A couple weeks ago, Fede Alvarez‘ remake of Evil Dead premiered at SXSW to an ecstatic crowd (click here to read my review). For those unfamiliar with the film, the story centers on five friends who go to a remote cabin in the woods, and stumble upon a demonic evil that begins possessing them one by one, which causes horrific scenes of gore and mutilation. Lou Taylor Pucci plays Eric, a friend of Mia (Jane Levy) who has gone with her and three friends to a remote cabin in the woods to help her detox.
I got the chance to interview Pucci at SXSW, we talked about the intensity of the film, the appeal of the film’s violence, working with director Fede Alvarez and producer Bruce Campbell, his indie film Story of Luke, and more . Evil Dead opens April 5th.
LOU TAYLOR PUCCI: Nope. I mean Bruce Campbell was at the audition, which is the reason I went to the audition, and he did make it clear that obviously… But you can’t take somebody’s word for it really. He said, you know, are you ready to get completely fucked up, for all this blood to be in your face every single day, stuck to everything, to hate your life. And I was like, yeah, who wouldn’t, let’s try it, let’s do it.
What’s interesting — you were at the film last night, people went nuts for it — what are your thoughts on the appeal of this level of violence?
PUCCI: I love that this movie doesn’t apologize for itself at all. It’s just exactly what people want and you know sometimes they do get a little weird about what kind of vibes you’re putting out into the world, but I don’t think that… I don’t know, this is just personal, but I don’t think we’re making the world a worse place by having this movie out. It’s disgusting, but it’s real life. It actually kind of homes you in on your limbs being a part of you, your body being a thing that can be maimed or disfigured for life, what that would feel like if you were in that situation where thing were just being take off of you and being stabbed, or you’re losing your life. It’s very, very real. It kind of roots you in your body. It makes you go, Life is scary. Life can be scary.
This is a film where they’re not trying to distance people from the characters, where we’re not meant to feel superior to them. But your character is the one who reads from the book. So how — and when you do that, people sort of want to look down on you, but you come off as very sympathetic — so how did you go from the place where you know the audience is not really going to be on your side to trying to keep them interested?
PUCCI: To go from not being on my side to…
To sort of keeping their interest and sort of like, I’m not the guy you’re supposed to dislike.
PUCCI: Well, I mean I don’t think that it was… I think it would have been hard to dislike this character as the audience. I don’t think I could have played it where you disliked him personally. In playing it sincerely, you become that character. Eric is the audience. He is the audience. Because he’s the one who knows more than anybody else. He knows what’s happening. He’s reacting like the audience is reacting, like what?! What are you talking about? We have to do this. And the audience is just like, yeah. So they’re behind him. In some ways, he really… A lot of these characters were the main character for parts of the film. Because Jane doesn’t seem like the main character for most of film, but at the end, you’re on her side. So you’re really just on everybody’s side in this movie. I think the audience was super behind him just from the beginning to the end. Maybe at the super beginning, yeah, he’s a little bit of a passive aggressive douchebag to Shiloh’s character, like you got to start somewhere and it gave, it made some… We had something to work with from there. We had some kind of feeling to be playing with.
PUCCI: Yeah and I had seen it so many times, but I still watched it like three times before we made it in New Zealand. In those two weeks of rehearsal, I watched it like three times, and I was showing it to, I think I put it on for Shiloh or Jane or someone. I definitely wanted to take anything that I could from it. I was looking for little things. Maybe I could take… Maybe the guy has a pen, something looks, you know what I mean? My biggest thing was my visual appearance. I really wanted to keep looking like I did because the seventies, when that film was made, Evil Dead was like ’79 or ’80.
PUCCI: So that same feeling though of having long hair and a beard. Nobody has that in films anymore unless you’re playing some dirtbag or something like that, you know. It’s cool to be able to add a timelessness and a culture to the film. That wouldn’t be there otherwise. And you didn’t do anything. All you had was a different look.
What was the experience working with Fede and I was just wondering what was it like working with Fede and Bruce because they sort of represent two sides — Fede’s like the new voice, but Bruce is sort of the caretaker of this franchise. What was it like working with those two different perspectives?
PUCCI: Well, Bruce really didn’t push anything on us except for to not push anything on us. He gave us an email beforehand because he couldn’t be in New Zealand, he was working on Burn Notice. He gave us an email that said don’t worry about anything that we did, don’t try to be anything that we were because this has to be completely new and we want you to have fun in your own way, do your own thing. Let’s give this to a different generation, make it something new. So the input from him, it was really just be free and that was so cool. So as a caretaker, he was like the least precious about it, which is amazing. And so was Fede, who had written it, so he knew his entire world and that was just so good to be working with a director who’s also the writer of such a big movie because usually that’s just not how it is. With a big movie you usually get some writer, eight script doctors wrote it, and now it’s given to this British guy, and you’re like okay, he probably wants to make money and it’s going to be a big movie, but you never think they know the whole world. They know why it’s done in the bedroom instead of this bedroom or whatever, like he wrote it with Diablo [Cody] and that was badass. So — and also, what I was getting at was he was not precious about his script. He wasn’t precious about the words he used, he let us improvise, and some of the improvising was some of the funniest stuff in there, and some of the writing was some of the funniest stuff in there too. He really did a good job of writing.
So the film was shot in continuity mostly because of all the blood. Did that help out when you’re going across — because usually films are shot out of order — this kind of process, do you find that more helpful.
PUCCI: Oh wow. It was… If we would’ve done it out of order, it really would’ve sucked. It would’ve been hard. I don’t know if the end product would’ve sucked, but it would’ve sucked for us. So much harder. But it worked for everybody, doing it in continuity because the blood, all that kind of stuff, was worked out and we could know where we started and know where we’re ending in real time.
And then of course your characters are getting more damaged. When going into makeup, what was that experience like? You start out in the makeup trailer going pretty fast, but then as the process goes along, it takes more and more work, so what was that, going through all of that?
PUCCI: It was just hours. But every single day I definitely tried very hard to appreciate the fact that we were doing it because I knew and just like everybody knows, you could do this with CGI and we wouldn’t have to sit in these chairs and we would not have to go through this pain, but it’s not going to be the same movie. It’s really going to not have any texture or warmth or feeling and when you see somebody cut off their arm and you know it’s fake, you know it, because it looks CGI in some way. It’s doesn’t make you scream. It doesn’t make you squeal. But if it looks like you’re cutting through something that’s real, you see it and it really gets you by the balls [laughs]. It scares you.
Was it as intense as you imagined it to be? More so?
PUCCI: Hell yeah. I think it was more so. It was more of a roller coaster ride than a movie, in my opinion. It didn’t feel like a film. But that’s just because also watching it for the first time as an actor, it’s so hard to separate yourself at first. You need like a couple times. I need at least two or three times to see a movie before I can go, oh so this is how an audience looks at it. But from what I saw, it felt like a roller coaster ride more than even a film. Because as the story, you know what to expect, you know what I mean? Everybody knows exactly what to expect from this thing, They know what’s going to happen. So it’s not really about that. It’s about how you’re going to do it, what way are you going to take. And they took a good, disgusting path that did not let you breathe. I kept having to make myself breathe throughout the movie. So thank God for the little bit of humor that was in there because you could just laugh. Shock value.
What do you have coming up next?
PUCCI: Actually, on April 5th, Evil Dead comes out and another movie that I did called “Story of Luke”, an independent film about a main character being autistic, I play Luke, who’s autistic, Aspergers character, and it’s a very light comic… So to walk that one, of playing what people refer to as a handicap movie, you know what I mean? The only way to describe it is like Forrest Gump. You don’t feel like that’s a handicap movie or that it’s trying to pity itself in some way. I think that that was the line we were crossing with this one. How do we make people feel like this could be your brother or your sister and this is normal life, we’re not trying to pity anybody. It’s not like he has a bad life. This is his life. So we got to do a light, awesome, walk-the-line of making a cool character and letting the audience laugh, and that comes out on April 5th too. So both of them are going to be out the same day. What a weird thing. Made years apart from each other because indies take a lot longer to make. And then I also just booked this pilot for ABC that I’m going back to New Orleans for right now.
PUCCI: It’s called “Reckless” right now, but they’re going to change the title, I think. So I don’t know what to call it, but Patrick Fugit is the main character. And he is so good. Eloise Mumford plays opposite him and Ernie Hudson, he is in there too. It’s just like a really good group of actors with Martin Campbell directing. Martin Campbell being like Goldeneye and Casino Royale, so he knows his shit so well. He’s a badass. I can’t wait to see what goes on. But it’s a one hour, sort of political drama.
So you’re auditioning for it?
PUCCI: No I got it. We start filming in two days. So I play the black sheep of the family, the alcoholic brother-in-law [laughs].
Evil Dead opens April 5th. Click here for all our previous coverage.