Like any fright film that wants to be a hit, Piranha 3-D promises two key elements – shocks galore and beautiful women. I spoke with two of the latter during my recent visit to the film's set in Lake Havasu, Arizona (just a few days before shooting wrapped) – Jessica Szhor and Kelly Brook. Szhor (best know for her role on Gossip Girl) play's the film's nominal heroine, Kelly, a girl who grew up in a spring-break party town, and now finds herself at an age when she must decide if she wants to join the party. Brook (a former judge on Britain's Got Talent who appeared in Smallville and The Italian Job) plays Danni, a lovely Brit for whom there is no decision – she's all too eager to bare it all in the film's Girls Gone Wild-esque video Wild, Wild Girls. Check out what both party girls told me after the jump.
What can you tell me about your character in the film?
I play the role of Danni, and she is a Wild Wild Girl. She and Crystal, played by Riley Steele, basically are trying to entice the younger cast members into all sorts of wild antics and craziness. So I'm kind of corrupting everyone. I also have the role of an older sister, in that I kind of see the chemistry that is going on between Jake and Kelly, and I try to match-make them. So although I'm crazy, I think I've got a bit more to me than just going mental all the time. I suppose that's my kind of story and role in the movie.
What's been the most challenging scene for you to shoot so far?
Well, I mean, when I read the script I was really nervous about most of it, because there's a lot of nudity and lots of stunts and water. All these elements that would make you go, "Oh God, what a nightmare thing to shoot." You know, you're in Arizona, and you're working in the heat. But the most difficult thing I think has [today's] scene. I mean, look at my bruises. I've got massive bruises. Just hanging outside water, upside down underwater, has just been really difficult to get my head around.
How long have you been filming this scene?
Well, we were doing some stuff out in the lake, and then we were doing some stuff in the tank, so it's been probably, in total, about seven days of just being bashed up by piranhas, and hanging upside down on cranes. They wanna get you from all angles, perspectives. And the blood and all that stuff… when you sign on to make a movie like Piranha you kind of know you are going to do all that stuff, but it's still tough. It's hard work.
This isn't your first horror film. Are you a fan of the genre?
I'm a fan of the old kind of b-movie horror film. I don't know, I'm not really a horror fan. I mean, I saw My Bloody Valentine 3D by accident. I was at the movie theatre, and it was the only thing that was showing. I went reluctantly, and I was really actually impressed by it. I thought, "You know, it really works in 3D…" Horror is great in 3D because the last place you want to be is in that movie. Then suddenly it's coming out at you. It was really cool! So the fact that they were gonna be using all that new 3D technology for this, I thought, could really give it a whole other element and make it much more of a cinematic experience. I mean, the fear with these movies is that they always end up on DVD and you never see them again. So with this, I think they were really adamant that this was going to be a big theatrical movie. Something that was going to be seen by a lot of people. So I kind of put aside my cynicism, and thought, "Well, it's always good to be a part of something successful." So fingers crossed. But also, Alex, the director, has done a lot of amazing work before, so you know he's gonna make it look beautiful. And that's, as an actress, what you really care about.
I think it's safe to say that's what a lot of the audience cares about too. So I'm sure our audience would like to know – did you and your co-star Riley [Steele] already do your nude scenes?
We do it together. We have a whole make-out scene under water. They wanted to make it like the Cirque du Soleil, but naked. This is us making our kind of Wild Girls… they wanted to shoot it all underwater. That's what made me think, "You know, maybe this isn't going to be too bad…" Because anything underwater can look quite beautiful. We did lots of practicing, swimming around each other. It's probably the most unsexy thing I've ever done. Every time we kiss each other we're perspiring, and we've been out on the boat all day. I'm just like, "Oh God, Riley, you taste disgusting." And she's like, "You taste gross too." It's just horrible. But we were like, "We just gotta make it look as sexy as possible." You know, we swim around each other underwater, and then we kind of come up for air, and we're gasping, and our hair is in our face. It's been difficult, but I hope it looks good.
Did you guys get to work with Jerry O'Connell – who plays the producer of Wild Wild Girls – in these scenes?
Yeah, Jerry's in all of our scenes. I'm part of Jerry's death scene, when he has part of his anatomy ripped off by the piranha. It's funny how the piranha kind of aim for the one characteristic on every character that makes up the whole character. With Jerry, it's his penis. With Paul, it's his nose. With me, it's my face. With Riley, it's her mouth – cause she says really horrible things.
So there's a lot of symbolism in this thing? [Laughs.]
Yeah. [Laughs.] It's really funny how that works.
Everyone seems very confident about this film.
Yeah, especially with the humor. I think that's what really attracted me to the movie, because I would get sent lots of exploitation-film emails. I think the difference with this one was that it wasn't apologizing for what it was. It was taking it to a different level and going, "No, this is what we are. We are going to be the most ultimate exploitation, b-movie you have ever seen. We're going to have more blood, more tits, more foul language… Yeah, we're just gonna go for it." I think that's what made me want to be a part of it really.
So it's striving to be the ultimate popcorn movie?
It's like a fantasy. I mean, having a European director as well – it's like everything he would imagine spring break to be. It's like a boy's dream, with the boats and the girls and the blood and the action. Ving Rhames having a chainsaw? You can see it's his fantasy. His America. What he would imagine an American exploitation horror movie to be. So combining that with his absolute kind of genius, the way he shoots stuff, is just beautiful. So to have it look the way it does, as well as have all that… it's quite an unusual combination. We're all excited to see how it all comes together.
Yeah, we're really rooting for it, cause there are too few films these days, horror films, that have comedy, that really have a strong sense of humor. Everything is so melodramatic. Our audience, and I, really want to see a film like this. Jerry will give you all of that. We'll play our roles. I'll be the melodramatic one crying, Jerry is the one who's screaming for his penis. It's just absurd, all of it.
We saw you working underwater yesterday. Are a lot of your scenes underwater?
I have just in the last couple days, but we've been on a boat basically the entire movie. We just recently got back on land.
So have you seen the original film?
I've seen it, yeah. That's one of the reasons why I was really excited when I got the script and went in, and met with everyone and put myself on tape. You were at the edge of your seat, and it was very intense. Then I found out the cast that was doing this; and the director has a really cool vision. So I was like, "Oh my God. This is going to be so fun – piranha on a lake!" It's weird because even on our days off, we're in the lake, our one day off a week, we're on the lake. And I freak out and go, "What if there are piranha here?" I know there's not but, I'm like, "Oh my God. Something's going to happen to me…"
Can you talk a little bit about your character in the film and what she goes through?
Kelly is a girl that grew up in Lake Victoria. She's the local, and grew up seeing all the crazy stuff on the boat – the kids that come in for spring break and the weekends and stuff like that. I think because she's so used to it she's not really into it. She's seen it so much growing up that she's kind of like, "Oh, I'm over it. I'm not gonna be the girl that has all the tattoos. I'm not the girl that goes and gets wasted on the boat and shows my body to everyone." She's kind of done it, seen it all, over it. And she has had a crush on Jake for a long time. She runs into him when she comes back from college, and somehow gets persuaded to go on this boat. Not really persuaded – she wants to go on because Jake is going on, but that's not her thing at all. So she's kind of stepping out of her character when she goes on the boat. She goes on and does a couple things that's not really like her, because of her feelings for Jake. Then they start getting attacked by piranha.
Can you talk about the humor in the film?
I think the comedy is really definitely Jerry O'Connell's character. He took it to a whole other level in one day. But it is also funny with the two girls, the Wild Wild Girls, because it's a crazy spring break thing. So it's not in everyday life that you see this, you know what I mean? Growing up where I'm even from, Wisconsin, people are going to see this and be like, "Is that really what goes on?" My little sister is going to be like, "I've never even seen anything like that."
Have you done your own stunts in this?
I've had a stunt double for some of the things. I've done some of my own as well. I think with some of the stunts, it would have been, months of training, which, working with the show and then this, I don't think, schedule-wise, would work. I can't imagine jumping out of buildings and stuff like that, but doing a water thing… I've learned a lot about myself, and a lot about water, and it's really difficult. I give all the stunt people total mad credit, because, it's intense.
You said you saw the original Piranha – are you a fan of the genre?
I've seen a lot actually, and I'm a fan of them. I like movies that… You know, there's a ton of really big piranha in a lake, but the tone of the movie is such that everything feels really realistic. The way Alex made you feel this love story, and the relationship with Jake and his mom, and the relationship of these two girls are just… We don't care, we're having fun. And Jerry's character is kind of this douche-bag guy, but he's charming – and that's why he does get all these women to do what he does. There's a realistic tone to it, which I always find great in movies, whether it's a cartoon or not. There's a real story that you can connect to.
What's your greatest fear?