Opening this weekend is The Collection. The film is a sequel to 2009’s The Collector and centers on returning survivor Arkin (Josh Stewart), who is coerced into helping a team of mercenaries rescue a young woman, Elena (Emma Fitzpatrick), after she is captured by The Collector. The first movie was a lean, ruthless horror-thriller; this time around the characters are thrust into a brutal action-horror with a broader scale, bigger guns, and buckets of blood.
At the L.A. press day I sat down with co-stars Josh Stewart and Emma Fitzpatrick. We talked about the most difficult scenes to shoot, the satisfaction of surviving a horror film shoot, the grander scale of the second film, being afraid to watch their own movie, what makes Elena a standout horror heroine, what drew them to the project, and their memories of working with David Fincher. Check out the full transcript after the jump.
Emma Fitzpatrick: Awesome, great.
Josh Stewart: Thank you.
It looked like it was a pretty physically demanding movie to be a part of, were there any scenes in particular that really worked you over?
Fitzpatrick: I mean Josh took a pretty big beating, I think mine was more emotionally exhausting. But yeah, he gets beat up a lot in fight scenes.
Stewart: Yeah, you don’t sign on to do those movies and think it’s going to be a cake walk, you know what I mean? It all sucks. I mean, we were just talking about how everyday gets progressively worse because it never fails that you got punched the day before. You bobbed when you were supposed to weave so you took one to the chops. So it’s just like progressively every day the more tired you get, the more bumps and bangs you get, it just doesn’t stop until you’re done, you know? I mean you saw the film, it doesn’t let up, the action and physicality doesn’t let up the entire time so there’s no escaping. Every day there’s another one.
Josh, since you were in the first one as well as this film, can you talk a little bit about the difference between the two shoots?
Stewart: Well the first one basically was just me and the collector, for seventy plus pages. There were people that would come in and out briefly, you know, the family. But it was basically me and him for seventy-five pages not speaking, sneaking through a house and trying to catch the other one. So it was a whole lot of bits and pieces of just like, for the first one, start here at the end of the hallway and sneak to the end of that hallway, and duck inside a door and jump out this door. The fight stuff was very contained in that movie, very specific scenes, whereas this one was just basically full boar from moment one, and the scope of this one is so much bigger with the budget. It’s like the first one on steroids in every way, the traps, the killing, the whole thing.
Emma, you came in as a new character, and I got to say I was pretty much instantly a fan of Elena and how you played her; what was your approach to playing that character? Because I mean realistically if we were in that situation we would probably all loose our shit a little bit.
Fitzpatrick: Yeah, well luckily it’s written that I don’t lose my shit. But, likewise, I think the cool thing about her is she’s the audience’s chance to see what it would be like to be a totally normal human being in this situation. She doesn’t necessarily have any special skill; she’s a teenage for all we know. So I think she was written very well. She was written very crafty and sort of clever and tenacious, but I think more than that this incredible will to live. She did it because she had to. And I think the approach to it was just to make every one of those scenes very real to myself. So I wasn’t trying to really pull that much else in I was just going how would it feel to be in this situation, or in this box, or having just gotten out of this box, or in this tunnel, or whatever. These are all really real visceral things that we all fear. Terror, I mean, that’s the same for everybody. So that was the through line for everything was just take that terror and feed it into action, and get the hell out of here.
Stewart: Well, I think she was smart too that she played it very proactive. I think it’s an easy trap to fall into with those characters with playing them reactive, but she didn’t fall into that trap.
Fitzpatrick: I think she’s written that way though.
Stewart: Well it is written that way, but at the same time it’s what you made of it and what you did with it. Because you still could have been the whiny girl. And with those characters you just want to [makes slapping motion] “You’re slowing me down.”
Fitzpatrick: I think that’s why we love her though, because there is a team of people coming to save her because her dad has connections and enough money to do that, but she doesn’t know. The whole time she’s unaware.
And she’s not waiting to be saved.
Stewart: That’s right, yeah.
So, I ask you guys about the hard scenes, which were apparently all of them-
-were there any that were fun to film?
Fitzpatrick: Oh, fun, hmmm…it’s weird that it’s all fun because it’s really difficult and terrible, that’s the same reason that it’s gratifying, I think-
Fitzpatrick: You woke up the next day and showed up for work again. So that’s sort of a really sadistic sort of fun. But as an actor I think it’s gratifying because you have given that much to it.
You lived to tell the tale.
Stewart: Yeah, it’s just rewarding that you lived through another one and everything is still attached.
So did you guys make it through without injury?
Stewart: No, I definitely dislocated my shoulder and blew my thumb out. But again it’s that thing of when you say you’re going to go do a movie like this- I read it, you know what I mean? So I saw what was in the script, I knew what was coming. You have to know it’s coming.
Are you guys a fan of the horror genre?
Stewart: I don’t watch- yeah, no. No. [Laughs] I’m not a fan.
Fitzpatrick: Yeah, I don’t either. I had to force myself to watch the first one, and I think I watched it through my fingers. No offense, Josh.
Stewart: Look, I read the script I don’t know how many times, I filmed the damn thing, and I still look away at eighty percent of the things that happen.
Fitzpatrick: Yeah, even knowing what’s coming.
Stewart: I mean the fifth time seeing various versions of the movie, I’m still like, [covers face] “Oh, come on. Come on.”
Fitzpatrick: I think the fact that, I mean for me at least, it served me in the shooting of it though because I am squeamish about those things and because I am very easily scared. I think it was scarier being in it I think than even watching a horror film. I’ve always been terrified and I thought being in one will totally cure me of this irrational fear I have of these fake things, and I’ll learn how it’s made, and I’ll know that that’s rubber, and I’ll be fine. But it’s worse. It was much more damaging to be in one. You go in for two hours and then you leave it at the theater and then you go back to your normal life, but when you live it for six weeks. I mean I still, when I watch it and it’s a scene where it was something emotional or something I went through for a while. I’m feeling it again in the seat and I find myself starting to cry or something while I’m watching it.
Stewart: I get nauseous every time I see the cage scene. I get nauseous from it. When I see that, because that’s when I dislocated my shoulder, and that day was just the hardest damn day I’ve ever had workwise. Yeah, you’re right that stuff floods back to you. Like it’s fun to terrify people but-
Fitzpatrick: It’s like having a bad experience, like everybody has bad experiences that they remember and then you develop defense mechanisms.
Stewart: It’s like that ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend you run into, and you’re like, “Damn you.”
Fitzpatrick: Yeah, it’s a little like that!
Stewart: It is. How all those feelings instantly come back, it’s like, “I remember you, I remember what you did to me.”
Fitzpatrick: I was worried about re-shoots because one of the shots that we did in our first set of reshoots was just a punch-in on my face of like the moment that the collector takes me. And in the film I’ve just tripped over a bunch of dead bodies, I’ve just watched everyone that I love be murdered. We had sort of built up to that during the day, and they wanted the actual most intense moment of that scene, and they wanted to just shoot those five seconds or whatever. I was freaking out in the dressing room, like oh my god, how am I going to punch into that? And I walked onto the set, and it was the smell of latex and fake blood, and all that shit, and I was instantly like muscle memory, just sobbing again. So it’s weird how it works.
Stewart: Well, you know, I was roped into it obviously from the first one.
Fitzpatrick: You made the mistake of being in the first one.
Stewart: Yeah, that’s where my mistake was.
Fitzpatrick: What was my excuse, right?
Stewart: Yeah, what the hell is wrong with you, you sicko.
Fitzpatrick: I think this one has the benefit of being very much like an action-thriller; it has those elements as well. And for me at least reading the script was – we talked about Elena, she was just a really well written character and you don’t get to read that a lot as a young woman in Hollywood. You are usually dumb or slutty or something, at least at my age that’s mostly what comes in. so to get a lead female character that is kicking ass is just amazing and I didn’t even care that it was horror. The genre goes out the window at some point because you are playing that moment and that circumstance and whatever the realness of that is to you. I mean, I got to play someone who is really going through something and discovering their strength.
Stewart: And too, at the end of the day as an actor or an artist or whatever you want to say about it, I mean you want to do things that people see. You do it obviously because we love to do it, but I don’t do it at home in my house where no one can see it-
Fitzpatrick: Yeah, you do.
Stewart: Well, I do that too, but it’s a world where people really get into. You know that if you do it well, people are going to see. Look, dramas for me are where it’s at, but a great drama, a great character-driven drama, there’s very few of them that get made, there’s very few of them that actually make it to theaters. There’s just very few of them. While they are personally the most rewarding for to do for me, you know that when you go and do those, you’re just doing that for you. It’s not necessarily going to progress anything or move anything forward because chances are; nine times out of ten no one’s going to see it. It’s not going to see the light of day, you know what I mean? And this is a world where people go to the theater to watch.
Fitzpatrick: Yeah, just passionate, and excitable, and loyal and devoted.
Stewart: Yeah, they’re like I noticed that you referenced this 1965 Spanish horror movie.
Fitzpatrick: I was just saying the lines.
Stewart: [Laughs] You’re like, “I’m glad you picked that up because that was exactly what I was going for.”
You both had the chance to work with David Fincher, Josh on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and Emma on The Social Network; can you talk a little about what your experiences were like?
Fitzpatrick: I mean, mine was brief although wonderful. I had a cool experience because I just gotten to LA. I think I had been here for four months or something when I did that film. That was actually my first feature film ever. So it was a lot of exciting new things for me and to be working with those people, [Aaron] Sorkin is great. But I didn’t know about Fincher, and forty-take Fincher, I had never heard of this. I think we were on like take twenty-seven of having a break-away bottle thrown at my head and I was tripping out. I was like, “how the fuck am I messing up this one line?” Like, all I’m saying is “No, no, no, no.” and we’re on take twenty-seven? I’m pacing in the front yard, I’m doing circles. Jesse Eisenberg walked out and he was like, “are you OK?” I was having an actor meltdown, and he was like, “No, no that’s just what he does.” I was like, “Oh, OK.” And everything kind of went smoothly from there on out. But he got the scene, and they’re so nuanced. Between every take he’d be like, I mean you saw the scene it’s like thirty seconds long, between every take he would come up and be like, “This time say your name, when you introduce yourself, say it like your mom just died.” and then he’d shoot it. “Say it like you know he’s fucking someone else. Say it like you want him to be your boyfriend.” And I was just like, alright I don’t understand how this is changing at all. But then when I watched it I was like, wow I didn’t know that it was going to be all these delicate little moments. So to do that much for something seemingly so insignificant, you can see why he’s…
Stewart: He’s just so incredibly detailed that he’s not going to let a moment go by un-filmed, because that’s where all those moments of pure gold lie, and he’s not going to miss one of them. I shot a scene that didn’t make the movie, and all I was doing was mopping the kitchen, Brad Pitt was telling me a story and I was listening to him and not responding. But, Fincher was so obsessed with the way my mop-bucket was moving with the sway, the room, the soap suds. He just wants going to let any of it go to waste.