THE GRUDGE - Q&A with Sarah Michelle Gellar
Movie Interview by Neils Hesse
How difficult was it working in Japan, considering the fact that the director could not speak English and apparently had a vocabulary built mainly from STAR WARS?
Probably what was worst were the words that we taught him. At first I was very excited to be doing the movie but then when I realized that he really couldn't speak English I got worried. As things moved on I discovered that we didn't really need language to communicate and then everything just started to flow.
How hard was it with all the cultural issues and did you buy a kimono?
I had a few faux pas but they understood that it was not intentional, not that I can't be disrespectful because I can be especially when I am in America. I actually did not even try on a kimono although I am sure that a lot of you men here probably have, I don't think that they are very practical. A proper kimono has all those straps so you can't really go shopping at Wal Mart with one on and they are also very expensive.
How did you approach the role?
The reason I made it was because it was Japanese so it was very different from the American style of horror movies. I loved the ambiguity of it all and even though we added a few American elements we did not overly Americanize it. Even the music is handled differently in Hollywood they hate silence whereas in Japan the silence adds to the atmosphere of the film.
What were your reactions to the script and is it ironic that your voice will be dubbed into Japanese?
Well for me it was the visuals that stuck with me from the original and when I heard that Sam Raimi was producing and that it was being filmed in Japan I thought Wow!
Did you find it hard to act scared?
Takashi, the director, created a certain enabling atmosphere on the set and whereas American films are all CGI in this one most of it was real. They made rigs to create most of the effects so it was all very cool.
The little boy who has been in the original films and now this one, what was he like?
He's an interesting boy, he hates cats and I am going to try to be polite, but he is most definitely odd. I think that the film was probably most difficult for him as it is hard enough for a child to talk to an adult in his own language so now that there was a lot of English on set it was even harder. Also the child labour laws are different in Japan so when we would be going home they would bring in this poor child to do all those water scenes.
Was he familiar with Scooby-Doo and if so did he think that Daphne would come to his rescue?
I honestly don't know what that kid was familiar with!
Have you actively chosen roles that are far away as possible from Buffy?
Well when it finished I decided that I could now pick stuff that I was passionate about and not just because I had to work, and so I try to do stuff that is challenging which is why I left the show in the first place, it was not challenging anymore. I suppose you could say that I actively seek out strong female characters and pieces.
Why do you think that Buffy is such a major phenomenon considering that the movie itself was not particularly a success?
The movie didn't work at the time even though it was actually not a bad film so we learnt from the mistakes they made on it and we realized that it would work better if you followed the story properly and it was also the right time for female empowerment. Girls on TV used to deal with issues like looking pretty and being popular but now society is ready to see women as spies, judges and vampire slayers.
Did you find that the original cast and the director were anticipating scenes seeing as they had shot them many times before?
The boy mainly yes but the director did it fresh each time because for him it was a chance to do it all over again and the Japanese actors were all so excited to be in an American movie so they all treated it like fresh material.
Sarah you have done a few films involving the supernatural, do you believe in anything of that sort and did you miss out on any roles to do THE GRUDGE?
Oh yes they have been breaking down my door to do a few roles that Nicole Kidman turned down. No actually there have not been many offers and I did not miss anything to do this one. As for the other part of the question, this is a genre where women take the forefront and as such they drive the stories forward. Nicole Kidman's strongest box office opening was for THE OTHERS and Julianne Moore's biggest hit has been THE FORGOTTEN. This genre offers strong roles for women. Takashi Shimizu spoke about the oppression of women and how films like this help in their liberation.
Which film has scared you?
Having been exposed to the supernatural in your film career do you now get more scared?
Firstly I would like to say that you do know that they aren't real right? My nightmares are much more realistic.
Any freaky experiences that may have put you on this ghost bashing tract?
No nothing like my dead cat talked to me but having said that all actors do have inner demons. In Japan they bless the set and they give sacrifices, no not human ones, just food and drink - no virgins.
Where would you like to be in 10 years and would you like to direct films?
I would like to write but I am not talented enough of course. There are a lot of writers out there who are equally not talented but they are successful nonetheless. I would definitely like to produce. In 10 years time I would like to be doing stuff that continues to challenge me but having said that I must add that I am not sure what I will be doing in 10 days time.