The Hitcher - New York Times Syndicate

Source: New York Times Syndicate
Sean Bean hitches a ride on horror remake
19 January 2007
"I went to see 'The Hitcher' when I was younger, when it first came out in
1986," Sean Bean recalls. "I went to see it in Yorkshire, England, where I
grew up, with my girlfriend. It made a big impression on me and I thought
it was very scary, a good film with good performances."
The original "The Hitcher" starred Rutger Hauer as John Ryder, a hitchhiker
who torments a young man named Jim (C. Thomas Howell) and a waitress
(Jennifer Jason Leigh), randomly killing people and framing Jim. Not a
blockbuster in its day, the film developed a cult following over the ensuing
years, but Bean - who grew up to star in the British "Sharpe" television
movies (1993-1997) and play Boromir in "The Lord of the Rings: The
Fellowship of the Ring" (2001), and counts among his other credits
"Goldeneye" (1995), "The Island" (2005) and "Silent Hill" (2006) -
admits that he hadn't thought about "The Hitcher" in ages.
Not, that is, until Michael Bay, who had directed him in "The Island," asked
Bean to play Ryder in a remake he was producing. The result is a new
version of "The Hitcher," directed by first-timer Dave Meyers and opening
nationwide on Jan. 19, with Bean as Ryder, who, in a variation on the
original, puts a major and bloody crimp in the spring-break plans of a
young couple, Grace (Sophia Bush) and Jim (Zachary Knighton).
"I wouldn't have thought I'd be in it," Bean concedes, speaking by telephone
from a Los Angeles hotel. "It's not anything I was expecting or waiting for.
It kind of came out of the blue. I'd worked with Michael before, so I knew that
I was in good hands with him. I saw some of Dave Meyers' work, and I knew
he had a good eye, visually.
"They sent me the script," he continues. "I suppose I had certain reservations.
I thought, 'We're making a version of a film that was good in the first place.'
But having read the script and talked with Michael, I thought it'd be quite a
challenging piece and a refreshing version of the original, particularly the part of Ryder.
"He was quite sparse," Bean explains. "There wasn't a great deal of dialogue,
which I quite liked, and there was certainly a lot of room for me to maneuver
and experiment and explore different parts of my psyche. So I suppose that
was the spur, seeing what I could do with this character."
Ryder shoots, slashes, stabs and finds other inventive ways to kill everyone
he meets - everyone, that is, except Grace and Jim. As in the original, however,
Ryder doesn't spell out his motives. He's simply a demented, sadistic madman
making life hell for Grace and Jim - and, Bean says, he liked that too.
"There wasn't anything, was there?" he says. "There is no back story, there's
no history. And I didn't, to be honest, create a back story, because I thought
the appeal and the disturbing thing about the guy was the fact that you didn't
know where he came from. He's like this Angel of Death, this phantom that's
wandering the desert and the freeway, and I thought that was more disturbing
than actually knowing anything about his previous history.
"It really disturbs the kids in the movie," the actor continues, "because they
don't know what I want or where I'm from. I didn't want their money. I think
that's the disturbing thing, that you don't know what he wants, and I don't
think he knows what he wants. He's a disturbed guy and can't sit still from
one moment to the next. He's quiet, and not an aggressive type of villain.
When he says something, it has a lot of weight to it.
"I didn't want to play him as someone overpoweringly aggressive or physical,"
Bean says. "Ryder is a man who plays with people's minds and plays games
with them, and he takes pleasure in that. He may want to pass something
on to Grace, whatever that may be, and it could be this decaying evil that's
swilling around his brain. But there is no pattern to his behavior, which made
it exciting for me, because I could do whatever I wanted."
Bean, who lives mostly in Los Angeles and has three young daughters back in
England, has completed two other upcoming films: He co-stars with Bob
Hoskins in a British crime drama entitled "The Outlaw," and in the drama
"True North" he plays a soldier returning home from the war in Iraq.
The actor knows that it's only a matter of time before some new sci-fi, horror
or fantasy role comes his way, however, and he says that he'll probably take it.
"I think people like to see stuff that takes them out of their own world or that
gives them a jump or a shock," he says. "I think people like to be scared. I
don't know if I like to be scared, but it's a strange sensation.
"I'm not particularly drawn to those kinds of films," Bean says, "but I've done
things like 'Silent Hill,' 'The Dark' (2005) and 'The Hitcher,' and I have quite
enjoyed making them. It's nice to do things that are more normal, too, but
you always want to mix it up, just to keep it interesting for yourself and the
people watching you."


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