit”. I still get people going “Yeah man, SAW was awesome!” (laughs)
No it’s hilarious! Its funny, I think it’s all funny. But I feel very lucky and what’s great now is I feel like it’s all come together in a way where the audience has grown so strong and so united on Twitter and on the internet that you really…I mean HEMLOCK GROVE shows that, here is a show where I was like “I just know the fans that love TWILIGHT, well, we’ve got something that’s different and unique and weird enough” I was like “I know how to make this show really fucked up and sick so it will satisfy the horror fans and different and weird enough that it will satisfy the TWILIGHT fans who are going to want something harder.”..and you know, it’s breaking records on Netflix. It doesn’t matter, like the critics (laughs) as they always do, were just like “what the fuck?! This is no HOUSE OF CARDS”, but we were never trying to do that. HOUSE OF CARDS is like a masterpiece! You don’t want to be compared to David Fincher! (laughs)
It’s totally different, it’s a different type of show for a different audience and people are watching. Netflix couldn’t believe the amount of views and the stock price souring: People. Love. Horror! They love gore, they love scary stuff and I’ve always wanted to do something different and I am such a fan of Nicolas Lopez. I would so encourage you to go on Netflix and watch his first movie (2004’s PROMEDIO ROJO) which he made when he was 19 years old. I saw it at the L.A Film Festival, they called it the Latin AMERICAN PIE, It’s so funny! I met Nico and found out that at 14 he was already writing for the major newspaper in Santiago for the weekly column and getting his teachers in trouble because he was reporting what was going on, it’s like writing for the L.A times, it wasn’t even a school paper it was just THE PAPER. Then at 15 or 16 he dropped out of school because he had his own show on MTV that he produced, directed and starred in called “Piloto MTV”. There are clips of it on YouTube where you can watch fat Nicolas Lopez with hair where it’s like so absurd and silly and it’s so offensive, it aired after Jackass it was like a huge hit and then he did his first movie at 19, then at 23 he made this movie called SANTOS that was a huge flop so everyone in his country was waiting for him to fail and they were like “Ahhh you suck!” but then he took a Cannon 7D and he just wrote this fucking great movie FUCK MY LIFE, and he shot it in 11 days, blew it up to 35mm and it beat THE SOCIAL NETWORK, which was on triple the amount of screens. It out grossed that movie! It made millions in Chile.
Yeah! He was like “Dude, there is a new way of making movies, fuck film, fuck shooting on The Alexa, get a Cannon…
Just go out and do it.
Just go out and shoot it, yeah! So we went down there, I got on a plane to Chile and he’s like “You don’t need RED cameras or all of these crew members, we walk into locations and just go!”, so I said yeah! Let’s shoot a movie down here with our own crew, our cameras, our stars and do what Pedro Almodóvar did back in the day and let’s use our own stars! Let’s use Ariel Levy, Nicolas Martines as Pollo, Lorenza Izzo, who I then put as Brooke Bluebell in HEMLOCK GROVE. I was blown away by her because I was like, “Wait, you’re not American?” and she said “No I’m Chilean”. She speaks like an American because she lived here and she studied in New York, but she is Chilean, so we cast her as that and I cast her as Brooke Bluebell. She’s the lead in THE GREEN INFERNO, my new film along with Ariel Levy, Nicholas Martinez. Everyone else was like “Fuck we gotta learn English!” (laughs)
How is being in Chile different from America for you when it came time to develop AFTERSHOCK?
It was an incredible talent pool down there. Chile is very much like Santa Barbra or Los Angeles. It’s got the W Hotel’s and Starbucks but it’s also got that rough side with Valparaiso where there is all graffiti everywhere. When we were talking about what to do, we were like “Should we do something ALIEN, should we do something like [REC], like you know, infected? Then he told me what happened the night of the earthquake. He was like “People were in the clubs, including a friend of Lorenza’s. It was the last weekend of Summer, everyone was drunk and partying, then the whole thing shakes and a guy who was a good friend of hers got his hands cut off and everyone was like “We gotta get out! The ceiling is going to collapse!” and this dude is like “My hands! I need my hands!” and you had to grab the hands and his hands got lost!
Yeah! Then Nico told me a girl friend of his was on a first date with a guy and they went to overlook the city and the earthquake hits and they were making out when out of nowhere a fucking bolder hits the guy and he’s paralyzed.
Oh my god…
Yeah the guy was like “I’m paralyzed”, so the girl had to put him in the back seat and drive the car down the street but she didn’t know how to drive stick so there are all these stories we could put in the movie, but then the prisons really broke open and all the gangsters were out and looting and Nico said that the iPhone batteries died and nobody knew how to get home because they are all used to their G.P.S’s on their Iphones!
(laughs) that’s like a writers dream to be like “So how do we make it that the phones don’t work and still have it make sense?”
Yeah it was all real! Even the place where the priests and the nuns would meet and have babies in the underground tunnels were all real! So we used a lot of the real locations from the quake. When we were shooting, there were a lot of locations that were still destroyed and had broken tombs split open and I remember being pinned down in one scene and there were bones on the floor. While I was looking around, I said “Dude, art department did an amazing job!” and one of our Chilean crew is like “HAHAHA Gringo! Art department!” (laughs) I was like “What do you mean?” and he goes “Dude, we just opened it, this place is still fucked up from the earthquake, they just let us shoot here.” I was like “OH MY GOD!” It was crazy.
Any other funny moments you can recall?
There was one guy we had in the full burned from head to toe makeup and it was like a 6 hour appliance, and because he had a covered mouth he was breathing through a straw. We were shooting in the cemetery and this guy is just wandering around at like 3:30 in the morning so it was literally like a zombie, the poor guy. So I said “When are you gonna get a shot of that guy? When are you gonna get a sho of the full burn?” Afterwards they told me that they forgot about him (laughs) and at the end of the night they were like “Oh! The burn guy!” because he couldn’t talk, so then they finally got the shot of him and when they took off the makeup he was like “This a violation of my human rights!”, he was screaming and going crazy but the crew couldn’t help but laugh cause you know its Chilewood and the have a different set of rules down there.
Chilewood? I love it (laughs)
Well we talked about old ’70s movies and really wanted to destroy stuff. As much as we love the big special effects extravaganza, you feel like you’re watching someone else play a video game. No matter how cool the scene is you feel like “Okay, you’re driving and the buildings are crashing”, but its CG.
Yeah, I completely agree.
Well we wanted to make it as dirty and gritty as we could by using as little CG as possible. There is like 1% CG. So when we did the club sequence for example, we had huge pieces of ceiling falling and again I saw these 19 year old girls in mini skirts and heels running and screaming and they rehearsed it but I was like, “Wow dude, there are a lot of stunt girls in Chile”, and the same crew guy was like “Gringo these are no stunt girls!”, so I asked if they were just extras and he said “No, these are just college girls that wanted to be in the movie.” So we had like five cameras going and thankfully nobody got hurt but yeah that was Chilewood.
Wow that’s crazy man. Well, Eli, thank you for your time and good luck with the film.
AFTERSHOCK hits theaters May 10th via Radius/TWC.