Contributed by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor
for Radio Free Entertainment
August 24, 2005
In the sci-fi horror The Cave, a group of scientists and professional cave divers embark on an expedition to investigate a giant underground eco-system deep beneath the earth's surface. But the exploration quickly turns into a fight for survival when they discover the labyrinthine caverns are home to a deadly and monstrous species.
Shot on location in Romania, The Cave is directed by Bruce Hunt and features an ensemble cast that includes Cole Hauser, Morris Chestnut, Eddie Cibrian, Lena Headey, and Piper Perabo.
In this interview, Cole Hauser talks about the making of the movie.
MEDIA: So have you been cave diving recently?
COLE: No, sir. I've been on land, thank God. It's been nice. I'm more of a land animal myself.
How did you feel about being soaking wet throughout the shoot?
You know, towards the end of the film, it was really nice because it was about 98 degrees. So getting in the water was like the best thing possible because we were in this huge tin-like shed that holds in the heat.
What skills did you learn during filming?
Rock climbing and diving. I had never done any of that. So that was a whole new experience.
What sort of training did you have to prepare you for the cave diving aspects of the film?
We did two weeks here [in the U.S.] and then we kind of trained, I'd say, all the way to the last day. The thing with open water diving...that part is pretty basic. You just basically breathe normally and try to stay as comfortable as possible. But the rebreathers part of it is something that usually takes up to like, I think, six or seven years to actually understand...like you can kill yourself in four feet of water. So it was pretty intense. [The cave diving experts], throughout the whole three months that we were there, were very adamant about, "Don't fool around, don't play with somebody's stuff. Don't do any prankster sh*t." So everybody took it relatively serious.
Did you sustain any injuries?
I got a little messed up a couple times, but it wasn't from underwater stuff. It was doing the wirework. I kind of had a trial-by-fire, three-day program on how to do wirework, which takes a long time to understand how to do it. We had the guys that did The Matrix, and they were great, but the thing is, is that when you're depending on somebody else to pull you and make sure that you're actually going to fly over something and they don't do it exactly when you do it, it's kind of human nature that there's going to be problems. So I got flung into the wall a couple times. Thank God I had helmets on and pads. I didn't break any bones--just bruises and bumps.
Did you get ever get claustrophobic?
There was one portion that was a little claustrophobic for me, and that was when I was going in a scorpion cave. I had to kind of shimmy myself through this thing that, when I looked at [it], I was like, "There's no way I can even get my head through that." And they were like, "No, no, you'll be able to do it. We measured it for you." So I got up into it, and I kind of got stuck. And in the scene it actually works, because you really would kind of get stuck for a second and then you'd have to get your elbows and arms and everything through it. And then there was one other instance where I was underwater, and I had to go through something. That's actually not in the movie, and I don't know why. I mean, it's one of the most freaky things you could ever see. I thought it was an interesting way to open up the movie in the sense that you would have really gotten right away how dangerous the job is.
Did you shoot any particular scenes that you were looking forward to seeing after the special effects had been added?
Yeah, I would say probably the really cool one, because there was so much CGI and greenscreen, was at the very end--the tackle of the creature. You know, jumping off and hitting him and then spinning and all that stuff. Because when you're doing it, you're like, "This is weird. This doesn't look right." [laughs] And then you see it and all the effects are in and everything and you just go, "Wow, that's pretty insane."
Is it a weird experience to shoot that kind of scene?
Yeah. It's all in pieces, you know. Tons of pieces. It's got to be probably like ten, eleven setups--the jump off, the grabbing on the creature, spinning, the shot above, the shot below...the explosion, and all that stuff.
What was the smell like on set?
[laughs] Well, Romania has a distinctive smell on its own. Driving to set stunk, and then getting to set stunk even worse. And then you're in confined places with guys, and, you know, Europeans are not noted for their hygiene. I don't think there's too much body deodorant in Romania, either...But it was definitely an experience as far as like being in very tight quarters with a lot of grown men. [laughs]
As the only women in the cast, how did Piper and Lena fit in with the boys?
It took them a minute, you know. There's a lot of testosterone on the set, for sure. I think Lena, especially...it took her a second. But as soon as they started doing the rock climbing and the underwater caving and stuff like that, they just...I mean, they were as good or better than any of us.
What initially attracted you to this project?
I would say probably the immediate thing that jumped at me when I read the script was the cave diving aspect of it. Because I didn't know people did this stuff, first of all. I didn't know they would go 24 hours underwater and find caves and study the plants and species and test waters and stuff. I didn't know that. So that was really like a shock to me. And then I was like, "What a cool idea for a sci-fi film." So that was the first thing. And then I thought [my character] Jack is an interesting guy in the sense that he's a leader, number one, which is fun to play as an actor, and then he goes through an enormous change.
You have expressed some disappointment in the way certain elements were excised from the movie. What is missing from the final cut?
I think just a lot of the story. I think the character development. I think the beginning, I think the middle and the end...I'm one of those guys that'll shoot you straight and say there's a great, great idea there. And I think that in the days of science fiction and genres, sometimes people forget to just let it breathe, you know when I mean? And being in your face all the time and just cutting and cutting and cutting doesn't make for a great film sometimes. Story makes for great films, period. I don't care if it's a comedy, I don't care if it's a drama, I don't care if it's a sci-fi. I don't give a sh*t what it is. Story starts and ends everything.
Is The Cave more of a horror film than science fiction?
Well, it's got a little bit of everything, I think--thriller, drama, sci-fi, action.
As a viewer, do you enjoy horror and sci-fi?
Yeah. Done right, it's awesome. Absolutely.
Are there places on earth people aren't meant to go?
No. Absolutely not.
Your character undergoes a transformation that makes him a threat to his colleagues. Do you enjoy playing the bad guy?
It's fun. Yeah. Playing somebody who you categorize as a bad guy, there are no walls. You can do nothing wrong. Nobody can say, "Well, that's not really right." So it's great. Not a lot of people can do them, but the thing is is that if you do them and you do them right, people really go like, "Jesus Christ, that's intense. That's passionate."
What was the social scene in Romania like?
Eastern Europe is different than anything I've...you know, I went to Prague and I shot Hart's War, so I kind of had an idea. But this is like the Tijuana of Europe. [laughs] It's like, half of the city's in rubble. There's no money there. There's like one or two clubs that even kind of resemble anything that you're used to. [Mostly] it's bars and pizzerias. I didn't really leave the hotel much. Being in pretty much every scene of the film, I was tired. And then swimming all day...the physical stuff in this film was pretty tiring. So I'd go home. On the weekends, me and Morris and Eddie...we'd all go play cards. We'd play Texas Hold'em downstairs in the casino and that was it.