The Hitcher - Underground Online
The Hitcher Cast Interview
By Jenelle Riley
Anyone who caught Rutger Hauer's terrifying performance in the 1986
version of The Hitcher probably knows better than to pick up strangers.
Still, if the hitchhiker in question is played by the charming Sean Bean,
one could almost understand a temporary lapse in judgment. Bean stars
as John Ryder, the mysterious psychopath who terrorizes the gullible couple
(Sophia Bush and newcomer Zachary Knighton) that offers him a lift in a
remake of The Hitcher from first time feature director Dave Meyers. While
the basic plot is essentially the same, there are some new surprises in
store in this version - for one, don't expect Bush's Grace to sit on the
sidelines and let Knighton's Jim do all the dirty work.
Though Bean seems to share his character's reticence for talking too much,
the respected English actor (North Country, Lord of the Rings) is armed with
a sharp wit that frequently cracks up his castmates. Bush, the star of one of
the CW's lone hits, One Tree Hill, shares an easy rapport with on-screen
love Knighton, who takes on his first leading role in a movie with The Hitcher.
UGO: Sean, how did you go about building this character when so little is
known or revealed about him?
SEAN BEAN: I don't think there's a great deal of back history to the guy. There's
not a great deal of information where he came from, which I thought was quite
interesting, really, because it allowed me the freedom to create what I wanted
and to invent him as a person. I thought it was scarier that you don't know
much about him or where he comes from. I always find that the less you know
about people, the less you should trust them. I usually like to have something
to go on but for this particular movie, he really was like an angel of death they
found wandering the freeways. That quite appealed to me.
UGO: Sophia, what are the challenges of playing a role like this and how do you
avoid the pitfalls of being just another damsel in distress?
SOPHIA BUSH: That was a big thing for me, and something we definitely
looked into during a lot of moments of filming, because I don't want to be
that girl running around whining and irritating. At the same time, I don't
want to come out like Lara Croft with guns blazing, because that's not quite
right, either. I think something that made it greater for me was a lot of
what Zach and I got to do together. We spent a week in Texas working on
the chemistry of our relationship and how Jim and Grace behaved and
reacted, and the ways we kind of messed with one another, the way partners
in a longstanding relationship do. That gave me some license to go on the
emotional roller coaster instead of just be one kind of woman or another.
It was a very symbiotic relationship--when Grace wasn't going to make it,
Jim pulled her up. When Jim wasn't going to make it, Grace pulled him up.
So it allowed me to show both sides and allowed me to flip the scales
from her being kind of happy-go-lucky to being stripped down and kind of
UGO: Zach, how did you prepare to play your first major role in a film?
ZACHARY KNIGHTON: I happened to be in the habit of drinking beers at the
time and had to drop a few pounds. I actually lost 13 pounds in 5 days. I
realized I'm not the pretty boy type or the type you usually see in this
sort of film. So I tried to improve myself physically and mentally for it.
UGO: Sean, how difficult was it filling Rutger Hauer's iconic shoes?
SEAN: I'd seen the film when it first came out, it must have been 20 years ago.
And it made a big impression on me, it was a very well-constructed film and
Rutger Hauer turned in a very good performance. I remember being scared
by it. But I didn't really want that running around in my head cluttering things
up when we were making our version of it. So working with Dave and Zach
and Sophia, we created quite an interesting new version. And I didn't
really have any reservations or concerns about being compared to another
actor. I just wanted to start from scratch and do it my way.
UGO: Zach and Sophia, you two are pretty much in the same outfits the
whole movie, getting much worse and worse for wear. How gross did it
get by the end?
ZACHARY: I wore the same thing every day. It smelled really bad.
SOPHIA: He looked at me one day and said, "We smell." I was like, "I know."
It was interesting. But then again, we were covered in dirt and blood and filth
so we probably would have smelled anyway.
UGO: What was the relationship like between you three when the cameras
weren't rolling, being that you two had to be scared of Sean and suffering at his
SEAN: The first scene we did in Austin, TX was a night shoot - we shot the
interior of the car. It was quite a long scene and it was quite good we didn't
really know each other by then at all or know if we liked each other or not.
ZACHARY: You didn't' talk to us at all.
SEAN: That's not unusual.
SOPHIA: It took us a couple weeks to all get speaking.
SEAN: But it actually worked for the scene, because we weren't supposed to be
speaking, were we? So I'm glad we did that.
SOPHIA: Our first conversation was about how hard you could push the knife
in my face. It was like, "Hi, how are you? Feel free to hit me."
ZACHARY: I'm still afraid. We had a moment in that first sequence, like he said,
barely knowing each other, when we're fighting and I'm like, "God, this guy is so
strong and he has my face in his hands and this is great!" I made some noise
that worried him and he looked at me and said, "Are you all right?" And I said,
"Yeah, yeah," and we jumped right back into the scene. I was like, "Good,
beat me up some more, I'm ready!"
SEAN: Yeah, you liked that, didn't you?
UGO: Sophia, what do you think our fascination is with tough girls kicking ass
SOPHIA: I think what's great about it is we've seen so many great heroes in
men - your iconic Dirty Harrys and Indiana Joneses. We're at a point in our
sociology where we've evolved to realize that women can kick just as much ass
and people want to see it. There's something a little less expected about
seeing the girlfriend end up with the shotgun; it's exciting and it really gives
the guys something to root for but it gives the girls in the audience something
to root for, too. So you no longer have girls being dragged to an action movie
by their boyfriends but couples are going together because they're both really
excited about the film. It's something I enjoy, too.
UGO: Sean, who are some of your favorite villains of movies past?
SEAN: I liked the old ones, like James Cagney and Edward G. Robinson, they're
the ones that spring to mind. They were rough and ready and no-nonsense. I
tried to play this guy without being too aggressive.
UGO: What projects do you have coming up?
SEAN: I'm not really doing anything at the moment. I've just been in the
Arctic doing a film called True North with Michelle Yeoh, which is also about
three characters, but slightly different from this sort of combination. I'm taking s
ome time off and looking at a few things, nothing's definite yet.
SOPHIA: Just finishing the fourth season of One Tree Hill. We start on hiatus
halfway through April, so it's in these next few weeks that we pull all the things
that have started coming together and figure out what pool we feel like diving
in for the summer.
ZACHARY: I'm about to start a job as Sean Bean's new personal assistant. No,
I'm currently in the mix for some things and hoping something works out.
Basically, I'm hanging out on the Westside and surfing.
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