The Massie Twins recently had a chance to sit down with actor Luke Wilson and discuss his latest film “Vacancy.”
The Massie Twins: You’re known for your creative comedic roles. How did you get involved in a horror movie? Is it something you’ve wanted to do before?
Luke Wilson: I just never had the chance. I like all kinds of genres of movies from action to horror to comedies. I had worked on this one Jacob’s Ladder-type movie that I’m forgetting the name of, but this would be the second kind of scary thing that I’ve worked on. But this isn’t the kind of thing that comes my way that often.
MT: Can you tell us the process involved with getting the part in Vacancy?
LW: I was kind of nervous to do the part but then Clint Culpepper, the guy that runs Screen Gems, talked me into it. They made The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Silent Hill that don’t necessarily have recognizable people but they’ve done really well and he had wanted to make another good scary movie with actors that he liked. And then I met with the director, Nimrod Antal, and saw his movie Kontroll and he had a lot of good ideas and it seemed like it would be a challenge. Which it was.
MT: Give us a quick intro to your character and the movie.
LW: My character is a guy who’s just about to get divorced with his wife, played by Kate Beckinsale, and you learn during the movie that we’ve lost a child in an accident and when the movie starts the guy is already exhausted and worn down and there’s a feeling of melancholy with this couple and everything just gets turned on its head when we check into this hotel where these snuff films are being made.
MT: What do you think about America’s newfound infatuation with explicit and ultra-violent horror films like Saw, The Hills Have Eyes, and Hostel, to name a few?
LW: I feel like I’ve missed the boat on those. They’re just a little too gory for me. I think it’s just kind of titillating to watch stuff like that. A sex scene or murder scene – it’s just that kind of voyeuristic quality and maybe people like to be scared. I’m not knocking those movies at all, I just can’t watch them. The Shining is an example where it’s obviously made by a genius like Kubrick, but it just seems like there’s more skill involved in telling a story like that where it’s really scary and it’s more about what’s going on in your own head as opposed to watching somebody get their arm sawed off. That said, I haven’t even watched Saw. I’ve flipped by it on cable but it just seems too damn much.
MT: How does Vacancy compare to these kinds of films?
LW: It’s really not gory at all. It brings you into it more if you’re scared about what has happened or what’s going to happen as opposed to seeing it happen, and I think it’s not in the same field as those movies. I’m not saying it’s above it, I’m just saying it’s different. Vacancy to me seems like one of those scary movies from the 70’s where you have the couple who has a car break down, and they check into a creepy motel, but there’s just not that much blood in the movie.
MT: So what’s your favorite horror movie?
LW: I loved the Shining. The Exorcist is great and so well made but it’s almost too much for me. I grew up watching things like Nightmare on Elm Street, the Halloween movies, and Friday the 13th, but this is not quite in that same vein of horror movies. Vacancy isn’t a psychological thriller and it’s not a full-on gory Saw-like movie.
MT: Was the role in Vacancy physically taxing?
LW: It really was. It’s not like working in a coal mine, but I was thinking in terms of “this is a good story and it’ll be interesting to do,” and then you show up on the set and there’s crawling through tunnels, getting stabbed, running, and smashing mirrors and windows. I wasn’t prepared for that and it was hard on my body. It was fun to do and it was the first movie that kind of got me into shape. I’ve never really had that happen. I remember one time when I was doing Blue Streak with Martin Lawrence and we were doing this little action sequence where we were running from these guys that were shooting at us and Martin and I started laughing because of the way we were jumping around, and you realize how good somebody like Clint Eastwood or Harrison Ford is when they do action scenes well. When it’s done by people that are good at it, it looks effortless, but when you get in there to do it you realize it’s not as easy as it looks.
MT: So did you have to do all your own stunts?
LW: I did pretty much everything except when the car hits the phone booth. I had a stunt man but I don’t think any of it was so crazy that I couldn’t do it.
MT: How did the set on Vacancy differ from the ones you usually work with in your comedy roles?
LW: I wasn’t really prepared for the intensity of working for months on a movie where it all takes place in one night. I wasn’t prepared for the idea that you’d show up Monday morning at 6 a.m. and you’d be doing a continuation of the same scene you’d finished Friday night at midnight and it never stopped. We did have fun on the set and it was real nice group of people and a real nice crew, but it’s definitely not like the set of Old School where you’re driving to work and thinking “I can’t wait to see Will and Vince,” where it really is just like hanging around with friends. Not that we never felt pressure, but it is fun to work on a comedy.
MT: I heard the set was amazing.
LW: It was incredible. It was on stage 18 on the Sony lot and on the wall they had a list of all the movies they’d done there and it had Crimson Tide and Wizard of Oz, and it’s now the biggest stage in the world. It was the first set I’d ever been on where I was calling friends and saying “you gotta make the effort to come down here and check it out.” They had a gas station and the whole motel with the rooms and everything and I’d never seen anything like it.
MT: Did you get claustrophobic at all in the tunnel scenes?
LW: They built the tunnels on the set and they built them in different pieces, so they were actually fine. But when you’ve got the rats in there that’s when it’s like “shit, I need a drink.” It was never all that bad and I think Kate was a little nervous about being claustrophobic but she did a really good job.
MT: What was your favorite aspect of filming Vacancy?
LW: I think it was really getting the sense of having done something I hadn’t done before. Four or five weeks in I thought man, I got 5 or 6 more weeks of this and it wasn’t easy to do. Doing that kind of emotion and that kind of intensity makes for a long week. At the end of it I was really happy with what we’d done and I felt like I had accomplished something that I hadn’t done before.
MT: Any scene in particular you enjoyed shooting?
LW: All that stuff I’d never done before like smashing the window or getting stabbed or crawling down the tunnel. All those things were fun to do and it made me think of how I like these kinds of movies and now I’m in one, so I have to do it justice.
MT: Will you ever stay in a motel again?
LW: A few years ago I started getting nervous about staying in motels and I would always try to push it on drives just so I wouldn’t have to stay in one. I’d rather just drink some coffee and keep on trucking. When I was younger I’d do a lot more road trips and when you read about stuff in the papers like murders, you’d get nervous, so I’d always try to get a room that was up on the second floor, something where you could see the car. But there’s always been a strange vibe out there and you wonder what the hell is going on in those rooms. Know what I mean?
MT: (Laughs). Absolutely. Where’s the sequel to Old School?
LW: I’d love to do Old School 2, and I’ve heard they were doing that myself, but I’ve never confirmed if they actually are. It’s the kind of thing where I know that if we were to do it, it would be as good if not better than the first one, just because the kind of guys Will and Vince are.
MT: Which was scarier, filming Vacancy or seeing Will Ferrell streaking in Old School?
LW: (Laughs). The thing with Will is you always thought “Poor Will, he’s going to have to do this streaking scene and he’s going to be so uncomfortable” and you try and be positive around him and tell him it’s gonna be funny. And then you see Will and he couldn’t care less about doing it and actually he had a kick out of doing it, and then it becomes this legendary scene. The Vacancy set was kind of scary though.
MT: What makes you laugh?
LW: Tons of stuff. A good story, a good line, someone’s expression. A lot of things make me laugh. And a lot of things make me laugh that should probably make me cry.