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Source: About.com
Behind the Scenes of the 2007 Remake of "The Hitcher"
From Rebecca Murray,
January 2007
 
The cast of The Hitcher joined their director Dave Meyers and producers
Brad Fuller and Andrew Form for a press conference to discuss the remake
of the 1986 horror film. Sean Bean and the couple he terrorizes in the film
– Sophia Bush and Zachary Knighton – were on a much friendlier basis at
the media event than they were in the movie, although both young actors
admit Bean is more than a little intimidating even when he’s not in character.
 
Sean, was this a difficult character to play because we really don’t know anything
about him?

Sean Bean: “It was. There wasn’t a great deal of back history to the guy. Not a
lot of information about where he came from, which I thought was quite interesting
really. It allowed me the freedom to create what I wanted and to invent as a
person. I always thought that it was somewhat scarier that you don’t know
anything about him or where he comes from. I always find that the less you
know about people, the less you trust them. I usually like to have something
to go on, but for this particular movie I would say he was like an angel of
death wandering the freeways, and that quite appealed to me.”
 
Does the fact that we don’t know much about the hitcher mean there might
be a prequel?

Producer Brad Fuller: “No, I don’t see a prequel happening. As Sean said, give
him a blank slate and let him do what he’ll do with it. There was no thinking
about a prequel until you brought it up.”
 
Sophia, what are the challenges of playing a girl like this and avoiding the
clichés?

Sophia Bush: “Right, I think that was a big thing for me and something we
definitely looked into in a lot of moments in filming. I don’t want to be that
girl running around whining and irritating. But 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 that something that made it great was - or greater for me rather - was a
lot of what Zach and I got to do together. We spent weeks just 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 in the ways partners in a long
standing relationship sort of do. So what we had, I think this gave me some
license to go on the emotional roller coaster instead of just being one kind of
woman. …When Grace wasn’t going to make it, Jim pulled her up. And when
Jim wasn’t going to make it, Grace pulled him up. It was a very symbiotic
relationship, so it allowed me to show both sides. It allowed me to flip the
scales from her being kind of happy go lucky to her being stripped down and
very animalistic. It let me do that slowly more in a seesaw than in one quick flip,
and I think that’s a more accurate of how people change and how people sort of
tap into their strengths.”
 
How much got cut from the film and what was your experience working with the
MPAA on getting an R rating for The Hitcher?

Director Dave Meyers: “I had a really great MPAA experience. I didn’t focus on
violence in the film, even though there is some. I tried to keep everything on
thrills and suspense. We cut most of it out before we actually filmed it which
is sort of how we kept the budget extremely low, and yet we still have huge
car action and all that stuff. Part of the relationship I had with the producers
was trying to cut that stuff before we filmed it. And, really, cutting the fat
everywhere we could. I pulled from my commercials and video background
and keeping things really succinct. It’s lean and there is only one scene
that has only five different versions of it, and that hopefully make it to the DVD.”
 
Which scene was that?

Meyers: “The motel scene. We shot that so many times I think Sean might be
mad at me. He was like, ‘Again?’”
 
Sean, how difficult was it stepping into Rutger Hauer’s shoes?

Bean: “I saw the film when it first came out about 20 years ago and it made
a big impression on me. It was a very well-constructed film and Rutger Hauer
gives a very good performance. I remember being scared by it, and I thought
it made an impact, but I really didn’t want that running around my head and
cluttering things up when we were making our version of it. So, I think working
with Dave and obviously, Zach and Sophia, I think we created quite an
interesting new version. I really didn’t have any reservations or concerns
about being compared to another actor. I just wanted to start from scratch and
do it my way.”
 
How is the relationship between the three actors, since Sophia and Zach had to
act afraid of Sean?

Bean: “It’s quite good in a way - that they were scared of me.”
 
Zachary Knighton: Laughing, “I’m still afraid.”
 
Bean: “The first scene we did in Austin, Texas was a night shoot, was the
scene in the car where they are picking me up the garage and we shot the
interior of the car, which is quite a long scene. It was quite good that we
didn’t really know each other by then at all, did we? [It didn’t matter if]
we liked each other or not.”
 
Knighton: “You didn’t talk to us at all.”
 
Bean: “That’s not unusual.”
 
Bush: “It took us a couple of weeks to all get speaking.”
 
Bean: “But it actually worked because we weren’t supposed to know each other,
so I’m glad we did that.”
 
Bush: “Our first conversation was about how hard you could push the knife
into my face. (Laughing) I was like, ‘Hi. How are you? Feel free to hit me.’”
 
Dave, how much CGI was used in the car sequence?

Director Dave Meyers: “About 99.9% is real. There is no CG at all in it.
The only thing that was done was that we broke cameras. I gambled correctly
and put the camera right in harm’s way. So we shot each sequence with ten
cameras. Four or five of the cameras would beat the other cameras and we
had to erase them. It’s kind of just the art of invisibility. There is really only
one major CG thing, which was the rabbit, which is pretty much out of the
box now. But everything else was the art of trying not to have anything.”
 
Dave, how did you come to be involved in the project and was it something
you always wanted to remake?

Meyers: “Brad, Drew and Michael [Bay] are big fans of The Hitcher and were
sort of circling it and found rights to it. I was circling their operation of sort of
being a home for video commercial guys, making that jump to movies. …All of
these stars sort of aligned. I studied the film and realized like Sophia said,
there’s character arcs in there. There is something more special than the
typical horror film. It just all sort of worked.”
 
Sophia, why do you think audiences are fascinated with women who can kick ass?

Sophia Bush: “I think what’s great about is that we’ve seen so many great
heroes in men and [they’re] iconic with Indiana Jones and Dirty Harry. You’ve
got that, and we’re at a point where in our sociology we’ve evolved to realize
that women can kick as much ass - and we want to see it. There’s something
that’s 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. You no longer have women
being dragged to an action movie by their boyfriend. Couples are going
together because they’re both really excited about the film and it’s something
I enjoy.”
 
Can you talk about casting the film?

Producer Brad Fuller: “With Sophia it was very simple. She was an actress we
had heard about and for Drew and myself, we get a lot more from sitting down
with an actor and actresses then actually auditioning them. That’s how we
found Jessica Biel from Chainsaw. That’s how we found Jordana Brewster for
the other Chainsaw. We had heard wonderful things about Sophia, and she
came in and we just kind of fell in love with her. We just kind of said, ‘We’re
working on this thing The Hitcher,’ and it was early on. When this script was
being developed she was the person we had in mind, and we kept her up to
speed with what is happening with it. It was always Sophia’s movie. By design
she fits the bill for us. We thought she was likeable and, at the same time,
can carry the gun and blow his head off. That worked out.
 
As far as Zach, Zach had a much more torturous process to getting this role.
Zach was a guy who we really wanted to be in the Chainsaw that we had just
finished. For whatever reason it came down to Zach and this other guy, and
the other guy got the role. We loved him and you gotta choose an actor,
Sophia is really hot, and you’ve got to choose a guy who you believe is such
a cool guy because she can get any guy she wants. You’ve got to get a guy
that’s a real guy’s guy. When you’re casting actors, that was always a real
hard thing for us to find - a guy who you believe is going to drive a Ford ‘42
and land Sophia and be in those situations.
 
Zach kept coming back. We didn’t want to cut him and we kept on seeing
other actors for lack of a better term, bigger names and people who are
more well-known. Zach, to his credit, doesn’t have many credits. He did
one show and that was pretty much it. But he just kept coming back, and
every time he came back, he was better and better. At the end of it you
can’t think of the role any other way. He was the only guy who nailed it
six times. I think you actually did come back six times. How do you not
give the guy the role? He kept coming back. No one else had that longevity.”
 
Fuller: “For Sean, too, it was very simple. For The Hitcher we were looking for a
Sean Bean-type…we didn’t think we’d actually get Sean. [We needed] this
great elegant actor who could play this role. We’d checked on Sean and his
dates weren’t working, and it wasn’t good. Sean had just worked with our
partner Michael Bay on The Island and Drew and I went to Michael and
said, ‘Come on, let’s get Sean. Let’s try to figure it out.’ We moved
some dates around and then his dates opened up and we just got lucky.”

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