Genre fans may recall first seeing actress Alexandra Daddario in Stevan Mena's 'Bereavement', a prequel to his film 'Malevolence', so considering the adversary she had to face off in that film, it seemed to be the perfect training ground for when she'd inevitably go head to head with one of the horror's biggest heavyweights. And there's no bigger one (literally and figuratively) than Leatherface! With 'Texas Chainsaw 3D' arriving in theaters on January 4th, we thought this would be the ideal time to get Alexandra in the hot seat to talk all things Chainsaw Massacre!
First off, just wanted to tell you how much I love your performance in Bereavement. I remember coming to set and (director) Stevan Mena had nothing but nice things to say about you.
No way! That was such an exciting film for me to do, because it was my first lead in a movie. And it was a really big deal to me at the time. It still is! It’s amazing how much I hear about that film from horror fans.
What’d you think about Bereavement when you first read it? Because it’s a really dark movie. And because it’s a prequel, you know how it has to end. To me, your character has some of the most heartbreaking stuff in the movie.
It’s pretty shocking to the audience! I really embraced what it was. I thought it was really cool and really dark and I was just excited to be a part of it. I don’t remember having any ambivalence or weirdness about the content of the film. I knew what the film was and what it was supposed to be.
I also feel it was a good way to get you properly prepared for a Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie since it’s so heavily influenced by that original film!
How’d Texas Chainsaw come to you? I thought I had read that you weren’t familiar with the franchise but after getting this role you went back and watched the first one?
Yes. I live in LA and I auditioned for the role and I knew the producers were familiar with my work beforehand. So I got the role and I’m a big scaredy-cat! It’s not that I don’t like horror films, it’s just that they’re very effective on me and I’m always hiding behind my fingers while watching them. So I had not seen any of them, even though I knew what they were and I of course knew who Leatherface was. But I watched the original and it’s an amazing movie. And you see why this franchise has lasted 30 plus years and why Leatherface is so iconic. It’s just incredible. And reading about the making of it and what Tobe Hooper’s intentions were with the film, it’s really incredible.
The making of that movie is almost as fascinating as the movie itself! And it’s always interesting to hear from people that are only now just seeing it such as yourself. It’s amazing that this little movie from 1974 still works.
Oh definitely. The thing that’s so interesting about the original is that it caused this uproar when it came out and it was banned in England. Looking at it now, it’s kind of mild gore-wise compared to the types of films we have come out now. It’s interesting to see how cinema and horror films have evolved since then and how it paved the way. I still find the scene with the Hitchhiker first getting in the van to be so eternally creepy. It will always be one of the scariest scenes ever, and the movie just gets more and more terrifying.
Did you go back and watch any of the other Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies? Or did you just stick with seeing the original for reference?
I watched the one with Jessica Biel. I heard great things about it, in particular her performance so I wanted to watch her performance. I had to take breaks while watching that one, because I watched the DVD at home and there was too much gore for me to handle in one sitting. For me! I’m not good with gore. Which doesn’t make much sense considering I’m in a Texas Chainsaw film. (Laughs) But it’s always different making the film than watching it. But I thought the remake was excellent and her performance was amazing.
What’s cool is you’ve got the original Texas Chainsaw. Then you’ve got Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, which is the one that Tobe Hooper did in 1986. But this new one is a direct sequel to the original, so it’s almost like an alternate timeline in the Chainsaw universe, because it picks up on the next frame from where the first one ends. And it’s really cool seeing a new scene take place right after the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre! Was that one of the appealing aspects of this project to you?
It’s really exciting in that it deviates from the classic horror film and it’s not what people are going to expect, which is great. I love that fans of the original will like this, because there’s so much from the original that ties into this one. We have a lot of the original actors in this film making appearances, so I think for fans of the original, it’s going to be exciting for them. To those not as familiar with the franchise, it still stands on its own as a really fun, scary film.
Leatherface is obviously one of the iconic characters in horror history. I love seeing billboards of him all over town! Some actors that have played him before tend to distance themselves from the cast to further instill fear on screen, while others don’t follow that philosophy. How was your working relationship with Dan Yeager as Leatherface? Was it intimidating seeing him in the mask?
He was in character on set the whole time and I definitely didn’t get to know him all that well until much later in shooting, so it definitely made it scarier. I didn’t joke around with him or hang out with him in the same way I did with the other actors. Yeah, it did make it scarier to have a little bit of distance. But he’s an incredibly impressive person & actor. He never once complained; it was really hot and he’s wearing this mask and always stayed in character under these difficult circumstances and long shooting days and when cameras rolled, he was totally terrifying. He bought a great human quality to the monster that was really, really amazing.
What was your favorite scene or sequence that you filmed that you’re either most proud of or that stands out for you from this experience?
Well the one scene that was scary but also the most challenging was when I was working with Tania Raymonde in the overturned van. We’re in this small space and being chased by Leatherface and we’re feeding off of each other’s energy and fear. I thought that was a really great sequence. It was crazy to shoot! But for an actress it was a really interesting thing to be able to pull off.
Because this was shot in 3D, technically that involves a lot more. As your first 3D shooting experience, was it weird to get used to how much longer this process took?
I’m used to things taking a long time. There are always challenges when making a film. But yeah, shooting 3D does take a lot longer than 2D, so we did run into more technical problems than we anticipated. But I think that’s just part of the process. Sometimes you’ll do a take and think its great but the camera move was off and that’s just the way it is. It’s just another technical hurtle to overcome but I think it’s worth it because I think the 3D is so amazing. One cool thing, you watch playback in 3D. You get 3D glasses and you watch what you just shot in 3D in Video Village which is insanely cool, so you can get a sense on set of what they’re doing.
You’ve seen the film now. Anything that surprised you about it? What are your final thoughts now seeing it all come together?
Making a movie and seeing it are totally different experiences. But I think I need to see it again for a variety of reasons. We had a screening with a bunch of the actors and some agents, and even though we read the script and were in the movie and knew what was coming, we were still jumping out of our seats at certain scares and laughing and enjoying it. There’s something kind of amazing about that, and I hope that audiences have the same reaction that we had, even though we knew what was coming. I still found it incredibly frightening, and I’m excited to see it again.