Let the Right One In, based on the best-selling Swedish novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist, received so much critical acclaim that it became a surprise feature film success that drew enough attention to spawn an American remake. With Cloverfield director Matt Reeves at the helm, Let Me In transports the story to New Mexico, but still tells the story of a 12-year-old boy who is viciously bullied by his classmates and neglected by his divorcing parents. He has no friends until he meets his new neighbor, an eerie young girl, who only comes out at night and who is hiding a frightening secret.
Following their panel at Comic-Con, director Matt Reeves and actor Kodi Smit-McPhee, who stars as Owen, spoke at a roundtable about preparing for this version of the story. Check out what they had to say after the jump:
Question: When you were preparing to do your version of this film, were there any concerns with making this film your own?
Matt: It’s weird. It will be interesting to see what people think. I’m sure some people are going to say, “Oh, my god, they changed too much,” and some people are going to say, “Oh, they didn’t change enough.” What I tried to use as my guiding principal was the thing that I fell in love with, which is the coming of age story and really finding a way to, as much as possible, tell the story through that point of view. Filmically, what drove the shot choices and all of that was the idea of getting inside the point of view of these characters.
The original was done in this very beautiful, somewhat detached manner with these incredible masters that play out. It’s brilliant the way it’s shot, but I’m really drawn to point of view filmmaking. Cloverfield is an extreme version of that because it literally is the handi-cam’s point of view, but there is something about putting yourself into the shoes of someone in the middle of an experience that can create an emotional reaction. I really wanted the audience to react to these things, and I hope that they do. We’ll see.
Even though characters might be doing things that seem dark and seem like things that you, yourself, could never imagine doing, I want you to imagine yourself doing them, and imagine what it would feel like to be bullied mercilessly like this, or to be the father (Richard Jenkins) going out and getting food for Abby (Chloe Grace Moretz). It was a process of putting myself, as much as possible, in those situations in my mind.
Are you excited to show the author, John Ajvide Lindqvist, the film?
Matt: I’m very excited about that, yeah. He was very kind. He wrote me a few times and, after SxSW, he sent me another email that said, “Somebody sent me a recording of what you said at SxSW, and I continue to have faith.” I don’t know what he’ll think of the movie. I certainly hope he likes it. He’s been very cool. He’s not directly involved in the production of the film, but it’s his story and I hope that we’ll be able to deliver something that he appreciates. We’ll see. I’m sure he will let the world know.
Kodi, did you bring any of yourself to this character? Have you had any experiences that were as difficult as what this kid goes through?
Kodi: Yeah. I’ve been lonely sometimes and didn’t have a lot of people to talk to. I’ve been trapped in an apartment all day. I’m just trying to find some friends here that I can connect to. I’ve had a routine of just doing nothing all day. You think, “It’s Hollywood, it will be fun,” but there’s really not a lot to do. You just get bored and feel like you’re wasting away your time. That’s a lot of what Owen is feeling, and he does a lot of things to pass his time.
Matt, can you talk about the importance of casting for this and finding the right young actors for these two lead roles?
Matt: That was the whole thing. The importance was that we had to find Kodi and Chloe. The story is an adult story about being 12, and that means that it has to have a level of authenticity and emotional complexity that not most 12 or 13-year-old actors could pull off. I can’t say what a gift it’s been to have found Kodi and Chloe. They’re just amazing.
Was there a specific moment with the two of them together where you just knew you’d found the right actors?
Matt: The interesting thing is that I never got to read them together. I did read Kodi with someone else, and she was a really interesting actress, but something about the chemistry was not quite right and she wasn’t quite the right age. When Kodi came in, he did this scene that I thought would be very difficult to do, but what he did was so beautiful. I was like, “He’s not pretending. He’s not forcing.” He is pretending because he’s acting, but he’s doing it in such an authentic way. He was amazing. I had to have him in the movie.
And, the same thing happened with Chloe, but it didn’t ever have them together. I had this belief. I could have been wrong, but I had this instinct about them. Kodi was already back in Australia doing another film, but I thought that these two were the right ones together, even though I never saw them together. That was a leap of faith. And, we started working together and it turned out to be the case. It was really lucky.
With this film coming out in October, what would be a good costume for Let Me In fans to wear?
Kodi: Somebody could dress up as a Rubik’s cube.
Matt: In the movie, the way Chloe looks is very scary. There’s obviously the bloody kisses in the movie, so I supposed somebody could have a tremendous amount of blood on their mouth and face. Abby also has some clothes that she borrows from Owen’s mother, which she doesn’t have any intention of giving back.