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Radha Mitchell Interview

Actress - "The Crazies", "Surrogates", "Silent Hill", "Pitch Black"

Hey, Horrorviewers, Catwalk here, fresh from my chat with Radha Mitchell, one of the stars of “The Crazies.” I think she’s got too much range in her work to be called a scream queen, but with Silent Hill, the Visitors, and The Crazies under her belt, she’s proven she can carry a thriller with the best of them. Here’s what the veteran actress and I discussed.

 

Cat: How you doing, Radha?

 

RM: I’m good. How are you?

 

I’m doing good. I actually got a chance to sneak out today and catch the movie, which I had not seen, and I think my blood pressure is still pretty spiked at this point.

 

(laughs) How long ago did you see it?

 

 I caught the 1:15 matinee and it’s 6:30, so, still kinda digesting it all.

 

You should be recovering by now. Where are you?

 

 I live just outside of Washington, D.C.

 

Ok, cool.  So, what did you think?

 

 I don’t think you could fit any more jumps into a movie. I mean, once it took off, it just took off!

 

And you’re kind of roped in…

 

And I may never go through a car wash again, that’s for sure. Did you have a favorite scare? Was there a particular scene that jumps out.

 

Um, there are so many hands that reach out and you scream cause you think it’s going to be something. My favorite scare…I don’t know.  What was yours?

 

I think the nursery scene was probably the pinnacle for me.

 

I love the knife in the neck in that scene.  I don’t know. There’s something about some of the scenes that remind me of Hitchcock movies, but they just go way to the extreme where Hitchcock would never go. But you certainly feel like you’re being teased along and prepared for something horrible to happen every couple minutes. I was actually watching it with my agent at a screening and she’d read the script so she knew what was going to happen but she kept grabbing my arm the whole way through. It was great to see that the movie has that effect.

 

Yeah, it’s build up, build up, build up, and you know the pay-off pitch is coming, but you’re just hoping it’s when you exhaled instead of when you’re in the middle of a breath.

 

Yeah, you don’t want to be eating your popcorn in the middle of it. It definitely works and it was gratifying to see it with a bunch of people cause everybody was kind of responding on queue and it was really kind of fun.

 

I definitely enjoyed it.  Have you seen the original and do you have an opinion on that one?

 

I’ve seen the original and I’m glad that this movie has all the same themes. Everything that was important about that movie is in this movie. That movie is a little rough around the edges. It’s kind of a low budget film, I guess. So, this movie sort of takes it to another level. I’m glad that they picked it up and I’m glad that they kept the title cause it’s such a great name for a movie. They were thinking of changing it but everyone was like “no, it’s perfect!”. You’ve got to keep the title.

 

 I agree and I think one of the trends we see with all these remakes is the assumption, either by the script writers or the directors, or whomever, is that the audience is just total short attention span. And so, you have to be as gory as possible, whack people on screen, and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” is the one that really jumps out at me in that contrast from the original to the remake. There wasn’t that, necessarily, in “The Crazies.” It was like something was gonna happen and when there’s a kill, it’s almost like you blinked and looked away for a second. You know what I mean?

 

Radha Mitchell in The Crazies

 

Yeah, I mean, there are certainly periods of tension where nothing is particularly happening but you know that something could be happening or will happen. It allows the spaces to play out. I mean, I’m glad it doesn’t shy away either. They could have done a version where the Crazies didn’t look so different from anybody else, where they could have looked exactly the same as everyone else and just been a little demented. But I’m glad that we had the fantastic makeup sequences.  In terms of acting, it was really fun to act with all these people who had this crazy makeup on. But, visually, I think it creates a kind of surrealistic aesthetic, which is part of the overall movie-going experience.

 

You’ve done what I would call some psychological thrillers.  Definitely, “Visitors” and “Silent Hill” kind of immediately jump out. And, I’ve been a fan since “Pitch Black.” I thought that was a fantastic movie that was totally marketed as a horror movie and it’s not a horror movie. How would you compare this experience to some of those?

 

Well, it’s certainly the fright aspect which is always there in each of those films and how you generate that kind of fear is the challenge of that kind of movie. One, obviously, is in outer space, and one is in Silent Hill and one is in Iowa. What was fun about this one was that I was just kind of a normal person who was married who had this sort of marital issues going on before the movie starts. That was kind of funny to me.  This is just a normal couple, and they’re thrown into this extreme situation, and, you know, it’s Judy and David. I really liked that about it. And that’s quite different, than say, being Fry in outer space, a flight pilot where that’s more of a fantasy than say this could be real and yet the situation seems so extreme, and yet, when you think about it, it could be real as well. You know, we could be faced with any kind of pandemic. There’s so many weird viruses and bugs that are going around, as we speak.

 

Yeah, we keep feeding animals to each other, and, I noticed you’re a vegetarian…

 

Yeah, we keep feeding animals to the animals, and the animals are getting really sick, too…which is a separate issue.

 

Right, right.

 

The point is that there is weird stuff that we’re exposed to all the time, and it’s amazing how fast these viruses can travel.

 

Oh, yeah.  So let me ask you.  You brought up the married couple thing.  I noticed a couple of times in the movie where you’re playing with your wedding ring. Was that something that the director threw out there or was that something that you were even cognizant of, or was that just like a nervous habit, or what?

 

Huh.  I don’t know. When was I playing with my wedding ring?

 

 (laughs) Well, now you’re gonna have to look for it if you go back.  There are a couple of scenes…

 

I’m amazed that you noticed a subtle thing like that.

 

Well, I have a guy who’s kind of way up…he does a lot of presentations and the one thing he always does; he messes with his wedding ring. It’s just something that happens more than twice in the movie, so I made a note to bring it up.

 

That’s interesting.  Maybe she’s planning a divorce. Or maybe, it’s her love for her husband that drives her through the whole story. I’m not quite sure what the deep psychology of that was. Certainly, you could say that’s her connection to surviving on the planet. They definitely don’t have much left. (laughs)

 

Oh, yeah, those two characters go through just about anything you could imagine…

 

Yes, all they’ve got is their skin and their bones…and I guess the wedding ring!

 

Exactly…and some bandages!

 

(laughs)

 

Okay, so you got to work real close with Timothy Olyphant on this movie, and I know you’ve worked with a couple of people.  Actually, I’m one of the people who really loved “Surrogates”…

 

Did you?  I love you!

 

No offense, I didn’t even know you were in it until I sat down and watched the movie. 

 

(laughs)

 

And it was because I’m such a huge fan of the graphic novel.

 

Oh, wow, right. How did you know about the graphic novel?  Were you into graphic novels, I guess. It’s kind of an obscure one.

 

Yeah, yeah.  It is, but it’s really well put together. 

 

Yeah, that was interesting to work with Johnathon Mostow, and with Bruce Willis.  You know, Johnathon is like an uber-brain, who knows all these scientists and whatever, so the subject matter was certainly something that he could relate to and he certainly is an expert having made robot movies before so these kind of ideas about robots are in culture, and cybernetics and cyborgs and all that kind of thing are certainly part of his field of knowledge. So it was great to see how he put it all together as a story. Prior to that, I didn’t have any knowledge of the graphic novel, I was just impressed with the kind of ideas in the script. So, that’s sort of how I got involved. Is that the question?

 

I don’t know.  I’m not really a question guy.  I’m a conversation guy. 

 

(laughs)

 

So, looking at them in contrast, everything in “Surrogates” is sort of brilliantly artificial. Everything is bright. It’s almost as if everyone is the photoshopped magazine cover of themselves where everyone is a skin-perfect version of themselves. And then, you get the contrast when you go and watch “The Crazies” where it’s, maybe not the baseball scene, but so much of the movie is dark.  Even when you’re in the house, at any point in time, it’s almost like half black and you just never know who’s going to pop up next.

 

Who’s lurking in the corner there? Yeah, I think somehow “The Crazies” has that glamorous, even though the other movie is supposed to be that glamorous, that “The Crazies” is somehow more glamorous, in terms of say, the look of the characters, and why that is?  I think there’s something kind of sexy about blood and dirt, and something very primal. Personally, maybe that’s just me. Where “Surrogates” is claiming perfection is kind of something clinical, it becomes sort of not sexy, because it’s so…what’s the word….uber-perfect isn’t perfect. Does that make sense?

 

Yeah.  Yeah, absolutely.

 

It’s so perfect, that it’s not beautiful.

 

Yeah, and I got to see a string of movies together with that at the core.  It was “Gamer” and then it was “Surrogates” and then “Avatar”, and in all these, it’s someone being someone else, and it was neat to see it done so many different ways.

 

Radha Mitchell in Surrogates

 

Yeah. That, I guess, is the interesting idea is that, ultimately, we’re so identified with our gender and with our looks, and with all of these kinds of external aspects, that seem important to who we are, but, we’re just brains really, and you have a controlling kind of body, and it’s funny, after doing “Surrogates” I did start to look at people and sort of see in the brain than in the body or in the face, you sort of see beyond it, because it’s a sort of venire that could be interchangeable. I think that’s something for our generation to consider because in the future, we’ll be less and less identified with our biology.

 

Ok, so final thoughts…what’s in the works for you?

 

Well, I have a little movie I shot in India, which is an intimate little, character piece. I shot it with Joel Edgerton and that is coming out later this year. So, that is the next thing.

 

Well, we’re going to be looking forward to it.  Thank you for your time, and we enjoyed the conversation and look forward to doing this again.

 

Yeah, thank you.  Bye!  

 

Be sure to check out Radha in The Crazies, now playing at a theater near you!!