The Hitcher - Interview
The Hitcher: Star Sean Bean
On the set in Austin, Texas: June, 2006
BD: Weve been watching some of your stuff on the monitor down there,
its hot down there.
SB: Oh, youve been down there?
BD: Yeah, we were watching your altercation with Zach.
BD: So hows the shoot going for you so far?
SB: Good, Ive been here just over a week now and weve done quite a
fair amount of work. I mean, we started up with a scene, it was the scene
in the car with Jim and Grace when we first meet and so you know, we
did a big chunk there. Which was probably good because we didnt really
know each other in the scene and we didnt really know each other as
people, so thats good. Its been really good and really exciting. It really
comes alive, really comes off the page.
BD: Had you seen the original film?
SB: Yes, how long ago was it?
BD: Almost 20 years ago.
SB: Yeah, I went to see it at the cinema and it made quite an impression.
BD: Did you revisit it at all before this?
SB: No, that was the last time I saw it, maybe 15-20 years ago, when it
first came out in cinemas. And you know when I was going to start doing this,
I didnt really want to revisit it at all because I thought it was a good film and
an exciting film, I just didnt want to have something in my head that wasnt
going to be in this film. I always sort of like to make the part mine rather
than seeing someone else play a role and then recreating that.
BD: Does that come from your background in theater? Because I know that a
lot of theater actors believe that no one actor owns a role, they kind of rent
it for a while.
SB: Yeah, I suppose with something like film, its different because doing
something like Lord of the Rings, for instance, Im playing a character in
that, its something you dont very often get the chance to do and thats
sort of set in film for the next 20 years or whenever they decide to make
another Lord of the Rings, which you know, is probably doubtful in the
near future. So I suppose with theater you can, like Shakespeare, theres
many people that play many parts like Macbeth and Hamlet, Othello,
people are always playing those parts all over all over the place, whereas
on film, in something like The Hitcher its something thats being done on
stage or anything. And so its good to have to opportunity to do something
like this and sort of stamp your authority on it and create a character.
BD: What do you see as John Ryder, your characters motivations for
terrorizing these kids?
SB: Were still sort of figuring that out at the moment. Its kind of a journey
for him, its probably a journey hes done before and I think he just feels
kind of frustrated and amused by the fact that he can get away with
anything and nobodys stopping him. Hes pushing the boundaries and
nobodys pushing back. He wants to know where to stop and when to stop
and how to stop. I think hes kind of happy about it but he thinks if theres
someone up there or some kind of spirit, then why is he not stopping me
from doing what Im doing? Who is going to stop me from doing what Im
doing? Maybe I see Grace as a woman who can but you know, its not in the
text, its not mentioned of him having a previous life. I imagine him as sort
of a ghostly character that lives in the shadows that does this thing probably
on a quite regular basis and gets away with it and sees no reason to stop
and he probably gets pleasure from it and finds some sort of peace in that
BD: Hes kind of a traveling angel of death type character?
SB: Yeah, hes not particularly vicious. I dont even know if you ever see him
killing anyone in this film. In fact, you dont see him killing anyone, you see
the aftermath and you see the results of what hes done. But hes not a
particularly angry man or a vicious killer, hes very controlled, methodical and
quite charming in a sense.
BD: He seems like hes inhabiting his own realm, hes just on a different plane .
SB: Yeah, hes on a different level really I suppose.
BD: In the original film, in the first scene where he meets the C. Thomas Howell
character, theres immediately a disturbing presence about him, does your i
nterpretation of the character start off as a friendly guy and then he segways
into who he really is as something darker or is he menacing from the minute
he gets into that car?
SB: Sort of. Hes pretty lucid at the beginning, seems pretty friendly, a quite
affable guy, the sort of guy that you maybe would give a lift to a motel.
I didnt want to sort of start him off as the bad guy right from the beginning,
I think its more interesting to see theres not much time to show his friendly
side so I thought Id make the most of it at the beginning and try to portray
other aspects of his character, the more human side to his character. From
then on, once they give him the lift, hes pretty ruthless.
BD: What was it about the role or the project in general that attracted you?
I know that you were just coming off another movie and you were probably
very tired from that production so what was it that grabbed you and made
you say youre going to do this?
SB: I just read the script and I was very excited by it. It was a real page turner
and it was very exciting and I thought there was a lot I could do with the
part that wasnt restricted in what you could do. There wasnt a lot of exposition
to the character, you dont have to explain things, he just is who he is,
therefore that gives you a kind of freedom to experiment and try things out.
I thought there was a lot of potential there and working with Dave, Ive worked
with Michael Bay before and I enjoyed that experience. With Dave, hes got
such good ideas, hes very stylish, very inventive, and I think with the script
being so good I thought a combination of those factors made it very appealing
to me. And its something unusual, its not very often you get to play this
sort of phantom of death and the opportunity to take things to extremes
which I like to do if at all possible.
BD: A lot of the other actors and the producers commented on how well you
can be in the character and be evil and then snap out of it and ask are you
okay? How do you manage that as an actor to go between evil villain and t
he normal you?
SB: Ive never found it a problem really, there are some characters where
youre working very intensely for a certain amount of time where you take
away some residue of that character and that can filter into your everyday
life but Ive always found it quite easy to snap in and out of a character.
I try to find out as much as I can about what Im doing, do my research and
study so that when it comes to the moment of really putting it on the floor
and acting, I kinda know what Im doing. I think its too much to carry that
weight of a character around in your daily life. I just think I can compartmentalize
that I suppose which I always have done.
BD: Do you think that actors that do carry it with them, is that a sort of
narcissistic or self-destructive behavior for them to bring it home with them?
Should they be able to turn it on and off?
SB: I dont know, I suppose every actor has their own approach to their work,
it just happens that I try to distinguish between reality and fiction. I feel that
otherwise, being the person that I am, I would get a little disturbed by it.
I mean, everyone has their own approach and that has to be respected.
Every one has their own method of work and as long as you portray it as
truthfully as possible and immerse yourself in your work when the crunch
comes then it doesnt really matter how you approach.
BD: Are you more at peace now with the idea the Hollywood has generally
cast you as the heavy, even though overseas youre Sharpe?
SB: I dont really have a problem with that. I really enjoy playing these kind
of sinister, idiosyncratic roles which have got meat and juice to them. So you
know, I dont have a problem with that and I feel as though I can flip from one
to another, I have the ability to do that. So its not as though I have a problem
being the bad guy. Its just the way youre perceived in certain circles, perhaps in Hollywood Im seen as kind of a bad guy because Ive played a lot of good
bad guys, if you know what I mean, successful bad guys, convincing bad guys,
so therefore I suppose people approach you to play them again.
BD: A lot of the villains youve played are kind of justified in what theyre doing,
at least in their own mind. Theres an emotional justification for what theyre
doing, whether its in Patriot Games or even in GoldenEye. Is that something
youre cognizant of when youre picking villain roles or is it just so happens
that thats kind of how it is?
SB: I suppose its more of a rounded character, more three-dimensional
character. You do look for the human qualities and virtues if youre playing a
villain especially. Everybodys got that capacity for the dark side, for hatred,
and anger and darkness, I think its just a matter of what level its at. You
know, we all feel that at some point in our lives and I suppose for some
people, you feel it more than others, I mean, the characters that Ive played
have often felt it quite a lot.
BD: Did you audition for the role of Bond back in 87 or something and what
do you think of Daniel Craig?
SB: No, I didnt audition for it, there were sort of rumors going around that
I was up for the part and I mightve been at the time. I was before I played
006, that sort of put the kibosh on me playing Bond. Many actors look to play
James Bond, so no exception, but I thought Pierce Brosnan made a great Bond
and I enjoyed working with him on GoldenEye. And I think they made a good
choice with Daniel Craig. I worked with him on Sharpe, he was in that, and
I met him on several occasions over the last few years and I think hell do a
good job. He looks the part.
BD: Do you have any favorite villain characters? In your head, whos the
quintessential bad guy?
SB: I remember Boris Karloff and all those kinds of guys, I used to watch all
those films and I suppose those spring to mind. And Anthony Hopkins in
Silence of the Lambs, I think he played that to perfection. I mean James
Cagney and Edward G. Roberts and all of those guys, I know they played bad
guy gangsters, but at that rate, with a very believable, human side to them and
charm. You could go with them and sympathize with them and thats something
I try and do, try and make people sympathize with your cause, even though its
not a very admirable one. Youve got to allow people to get into your world and
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