The first 30 Days of Night film, starring Josh Hartnett in 2007, was enjoyable, especially with the uniqueness of the snow-covered Alaskan town of Barrow and the fact that the graphic novel (and film) wasn’t afraid to kill off anyone. Now, with the film being a success, a new 30 Days of Night film, Dark Days, got the green light, but with a completely different cast. Having read both of the graphic novels, I decided to jump at the chance to interview the cast and crew of the new film on Friday during Comic-Con to find out more. Join me after the break for a complete synopsis to get you up to speed, the new red-band trailer that debuted during Comic-Con, highlights of the interviews, and a full transcript.
For the interview, I was given access to the stars Kiele Sanchez (Stella Oleson), Diora Baird (Amber), and Rhys Coiro (Paul). Then I had a separate interview with Steve Niles (Creator of 30 Days of Night and co-writer), Ben Ketai (director, co-writer), and J.R. Young (co-producer of Dark Days). Hit the jump for more:
As promised, here are the highlights before we get started on everything else:
Were the actors fans of the movie or graphic novel beforehand?
- Kiele Sanchez read the graphic novels before the first film was even made, so she was excited when the role came about.
- Diora Baird and Kiele both really enjoyed the first film.
I ask what the Comic-Con experience has been like.
- This is Kiele’s first time here.
- Diora enjoys the Con, but says she is overwhelmed by it and would rather just watch from above. She also details a hilarious idea about fan interaction.
Asked why the series keeps drawing the writer and director back.
- Ben Ketai notes that there are great elements that are at work, and that vampires are just fun to film. He loves killing people (on camera).
- Steve Niles notes that there is just one kind of vampire out there and they offer the other side of that: monsters.
- Ben also notes that the characters in the graphic novels are rich and so easy to believe, so that is a big draw.
How they landed on Kiele as the main character, Stella
- J.R. Young notes that when Melissa George wasn’t able to come back, that Kiele really fit the mold of what they wanted.
- Young also says that Stella has changed between the last movie, and the graphic novel, and Kiele brought believability to that.
It’s been almost a year since the Alaskan town of Barrow’s population was decimated by vampires during its annual month-long sunset. Riddled with grief over the death of her husband, bound by nightmares and void of all emotions beyond hate and sorrow, Stella (Kiele Sanchez) has spent the past months traveling the world, trying to convince others that vampires exist. Met with skepticism and laughter, Stella is ready to throw in the towel when a group of lost souls (Rhys Coiro, Diora Baird and Harrold Perrineau) offers an incredible opportunity: the chance to exact revenge upon Lilith (Mia Kirshner), the vampire queen responsible for the assault on Stella’s sleepy Alaskan town. With nothing remaining to live for, and nothing left to fear, Stella joins their mission and ventures into the uncharted underbelly of Los Angeles where she pushes herself to the most extreme limits to stop the evil from striking again.
Kiele Sanchez, Diora Baird, and Rhys Coiro
Kiele Sanchez: What attracted me to it was the graphic novel; they were great. I got hip to them a little bit before the first movie came out. So, when this came around I was really excited to be a part of it.
Did everyone read the comic before hand? Was it reading material or just the script?
Diora Baird and Rhys Coiro: Both.
Baird: I mean, everyone had the comic on set.
Coiro: If given the choice between pictures and no pictures, I always opt for pictures. (Everyone laughs)
What did you think about the first film?
Sanchez: I loved the first film.
Baird: Yea, big fan.
Sanchez: I think it’s amazing.
The entire cast comes from a wide range of experiences; some from comedy, some from dramatic, and some from TV. How does that benefit you on set?
Baird: Hopefully it just means that we each have our fan base, so more people watch the movie.
Sanchez: For me it was a stretch, it was something that I haven’t done before. I haven’t played a character like Stella, on screen at least. That’s as far as I can speak for the casting experience. I have no idea what was going on in their minds when they decided to cast me. (Laughs)
What do you think of the Comic-Con experience so far?
Baird: Well (Kiele’s) getting her cherry popped right now.
Baird and Sanchez: Comic-Con style.
Baird: I’m a second time around. A little used up. (Laughs) Second time around is never a bad ride. A little more experience. I’ve got the moves. No, it’s fun. I get overwhelmed by it, honestly. I… I… I am unable to function and talk, which is why this interview is going so well. It’s just so many people and so many faces. I just want to be standing above and watching it.
Baird: Yea, I don’t like to be in it. Not at all. I’m packed with hand sanitizer; just strangers are coming up to me constantly, like…
Sanchez: She gets hounded.
Baird: They just want to touch… me. And I don’t know what to say. But okay and I know where that hand has been. (Everyone laughs) I do! I do know. And it’s weird because they don’t even want you to sign something, it’s just a handshake.
Coiro: Maybe you don’t?
Sanchez: (Laughs) Maybe a little surprise? (Laughs)
Baird: Maybe a little extra surprise there, for you. But, it’s fun. It’s fun to see everyone dress up.
Obviously the movie hasn’t been released yet, but the fans are rabid. So what has the fan reaction been so far?
Baird: I’m curious and excited to see how they react to the clip we show them today, the trailer, how they react. If they applaud, when they do, laugh, all that stuff.
Sanchez: Laugh? They’re going to laugh?
Baird: Oh, the horror fans laugh at shit like this. They laugh at like heads being cut off.
Sanchez: Oh, really? I don’t know, this is my…
Baird: Yea, they clap, they applaud, they cheer it on, and they love it. They’re crazy people. So, I hope they get a kick out of what we show them, so that way they can talk about it and create a buzz. You know, it’s hard. With a sequel, I’ve done that before, and you have a lot of pressure to live up to the first one and the original, which is the comic book. So, it’s a bit of pressure, especially for (Kiele) because she’s taking on the whole enchilada.
Sanchez: I don’t feel any pressure. (Laughs)
Steve Niles, Ben Ketai, and J.R. Young
Question: The graphic novel is dark and fun. Why does the series keep drawing you back?
Steve Niles: Why do I keep coming back? Vampires are really popular right now… but pretty much there is only one kind. They’re all friendly and they love you, and they want to be your friend. And we do the one version of vampires that are monsters. So, for a lot of people, just offering them another type of vampire seems to be the attraction. At least, the people I talk to, that’s what they want.
Ben Ketai: For me, it’s exactly what Steve just said. But it’s exactly what you said too, which is that the books are dark and fun. It’s like, vampires don’t really exist, but you know, we like to…
Niles: What? You haven’t been reading very closely, have you?
That’s what they want you to think.
Ketai: Exactly, but that’s the rub. There are just great genre elements to the 30 Days universe, but at the same time there’s also a serious and dramatic aspect to it. The characters that Steve originally created in the first graphic novel and that carried on through the entire series are so believable and likeable; that’s really where the strength of this is. It’s not just schlocky TV.
Niles: Well, that’s just good horror, in general. You have to like the people before you kill them.
Ketai: Exactly, and so there’s a seriousness to it, a darkness to it, and an edge to it that really draws me. But, at the same time, vampires are always going to be in some way fun. I mean, it’s fun to throw blood around, it’s fun to kill people. (Pause) Not in real life. (Everyone laughs)
Guillermo del Toro co-wrote a book called The Strain (Ketai: I read it). He indicated that it was a stab back at Twilight with these frilly vampires. Do you feel that there is a movement by vampire fans?
Niles: Oh, definitely. I mean, anything like that, there is always the opposite. People are always going to want the opposite of that, especially with Twilight, since it’s really geared towards kids. I mean, there are a lot of adults that want to have vampire stuff too.
Ketai: Twilight’s not a movie for vampire fans…
Niles: Well, it really isn’t. I mean the whole point of being a vampire… is being pushed a little bit.
Steve, how is it to co-write your own material into film?
Niles: It’s fun. Ben really helped a lot. He really took the reins and helped me a lot because obviously I want to preserve every… golden word I wrote. (Everyone laughs) So, some decisions have to be made. So… it’s ok. I’m not really married to my material, and I understand that there is a big difference between a comic and a movie, so I don’t have a hard time.
How has the reaction to the first film at Comic-Con compared to the reaction, so far, to the new film, despite no footage being shown?
Niles: Yea, we really haven’t had much of a chance but the little bit of reaction we have been getting has been really good.
Stella obviously plays a big part in the film and the story. How did you land on Kiele for that role?
Young: With Melissa George, when she wasn’t able to come back to the second, we were reading lots of different actresses and Kiele really shined. She really rose to the top and brought believability to the character. Also, Stella’s changed since we last saw her in the first movie, so, Kiele just had the right take on that and became the obvious choice.
After viewing the trailer, I am more optimistic than I would have been had I just saw the DVD or Blu-ray on the shelves of a retailer near me. Yes, this is a straight to home video release, but Trick ‘r Treat has convinced me that it isn’t just a place for bad films. I like that they are taking the Dark Days in a different direction than the graphic novel. If the film makes enough money, they will push for a third in the series, but all is dependent on the finished product and the reactions to it. Look for 30 Days of Night: Dark Days on DVD and Blu-ray on October 5, 2010.