Actor Colin Farrell talks about "Team Jerry" and being a vampire-shark in our interview with the set of Fright Night.
Updated: 08-21-2011

Staci Layne Wilson reporting

QUESTION: Your incarnation of Jerry (Dandridge) is being called more shark-like. How do you get into that mindset?
COLIN FARRELL: Mindset? I don’t know. It’s all kinda there in the script, what Marti did. She really did a wonderful job of taking the source material as inspiration, but contemporizing it. Making it pertinent to today’s world with advent of electronic communications, and it’s still very much a story of a boy’s coming of age (kind of), which the original was. Maybe it’s even more so in this. It’s kind of an emotional investment between Anton’s ‘Charley’ and Imogen’s ‘Amy’ that’s kind of lacking in the first one. That doesn’t mean this film is better as a result of anything like that. It’s just in script form it delves deeper of when a young boy and a young girl are finding out about love, and the ever-encroaching issue of sex for the first time. And Charley’s obviously grown-up in a single-parent household. It’s the one thing Jerry - in our version (maybe) - represents a father figure. Not that it’s ever fleshed out, or really delved into in regards to their relationship through scenes of dialogue between each other.
Jerry’s a male, who’s designed in the film of being comfortable within his own skin, and has a certain obviously omnipotent of being a vampire that they’re not aware of. But there’s (I hope) a strong kind of energy that comes off from his presence, and that’s unnerving to Charley for reasons of protection of his mother and his girlfriend Amy.
There’s not the kind of romantic illusions in this that there was in the original, in regards to Jerry and Amy particularly. The Amy character in the original was very much modeled after the Mina character from the vampiric folklore of (Bram Stoker’s) DRACULA, which has been used in many vampire stories – not specific to DRACULA, but the preternatural undead searching the world for his counterpart. You know, living a life of loneliness and isolation, which no doubt after two hundred years gets tedious. Looking for his emotional and infinite counterpart, and in this, that’s not really the deal. I kind of like it to be the deal as a fan of vampire lore. Even though, I’m a fan of the original FRIGHT NIGHT, initially I was like, “Can we get a little more romance?” But it was really designed that way in the original. From the first time, Chris as Jerry met Amy, he brushes past everyone and he takes her hand. And then there’s the painting where he says to his Lieutenant, “It’s uncanny, the similarity between them.” And then when he takes her from the club and brings her home, he’s staring out the window and says to her, “She was someone I knew a long time ago.” It’s a lovely line, but that’s not in this at all.
And what Amy represents to Jerry is potentially a counterpart, but more of a practical one than I think a romantic one. In our film, Jerry is creating a tribe of sorts. He’s turning other mortals into vampires, and he’s dug a cavernous space underneath the house. He comes from a particular Mediterranean strain of vampire that is dirt dwelling that literally can burrow into the ground. So, he’s creating a tribe in this one. But apart from that, he’s pretty single-minded in his needs and his appetites. He loves a good feed. As I was reading the script and talking to Craig, there’s not really any emotional body that exists within him, or any strain of consciousness that we would relate to being human at all. And there was in Gary Oldman’s Dracula, and there was in Chris Sarandon’s Jerry. But there’s not in guy at all.
Again, at times, you have to be careful it doesn’t negate the potential for the audience to connect (even) with a vampire – a preternatural character in some way, shape or form, or yourself as an actor. Because if you remove - as I’m finding this human emotion as ways of being – it can become flatline. And fuck me – I hope that’s not the case! (Laughter)
But we – myself and Craig - talk about he has no fear, and I realized recently I’ve been doing this now for six or seven weeks, and the works being patchy on us – I’ve three days on, four days off; two days on, five days off. I’m a sucker for work. I really love to be on set six days a week, 14/16 hours a day. God knows I’m paying heavily for it. But I really love to be present all the way through the process. I just realized recently that removing fear, you remove the potential for internal conflict in a person. Because it’s fear that drives all of us to do sorts of things, both wonderful and kinda hideous throughout the history of man. So, it’s a strange line. Hopefully, we’re treading in an entertaining and interesting way.
It will be nice if fans of the original like it. It really would. I’m a fan of the original. When I read the script, I really didn’t want to like it. So, I could still accuse Hollywood of being repugnant in it’s lack of originality. Then I read it and I was like, “Fuck! That’s really nice!” I really was a fan of the original. I saw it for the first time, when I was 10, 11, or 12, and I saw it maybe anywhere – a big window – between 20 and 40 times subsequent to that in the following 15 years. And I was of the mind of just leave it alone, and I read it. I was like, “Oh!” But really in essence the original film isn’t going to go away. I know if I see this film with my family at the night of the premiere, I know I won’t see it subsequent to that. Maybe never. I know I’ll watch the original again as a fan, and totally isolated from being part of this re-imagining. So, the original isn’t going anywhere. And this isn’t a $30 - $40 million dollar exercise in nostalgia. It is made for a new audience.
The useful thing about the original was the line it treads with the comedic aspects with the horror aspects. It’s paramount with the possibility of this working. And I think it’s what Craig did so well on LARS AND THE REAL GIRL, was he treaded the line between absurdist comedy and the absurdism of the situation, and the kind of emotional weight that was going on, particularly Ryan’s (Gossard) character, as it affected everyone else in that town. So, when I heard Craig was doing this, it kinda made perfect sense. This is someone who treads lines in a subtle way.
QUESTION: Did you have to do some research on the pre-production side, where you find this place of fearlessness in your emotions?
COLIN FARRELL: No, really. It’s playtime. I mean for sure, you try to make things as real as possible. I have conversations with myself, but then “well, he wouldn’t do that,” And I go “what the fuck, he’s 400 years old!” (Laughter) I mean, really? I know what this guy is. So, um, it’s a tricky one – vampire logic and all that good stuff.
Craig and I have had arguments on how far to push it and how far not to. There’s one scene that is designed in the script that Charley breaks into my house, and I come back (I’d gone out before the sunrise, early morning around 4:30 – 5am), and I go out and Charley breaks in. And he’s suspicious at this age, even though he doesn’t know that I’m a vampire. But he’s very suspicious. And I come back into my house. He hears the car coming and he hides, and then there’s this – it was in the script, 3 or 4 pages – set-up of me walking to a door. And I was like “preternatural fucking senses”, you know, can detect every heartbeat in this space here, can tell exactly what BPMs you’re at. All that kind of stuff. I was like, “we can’t have our vampire walking by a door and go…” (He shows example)
It was a really good sequence as well. So you go back and forth. You know, you have to respect the audience. First and foremost, I’m an audience member before I am an actor or any of that nonsense. So, you try to maintain that perspective as much as you possibly can, even tough you live in a world where the 4th wall is broken daily. But audiences are used to vampire films. We’re used to the concept. So, we have to be very careful, in that we hope we shot it in a way we’re not certain if he knows and he’s just fucking with the kid. Or else, I hope…
We shot it in a shitload of ways. But ideally, it won’t be either way. It won’t be definitely that he did, or definitely that he didn’t. It’s stuff like that. But it’s been fun and we’re nearly at the end now.
QUESTION: How do you think the public will react to your vampire? Vampire movies are popular nowadays, with TWILIGHT especially.
COLIN FARRELL: TWILIGHT, you know. Team Jerry. (Laughter) TWILIGHT takes a lot of oxygen in a certain audience’s requirements. It has its place, which is great. And this is different. I believe it’s going to be – what do they say? – hard ‘R’. It’s fairly bloody. There’s not a lot of sex. But sex is certainly intonated more than once. I don’t know. I hope (the audience reacts) favorably. I really have no idea. You do your best and hopefully this film is made to entertain. Having said that, I think the responsibility falls at the feet, particularly of David Tennant, Anton Yelchin and lovely Imogen Poots to bring some kind of emotional resonance to the story. And they’re three fine actors, and from what I’ve seen, they’ve been doing that. So, hopefully it will work on a plethora of levels.


Read our review of the movie here

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