- Category: Interviews
- Published: Thursday, 14 April 2016 21:54
- Written by Jason Marshall
Punk rock and Patrick Stewart collide in the new horror thriller GREEN ROOM. And, rightfully so, the movie’s writer/director knows exactly how lucky he is to have captured the famed Shakespearean actor breaking bad in such a big way.
“Patrick just wanted to try something new,” says Jeremy Saulnier at a press conference for the indie flick, held Wednesday at The London West Hollywood. “And with shaking things up, I benefitted from that timing where he was handed GREEN ROOM at the moment where he wanted to try something new.”
“He was attracted to playing a villain,” continues Saulnier, “but not just to be a sadistic, evil villain. [He wanted] to be someone with a sort of brutal pragmatism that could still be a subtle performance and carry so much weight [at the same time].”
Set in the backwoods of Oregon, GREEN ROOM follows a punk rock band [led by Star Trek’s Anton Yelchin] that takes one last gig at the end of a long, unsuccessful tour. The isolated, run-down club they end up at turns out to hold enough secrets to escalate the third-rate gig into something much more sinister.
“It was a punk rock film, in a very earnest way. You could tell whoever wrote it loved this and experienced this,” explains Yelchin when asked what appealed to him about the script. “There is a melancholy undertone of people – for no good reason - falling in deep sh*t, trying to figure their way out of it, and coming out on the other end realizing that it was just deep sh*t and they got into it.” “It was kind of heartbreaking and that sort of propelled me through trying to work on this character, that feeling.”
For Jeremy, whose credits also include Blue Ruin and Murder Party, the goal was to make something that stood apart from everything else the genre has to offer.
“This is a film about tactics. It’s ultimately a siege thriller. It’s not really a slasher film,” he suggests. “Now certainly, the horror fans can latch onto certain elements. It takes place in a concert venue with black lights and graffiti. It looks like a haunted house and the makeup effects will satisfy any horror fan. That’s for sure. But the way I treated the interactions and the violence itself was war. I was referencing Platoon, Apocalypse Now and River’s Edge.”
And with any good war movie comes inspiration from the real world, something the 39-year-old admits was also part of his process.
“One of the few intentional, political undertones in the movie was about hierarchy and power structure, and who is giving marching orders and for what reason. Who is fighting and who is getting hurt and maybe it is for reasons that don’t actually benefit them.”
Politics aside, the music also finds its way to the forefront of the flick. Anton had nothing but good things to say about his bandmates and the effort put in to properly inhabit ‘90s punk rock culture.
“Alia [Shawkat] played some guitar and has an incredible voice. I mean, her singing voice is just ethereal and beautiful. Joe [Cole] and Callum [Turner] were the most impressive to me,” he says. “Joe, in particular, because I’ve tried to play drums and is just is so fu**** difficult. Joe had six weeks to learn to play hardcore punk, you know, and to keep the time. It’s really fast and it’s really hard. And by the time we got to shooting those scenes Joe was playing the drums. I was wildly impressed with it. By the end we could have… if we had had a little more time, we probably could’ve played a gig even. Which is really cool.”
It wasn’t all fun and games, though, as all of them were still making a high-octane thriller that might not be the best idea for anyone suffering from claustrophobia.
“This [movie] is an exercise in downscaling, I think by steering clear of spectacle, artificiality and pyrotechnics - if you make it intimate and relatable – that the tension you’ll experience in GREEN ROOM, I think I can say is ten times what you’ll experience in any of these big studio franchise movies. Because you will not only experience real peril, but you’ll experience the elation of survival,” concludes Saulnier before quickly adding, “not to talk sh*t about Star Trek…”
“I’ve never been with a cast that is under so much emotional duress in such a confined space for so many days,” adds Yelchin. “And you end up, inevitably, feeding off of that whether you want to or not. That ends up informing your performance.”
A performance Anton noted had many different influences.
“I listened to the Bad Brains’ [self-titled] first record every day [on my way] to work. I don’t know why. It had nothing to do with the mood as much as the ferocity. It’s so ferocious. Bad Brains are, like, from a different planet. It’s like they descended to play this crazy music.”
GREEN ROOM opens in limited release on Friday, April 15th and invades theaters around the country two weeks later, on April 29th.