Sean Bean - Interview with The Hitcher Actor
Updated: 12-27-2006's Staci Layne Wilson direct from THE HITCHER set visit, in Austin, TX (July 6, 2006)

Staci Layne Wilson / What scene will you be shooting tonight?

Sean Bean: Well, I havenít received my call sheet yet, so I donít really know. I mean, I know what Iím doing... Iím sitting in the cab of the big rig and I jump inÖ itís hard to tell when youíre not on the set. Asking what itís like, canít really envision whatís going on.

Itís pretty much the end piece before the police finally arrive and I pull [somebody]into two pieces. Weíll see what happens.

Q: Youíve been doing a lot of horror movies lately. Do you like them, or is it just whatís being offered?

SB: I quite like them, Iíve always like watching them, particularly thrillers. Iím not really into watching people get pulled apart. You know, limbs chopped off and their heads blown off. I kind of like the suspense, and it scares me more than anything. The kind of Hitchcock type. You donít actually see Rider kill anyone, except of course at the end. But you do see the aftermath, which is much more powerful, I think anyway.

Iím excited to see scary movies, I like being scared- most people do anyhow. I just like that sensation. I like it. The thing about playing the part in the movie is that you know whatís coming and you know whatís happening next, so itís not quite as scary because you see all the workings, you know what happens.

Q: Whatís it like filling the role as THE HITCHER this time around?

SB: Good. I saw the film when it first came out at the cinema with my girlfriend at the time, and we watched it and I was very impressed by it. It was a disturbing piece of work. I havenít seen it since then, so I wanted to start afresh with my interpretation of it and I didnít want my portrayal of the role to be colored by something that had been done before, as I said Iíve seen it and I wanted to stay on my way.

Q: Have you heard anything from Rutgar Hauer then?

SB: No, no I havenít. He made quite an impact on people. I think that for many people itís sort of nostalgic. I think for the people who have seen it, I think the script more impressed me, the scriptís a real page turner. The characters are good, the character roles are really three dimensional and theyíre not sort of cardboard cut-outs. So thereís a lot of potential there, and I feel as though thereís a great deal of a jump for the character that Iím playing and I think Dave Meyers, the director, feels the same way. So that was part of the attraction. Theyíre making them more rounded and more psychologically interesting.

Q: I have a two part question about your co-starsÖ They say theyíre afraid of you.

SB: Did they? Good. [Laughs]

Q: Ö and they both said they really look up to you. How does that make you feel?

SB: Oh, thatís quite flattering. Iíve been doing this for awhile now, and sometimes I forget how long Iíve been actually doing it for. Iíve been fortunate enough to be able to play what I want to do. Iíve had it good, I suppose. Itís good to work with people like Zack and Sophia, theyíre very good actors and theyíre passionate about what theyíre doing. And they play the part, theyíre direct and thereís no side or pretentiousness about it. They are very much involved with what they are doing and itís flattering to know they feel that way. I just wish I could be a bit friendlier with them. [Laughs] I canít.

Q: Is that part of getting into the head of your character?

SB: Yeah. Iím not a method actor, but I feel, obviously, every part you play thereís some psychological impact in your character and the way you see things during the time youíre playing the role. I wouldnít say Iíve gone out of my way to be unfriendly or intimidating towards them, but I donít think it hurts to be doing it that way. I can joke around and I laugh and I like to do that, Iím not at the point where Iím not going to talk and Iím not gonna laugh, you know.

But when Iím working and youíre in the scene during the scary parts, I think itís important to have certain focus and concentration established because at the end of the day, thatís all that matters- what you see on the screen.

Q: Has playing Rider given you any nightmares by being inside his head for awhile?

SB: I think heís quite disturbing on occasion, you know I watch television to see parallels between the character and certain individuals that do some monstrous things and become killers, so thereís that kind of scary element to playing the part, which I guess is what heís all about. Itís fun to do, but there is that sort of underlying feeling of being not quite right, unpleasant and itís unsettling and disturbing to play this kind of role. Iím not going to go and have nightmares though.

It does have some psychological effect. You know, you find those feelings coming through when youíre playing the part and itís quite disturbing and quite unsettling. You realize just what type of guy youíre actually portraying. But, I suppose thatís the way you would feel if you were a mass murdered. I do and try and keep the acting just when Iím in the role.

Q: What are a few of your favorite scenes that youíve shot so far?

SB: Theyíve all been quite memorable. The way theyíve been filmed, the first time we meet and I get in the car with them and weíre just chatting away and Grace is in the back listening to her iPod and Jim is just driving along and weíre just chatting. Rider suddenly flips and you just kind of realize whatís happening there and itís truly horrific because youíre in a car in the middle of nowhere.

That was quite an interesting, long scene. You see that fear in Jim and Grace and thereís this big switch in us all, so that was a fun scene for me. But theyíre all very powerful scenes with them. I think every scene has been a real joy, and thereís not been that kid of experimental plot. Everything is much directed characterly, you can see what heís feeling and itís just a very powerful story.

Q: Is Rider an American?

SB: Yeah, yeah Iím playing him as an American; an American that could be from anywhere, thereís just a general American feel for the guy. Heís got nothing specifically in his character or his actions that would place him down to any particular area. He could be from anywhere. Like he says, heís asked twice in the film, and he just sayís ďFrom all overĒ. Which is quite spooky because he could be anyone, he could be a guy down the street, that guy there reading a paper, and thatís whatís scary is that he doesnít look scary, he doesnít have a scary face. Heís just this sort of regular guy and thatís whatís challenging and exciting for me is that heís that and you got to be careful.

Q: Is that why you think they came to you with the role, because youíre such a regular guy?

SB: Yeah. I wanted to present him as a regular guy to the point where he canít be perceived as a regular guy. The short amount of time that heís on film in the beginning, where heís not doing anything particularly sadistic, I thought it was important to play him normal and very ordinary. Because after that you already know that heís the bad guy.

I feel like that was in the past and I feel like thatís the way we filmed it, that you actually know who the bad guy is and I think thatís interesting. I tried to get as much mileage out of being a regular guy as I could because the rest of the movie, thereís no question.

Q: How does he kill? Does he use guns, or does he set up other people to kill?

SB: Heís very intelligent and heís very calculated, and heís very semantic. Heís nice, but he will use whatís in his grasp - he uses riffles, and pistols and a telephone cord - I donít think it really matters to him. Thereís no real murder weapon of choice, he just uses whateverís at hand. He can set people up to kill each other or to create havoc and confusion and fear within this circle that he inhabits.

He does it with no remorse and is quite cold right up to the end. You wonder why people do things like this. Sometimes there isnít a particular reason, he keeps murdering because he can and nobodyís stopped him yet, so why not? As he says in the beginning: ďWhy notĒ?

Q: If heís cold, does he get any sort of feel from it or satisfaction?

SB: I think he probably could. To get some satisfaction from the fact that he would like to pass that feeling on to someone else, to have someone to identify with, or- I think with Grace, he feels as though heís quite fascinated by her and by her independence and her strength and her character. And he wants to pass on what he has on to her. I suppose itís sort of a way to spoil her, or corrupt her.

I think he wants to be stopped, but heíll carry on until he is. Heís not the sort of guy whoís doing this and says please help me or stop me. I think thereís a combination of factors and feelings racing around in his head, and thereís not one particular reason why heís doing it. He says, if I can carry on doing this, then Iíll carry on doing this, why should I stop now? He must be enjoying the feeling of power and that liberating feeling that perhaps taking a life gives him.

Q: After doing this movie, will you ever pick up a hitch hiker? Or have you ever picked up a hitch hiker before doing this film?

SB: I give people I know a ride, but Iíve never stopped and Iíve never asked for one. I havenít really. Not in the middle of nowhere. Iíve maybe considered doing it in a city or in a town, but with friends or other people. But Iíve never put myself in that situation. I know people who do it and I think thatís fine, it can be a good way to get around sometimes and have a good chat and see the world, but itís something that Iíve always been a bit hesitant about.

Q: Are you looking forward to shooting in New Mexico, and not shooting at night anymore?

SB: Yeah, I am. Weíve been shooting nights now and it can be quite confusing. When you have a day off, or a night off, you sort of loose track, you get out of it.

Q: Itíll be awfully hot out there in the sun.

SB: Yeah. I think I prefer the cold, because you can wrap up. Itís been very hot out here; itís been sunny and humid.

Q: Whatís it like to work with Dave as heís a first time director? Is it a different style with him than with others?

SB: Heís very confident and heís a very visual filmmaker. Daveís very familiar with that kind of look, and thereís moments and times when the shots are very stylish and as Iíve said, thereís no loose materials around, the nitty gritty is at the heart of the piece. Iíve been very impressed by working with him, heís always knows the piece inside out and to hear about what he wants and what he wants to achieve is always great. He has a great cameraman, Jimís a great cameraman, whoís created this wonderful, claustrophobic piece of work in photography.

I like what Daveís trying to do with these characters, what heís trying to do, heís very much into trudging out every piece of twisted kind of humor and thatís something that I feel comfortable with. When directors are looking into the character, not just as a set piece, which he could, because heís a great visual director, but I think I know what heís trying to achieve, that sort of visual side and thatís wonderful. It looks classic, it looks stylish, and moves along at great speed. But at the same time, from working with Chrisophe (SILENT HILL) and Dave, theyíve always had this great interest and this great passion and they bring out what the characters are feeling. Theyíre very visual directors, but they also have a sense of what the characters are all about, and to an actor, thatís very interesting.

Itís very confident to know that the director feels the same way you do and not just there as a set piece to scare. You try to find out the idiosyncrasies and the habits that the character might do along the way. Itís actually quite challenging.
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