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, actor Ryan Reynolds (Van Wilder, Blade: Trinity) talks about the Amityville remake and his role as George Lutz.
MEDIA: Your co-star Melissa George said that some weird things happened while shooting Amityville. A dead body floated up in the lake?
RYAN: [jokes] That was my fault. Yes, that was something that was awful that happened. I know nothing about it, and we certainly didn't treat the situation cavalierly. But this was a densely populated lake area as well. I mean, it wasn't like a secluded pond, and this mafia member floated up or something. A legitimate accident, I think. But no, I didn't experience anything horrifically supernatural in the movie or anything like that. I know it sells a lot of tickets to say I did, but I really didn't. It wasn't something that I experienced. I was never in tune with that while shooting. For me, it was all about the psychology of George.
You slapped one of the kids even though it wasn't planned in the script?
Yeah, Jesse James. [jokes] He had it coming. No, it was actually horrible. I didn't mean to do it. It wasn't hard or anything. He looked up like he just won the lottery. It was just so cool to him. And I look over and the script supervisor's crying, and I'm trying to apologize to her. I don't know what's happening.
You were possessed by a dark force, right?
Yes, exactly! Of course! The Indians did it to me! It was one of those great moments. In a perverse way, I was sort of excited by the fact that something happened on film that was just totally unplanned. And it just came out organically enough, and not so organically that it actually hurt anyone. So everyone walked away from it, but it was definitely disturbing.
You didn't socialize with the kids off camera?
No, I didn't ever talk to them. I don't want to get attached to the kids. I don't want to get to know them and love them. I want to stay as far away from them as possible. It helps me do my job better.
How did they react to that?
They're little adults. I mean, they're talking about backend gross on a movie. So I think that they were fine. They understood that process, they respected it. I mean, one of them is my financial advisor now! The little one. You know, they're so on it in terms of that stuff, so they gave me my space as well. And their parents are obviously very hands on. So yeah, they were fine with it.
How familiar were you with the original Amityville movie?
Well, I had seen it. I thought that for its day, it certainly, I'm sure, was very provocative and it was fresh in the minds of all these people--these murders that took place. I don't think it aged well. I felt like it was, by all means, a perfectly worthy remake. It was a story that was definitely worth retelling. There are legions of fans out there that would love to see this story told. So I was all for it. The first one, with all due respect to the people that were a part of it...I just don't think it stood the test of time at all.
Many moviegoers won't give horror remakes a chance. To those people, what would you say is a strong element that makes this update worth watching?
Well, I think we really get to see a man unravel in a fairly linear way. You see the progression. For me, that's kind of interesting. Human nature always intrigues me and, I think, a lot of filmgoers. So hopefully they'll see that. And I think it will have legs in that regard. I think the word of mouth about it will be that it's not just a shock jock. But there is a formula to horror movies that you got to have. People are disappointed if they're not scared. They want to jump out of their skin, I think. Some of the recent horror movies, they're not trying to provoke you in that way. That might be a mistake.
Did you have to work out a lot to get in shape for this film?
I was actually wearing a blue unitard. It was CGI. No, it was from Blade. It was a carryover from my last movie, and I just kind of kept it for this because I liked the thought of George Lutz being a really, physically imposing guy. So yeah, I didn't really have to work as hard as I did the previous year for it, because that's where I had to gain all the weight.
What made you want to make George a big, physical presence?
The bigger, the better. I wanted you to think, "Wow, this guy is going to lose his mind at some point and go out of control. I wonder what's going to happen?" The physical aspect of a movie is as important to me as anything.
Did you meet the real George Lutz?
Well, it wasn't a biography, so it wasn't on the top of my list. I guess the most diplomatic way I can say it is that I don't think MGM was overly excited about me meeting him. So I don't know what that means. I didn't even ask. I just said, "All right, that's fine."
Are you a horror fan?
Not as much as I would like to say in this interview. No, I'm not a huge, huge fan. I actively seek out good movies. I mean, they could be in a horror genre, they could be in any genre. If it's a good movie, it's a good movie. I like The Others, I thought that was brilliant. I also love popcorn, bubblegum action flicks. There's a reason they're called popular.
Do you believe in the supernatural?
I believe in dark energies. And I think anytime you enter a house where something that tragic happened, I'd imagine you're going to experience something dark. And I know that this family did. What actually happened, the details of which are not for me to decide...but they certainly were only there 28 days. But my opinions aren't formed enough on it to really comment. I just believe in things dark.
Have you ever had any creepy experiences of your own?
I live in LA. Driving here. I've had lots of creepy experiences. Come on! I get online, you know. You mean supernatural. No, nothing supernatural that I could tell has ever happened to me.
Were you the class clown as a kid?
Not really, no. My brother's the funniest guy I know. He's my older brother, he's a cop. He's hilarious. He's the clown in my family.
So where did the actor in you come from?
Ummm...probably wanting to be the clown, I think, and always being usurped by my d*ckhead brother.
What's the deal with Lindsay Lohan? [Yeah, this question sort of comes out of nowhere, and Ryan realizes it, too.]
Lindsay Lohan. Lovely woman, I'm sure. Only 72 more sleeps till Herbie the Love Bug! I don't know. I don't know anything about Lindsay Lohan, other than, you know, she's on the cover of a lot of magazines. And she's 18, and that's young to be on the cover of a lot of magazines.
Did you take anything from Jack Nicholson and The Shining for your Amityville performance?
Well, I don't know if Jack Nicholson could get away with doing that now even. Like he did that so well back then and that was something that was so well received. I don't think anyone could do that. He was not in my realm of conscious when I was doing George Lutz. Jack Nicholson reveled in the fact that he was out of his mind. It's like he's enjoying it or something. George is not enjoying. George is delusional and paranoid. It's almost like symptomatic schizophrenia or something. So it wasn't as glamorized, I think, as Jack's was. And that was just the master at work. You wouldn't want to try to reproduce that.
Did the recent NHL lockout help you achieve a certain mania for your character? [Because we all know, of course, that every Canadian must live for hockey, eh?]
I'm not a hockey fan, which is why I had to leave Canada. They asked me to leave, in fact. Escorted out. No, I'm not a hockey fan. I can't even skate. That's why I played goalie in Van Wilder. I just needed to shift my weight a little bit. But in Just Friends, I have to play a hockey player. I actually play a guy that's really good at it. And the first day we were shooting, I totally separated my shoulder. It was the grossest thing that's ever happened. My shoulder was like sticking out here. "That's peculiar. Does anyone else think that's weird?" It was the worst. So I'm a terrible hockey player. I grew up playing rugby, the other Commonwealth sport.
Thanks for your time.
All right, guys, take care.