Oct 01, 2010 5:36:15 PM CDT
Quint sits down with young Dylan Minnette and the great character actor Elias Koteas to talk LET ME IN!
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with the first of three interviews for Let Me In. I was particularly excited to sit down with Elias Koteas who has long been one of my favorite character actors working today.
I bring up Casey Jones in a kind of joking manner in the interview, but it’s true that’s where I first saw him.
Also in this chat is young Dylan Minnette who plays the lead bully tormenting young Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee). You may remember Dylan as Jack Shephard’s son David in the final season of LOST.
And there’s also a surprise appearance by one Mr. Michael Giacchino!
Lots to like in the below chat! Hope you enjoy it!
Dylan Minnette: My dad’s friend told me to look up your website once. I did and I’m like “This is really cool.” I went on it a couple of times. I like it. It’s cool. It’s a cool website.
Quint: Well, I liked you in LOST, so there we go.
Dylan Minnette: Thank you.
Elias Koteas: Were you on the island?
Dylan Minnette: No. I was there one day when they were filming on the island, but I never shot on the island.
Elias Koteas: Where’d they shoot it? In Hawaii?
Dylan Minnette: Yeah, Oahu. I got to go there five times.
Quint: Nice gig, I’m sure. It’s like “I’m going to go to work… on the beach!”
Dylan Minnette: It was so much fun.
Elias Koteas: The HAWAII FIVE O guys have got to be pumped.
Dylan Minnette: It’s the same crew as LOST, like the whole crew moved together to that show.
Elias Kotaes: Is that the big island?
Dylan Minnette: It’s Oahu. That’s not the big island, no. Isn’t Maui on the big island.
Quint: Maui is one of the smaller islands.
Dylan Minnette: Oahu is a big island, it’s just the most populated city island.
Elias Koteas: The big island is the least populated. It’s a paradigm.
[Elias notices Quint’s picture on his Festival badge.]
Elias Koteas: Hey, what’s that?
Quint: That’s my “shaky face.”
Elias Koteas: Nice.
Quint: They don’t do regular badges.
Elias Koteas: You look like a corpse, man!
Dylan Minnette: Nice.
Quint: Not my best side.
Elias Koteas: I love it, man!
Quint: You take a picture while shaking your head around and then you get a still of like your cheek flap open or something, so that’s the whole idea.
Dylan Minnette: That’s awesome.
Quint: I thought I had a bug on me or something, you’re like “What’s that?!?!” I’m just like “What? I’m not going to move.” But yeah, I’m a big fan of yours as well, going back to Casey Jones.
Elias Koteas: Casey Jones, man.
Quint: And I knew that you coming here, you are going to get Casey Jones more than any other place.
Elias Koteas: Is that right?
Quint: All of the geek press are out here in force and everybody when I say “I’m going to interview Elias,” They are like “Casey Jones!”
Dylan Minnette: You only got it like once today at the radio station, right?
Quint: Oh really? You’ve only gotten it once? That surprises me.
Dylan Minnette: But they were freaking out like “It’s Casey Jones!”
Quint: I took Tai kwon do as an eight year old, because of NINJA TURTLES.
Elias Koteas: Wow. We shot that 21 years ago.
Dylan Minnette: I remember watching that movie. I remember you now and Kodi was like “Yeah, you’re Casey Jones.”
Elias Koteas: That’s what blows my mind and it came out in 1990. We shot it in the summer of 1989, wow. Wow. People stop me all of the time and are like “Um, um… um… Casey!” That’s great.
Dylan Minnette: And speaking of LOST, I’m excited to meet Michael Giacchino tonight.
Quint: Oh yeah, he just walked into the bar not two minutes ago.
Elias Koteas: Who is that? What does he do?
Quint: He’s the composer.
Elias Koteas: The composer of the movie?
Dylan Minnette: I love him work, especially on LOST.
Quint: On LOST and he also did the best superhero score since probably BATMAN with THE INCREDIBLES.
Dylan Minnette: He’s the only composer I really follow and know that does movies and TV shows and then when I found that he was doing it, I was like “Wow, that’s so cool.”
Quint: And he does such a great job. That dude, mark my words, I think he’s going to be this generation’s John Williams. He’s already on that road where he’s doing very memorable, very thematic scores.
Dylan Minnette: He’s done so much. He did STAR TREK, too.
Quint: The STAR TREK score was great.
Elias Koteas: How old of a guy is he?
Dylan Minnette: The new STAR TREK movie, but I’d say 30’s.
Quint: But, it’s not just Casey Jones stuff, obviously I follow your whole career. I particularly loved FALLEN.
Elias Koteas: FALLEN was fun.
Quint: FALLEN was such an awesome movie and I think it’s kind of an underrated movie, too. I think people, when it came out it wasn’t like it hit really big, but like everybody I know that saw it holds that movie in such a high esteem.
Elias Koteas: It didn’t do very well at the box office. I wonder why. Did they have an issue? What was the issue? The story itself?
Quint: That was a New Line movie, right?
Elias Koteas: Yeah.
Quint: It was New Line before LORD OF THE RINGS, so they were still in that kind of mini-major small thing.
Elias Koteas: It was a fun way to open up the film. It was fun.
Quint: And the great Rolling Stone songs.
Elias Koteas: Yeah, I remember going down that hallway and the Yankees were winning the World Series and no one was watching what I was doing. They were all glued to the tube watching the Yankees win the World Series and I was just walking down the hallway like “Okay, I hope this is going well because nobody is watching it.”
Quint: Let’s start talking about Let Me In or I’m going to be in trouble! I’m a huge fan of the original Swedish film, I saw it here actually at Fantastic Fest two or three years ago. I didn’t even know what it was about, I just heard people liked it. I thought it was a ghost story. For whatever reason LET THE RIGHT ONE IN just sounded like a ghost story to me.
Dylan Minnette: It kind of does, right.
Quint: Yeah and so I walked in to the movie. I was blown away by it. I love it. I have the BluRay and have watched it five or six times. I’ve brought people to it. Did you guys know anything about the movie before going into this one?
Dylan Minnette: No. I found out about it I think in between the process of auditioning and call back. My mom was like “Yeah, it’s a remake.” “Really?” I remember the day I got the part I was having dinner with my manager for my mom’s birthday on that date and we were at Barnes and Noble. I went in and got the DVD and the book. I watched the DVD later on, like… I can’t remember if it was during filming, after filming… It was towards the end sometime and I read the first chapter of the book and I never finished it, because I have been busy, but yeah. Did you like the new one?
Quint: Yeah, I liked the new one a lot. Listen, when the remake was first announced, you immediately go “Oh God, they are going to TWILIGHT this story. That’s going to be where the studio is going to see the appeal. TWILIGHT is popular, this is a vampire romance essentially, and they are going to try to shoehorn a teenage love story in.” But the…
Elias Koteas: But why such vehemence? We read some of those threads in the beginning when we were shooting the thing and they were rough, man.
Quint: It’s harsh.
Elias Koteas: It’s as if it was sacrilegious almost.
Quint: The original is held very dear and I think a lot of people… there’s a little bit of the abused housewife syndrome, because after ten years of remakes being hollow, homogenized…
Elias Koteas: Ultimately it could just be ignored. If it’s not even good, it could just be ignored and you always have the Swedish version.
Quint: But I knew that Matt [Reeves] was on the right track whenever they announced Kodi [Smit-McPhee] and Chloe [Moretz]. Listen, if you keep the innocence of those two main characters, that to me is the movie, so I knew that at least he had the right intentions going in.
Dylan Minnette: And I think he declined to age them up. Is that true?
Quint: Oh, I don’t know.
Dylan Minnette: I thought I had read something that Matt had said in another interview that originally the studio was like “Maybe we should age them up, because of TWILIGHT” and he said “Then I don’t think you should remake the movie then.” It was in one of those reviews I think, because I read them when I have spare time.
Elias Koteas: I saw Kodi at a distance my first day on set and he exemplified… I thought “Whoa, that kid totally looks like he’s carrying that torment.”
Quint: It’s all in his eyes.
Elias Koteas: He was slumped over and I don’t know what he wore, but I thought “Perfect casting.” I knew we were in the right place when I saw him. I knew we were in good hands.
Quint: What do you think about your character, Elias? Obviously you have this feeling that the policeman has a drive to solve this, but I also almost get the feeling like this is just another day for him. This is something where the more that he unravels, the more he realizes this is something special, something different and a challenge, but I also like that everything is set in a real context where he’s still just a guy doing his job.
Elias Koteas: Right and that was the challenge. Upon first reading him, how do you… He doesn’t really affect anything. He’s really sort of a character on first view where he looks like he’s just observing and he is just bearing witness to events, so for me the challenge was how to make it personal and meaningful. So I kind of figure out a way to sort of think of it and we talked about this, but think of it in terms of going over my steps of “How did I get to where I got to? How did I meet my demise? Did I miss something?”
So, to me it felt very much like I was a ghost in the movie sort of observing having gone through it almost, so that was my approach to personalize it and have no judgments on it, but have a thoughtful sort of consciousness about it and figure out what happened. In that way it was very compassionate and allowed me an in as opposed to feeling superfluous.
Quint: And now that I’ve chatted with you a little bit, it’s like you seem like a nice kid. You seem like a nice guy, so obviously you weren’t pulling on a lot of real life things.
Dylan Minnette: Yeah, it was the first mean character I have ever played and I was really excited to do it, especially because I’m a huge horror film fan and I’ve always wanted to play mean characters. So, to be in a horror film and a mean character in the same….
[Michael Giacchino walks by]
Elias Koteas: Hello Mr. Composer.
Michael Giacchino: How is everything going?
Dylan Minnette: Nice to meet you.
Elias Koteas: It’s nice to meet you, man.
Michael Giacchino: Great work and you great work again.
Dylan Minnette: Thanks so much. I’ll see you around later.
[Michael Giacchino walks away.]
Dylan Minnette: I just met him!
Quint: “That’s it, okay I’m going! Day’s over.”
Dylan Minnette: (laughs) Where was I?
Quint: You were talking about how you never played a mean character.
Dylan Minnette: Oh, yeah. The bully. Yeah and it was funny, because obviously I’m really mean in the movie and I would be so mean to him in the scene and then they’d cut and me, Kodi, and Jimmy, and Nicolai would all start just laughing and joking around. We have so many inside jokes from that set. We were all like best friends and then in our scenes we would be hurting Owen you know? It was fun and whenever we weren’t filming, we still had fun in the hotel and it was a blast filming that.
Quint: I love that it’s not dwelled upon, but there’s that one scene where your older brother comes and just by calling you the same thing that you have called the Owen character, you immediately get where this kid is coming from, that he’s not this evil bully, that he’s reacting to his home life.
Dylan Minnette: Yeah and that’s also what I liked about playing this character, he wasn’t just the character in the horror film that everyone wants to die. There’s always one character in a horror film that people are like “I want that guy to die so bad.”
Quint: Burke in ALIENS.
Dylan Minnette: Yeah, I was basically that character, but I like that for a little bit, for a little bit, you have… For about twenty minutes or though you have a time where you feel sort of bad for him, but you still don’t because he’s still a bad guy. He does this to Owen, but back at home there are still these things that are going on with him. He’s still doing it, but deep down you know maybe he doesn’t want to, but he wants to be just like his brother and he looks up to his brother in some crazy way.
I like that there’s also something else for me to work off of with that character that something else is going on at home. Matt told me one day, he gave me a compliment when we were doing that bathroom scene when I’m whipping him and he goes “Keep doing what you are doing. I like that look in your eye. You don’t look like some kid that’s just bullying him for fun because you are mean. I can tell this look you are giving him, this look in your eye, that there is something going on at home that you feel that you have to.” And he goes “Keep doing it.” I’m like “Sweet.” From then on…
Quint: And then you are like “Oh God, what look was I doing?”
Dylan Minnette: (Laughs) Exactly, but from then on I felt more confident about doing the character and I had a lot of fun working with Matt and everybody else.
Quint: How did Matt work with you guys? What was his approach directing you?
Dylan Minnette: What I like about Matt is that some directors will sit back in video village and not really interact with you much and he knows exactly what he wants and he right next to the camera holding his own monitor and if you want something, he’s right there. He’s always right there. He’s involved with the whole thing and if it’s a really complicated scene sometimes it takes an hour maybe, just like that short of time just because he knows what he wants and it worked out, but if it’s just a small little scene like when I’m in the pool in the beginning and I didn’t do anything, that scene took nine hours. It’s just because he wants every shot to be perfect. That’s what I like about Matt, that he’s really involved with the whole thing, so I really like Matt’s direction and I think it really turned out well and they did a really good job on it.
Elias Koteas: Yeah, and he instills a trust. He knows what he wants and he’s very open to anything you bring to it. He doesn’t make you feel it’s his way or the highway. He’s a smart guy, very intuitive, and casts well and lets us go.
Quint: And you have worked with some amazing directors, so you probably have a good feel on what makes a good director at this point.
Elias Koteas: Yeah and you know that he’s probably scared shitless being in this situation too, so you want to be able to carry your weight and bring whatever you’ve got going on. Even if you’re not, he’s going to help you though it and he’s so lovely. His energy is so…
Dylan Minnette: He’s such a good guy.
Elias Koteas: You trust him. His films look beautiful and it’s a crapshoot. The fact that you are sitting here and being such a fan of the first one and that you feel this way and open and enjoyed this film, it’s phenomenal.
Quint: It’s tough. There are a handful of remakes that have been made that don’t feel like they’re insulting the original. John Carpenter’s THE THING… Cronenberg’s THE FLY…
Elias Koteas: Those were great. Did you enjoys those films? The remake of THE THING and…
Quint: Oh yeah, John Carpenter’s THE THING is one of my favorite movies.
Dylan Minnette: Aren’t they remaking THE THING?
Elias Koteas: I enjoyed it more than the original movie.
Quint: They are doing a prequel. It’s a prequel, so it’s the Norwegian camp.
Elias Koteas: The thing with the husky.
Quint: Yeah, so the end of the movie is this dog running away.
Elias Koteas: I tried to get on it, but they needed guys who spoke Norwegian.
Dylan Minnette: Oh. Is that movie going somewhere? Is it high budget?
Quint: Yeah, it’s a big Universal movie.
Dylan Minnette: Sweet. I’m going to see it.
Elias Koteas: That’s great, man, you were open to seeing (LET ME IN).
Quint: I just like good movies. There’s no way that this film could have the same impact on me that the original did just by the fact that I know it exists. Do you know what I mean? The performances in this movie, you guys included, are just outstanding and not typical of genre film and not typical of… shit any movie that has a predominantly younger cast.
Elias Koteas: The kids in this movie are just so alive and soulful.
Dylan Minnette: And we haven’t talked about Chloe yet today. I’m just going to say that Chloe also did a really good job in the film I think and Kodi who is always great, but I think definitely I’m not including me because that just sounds bad, but I think the whole cast is so great. Even people that are in one scene and then they get killed or something, I think every single person in the movie…
Quint: So everybody except for Dylan is great in this movie.
Dylan Minnette: Everybody, but me, is amazing.
Elias Koteas: It’s such a crapshoot with all of the little ingredients that come together to make something that you keep thinking about. It’s great.
Quint: Thanks, guys!