Last year, I went to the set of Goosebumps with some other journalists, and while I was there we spoke to actors Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush, and Ryan Lee. For those who are unfamiliar with the adaptation of R.L. Stine’s series of young adult horror books, Jack Black plays Stine in the film, and the author’s creations unexpectedly come to life thanks to a teen neighbor (Minnette). Subsequently, Stine must team up with his neighbor and daughter (Rush) before the numerous and varied monsters destroy their small town.
During a break in filming, we got to speak with Minnette, Rush, and Lee. We talked about the film’s horror aspects, their favorite creatures, their familiarity with Goosebumps before they signed on, working with Jack Black, the stunts, and much more. Check out the full interview below.
Goosebumps opens October 16th.
ODEYA RUSH: This one, there’s a lot of comedy in this one. From Jack Black and Ryan here, and Dylan. This one I think, since it’s based off of the book, which you can see are more meant for a younger generation than the ones that I did.
You guys are a little below the Goosebumps phenomena threshold. Did any of you guys read the books before you signed up for the movie?
DYLAN MINNETTE: I grew up with Goosebumps, I read a very good amount of the books growing up as a kid and also getting them at the book fair at my school. I watched the show too, like marathons on Saturday nights.
What was your favorite?
MINNETTE: Say Cheese and Die.
Ryan and Dylan, you guys both were in The Haunting Hour, how has this been different?
MINNETTE: Well the fact that’s a four day shoot and this probably has a lot more money spent.
RYAN LEE: Haunting Hour is like a weekly thing.
MINNETTE: It’s kind of nostalgic in a way because it’s a lot like Goosebumps and it is the current generation’s Goosebumps.
LEE: Just on a much higher scale.
I guess I mean more like tone, like how has been working on that been different from working on this with what the story is trying to accomplish?
MINNETTE: Let’s just say that that is a story from RL Stine in a sense and this is based entirely out of the Goosebumps series as a whole. That’s what’s kind of unique about this, it’s not just one of the Goosebumps stories or a story from RL Stine, this is based on RL Stine and his books. So it’s just entirely different in that sense.
Are you guys happy to have a mix of computer generated but also a lot of practical effects make up to work off of?
LEE: Yeah, it’s a lot easier to act with something that’s actually there. I did Super 8 and it was a tennis ball the whole entire time so it wasn’t as easy. We have a great make-up department and they’re doing an amazing job.
Which creature has been your favorite?
LEE: Real or fake?
MINNETTE: If we’re going real, the clown is genuinely scary, and Slappy has always been scary growing up.
RUSH: The Bog Monster.
LEE: He’s sort of like a walking tree basically.
RUSH: I’m amazed every time I see it, I don’t really ever get used to it.
LEE: There’s like Scarecrows that are 12 feet tall. There’s so much.
The movie is basically just one huge chase scene that takes place over the course of one night. Do you guys get to do a lot of your own stuntwork?
MINNETTE: We do some stunts here and there, we don’t do the life threatening things.
What about a stunt you did do?
RUSH: We did run a lot on the ice rink. I had something where I was lying down, I had to run, fall, then I was dragged on the ice, like something was dragging me.
LEE: There’s not too many dangerous, dangerous stunts, I’m trying ot think what we haven’t done that our doubles have done.
RUSH: Maybe being thrown out the window?
LEE: There’s a scene where I get tackled, Dylan tackles me out of the way and the stunt came in to do that.
Ryan, can you tell us about your outfit? It’s a little unexpected.
LEE: Yeah, I’m just sort of that weird kid who wears a three piece suit to a dance and that’s how I end up in this. It’s been fun filming in the summer with a three piece suit.
Does it remain intact?
LEE: It gets a little dirtier as we progress through the movie, it starts out perfect.
No Captain Kirk moment where your whole shirt is gone?
LEE: No, no. Next movie.
Can you guys just give us an overview of your characters and their arcs so we have that on record.
LEE: Champ, how do you describe Champ. He befriends Zach as soon as he moves into town. He’s really pretty much just a weird kid, he’s a loner. He’s someone that wants to have friends but doens’t have a lot of them. He finds Zach and they become buddies. It’s fun.
MINNETTE: It’s hard playing buddies with Ryan.
LEE: I know, how do we do it?
MINNETTE: We hate each other so much.
RUSH: My character is Hannah, and I play Mr. Shivers daughter, that’s Jack Black’s character because this is his new identity. Mr Shivers is really RL Stine. He goes through many identities so a lot of my life we’ve been moving from different places and taking on new personas. So when we move to Madison, there’s a new neighbor which is Dylan’s character Zach, and we meet, and I’m home schooled, I don’t have many friends, I’m kind of secluded, and my dad doesn’t let me go out much or meet people. So I’m so excited to meet Zach and after the monsters are loose, all three of us and Stine go on this adventure to save them and get them back into the books.
MINNETTE: I play Zach Cooper, who just moved to Madison, Delaware from New York City, and he’s never been a part of a small town before so when he comes to this town it’s an entirely different vibe and he really doesn’t want to be there at all. It’s because his father had passed away so he moved away with his Mom. So when he moves, he moves next door to Hannah and Mr. Shivers. Him and Hannah have a connection but then her father is realy weird, and one night he hears a scream and decides to go try and save Hannah and lures Stine out of the house with Champ, whom he met at school. Then in the midst they find this collection of Goosebumps books, and they accidentally open it up and one of the creatures breaks loose and then they all have to go and get the monsters back in the books. So yeah, that’s the story of Zach before that, and after that it’s just a race to the finish line.
What do you think kids will like about this movie?
MINNETTE: I think that kids will really enjoy to see the monsters first off all, all the creatures that they get to look at, and the humor, and just the adventure, it’s a great adventure. It’s really going to be a thrill ride for kids.
LEE: It’s also cool because it’s not too scary, I think it’s just scary enough where it’s a fun experience to watch this movie I think.
MINNETTE: I think kids will have to dare themselves to go see this in a way. They’ll want to, but no matter what they say there’s going to be some little hint of fear on the inside. So I think when they see how fun it is they can let loose and enjoy watching it.
I just wanted to ask you Odeya, you just came off of a huge movie, a book to movie, movie. So coming onto this project that has established fans as well, what was that like for you? How different was it as far as the input of the books, the input of the books?
RUSH: This is not as much of an adaptation, because we are taking a bunch of different stories of the Goosebumps stories and including them into one. Whereas The Giver was a straight adaptation, and I think I’m just really lucky to have a fan base already, and people who love and support the books so much. It just makes coming to work and doing this so much more fun knowing that there’s already a prior love to it.
Have you gotten tweets or concern from people who are die hard fans of the book?
RUSH: Not for this one, everyone just seems really excited. It seems like there’s really positive reactions online.
Since you’re playing Stine’s daughter and you guys move a lot, do they go into any about where your mom is or why she isn’t in the picture?
RUSH: He does mention it, but it ends up being a lie, so my character just believes that she’s not alive.
So is your character aware that the monsters are trapped in the books?
RUSH: Yes. I live with him, I know what’s up.
Can you just talk about acting with Jack Black?
LEE: He’s Jack Black, he’s the coolest dude in the world. He’s such a nice guy. We got in his trailer a bunch and watch movies and shows and basketball games. He’s just a regular dude.
What was your first exposure to Jack Black?
RUSH: Do you mean film wise?
Being aware of him I guess.
All three: School of Rock.
MINNETTE: I figured any kid watching School of Rock would be a fan of Jack Black.
LEE: Nacho Libre.
RUSH: And hosting the kids choice awards when you’re younger and watching him. And The Holiday when you get a little older.
You guys have a ton of night shoots so I assume your sleep schedule gets thrown off, weird things happen when you’re tired. So was there a moment on set or a scene you couldn’t get through because you were delirious or out of it because of lack of sleep?
LEE: I don’t think so. The way they schedule it all allows time for us to sleep.
RUSH: Doesn’t mean we always day.
MINNETTE: I think legally they have to let us sleep.
On the flipside then, was there any moment on set that was juts a super funny moment or a scene that someone couldn’t stop laughing?
MINNETTE: There’s been a lot of funny moments.
LEE: Pretty much every scene.
RUSH: Ryan just says the funniest things right before every take.
MINNETTE: The other night we were walking through a cemetery and every single time Odeya and I would look over at each other I would just start laughing. Every time, I have no idea why.
RUSH: We just know each other too well that when we start to get into character and they’re trying to talk to me like they’re in character I just want to tell them to stop.
LEE: Any time that we’re not meaning to look at each other but we lock eyes we always laugh.
MINNETTE: One night, there was a scene we were doing were Jack was throwing an object at the wall right next to us, and for some reason every single time it hit the wall I started laughing. I think it was the sound but that was another thing that I took too much time because I was laughing.
So we’ve gotten to see a lot of the concept art and some of the monsters in full array, there’s a lot of allusions to old horror monsters, has any of that been influential on you guys or affected you at all when making the movie?
LEE: You’re saying just how they make up the monsters?
One of the draculas looks like Nosferatu, the clown kind of looks like [Pennywise from It]. It seems like there’s nods to a lot of big pop culture moments, does that have any effect on you guys?
LEE: I haven’t noticed any of that personally.
MINNETTE: It’s cool because I’m a big fan.
LEE: Like It, I’ve heard of all of them but I haven’t seen them. I need to do my research.
So you got to tell us your favorite Goosebumps book, Dylan, did you guys read any of them growing up or have a favorite or watch the show on Nick?
LEE: They were all around when I was a kid, I was never a huge reader as a child, sorry to say. But once I figured out I got the part I started reading Say Cheese and Die and I loved it. I think it’s so fun. I think it’s cool how at the end of every chapter there’s something that makes you want to keep reading.
RUSH: I have six brothers, my four younger ones grew up in America and my older ones grew up in Israel and all six of them read the books and were huge fans. For some reason I kind of missed that, I didn’t get into it. But yea, Say Cheese and Die I think that’s one of the best ones.
Did your brothers freak out when you got the part?
RUSH: My brothers definitely freaked out.
Are they hounding you for information?
RUSH: A little bit, yeah. They’re really excited. They’re older now. Like when The Giver happened they were reading it in school and they had questions on their quizzes that were like “What color is Fionna’s hair?” so they were so excited about that. I think if they were younger this would have been a huge deal.
If Say Cheese and Die is everyone’s favorite, did you guys make sure it got into the movie?
MINNETTE: I’m pretty sure there’s a nod. Pretty sure there’s a nod. It’s kind of hard to replicate that, because Say Cheese and Die, what was unique about that Goosebumps book as that it wasn’t based on a creature of a monster, it’s just a mysterious camera and bad things started to happen so you can’t really incorporate that into how we’re doing this movie, but there’s a nod. There’s a good little nod.
Are you saying that Ryan Gosling cameos?
RUSH: Bring him out!
We were talking to one of the producers before and she said that how the vibe of the set changed when RL Stine came, and we saw pictures of him on the set. How was that for you as actors? How can you impress the creator?
LEE: Yeah, he said it was 22 years of this movie trying to be made and now that it’s finally being made, once he was on the set watching us it was, I don’t know, it’s not pressure but you want him to like it. I think he will.
MINNETTE: It was interesting to see him and Jack talking to each other, because we’ve been acting for months with Jack who is playing this version of RL Stine and then seeing RL Stine in person is just kind of made me realize what we’re actually doing here and the character Jack is playing is a real person, which I knew, but obviously. It was just really cool because he was a big part of my childhood. I always grew up thinking RL Stine was the coolest person for writing these books, and meeting him was really a special moment. My childhood kind of came full circle there.
Can you tell us more about the fan moment of getting to meet RL Stine, what it was like to actually meet him.
MINNETTE: It was cool just to see what he’s really like. He always scared me as a kid reading these books, so meeting him and seeing what a nice down-to-earth man he is made me feel good about everything.
LEE: He loves comedy.
RUSH: He’s funny, he has a very dry sense of humor.
You guys have shot most of the movie at this point. Is there a set piece in particular that you guys think will stand out?
RUSH: I think the Ferris Wheel.
Can you tell us about that?
RUSH: We did it against a green screen, there’s two scenes with a Ferris wheel but the one that I really like, it’s a shift, a lot of this movie is action and chasing after monsters and it’s scary. In this scene it’s a nice peaceful conversation between Hannah and Zach, and I just really enjoyed filming the scene and I think people will enjoy seeing it.
MINNETTE: There’s a huge set outside that we haven’t even gotten to film in yet that we’re doing at the end which I think has potential to be the most memorable, biggest set piece of the whole movie that we just haven’t seen yet. It’s a big abandoned amusement park, haven’t seen it yet, so tell us how it is. Other than that…
LEE: Everything is so beautiful, there’s one street that we destroyed.
MINNETTE: I’d say the supermarket too, It’s cool to have a big scary sequence in a bright super market.
What happens in the supermarket?
MINNETTE: We just got out of a scary situation, we’re going in to take cover and it turns out that the Werewolf of Fever Swamp is in there and we have to hide and get away from him.
RUSH: It was fun, we got to sit in a freezer.
MINNETTE: I’ll just say this, I got to push Jack Black in a shopping cart and run.
We got to meet Slappy and interact with him a bit, can you tell us what it’s like actually interacting with him?
LEE: The guy who operates Slappy, Avery, really makes it realistic.
MINNETTE: We haven’t actually been on camera with Slappy.
RUSH: We’re about to film a scene with him!
MINNETTE: We actually were here for the whole process of the puppet getting made and seeing what face Slappy had to have so we saw all the variations of Slappy but we haven’t actually acted with him.
So basically we met Slappy before you have.
MINNETTE: Probably, probably.
Did any of you have a monster that you were phobic of and you were like ‘Okay I’ve got to act against this clown even though I’d like to go screaming in the other direction?’
RUSH: I think when we were in the cemetery, the ghouls that came out of the ground, they were so realistic and I didn’t even know they were going to walk like that. I think they’re from Milwaukee. They’re amazing. Those scared me. There’s a giant guy with a sphere, what is he? The executioner! Him running after you, you just think what he could do to you that’s really terrifying.
LEE: He does this horrible scream. We were running away from him and he let out this horrible, I don’t know how to explain it.
[Minnette demonstrates the scream]
LEE: We were running away and it just kind of made you go ‘What was that?’ He’s really scary.
MINNETTE: There’s a big school dance that goes on, a fall dance, and it felt like we were filming an entirely different movie for two nights. It just felt like we were doing a scene out of Project X, Neighbors, 21 Jump Street.
LEE: There were like 600 kids and we were walking through them while they’re dancing.
MINNETTE: It was like a competition for who had the most energy so everyone was just bouncing.
LEE: There were people on top of each other’s shoulders.
RUSH: There was a girl twerking in the air.
MINNETTE: I think Rob was like “Okay, no more twerking in the air. This is a PG movie.”
LEE: Our rating is going to go up to PG-13 just because of that one scene.
(Publicist explains they had a promo photographer taking photos on set that day)
Did you guys get prom photos?
RUSH: We did, our photo is them having a classic promo picture and me by myself like this because I’m the third wheel in this relationship.
You should have gotten one with Slappy.
RUSH: I know, he wasn’t available.
So what do you think about this movie possibly becoming a franchise?
MINNETTE: You know, I don’t know.
RUSH: Depends on where the first one goes I think.
MINNETTE: I think it depends on what story, what route they want to take on a second movie. They could come up with something entirely new.
RUSH: If they want us.
LEE: Like Dylan said, they could go with totally new, different characters. They could focus on one book instead.
MINNETTE: I think it really depends on how the response is for this movie, if fans want to see something different and a different route taken in the story in a second movie. It really depends on that. I’d like to be back but I guess we’ll see.
Is there any personal connection you guys have to Goosebumps from growing up?
LEE: I’m trying to think. Like I said, I saw them growing up everywhere. All my friends were reading them and I saw them at the book fair. So I knew it was something really big and I feel like that’s exciting that I knew they were really popular books so to be a part of a movie that has so many hardcore fans, that’s going to be fun.
RUSH: I think for me it was my brothers, my six brothers, they all love them so much. I was hearing about them at homes.
Are there any other books to movies you were excited about?
RUSH: The Fault in Our Stars.
I guess the last question is, and The Fault in Our Stars is a good lead in to this, so much young adult and fiction is aimed at girls. Do you guys kind of hope that this gives more young guys some stuff to look forward to? Like maybe get dudes in the young adult section. Is it less of a love triangle and more action?
RUSH: This is for both. There is a little bit of a love story but it’s not the main basis for the film. It’s not like my mission is to find love or his mission is to find love, the mission is to get the monsters back into the book. There is a little bit of love for girls, there’s a lot of action for guys, so I think this one is for both.
MINNETTE: The romance is kind of like a subplot in this, I think the romance is also something that helps drive the motivation for Zach because the whole thing, the whole reason the books come out is because he’s going to try and save Hannah, and in the midst of that a book opens and lets free one of the Goosebumps monsters. So it kind of also is just what drives the motivation on protecting Hannah, and just being with each other and making sure that she’s safe. It’s a core subject of it, but it’s not, people aren’t going to be like (gag noise).
For more from my Goosebumps set visit, click on the links below:
- GOOSEBUMPS Set Visit: Jack Black vs. an Evil Dummy
- Jack Black Talks Playing R.L. Stine, Slappy, and More on the Set of GOOSEBUMPS
- GOOSEBUMPS Producer Neal Moritz Talks PG Horror, Franchise Potential, and More
- Director Rob Letterman Talks Balancing Humor with Scares and More on the Set of GOOSEBUMPS