Piranha 3-D's generated quite a bit of buzz from its attractive, scantily-clad (or unclad) female stars. But it would be unfair to the ladies in the audience (and some of the gents) if we didn't shine a light on the film's male stars. That's why I took some time on my recent visit to the film's Lake Havasu, Arizona set to chat with actors Steven McQueen (from Vampire Diaries), who plays Jake Forester, the film's young hero, and Adam Scott (of Party Down and Step Brothers), who plays Novak, the lead scientist investigating/battling the piranha. Check out our conversations below, and start placing your bets on who will survive the film's fearsome, fanged fish…
This character is something of a departure from your recent comedic roles.
Yeah. I play a geologist. My dad is a biologist, a marine biologist, as well as other kinds of biology. As I was growing up I went on a lot of sabbaticals and trips with him, he was a college professor and so – not that gives me any insight into the actual science of things because I'm not as smart as my dad – but I kind of found little things in the wardrobe… glasses and stuff, which is how I remember my dad being on all those crazy trips I went on as a kid. But yeah, he's a geologist…Elizabeth Shue's character calls us in because there's an earthquake at the bottom of a lake, some incident has occurred. So we come to see what's going on. And as it turns out, there are fucking piranhas attacking everybody.
This movie aims to do what you don't see enough of nowadays – blending comedy and horror. Can you comment on that dichotomy, on how much humor is going to be a part of the movie? And on how much humor we are going to get from your character?
Yeah. I think Alex is a great mix, because Alex Aja knows how to do almost unbearable suspense and horror with High Tension and Hills Have Eyes and those other movies. So when you mix that with the obvious kind of humor, especially with Jerry [O'Connell] and with Paul Scheer's part of the movie where it's sort of the Girls Gone Wild sub-plot, I think it's going to have a lot of really big laughs. I don't think the movie is campy, but I think it has a sense of humor about itself and some really funny stuff in it. Lisa [Shue] and I are trying to drop humor in, here and there, but we're more of the grounding part of the movie. It's more of the straight part of the movie, where you need to get the sense of the danger, the weight, of the situation. I think there will be some really funny things in the movie.
This isn't the first horror film you've appeared in. You were also in Hellraiser: Bloodline. Are you a fan of the genre?
I am, yeah, I always try and go see… I remember going and seeing Texas Chainsaw Massacre when they re-made it. I remember thinking "This is great. This is much better than the original." The original has value but is so dated now. This one is better. I feel like some of these movies when they are updated actually pay tribute and improve upon the original… I think Halloween, John Carpenter's Halloween, is one of the best movies ever. I'm certainly not alone in thinking that. Jaws of course is one of the best movies ever made.
Was it a kick to have Richard Dreyfuss essentially reprise his Jaws character in this film?
So great. It was amazing. He's such a nice guy… Yeah I mean when a horror movie is good, I'm all for it. I mean I always thought that Marathon Man was a horror movie, even though it's not thought of like that – it's scary as shit. The Shining… I mean some of the best movies ever made are horror movies; and I think High Tension is just terrific, incredible. So yeah, I'm all for it.
This has been a pretty demanding shoot. What's been the most challenging scene in this film for you?
During the massacre I'm on a jet ski going around helping people. There's a stunt where I try and avoid going head on with a boat. I don't want to spoil it, but I actually end up going underwater on the jet ski and actually had to do it. Long story short – I have a newfound respect for stunt actors, because this is a tough job, man. I was wiped out and I realized I could never do what those guys do. They are true artists. I mean the whole thing has been physically challenging because it's 110 degrees all the time and we're out in the middle of the lake, no shade, shooting these really emotionally charged scenes where we're all scared shitless. It's really challenging, but super fun, and we all just try and keep a sense of humor about it because we are shooting a movie about killer fish. At the end of the day, it's just a good time.
Can you talk about how you got involved with Piranha 3-D?
I just did a pilot called Vampire Diaries – we just finished and I got back to LA. I had met with them before I left for Vampire and came back… and it all just timed out perfect. I heard there was this great cast attached and a great director and it all just fell into place. I came up here and started making this awesome project.
Your character is basically the action hero in this film. What's that experience been like?
He starts out with… he's got great potential to be this action-ish guy, you could say, but he's not there in the beginning. He's nervous talking to the girl he's in love with; he's afraid to go for what he really wants; and with this whole crazy piranha situation that goes on… it causes him to rise up and be a hero. It's cool, because it's got layers to being a hero, not just through the whole thing.
Yesterday, you guys were working on a big shot, in which your character and Jessica Szohr's are pulled out of a lake full of piranha on a rope. Was that the trickiest shot for you so far?
We had a little bit of time off, but I decided to stay in town to do extra training for this, so I was pretty well trained. It was tough. The water wasn't so warm, and it's supposed to be in the spring [laughs]; it's supposed to be spring break! So just getting used to that, going between the cold water and the hot tub… I stayed extra hours and did extra training, so it wasn't too difficult.
And that was the most physically challenging part of the shoot for you?
Oh, yeah! But I did the training. And I stopped smoking cigarettes. [Laughs.]