MELISSA GEORGE Contributed by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor for Radio Free Entertainment
April 1, 2005
In 1974, Ronald DeFeo confessed to murdering his parents and siblings while they slept in their Long Island home in Amityville, claiming voices in the house compelled him to commit the crime. Roughly one year later, George and Kathy Lutz, along with their children, moved into the infamous estate. But a series of bizarre events forced them to flee 28 days later. This story, which has spawned its share of controversy, was the basis for the 1979 film The Amityville Horror, and has been revived as a 2005 remake from the people responsible for the 2003 version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
In this interview, actress Melissa George (TV's Alias, Australian TV's Home and Away) talks about the Amityville remake and her role as Kathy Lutz.
MEDIA: The real Kathy Lutz actually passed away during the making of this movie?
MELISSA: She died the first week of filming. Yeah. She wasn't well. She had a breathing problem. She was 50-something, very young. We didn't expect it. It was a little weird. There's a lot of weird things that happened on that movie, actually.
Like what, for instance?
We were filming at the boathouse, and the police came by. They were on the water there, and they said that they found a dead body that had floated to the surface. We were like, "Awesome!" [laughs] "That's making everything much more comfortable in this movie!"
Did you meet Kathy Lutz?
No. I mean, in a movie like this, the house is what the story's about. It wasn't like re-enacting, like when Jamie Foxx played Ray Charles--you're playing a person that everyone knows how they move, how they look, how they are. And with Kathy Lutz, no one really knew her. So it wasn't necessary for me to try and mimic her or anything like that. I read a lot of her diaries and things that she went through to learn about who she was, but it was basically my interpretation of the role and what happened in this house, which is actually the number one credit in this movie. [laughs] The house is the first character.
Aside from learning about Kathy's background, did you do any other research for your role?
I read the book. Which is fine, but someone else has written it, you know. I just read a lot of interviews of what DeFeo went through. You know, even what he's saying now, it's quite interesting. I don't know if you've been reading about that. Like he's about to get [retried], but he can't because the movie's coming out. It's just a reminder of what he did. There's a lot of real things about this movie. The Ketcham stuff is real, the torture in the basement was real, house built on top of that's real, the family say it's real. I mean, we weren't there, so we can only go on what they say.
Do you believe in the supernatural?
I don't believe too much about the supernatural unless I see it or feel it. And I don't know about you guys, but I haven't seen something telling me to do something. [laughs] A director maybe.
Did you visit the real house in Amityville where the murders took place?
You know, I was going to.
But ultimately you didn't?
The way they made this house was so perfect that it freaked me out enough, that I wasn't about to get on a plane and go and see that house. It was enough for me.
Do you have an opinion about the authenticity of the Amityville story?
I believe something went on. I don't know how much is made up and how much isn't, but it makes for a good story.
Are you a fan of horror movies?
When they're well done. I liked this because there was a real story to it. It was set in the '70s. Everything was stylish, all the way to the wallpaper prints. You guys as an audience see it, but when you look closer...even the way the drawers would close was from the '70s. And I like working in a film that's not from the modern day. And I thought it was really quite well written. I like the Hitchcock films. I'm a big fan of those. And I always wanted to be the femme fatale, screaming...
Did you know your co-star Ryan Reynolds before you started shooting?
No. And you know the scenes where I'm watching all the footage for the first time in the library, crying? Day one of filming! Ryan hadn't even arrived to shoot the movie yet. So here I am bawling my eyes out, looking at all this footage, and he turned up on the set. And that was the first time I met him.
How did the two of you get along?
We just jelled. It was just perfect. Mind you, I don't sort of work with actors that I don't really get along with. If you hate them, you just find something nice about them and focus on that only. [laughs] That's all you do. Like, "Okay, this guy's a jerk, but he has great eyes, so I'm going to focus on that." Because it's a personality thing when you have to be close to somebody on set. But Ryan was a gem.
That must have helped for your sex scene with him.
We don't really have sex in movies. Sorry to break it to you! [laughs] Like the guy doing the zoom...they're all laughing because...you know, all the reactions that I had to do. Ryan wasn't even there! [laughs] I'm like, "You know what? You can have a break. Go and put your feet up for an hour and I'll do all the face things." All the crew were cracking up laughing.
So besides that moment, do you have a favorite scene in the movie?
That's not my favorite scene, by the way! [laughs] Actually, it looked all right. Like it was quite tasteful.
No argument here.
But favorite scene...gosh. There's so many. I mean, it's hard to say that your favorite was "the strangling scene," or your favorite was "the axe to the stomach." It was great because you had the rain, and I'm just getting that axe...I don't know how many times. [laughs]
What about the scene where you have to retrieve the little girl (Chloe Moretz) from the roof?
That was freaky. I didn't like that too much. You know the scene where she falls of the edge? All for real, you guys. No greenscreen. All that walking was for real. She had a crane with two pieces of skinny wire that was above her head, and she was balancing by herself. And then they just rubbed out the wire.
Did you have a support wire?
They first took me up in a crane, and then they dropped me off on top of the roof. I'm like, "Thanks very much." [laughs] And then I'm leaning over, and then they just put a tiny wire around my waist, clipped to the side. You won't believe how horrible looking at everyone...they were like ants. They were so small. You were up so high. And little Chloe had to have like a harness and hang over the edge. And then the crane would go around and shoot these great, gorgeous, romantic shots. And she was pretending like she was hung, as a joke. And I'm like, "That's so not funny, little girl! You're adorable and everything, but what you're doing right now..." She was dangling off the edge eighty feet above the ground, not scared at all!
Was the experience of making this movie tough, or relatively easy?
Ummm...it was a tough shoot. I probably wouldn't be able to do it again.
What was difficult about it?
Three weeks in the rain with no clothing...with just a '70s smock was tough. And I said, "Look, I don't ask for much in life, but I do ask one thing: I want the water to be heated." And they said, "Well, that creates steam on film, so we actually have to make it extra cold." That was their answer. Can't have steam when it's fake rain, right?
Is it true that you used to be a champion rollerskater?
Yes! That gets you far in this town, let me tell you! Being a champion rollerskater! [laughs] Why wasn't I a champion at something else, where it would be much more helpful? I was an artistic champion where you do triples and spins and stuff like that, and I came second in the world.
How did that experience relate to you taking up acting?
Well, from the age of five, I would do a two minute program and a four minute program. And I would have a theme of a routine, like tango. So I would believe I was an Argentinean, and I would perform for the judges on the skates and do the triples and spins. So I was always pretending.