On every Final Destination movie, one of the characters has a vision that everyone is about to die. As a result, he/she saves everyone…but death eventually finds a way to finish the job. In Final Destination 5, Nicholas D’Agosto is the one with the vision, and Emma Bell plays his co-worked at a paper factory, and she’s also in love with his character.
Last December I was invited to the set of Final Destination 5 while they were filming in Vancouver. During a group interview between filming, D’Agosto and Bell talked about making the movie, their characters, working with the rest of the cast, how do they keep things new and fresh when it’s the fifth film in the franchise, and a lot more. Hit the jump to either read or listen to the interview.
Before getting to the interview, if you haven’t seen the latest trailer, I’d watch that first.
As usual, I’m offering you two ways to get the interview: you can either click here for the audio, or the full transcript is below. Final Destination 5 opens August 12.
Question: Can you each say your names and who you play.
Emma Bell: I’m Emma Bell, I play Molly Harper.
Nicholas D’Agosto: I’m Nicholas D’Agosto, I play Sam Lawton.
How long have you been up there on the gimbal (bridge set) waiting for your friends to die?
Bell: A long time. I think there was, like, 5 weeks in total of this. In various places.
So [the gimbal] is your friend up there?
Bell: Yes (laughs). I’ve gotten very comfortable. I have a bed, they send me tea regularly. No, it’s uh. Yeah, it’s an experience. But it’s the big scene of the movie so obviously it requires the most attention.
D’Agosto: I bring her the tea. I set up the bed. I do all the sheets.
Bell: It’s true. He’s a great wife.
We saw you helping people across – were those stand-ins or are they characters?
Bell: They’re background players. Yeah, there’s many people. There’s lots of cars full of people, there’s people on the bus.
You’re helping all those people off the bridge.
Obviously everyone in movie, especially in opening sequence, everyone dies. Someone has to have the vision of it. Can you talk about who has the vision?
D’Agosto: That’s me, that’s my character. That’s, like, a real treat to be in the franchise and be able to have the vision. It’s sort of strange when you get to this point in the film[ing] and you’ve seen so many people die and you’re wondering, like, how many reactions will look the same as the other reactions? But no, it’s great, I mean. It’s a terrifying experience but what’s great about this set is that it’s so lifelike and it has so much action on it with the gimbal and its scope and size. So you’re able to kind of transport yourself there. There’s a lot of green screen but you also have a lot of hard objects, a lot of tangible objects to work off. So it’s nice.
Being on gimbal has to be a little freaky at times.
Bell: It moves, yeah. I had to walk across the eye-beam at one point and that was even moving, you know, while the gimbal was moving and they had decided – you know, we did a take with a harness, we did a take without the harness because the harness was getting in the way and it was really, it was very terrifying. It wasn’t a lot of acting, it was just reacting. And the gimbal that you [Nicolas] stand on, it moves a lot.
D’Agosto: Yeah, I mean actually I had to go back and get the knee pads, kind of take care of those guys. It’s just like one of those things where it has so much action back, there’s just a lot of little things you have to learn about your machine. It’s like driving a car – you have to learn the ticks.
They said that it’s based on a suspension bridge here in Vancouver, so have you avoided using that specific bridge?
Bell: No, we actually had to drive across it! A couple times to get to different locations.
D’Agosto: And every time you do, of course – and everything about this movie, once you start it, actually one of the great stories from the beginning of this [shoot]: we were all out to dinner with, you know, the studio comes up and the producers all take everyone out to dinner and everyone kind of gets to know each other and then they all go back home. But one of the studio execs, he had his back to a wine rack and just – I can’t imagine how it happened exactly – but one of the bottles from the very top rack fell off and exploded right behind him on the ground …
Bell: …like, an inch from his head …
D’Agosto: … and there’s like, this red wine flowing underneath his seat …
Bell: It was very Final Destination.
D’Agosto: … and everybody was just, like, this is the christening of this film! Our studio exec almost just died, and blood appears to be, like, filling up the table that we’re all sitting at.
Bell: It was pretty creepy.
Could you guys talk a little bit about your characters?
Bell: I’m playing Molly Harper and I live in – we all live in sort of a smallish town and I think she’s really a girly girl and she works at this paper factory and she desperately in love with his character but they sort of have different ideas about what they want to do in life and she doesn’t ever want to get in his way of what he wants to accomplish. So at the start of the movie she’s sort of struggling with that but then the series of terrifying events that happen to them, they have to sort of re-evaluate life and their relationship together and how much they actually mean to each other.
D’Agosto: Yeah, that covers a lot of essentially where my character comes from in there. I mean, I have my own ambitions to become a chef, to travel, there’s a great opportunity in front of me. And this tragedy brings us together and kind of makes me re-evaluate how much she means to me. And in that, kind of, my desire to reconnect to her, the tragic elements of Final Destination unfold and that sort of takes over the entire storyline. But what’s exciting from my point of view is I get to be the character that sort of has to figure out where this premonition comes from, what does it mean, what’s the process as each of these deaths unfold. And I know that’s fun for people to talk about who are fans of the franchise, and it’s fun to get to kind of have my own feelings about that as well.
Bell: And you know it’s cool for us too as well because, um, the characters in this one are actually pretty well established and as actors we get to, on one hand doing this amazing action horror film with all of the deaths and all that, but then on the other hand there’s actually a really great storyline for the two of us to play. So that was exciting.
D’Agosto: And it’s wonderful working with Emma – it’s not a lie! – So that’s been really great. I think that we’ve been able to find some stuff as a relationship that hopefully will add a deeper element to caring about these characters.
What is your character’s job in the film?
D’Agosto: I’m just a regular, like, one of the lower salesmen. This is just a day job for me and that’s even sort of alluded to at the beginning. But I’m really wanting to be a chef, I’m training to be a chef.
Bell: Yeah I’m pretty much the same. We’re probably on the same level. I just work as probably a salesperson. But I take it a little bit more seriously than he does.
D’Agosto: [Joking with Emma] The B-story, which they never let us get into, is that we’re trying to take over the company. We’re totally unsuccessful. We’re, like, bringing other people into it. It’s going to be very violent. It’s going to be a coup.
Could you talk a little bit about working with PJ and David Koechner and have you broken on any takes where they improvise?
Bell: [Joking] No they’re not funny at all. It was really disappointing. I thought that they were going to be funny, I was preparing myself for laughter.
D’Agosto: And they want to go out to dinner constantly. They always want to hang out.
Bell: [Serious] They’re probably the most funny men I’ve ever encountered. They’re incredible. And they just are funny. They’re not putting it on to be funny, they’re just really are really funny guys. I mean, of course David Koechner, everyone knows him from a lot of things, but I’m a big fan of ‘Anchorman,’ so that was, like, I got down on the floor and told him how much I loved him. It was really weird that day. They were, like, ‘What’s wrong with Emma?’ But PJ is amazing and just has all of these – what does he like to call it that he puts on the end of lines?
D’Agosto: Oh, just buttons.
Bell: A button at the end of lines. Just his little mark on it. It’s just so funny, you’re always cracking up.
D’Agosto: They’re just true comedians – they just want as many options [as possible] to go at it. You know, in a script that has elements and situations that are allowed to be funny, because the Final Destination set-up is such that you never really know where it’s going to come from so you’re allowed to, like, characters are allowed to start feeling it, they might be safe again. So there are these moments where they get to play around. But it’s them kind of playing the situation and bringing it out that makes it what it is. Really, truly, PJ – they’re both, like, it’s really fun to have them on set. The way they relate to the crew – they’re just very, very large and play to the crowd, which is nice.
D’Agosto: Yeah. But they just keep a lot of levity on the set. Especially when you’re all screaming, like, ‘Don’t die! Please! Not you either!’ It’s very difficult for me, so it’s good to have some breaking up in there too.
What are the pros and cons of Vancouver? What have you been enjoying here offset?
Bell: I’m a big fan of Stanley Park. I love just how beautiful Vancouver is. I mean, everywhere you look it’s just mountains and ocean. I live in LA – I love LA, first off – but I didn’t realize how much better the air quality was in Vancouver until I went back to LA for a weekend and I literally felt like I was breathing fire. ‘Cause it’s so nice and crisp and clean up here ‘cause of all the trees. So that’s been an amazing part of being up here, I think just the cleanness of Vancouver and the nature.
D’Agosto: I would second that but I would also say there’s amazing food …
Bell: That’s true.
D’Agosto: … and I’ve seen a few concerts up here – they have a great music scene up here. It’s actually very similar to Los Angeles in the way their music scene is set up. Lots of different styles and venues. And it’s really nice, really walkable downtown. And really, ultimately, it just goes back to the cast. Wherever you are, it’s always about the people that you get to hang around with. There’s always this makeshift family. And truly the cast is just an extraordinary cast. Great people, really funny people, it’s kept the conversations lively. And so the experience has been really good. In Times Square I took long weekends off and got out of town or whatever, but I spent really most of it here. I wasn’t back in LA once.
Bell: No, there’s not a lot of traveling. I just stayed here.
Since the format of these films is so well known – as an actor, how do you keep things fresh and original?
D’Agosto: I think you just have to approach it, I just approach it the way I approach any character. I saw the films and the structure is the same. What’s nice about this film I’ll say about the structure, there is a twist. Every one of them has its own twist for its particular [world]. Within the world. But this one has I think an even more extraordinary twist within the world in the sense that the characters have a – there’s something that happens that makes the characters relate to each other in a different way. And so that has allowed us, I think it allows the narrative to change in a way – I can’t really talk about it. But it’s a fun twist and it’s good for all of us ‘cause it adds a dramatic element that you’re playing off the people around you instead of just this inanimate fate. But you know, from my perspective, you just kind of try to bring what you are and hope that that’s the different thing that is different for the film.
Bell: It’s also good to approach it, you know, as if it’s the first time and it’s never happened to my character before. Although there are other movies, this sort of thing has never happened to my character or me, certainly, in my life. So approaching it from a point of view where it’s absolutely new and happening for the first time kind of keeps it fresh in that way, without any preconceived notions of what should happen.
D’Agosto: [Joking] It happened to me a couple times, but, like, for me, looking back – but it was all in Omaha, which is where I’m from. And so I was just like, it’s a whole new world, this is the West coast, people are dying here, this is new. So that’s the way I approached it.
Emma, between The Walking Dead and Frozen and this film, have you had enough of horror yet or do you feel that there’s a lot of room to explore in the genre?
Bell: Well, I think that there is a lot of room to explore in the genre. I mean, there’s a lot of different types of horror. I’ve never been in a sort of slasher horror film, for example. It’s all been sort of action thriller or with Frozen it was sort of a character drama – slash – thriller horror. And with Walking Dead, I mean it’s like zombie, I feel like it’s its own little area. I certainly have gotten a lot out of this genre. I mean, yes of course I would love to do many many things, not just horror. But horror’s been great. I can’t complain.
When you signed on for The Walking Dead, did you know that your exit would be in the first season?
Bell: Oh yeah. She dies in the comic books so I kinda knew. I didn’t know when it would happen and they luckily elongated my story, so that was nice.
Can you talk about how quickly you got into this movie, from the audition process to filming?
D’Agosto: Actually it was really quick and it was quick from my perspective. It’s strange how that process goes. About this one – I went out for an audition, the next time I came back I met Steve Quayle and Craig Perry and Sheila. And then I had the role – like, this was all within maybe two weeks or so. And at the same time, you know, you’re going up for so many other projects. I remember a project that I tested for on two different occasions, it was over a month and I’d just gotten word that that didn’t go. And it’s like the great gift that the business give you sometimes that you don’t get the project that you were working so hard to get and then the thing that happens right after it happens in two weeks. It feels like it skates right in. And this is a hundred times better than the other project would’ve been. I get to do so many more exciting things and to have the experience of being up here for three months in Vancouver is a real joy. So sometimes the business pays you back, so that’s nice.
Bell: Yeah, that’s true. It was very fast for me too. I auditioned, about two days later I got a call that New Line wanted to meet me, I went up to meet New Line and the next day they called to say I had to go up to Vancouver the next day for three months. So it was about four days, the process.
You have experience with imaginary things in other horror films – do you think that helped you get the job?
Bell: I think so. I think Craig Perry, who’s obviously like the father of Final Destination, had seen Frozen and had enjoyed it. So I think that helped. But I know that they were actually looking for on this one, for my character – what they mentioned in my audition that they really liked was sort of how I chose to relate to his character in the audition, versus … I didn’t have any of the, like, death scenes in my audition. I had the character stuff. So that actually is a mark of what they’re trying to do with this particular Final Destination is get back to – you know, obviously have all the action and all the horror, but they want to get back to a place where the characters are really defined and have really great relationships with each other.
For more Final Destination 5 set visit coverage: