Final Destination 5, Jacqueline MacInnes Wood and Arlen Escarpeta Interview

Final Destination 5, Jacqueline MacInnes Wood and Arlen Escarpeta Interview
Final Destination 5 in 3D, Jacqueline MacInnes Wood and Arlen Escarpeta interview from the set
Updated: 07-12-2011


- Staci Layne Wilson rep­orting
Not unlike characters from The Office finding themselves in a Final Destination movie, two of the actors from the cannon fodder… er, ensemble cast… dish on what it was like to go from the Grouse Grind to the jittering gimble.
Q: Hey, guys! I know this is rather vague, but since you're still shooting… Tell us about your characters.
Arlen Escarpeta: I play Nathan. He’s part of the paper factory. Unlike some of the other guys in the film, they work in the office upstairs, you know – I’m a hardhat wearing guy, and I’m downstairs working with all the pipes and all the really cool stuff that’ll look really, really good in 3D.
Jacqueline MacInnes Wood: I play Olivia. She works upstairs in the office. She’s very spontaneous, lives in the moment, not sure what tomorrow’s gonna bring. She’s kind of a wild card. You don’t know what you’re gonna get from her. But also she’s a good friend, and she’s gonna have your back. But if you cross the line with her, she knows how to hold her own. She’s extremely honest. She sometimes says things that are shocking, but she doesn’t intentionally do it to hurt anyone. She just doesn’t really have a filter.
If you’re gonna be in Final Destination 5 and you know you’re gonna be working in a paper factory, are you thinking about watching The Office or watching the other Final Destinations?
Escarpeta: [Laughs.] That’s funny. I’ve seen all the previous final Final Destination films. I do, however, need to catch up on The Office.
MacInnes Wood: Yeah, same here. I’m a Final Destination nut, so I’ve been watching the movies.
Is there a sense of competition? – “My death is so much better than your death.”
Escarpeta: [Laughs.] I think maybe there is. I mean I’ve looked at a clip and gone, “Man, I wish I got to do that!” For me, what it is, it’s the stunts behind the death. And I think we’ve all gotten a chance to do a little bit of our own stuff. There’s some stuff that Jackie got to do that I’m a little bit jealous about.
MacInnes Wood: It’s funny because when I booked the movie, the script wasn’t sent to me just yet. It all kind of happened really fast. So you’re flipping through the pages, reading the script, and then thinking, “Oh, okay! That’s how it goes…. This is gonna happen… Ooh! How are they gonna shoot that? Okay, this is really gonna happen…” Luckily for me, I’m game, and I like doing stunts. I’m kind of that outgoing person. So I’m happy that I got to. But for a lot of us, we’re excited, but the day comes and it’s not like a day thing – it’s a week thing.
Escarpeta: We’ve all had a week of that.
MacInnes: Yeah, your voice is gone. It’s mentally and physically challenging… So when those days come you’re like, “Alright, I wanted this to happen. But this is just so stressful.” [Laughs.]
Escarpeta: Everyone’s like, “Did you do your death week yet?” “No, no. I’m next week.” They’re like, “Oh dude, they’re ready.”
Having seen the previous films, how does this one compare – is there a lighter or darker tone? Are there fewer deaths or is there a higher body count?
Escarpeta: I’d say as far as tone, what we have here that I think some of the other ones haven’t had as much of, we’ve got some great, great comedic relief from the likes of David Koechner and P.J. Byrne They’ve really, really brought something sweet to the franchise. Even with me, when I worked on the last Friday the 13th, it was funny, it was fun, and people really, really enjoyed the ride. And I think here you get that same thing where you get the really cool elements that you’re used to, and then you get that element.
MacInnes Wood: Yeah, I think this movie compared to the other Final Destinations, this one has more relationships in it. It’s not just that they kind of meet because of a certain situation and they go from there. There’s a different dynamic with each character; and there is dark humor to it. I like that it’s being shot in 3D, and that it’s not being converted to 3D. It’s actually conceptualized, meaning that we’re shooting in 3D, knowing that it’s 3D. And it’s so cool, because the shots are coming almost right towards the camera, and it’s really appealing to the eye. I think this movie for sure has raised the bar for VFX, and the death sequences. I kind of question it myself, “How many ways can a person die? How many creative ways?” [Laughs.] I love watching… Arlen knows this…
Escarpeta: She likes watching people die.
MacInnes Wood: I like watching people die. I’m twisted. [Laughs.] But it’s great to know that they can keep thinking of really cool creative ways a person can die. This one really stepped it up for sure.
Escarpeta: I think bringing on someone like [director] Steve [Quale], with his background with 3D and working with James Cameron and that whole world, l think that brings a whole other element to it. This is my first time working with 3D, as far as the camera is concerned, and watching the details that go into it, even before we started filming… We all got a chance to watch a preview of what things would look like, like animation style. Then to go from that to what we’ve shot and seeing the little bits, it looks remarkable. So he’s not just back there saying action and cut and good job – there’s a whole other element that’s going on besides the acting thing, that I think is really, really gonna be good. I think Steve’s phenomenal for that.
MacInnes Wood: Yeah, Steve’s so incredibly brilliant. He’s always thinking twenty steps ahead. You’re kind of like, “Well, maybe this?” He already knows. He already has an answer to it, and he’s beyond that. It’s great.
Escarpeta: That is his job, but…
MacInnes Wood: But yeah, he’s incredibly smart.
Does that give you more confidence as an actor, when someone knows what they’re doing with the 3D elements?
Escarpeta: As an actor, one of the worst things you can do is not trust the people behind the camera, and trust that they’re doing their jobs. It feels good to know that he knows his work so well. I think it’s the same thing with him with us – he trusts us as actors to do what we do.
Can you talk about how you prepared for working with the 3D cameras?
Escarpeta: I was completely oblivious to the world of 3D, as far as the cameras are concerned. I didn’t know anything about it. I’ve talked to the camera guys, and they’ve explained to me how the different lenses work. Things like that. One of the things that I thought was extremely cool that they did when we first got here was they did 3D tests where they put us in hair and makeup all that stuff and then we literally stand behind this blank slate, and the cameras look at us from different angles, and they find what angles they like, what angles they don’t like, what colors work for you, what colors don’t work, put him in this shirt, yeah, this works better. And all these things came together, so now… I wouldn’t say that I’m a seasoned veteran with 3D, but I definitely have a higher appreciation for it, and – I guess the layman’s term is – how pretty it will look. [Laughs.]
Are you guys in costume now?
MacInnes Wood: Oh, yeah.
Escarpeta: I’m not.
MacInnes Wood: I’m gonna wear this outfit around. [Laughs.]
Escarpeta: When you guys see me in costume, I’m layered up. The costumer knows that Arlen has a very low tolerance for cold, and I’m literally layered up like you wouldn’t believe.
What are the pros and cons of being in the city of Vancouver?
MacInnes Wood: It’s funny – I now live in L.A., but I used to live in Vancouver. I’m Canadian from Windsor, Ontario, but I lived here for eight months. It’s always so funny, because you leave the country to end up working back in the country. That’s always how it goes. I love being back here. I love being here and I love working here.
Escarpeta: I’m from Belize. Born in Belize, grew up in L.A. The weather here murders my body. Aside from that, the only other con – I’m requesting that the Grouse Grind… it killed. Do you guys know about the Grouse Grind? The Grouse Grind, you walk up a mountain. It’s 1.8 miles straight up. I love to work out. I’m a super-athletic guy. I love sports. What I needed was a couple more signs to tell me that I was doing great. Because what happens is you get three signs: one quarter of the way, half way, three quarters, and then you’re there. In between that time, every time you look up it’s like you are never, ever going to reach the top. Mentally, the Grouse Grind absolutely defeated me. To this day, every time I step on stairs I think about the Grouse Grind. It was fun, and I’m glad that I did it, but I walked into it not knowing what I was getting into. And now that I know, I’ve become an advocate. “Should I do it?” “No, no. Don’t do it!” [Laughs.]
How long did it take you?
Escarpeta: It was myself, Emma, P.J., and Nick; and P.J. had a hurt leg, so God bless that guy. Nick, Emma and myself made it in like an hour and five minutes or something. Then P.J., we had to leave him. We were there with him, and then he was like, “You know what, guys? Go. I’m just gonna hold you up.” We were like, “Alright, and we left him.” But he made friends. On the Grouse Grind you make tons of friends, walking up there… Those are the only cons I have regarding Vancouver. Other than that – beautiful city, love the food, love the music, love the people. It’s been good. I’m gonna miss it when I go home.
What else can you tell us that’s cool about the movie that we should know?
Escarpeta: I can say tons of stuff. [Laughs.]
The whole thing in the ‘80s or ‘90s was that the black guy gets it first. Is that addressed in this movie at all?
Escarpeta: That’s the ongoing joke – that the black guy dies first. In Friday the 13th I didn’t die first, and I got to fight back. So we made ground in Friday the 13th. I think I might make a little more ground here. I won’t say if I die first or die last, or in the middle, or someplace in between.
 I don’t know if it’s addressed necessarily, because the characters are… Once the order gets picked for who dies, we kind of go from there; and there’s only so much you can do to outrun death. So I don’t think it’s necessarily addressed in that sense.
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