Silent Hill - Press Archive -


Silent Hill Cast Q&A
July 18, 2005
Silent Hill - Interviews from the set
From Staci Wilson,Your Guide to Horror Books and Movies.
Set Visit / Mini Press Conference
Interviews from the July 18, 2005 set visit in Toronto, Canada.
In attendance:
Radha Mitchell
Sean Bean
Deborah Unger
Laurie Holden
Jodelle Ferland
Andrew Mason (executive Producer)
Don Carmody (producer)
Samuel Hadida (producer)
When Rose (Radha Mitchell) finds out her daughter (Jodelle Ferland) is dying from a fatal disease, she refuses to believe there is nothing left to be done. Against her husband's (Sean Bean) wishes, she takes her daughter to a faith healer but on the way there she is forced to stop in a deserted town called Silent Hill.
To make matters worse, her daughter mysteriously vanishes. Wandering the empty streets, Rose is left searching for her daughter, but hidden in the darkness are unknown creatures watching her every move.
Based on the best-selling survival video game.
Q: Radha, what was the attraction of doing this film and what are the challenges of playing a character in a video game?
RADHA: I think the major attraction to me is because of Brotherhood of the Wolf, directed by Christophe. I saw that film and I was intrigued and fascinated because I thought it was a beautiful and exciting and strange and bizarre movie. And so then I met Christophe and I was charmed, obviously, by him. And I guess that’s what it was. And then, since we’ve been making the film, we see the vision and the script comes alive. And it’s a very visual piece so when you read it you won’t necessarily understand what it is. But, since we’ve been working on the film, every day has just been an assault on the senses. And I guess today was just a sample of that.
And the challenges, I guess, I mean I’ve got to run around and call out “Sharon!” And do that in 50 different ways. So there’s that aspect. And I think Christophe has a really interesting take on the concept of the video game. And you do have a sense of what it must feel like to be sort of stuck in this chase. And I guess that’s the main challenge … making the variety and keeping that interesting.
It’s interesting working because a lot of the time we’re reacting to things that are not necessarily in front of us and the things that we’re imagining and we’ve got to, you know, imagine them at the same time. So we’ve constantly encouraged the first AD to make loud noises for us so we can all, you know... and be scary. And so everybody’s had to become an actor on this movie, including the crew.
Q: What about the strange use of motion in the film?
RADHA: Oh, yeah. Yeah, movements. The thing about movements. And that is an interesting question because, especially actors like Alice, I guess, who’s not here right now, there’s a whole sort of way that she moves. And I think Christophe is very specific in the way that he cast the film. He wanted actors who had sort of some sense of movement. And that’s definitely part of the performances. I don’t know so much with my character ‘cause I’m playing a more, you know, sort of human character -- everybody else is a little bit more … But I think that was definitely part of the choices that people made as actors was to move in a particular way. And you’ll see that when you see the film.
Q: How many of you played the videogame of Silent Hill before you were cast?
RADHA: Honestly?
ALL: <laughter>
RADHA: I’m not a very good player, to be honest. I’ve tried to play the game and especially to get familiar with the characters better. I mean, it’s really an amazing game, having just a limited sort of knowledge of it that I have. And it’s got a real sense of sort of poetry and melancholy and things you don’t expect in a video game. And then I guess that’s what’s attractive to me about it. But, in relation to actually getting through the game... <laughs> I’m always stuck on the fence. I can’t get off the fence. But I mean, I’m sure everybody has a different experience. And Christophe, I think he’s been known to spend like two to three days straight in his room, playing the game without leaving, without even going to the bathroom.
ALL: <laughter>
DEBORAH: Laurie and I both get stuck by the same store, which is really annoying. And I hear … ‘cause I often hear footsteps now and, of course, the sound of destroying the monsters. I like to destroy. I am impressed by the people that get stones and aliens. I mean, who are they? That’s incredible.
RADHA: I haven’t got that far.
SEAN: I’ve not seen the game. I’ve seen a picture. I’ve seen the front cover, but that’s about it.
RADHA: But they showed you a photograph of a picture of your character for the game.
SEAN: Did they?
RADHA: Because they wanted the same coloring as the character.
SEAN: I do? Yeah?
RADHA: Yeah.
SEAN: I’ll have to have a look at it.
RADHA: And it’s interesting because Laurie is playing Cybil and she looks exactly like Cybil in the game.
LAURIE: Well, I do now.
ALL: <laughter>
DEBORAH: She does now.
LAURIE: I had hair before this movie. They chopped it all off for Cybil.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about your characters?
LAURIE: Cybil is a woman who grew up in a small town outside of Silent Hill. She’s a bit of a lone wolf, in the sense that her mom died when she was thirteen and there was never really a father around. It was a very religious community, so I think that because my mother was such a woman of faith and she passed away in a really painful way, it really scarred Cybil. And she’s really kind of denounced any sort of religion just because of what happened to her mom. Because of that I think that she’s been a bit of an outsider, doesn’t have a lot of friends. But that’s okay for Cybil because she’s found her calling and that is to serve and protect. And, really, she wants to save children. She wants to be kind of like the mother of saving the children. So that’s Cybil.
RADHA: It’s interesting the way the relationships are constructed in the film. Say, even the relationship between our characters, is not stereotypical. They’re buddies and, you know, they’re on the journey together. But it’s interesting tension between the two characters. And, ultimately, you know… I can’t give way the plot. <laughs> But, all the characters are quite sort of fleshed out and mysterious.
DEBORAH: They’re also all psychologically and metaphorically interwoven beautifully. What Christophe has done has been really quite inspirational for all of us as actors and the crew as well. Visually, for the crew, they’ve had a blast.
Q: Who do you play, Sean?
SEAN: I play Chris DaSilva. And he’s a sort of quite a successful businessman. They live in a nice house. Things seem to be going well, apart from the child. And I spend most of the time chasing around trying to get on different playing levels, different time levels. But he’s a good guy, a regular sort of guy with bit of money, wears nice clothes and drives a BMW. <laughs> It’s all materialistic.
RADHA: Their relationship [shows] they’re sort of separating in different dimensions. And they’re kind of passing each other by often in the movie. They don’t actually connect. So it’s kind of, I guess, like the average relationship … <laughs>
Q: How you feel about contributing to the genre, and is there was anything in particular that you guys are bringing to the table in terms of this new respect horror seems to have?
RADHA: Well, it’s a masochistic pursuit, especially in this film. <laughs> I mean, and I think there’s something very elegant about the way that Christophe is directing horror. And, you know, his inspiration is, you know, coming from a very highbrow kind of level in art. And sort of, I guess, bondage. <laughs> If you’re into horror I would say this is the movie to watch because it’s elegant horror. That’s my understanding of it.
LAURIE: I think of this ore as a nightmare fairytale. It is elegant and I think of this as kind of a cross between Alice in Wonderland meets Dante’s Inferno. It’s very high art and frightening and violent and sexy and elegant all at the same time. Which I think is, you know, Christophe’s genius.
Q: Your turn, Jodelle. What do you think?
JODELLE: I’m thinking of what to say. <laughs>
ANDREW: It’s scary stuff to face most days you’re on set, really.
JODELLE: No. It’s not scary for me, though. <laughs>
ANDREW: It’s scary for us who’ll be seeing it.
JODELLE: <laughs> Yeah. But, it’s because I know how they do everything.
LAURIE: Jodelle has more experience than all of us put together.
ANDREW: You’re very calm and very sort of under control on set.
JODELLE: Thank you. <laughs>
RADHA: It’s amazing working with Jodelle because she has a sort of adult concentration and patience and yet, obviously, the charming innocence of a little girl. So it’s been fun playing your mom.
JODELLE: Oh. <laughs>
Q: Are you performing with American accents or just using your own voices?
RADHA: We do it in Chinese ...
ALL: <laughter>
SEAN: I think it’s just a general American accent that we’re doing. Just something neutral.
Q: What about the physical aspects of your roles?
LAURIE: We have a wonderful stunt coordinator, Steve, who has been my left hand as Radha’s been my right. And he has helped me tremendously learn baton fighting and everything. How to use my gun properly and just, you name it, he’s done it and it’s really helped beat off whatever is out there to help protect us as a character.
Q: How does Radha help you, Laurie?
LAURIE: Visualization. We work really closely together, Radha and I, I think, in terms of what do you see and how big is it? And is it coming and...?
RADHA: And, specifically I think, Christophe has made sort of clear decisions to make sure it’s not cheesy. So there’s none of that kind of, you know, … action movie kind of stuff we’ve seen in a lot of American films.
LAURIE: We actually work together with our imagination. We have to use our imagination all the time because, you know, we see things that we haven’t really seen before. So, in working together, we create this wonderful thing through our imagination that helps create this world around us and hopefully makes it believable. But it is interesting.
RADHA: …as opposed to having a gun and so on and, basically, as I say, it’s not your typical movie where everybody’s killing the monsters. And, I mean, there’s some of that, but it feels very real. And there’s been a clear decision to make us, in the situations where we’re facing these incredible – like you saw today -- that as if we’re really there, it’s really straight. There’s no inside humor in the film … like winking at the audience. It’s very serious. So it’s as if it really happened.
Q: Are there lots of rehearsals?
RADHA: Do we rehearse a lot? We do. We rehearse on weekends and there’s a lot of discussion about what we’re doing before we do it.
LAURIE: But then, Christophe likes to throw us curve balls and, you know… Sometimes wonderful things come out of spontaneous terror.
ALL: <laughter>
Q: What were you looking for in your lead actresses when casting?
SAMUEL: [We were looking for good actors] having a big talent to have an upscale horror genre movie. We are creating a world and we have, you know, actresses that audience would identify with. [Radha is great.]
DON: And Cybil, she’s obviously tough, she’s a cop. But, she’s also got to have a certain vulnerability and a passion for other people to stick with this. And, you know, with Sean, he's just dogged, resolute. He’s going to get to the bottom of this no matter what it takes type of thing. And Jodelle, was just an amazing find. She’s spectacular. I can’t think of any actress, twice her age, that could pull this off.
ANDREW: The other thing to look at is that because Christophe was not approaching this as a purely horror film some of the things which affected us in deciding who would be the cast of a sort of traditional and pure horror movie don’t apply if you’re deciding that what we’re making is a film, a drama, never mind the fact that it’s in a strange world or it’s got weird inhabitants or it’s got amazing visuals -- it’s still a drama. So you cast the best actors for the given role and you just go for the best actors, which is what we have. We have the best actors we could possibly have for those roles.
Q: Jodelle, are you sort of playing two characters in Silent Hill?
ANDREW: She has a different look. I mean, the two characters are both clearly Jodelle, but they look different.
Q: This is for Sean and Radha. Your daughter goes missing and obviously at a point in the movie you guys are separated? How come?
SEAN: I think it’s because she thinks it’s a good idea for Sharon to confront her fears by going there, and I wouldn’t go along with that. I don’t think I’d agree to that. Id’ say, “Well, you know, I think we can get help through …” And we do things, you know, in other ways. And, you know, I’m a bit pissed off … she took her without my permission or without even consulting about it. and I’m in a bad mood and I get… you know, I’m obviously … I start a sort of … for her and get more and more desperate as it goes along. But [she is] my daughter and there’s illness now.
RADHA: I think at a certain level, for Rose, it’s a way to assert herself, in a way, in their relationship. I don’t think that’s the primary reason, but, part of it is I can make a decision and I know it’s right without necessarily consulting her husband because she has this instinct about it.
SEAN: I’d quite like to see this [movie]. I’d like to see what sort of happens. I’m told it’s a very psychologically sort of horror. It’s not something like people getting their legs chopped off and it’s gratuitous violence. I think it’s something that you’ve got to think about. So I’ve been told. But, you know, from what I’ve seen and what Christophe has created it’s fascinating. And everybody’s, it’s their opinion that he’s got this elegance and style about him that it’s not just sheer horror, there’s a sort of poetry to it.
RADHA: That’s true.
Q: Do you find it sort of challenging to strike a balance between doing movies like this and doing smaller, independent films?
RADHA: Yeah, I guess it is a challenge. But it's nice to be able to do some intimate films and then bigger films. And it’s very exciting to be in a film where the director comes with an idea, this big idea and I know that’s something that can come to life. And you can be part of a big concept. And also I really enjoy doing films that are sort of character-based and are about the nuances of relationships. So to be able to do both is perfect.
Q: Radha, how hard is it to get a level of bloodiness the same every day so that it matches; and then, how bloodied up do the rest of you get?
RADHA: This is just the beginning. And, yeah, there’s a whole, there’s an art and a science to it. And there are people whose heads are on the line to keep each … you know, as a it. And each hair, you know, as deconstructed as it looks right now. It’s a lot of design. How long does it take? It took longer in the beginning. I think it can be done in about forty minutes now, the whole look. And it’s great because I don’t have to wash my hair. I can just go to work every day like this.
Q: And how bloody do the rest of you get?
SEAN: I don’t get any blood on me at all, I don’t think.
LAURIE: I get pretty bloody. She gives … I do have to say, you know, the crew has been amazing. Hair and makeup has been unbelievable on this journey because the continuity that they have to keep up with us through the varying degrees of gore and dirt, it’s astounding. But, also the set designers and the location managers, we have the most amazing sets. I think Silent Hill fans are going to be knocked out because, visually, our sets look so much like the video game. And it makes our job so easy because we just show up and we are in Silent Hill. We are in that world and we are just so blest to be surrounded by such great artists.
RADHA: There’s like a new set every sixty seconds or something. Constantly, the sets are changing and they’re huge. And so today it’s just sort of a sample of that. But we’ve been all over the city and around the city in these different studios and these huge sets. And it’s true it puts you in the space.
Q: Would you say the sets are characters, as well?
LAURIE: Yeah. It’s interesting because you play… I’m not sure how much I can say without giving it away. But the sets are definitely characters in the film. And they have emotional states in that they change and you’ll see the same set and you’ll see it from a completely different perspective. So it’s sort of like a hallucination a lot of it. Yeah and you’ll recognize the sets as you get more involved in the story.
Q: Sean, did you create a back story for yourself?
SEAN: [The script was very] inspiring. So it wasn’t very difficult to sort of get into the part, as it were. And, you know, I thoroughly enjoyed it because it’s been such fun to do. He’s quite a relaxed guy that he knows exactly what he wants. Sometimes I prefer to just work with what I have [in the script].
SAMUEL: Don’t forget Christophe told me that the real challenge from the video game is to put the story in the foreground. So create all the… all what is and he didn’t do the story where you have to play in it seventeen hours before you understand what’s happening. Here you have a story of character and emotion. The [actors] read the script and they said, "Wow! That’s interesting. I can be related to these characters and, obviously, the director."
DEBORAH: Working with the script from Christophe is not working from scratch, as Samuel said. At that point it was so fleshed out and psychologically so rich that, that is definitely what appealed to me. Plus I had a relationship with Christophe that precedes that and immense respect for him. That said, certainly, I am the curious lurker who goes on all the sites and listens to discussions. Because there are themes in the psychological motivations of the characters and their conundrums and their dissent journeys really do fascinate me. And I’m sure on a subliminal level that was constantly enriching the performance. For mostly it was where Christophe had already brought it with the script. And then the strong and the powerful influences and arrogant and subtle influences of various… the world of art, the world of mythology. There are so many specific influences that we had private discussions to enrich – in the case of Dahlia to enhance the essence that had been explored in the game. Absolutely.
Q: And Laurie?
LAURIE: Well, I played the game after I got the part and met Cybil. And then, you know, what’s wonderful about the movie Silent Hill is that they honored her, visually. I look like the character and really capture her essence. But, as Sean and Deborah were saying, that Christophe and Roger Avery, together, sat down and created a back story for this character, which really helps flesh out this character. So you really, hopefully … her fans and the gamers and the audience will get to know her a little bit better and, you know, hopefully be touched by what she represents in the film.
Q: How much CGI will there be?
SAMUEL: With the CGI you can very easily make the link between the worlds. When one world transport … another world CGI is very easy because we have the practical sets and then we link them to CG dimension that bring you to the other one. That’s the kind of enhance to link every world together because we have to create a whole conceptual universe of Silent Hill. And they go in to Silent Hill and they go into different dimensions. So CGI make it may be easier to link all these worlds together, but we have to have the world first.
Q: How many of you were familiar with Christophe's work before this?
DEBORAH: I was. That’s what made it even more exciting. He’s so amazing. He’s such a visual director.
RADHA: I’ve known Christophe for nearly ten years. And I’m also, of course, I’m a big fan. And we’ve become friends and peers and so we’ve been looking for an opportunity to work together.
Q: Is the creation of back-stories just for yourselves, or for yourselves and the audience?
DEBORAH: Oh, a little bit of both.
SEAN: [If] you have something in mind that you know, and even if it doesn’t come across to an audience, or you don’t have the opportunity to show that side then, it gives you some kind of anchor in your head that you know, you have the back story, you’ve got things. You know, it’s just good to invent something, believe in it so that it’s always there. But regardless of whether it comes across on the screen or not.
Q: What’s your favorite part of your character’s back story?
SEAN: He’s got a nice car. He’s got good taste. And, you know, he’s a successful guy and … You see a lot by where they live, you know. [They're a] couple and, you know and how they behave with each other. But, like I said, we don’t spend a great deal of time together in the film. I’m just searching for her and she’s searching for our daughter so, that’s my back story anyway.
DEBORAH: Certainly in the case I would ditto both sides. But in the case of when we touch into the area of metaphor and symbolism that’s where it’s very specific to Christophe. And there’s nothing around them because there are too many details. There are no red herrings for example. There’s no tolerance, he has no tolerance for that kind of [thing] because it’s such a specific psychological descent journey. And that’s fundamental to what has been the appeal, certainly to the game. So it’s great working with a bright, bright mind and making choices that will be shared with the audience on that level where certainly they’ll be impacted by those choices.
LAURIE: Yeah, I love the back story because Cybil has a very aggressive way of presenting herself and a very aggressive approach in the world. And I like the fact that it is revealed in the script the reason why she is hyper-vigilant, the reason why she responds so quickly to things. And that is because she had an experience where a little boy was abducted and taken up to Silent Hill and dropped into a mine vent. And Cybil went and hugged him and kept him warm for three days until help came. She’ll make sure that justice is done. So I like that my back story has been integrated because it really explains and defines what makes this lady tick.
Q: Today we watched a pretty tense scene between Rose and the nurses. Can any of you guys talk about a scene or an obstacle that creeped you out?
LAURIE: Are we allowed to answer? No.
Q: OK, is there a scene that made you jump when you were filming?
SEAN: Yeah.
LAURIE: How many can I count? I mean, there are so many. This is a scary movie.
Q: What makes it so scary?
LAURIE: It’s terrifying because it’s so deeply rooted in psychological truths. And that’s not random, it’s not there for… as we say, there’s no cheese factor. It’s actually quite terrifying because it’s so deep.
SEAN: But at the same time Christophe doesn’t pull punches when it comes to the gore factor. If something bad is happening you can bet it’s messy.
LAURIE: And he goes for the truth. It’s not like I guess when you’d imagine in a normal horror film or it’s like something comes in, “Ah!” I have been scared out of my mind many, many times on this film. Oh. And that’s all good. That’s all good and right for the film. But, it’s very real.
Q: [unintelligible]
DEBORAH: Personally, yes. In the case of Dahlia it’s essential. And this is not an arena I’ve remotely touched upon before. I’m not talking about horror genre I’m talking about the character of Dahlia. This has been an exquisite time for me. I’ve had a blast. And so in order to go the places that I’ve gone or we’ve gone with her, it’s been essential to have that foundation and then, of course, personalize it. yeah.
Q: There’s been some really bad horror movies made from video games. Were there any reservations of doing one?
DEBORAH: To me, no. Not with Christophe. No. He’s fantastic. I was excited. My fingers are crossed of course. But, no, not with him. I’m a film fan first, you know, I… It’s in sensitive hands when you’re dealing with different audiences and different levels of investment. There are people that have spent weeks, I’m sure, and months in the world of Silent Hill and to embrace the essence of it and take it to another level, psychologically.
To introduce some movie audiences to it [will be a challenge], but also to enrich the investment that the gamers have in it. I think it’s in sensitive hands. And so, yes, a man like Christophe, specifically, is someone I have great faith in and it’s been really fun. So all of our fingers are crossed, of course, but it’s been great in my opinion. Yeah.
Q: For the producers: you say that you respect this original game, but you also created something new in the movie?
SAMUEL: These properties for Silent Hill have been on the radar of all the studios, have been on the radar of lots of different producers. And, basically, [the challenge was] was trying to find who can be the perfect people to adapt that game. We had to respect what made the game successful. What made the originality of the game. What makes the game different from every other one. Because it’s a game that is edgy and creepy. It’s a very big experience of playing the movie alone in the dark and Christophe wants also to play that level and put the spectator into this same feeling when he was playing the game.
So there is a great respect between that and the <mic difficulties> what we have done with the creatures and obviously the creatures have been beyond their wish and we get the blessing. And the relationship that we have also with the creator for the music and for the background I think that they gave us lots of their research into the world and the texture of Silent Hill. You know, that we adapt it in 3-D.
Q: Laurie, how much ass do you kick in this movie?
LAURIE: We kick a lot of ass and I loved every minute of it.
ALL: <laughter>
LAURIE: I have a trainer, and the stunt coordinator has been just so amazing marking out the fights. And I met with a detective [and] I learned, you know, accurately, how a detective, police officer moves and everything and how to work with all my props and weapons and it’s just been so much fun. Yeah.
Q: Would you do more action stuff now?
LAURIE: Oh, yeah, absolutely, right away.


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