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Source: About.com
Sean Bean Discusses "The Hitcher"
From Rebecca Murray
January 2007
If you’re one of those people who stops for hitchhikers on the side of the road,
you might want to rethink that behavior after seeing The Hitcher. This remake
of the 1986 film with Rutger Hauer, C Thomas Howell and Jennifer Jason Leigh
features Sean Bean in the part of the serial-killing hitchhiker. Sophia Bush
and Zachary Knighton co-star as the young couple he terrorizes and frames
for murder.
 
The Original Rutger Hauer Movie: Bean watched that version when it first
came out about 20 years ago. “I was very impressed by it,” said Bean. “It’s
quite spooky and scary. I thought it was a really good film. I suppose this
is just a re-imagining of it. It’s not a remake of sorts. I think we’ve added
a lot of edge to it and a lot of tension. The characters are very well drawn.
They’re not cardboard cutouts and cartoon characters. There’s a great depth
to them. David [Meyers] is doing a great job directing. Jim Hawkins and the
lighting cameraman added a very dark, sort of ghostly quality to it. There’s
a lot of thought and precision of detail going into this.”
 
Bean didn’t go back and watch the film again before starting work on The
Hitcher. He also didn’t try and base his character on Hauer’s performance. “He
had a certain charm, which I thought was quite fascinating to the character. I
didn’t really want to see the original because I just didn’t want it to color
what I did. I wanted to bring my own views, my own ideas to the part. But
I’m glad I did see it when I saw it, when I was a kid. It certainly made an
impression on me. But as I say, I think we all wanted to approach it in a
different way and bring out ideas to it, fresh ideas.”
 
Developing the Character’s Backstory: “I think because there wasn’t so much
backstory, there wasn’t a great deal to go on. I think for me it was just
creating some kind of sensation rattling around his head. I’m not quite sure
what that is but a lot of it is the way it was shot and the way it was explored,
in terms of expression, things that weren’t said really. Just looks and
expression. That’s what I found interesting about playing the part. Not so
much what I said, but the way I looked at these guys, the way I looked at
life, the way I looked at people. I just tried to bring something to that, to
try and convey something, what was going on inside his head.
 
It’s difficult to explain. I’m notoriously bad at trying to explain characters I play.
I think it’s something that just happens on the day, usually. You think of
something and figure something out, maybe something in the past, something
somebody said to you, somebody did or someone you knew. I just try and
think of things like that when they say action. It must work.”
 
Working with Guns: “It’s okay. I’ve done quite a few films now that had guns and
rifles, s**t like that. I feel okay. I don’t have any particular affinity to it. It’s just
I guess the parts I play tend to carry real weaponry, a bit of hardware. I’ve
become quite familiar with them. Particularly in this film, it doesn’t really
matter. This guy kills by any means. He doesn’t have a particular choice of
execution. He uses knives, guns, ropes, anything he can get his hands on.
Anything that happens to be around. He’s just a killer. I’ve never really done
that. I’ve never really worked on a part like this before. He’s so unapologetic
in terms of the character’s psychology that he has no remorse, no regrets.
There are not any redeeming features to this guy. I just think he does it
because he can, and he believes he’s liberating. He’s a liberator. He believes
that everyone is guilty of something, maybe these young guys are guilty of
something. He just wants to clear them out.”
 
Bean continued, “Every question… He’s asked where he’s from, he says, ‘All
over.’ He’s like a phantom, a ghost that’s kind of your worst nightmare. He
terrorizes these young kids because they’re so stupid. They’re going to Lake
Havasu to get her tits and drink beer. This guy just wants to get rid of them. I
think he sees something in Grace that maybe thinks she can identify in some
kind of strange way with his mentality, his psyche. He maybe wants to pass
something onto her, the instinct that he has.
 
I’ve enjoyed playing the part and I know what I’m thinking when I’m doing it
and I know what I’m doing, but it’s difficult to kind of explain the psyche.
He f**ks about with people’s consciousness, just plays games. He finds
things humorous that a normal person wouldn’t. He finds humor and comedy
in that people might get their head blown off. It’s sort of a peaceful time for
him. It brings him peace, satisfaction.”
 
Comparing Middle America to Other Shooting Locations: “It’s pretty lonely.
It’s a kind of lonely sort of feeling. It’s got a lot of things. I can imagine it’s
very beautiful in the daytime and the sort of landscape, but it can also be very
desolate. It’s a very lonely kind of place to be, where you could quite easily
lose your mind if you were here for any length of time.”
 
Filming at Night: “We did about five weeks of night shoots. That was good
because it is a film about the road, to be on the road in a car, in cars. Like
I said, the loneliness and the desolation, how people come together in those
situations, bizarre situations. They could have bumped into anybody. He
seems quite a nice guy in the beginning, the crew of the service station,
he just wants a lift. His car’s broken down; he wants to get back to his wife.
It’s raining. They reluctantly give him a ride and he proceeds to terrorize
them. But it’s good how that’s revealed because you don’t see it… I just
thought at the beginning you should see another side to John Ryder, the
amiable side, the friendly guy, because you don’t see it very often after that
point. Once he starts f**king about in the car and breaking mobile phones,
sticking knives in people’s eyes, you’ve got an idea of what this guy’s all about.”
 
The Popularity of Horror Films: Asked if there’s something culturally feeding the
popularity of the genre, Sean Bean responded, “I don't know. I feel there’s a
sense of isolation in society today. People don’t seem to be able to come
together as they once did. I think everyone feels a little lonely in some way.
They can’t quite connect. This guy, obviously something’s gone wrong somewhere.
He connects in very strange ways. But I do think there’s something to be
said for that, the isolation that we feel, I suppose, today in certain ways.
There’s a sort of fear of getting to know anyone, to trust anyone and to
become loners.”
 
It’s Good to be Bad: Sean Bean said he really enjoys playing the villain.
He was a good guy in Silent Hill and found that to be nice, but boring.
“I’d obviously like to explore different areas and I want to do something
a little bit lighter, but I’m quite happy playing the parts that I play. Every
supposedly bad guy has a different story and a different intellect and a
different approach to how they see life. That’s what makes it interesting,
so I don’t look at it in terms of bad guys and villains. I just think of people
who are psychologically different and nonconformist.
 
The joy is that you can do almost anything you want and you’ve got the
freedom to sort of push the boundaries, which is extremely challenging and
exciting. I mean, with actors like Nicolas Cage, you can’t quite put your
finger on what he does but he pushes the boundaries. He’s very dense,
very profound. He’s very interesting to watch. I don’t exactly know what
he does, but what he’s doing works. I always hope that whatever part I
play, that there’s a dark side to every character. You’re playing a good
guy, there’s a dark side, so I always look at it like that. I think if you
try to play a bad guy as mean and vicious and villainous, then you just
look at the dark side and there’s always going to be blackness. Likewise,
if I ever play the good guy, I’m sure there’s a little edge of darkness to
him too. That’s what makes us who we are.”

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