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Interview by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor for Radio Free Entertainment
September 28, 2006

In The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, a prequel to the 2003 remake of director Tobe Hooper's horror classic, a quartet of friends (Jordana Brewster, Matthew Bomer, Diora Baird, and Taylor Handley) traveling through a virtually deserted Texas town encounter a murderous family led by the sadistic Sheriff Hoyt (R. Lee Ermey). Terrorized in unspeakable ways, the four try their best to escape Hoyt and his adopted boy, the monstrous, chainsaw-wielding outcast who comes to be known as Leatherface.

Horror fans looking for a heavy dose of violent mayhem will find no shortage in this installment of the iconic franchise. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning features intense moments of brutality, blended with a certain brand of gritty realism. R. Lee Ermey delivers an unnerving performance full of terror, and the camera doesn't flinch from the often graphic assaults.

In this exclusive interview, Jordana Brewster talks about the making of the movie, fan reaction to the violence, her appreciation of the genre, and how this film compared to some of her other projects. And on the lighter side, she also weighs in on the wisdom of agitating psychopaths, and offers advice to all of these hapless teenagers who are constantly getting stranded in horror flicks.

The Interview We often hear that the atmosphere on a horror set is one extreme or the other: morbid and serious, or fun and carefree. What was the vibe with this film?

JORDANA: It was both. Some days, when we could afford to be really, really fun and carefree, it was fun and carefree. And then some other days, it was...Not morbid, but it was very serious. Like there was one day on a very, very intense scene where Matthew Bomer, who plays my boyfriend, and I were joking around, and we started playing inappropriate jokes. And the producer comes up to us and he said, "Listen, we get the crew to respect you guys and keep a very serious atmosphere when you are doing a hard scene, and you guys have to stop it because you are setting a bad example." And we were like, "Oh, okay." But at some point, you know, we're dealing with such difficult, intense material, and it's kind of a defense mechanism. It's like when the audience is crying and laughing at the same time because they're so scared. I think it's a weird human reaction.

Have you seen the finished film yet?

Twice, yes...I saw it at Fantastic Fest.

What was the fan reaction at that horror movie festival?

It was the Alamo Drafthouse, so it was a theater where [the seats were on different levels]. We were on the first level, and I was afraid people were going to vomit on us. Because it was that violent. I mean, people were heaving during the screening, which was so bizarre to me. And I read some people were walking out because it's too violent. But people reacted really well. I mean, "well" meaning jumping and cringing and not being able to watch it. So that's been really cool.

Would you say this flick is more gritty and brutal than the average horror movie?

I think so, yeah.

Is there a certain part that makes you cringe as a viewer?

I think the first death, when [the supervisor] is getting banged in the face. That one makes me cringe.

What are some of your favorite horror movies?

Silence of the Lambs. I think serial killer movies scare me the most. Seven was really good. The Twin Peaks series--the television series that was on television. [pauses] That was redundant. [laughs] Also, The Others, I loved. The Ring was really good.

So you prefer the more serious ones to the campy ones?


Another of your films, Nearing Grace, is set around the same time as Texas Chainsaw. How did you like recreating that whole late '60s/early '70s era?

I had fun with it. It's weird, I did The '60s miniseries. And Invisible Circus is a small movie that not many people saw, but it was also a period piece. I keep kind of doing '60s, '70s period films. And I love it. Because it's just something else you get to work on, in addition to your character. It's just something to supplement it. And I loved wearing the clothes from that era, and the hairstyles. It's fun.

Has doing these roles given you a greater appreciation for the time?

Absolutely, yeah. And you can also listen to the music, and that helps you get into character. It just enriches the preparation for the role. Not necessarily for Texas, but definitely for Nearing Grace. I listened to a lot of Linda Ronstadt.

What did you think of the 2003 Texas Chainsaw remake?

I loved it. That's why I took this role.

And speaking of landing the role, how did you originally get involved in this project?

First, my agent asked me if I'd be interested, and I said absolutely, because I loved the first one with Jessica Biel. And then I just read for it with the director. And then I got the film, and then we started reading the boys and casting it that way. So I guess I was the first one of "the kids" to be cast.

At one point in the movie, your character is tied up by the villains at the dinner table, and she chooses that moment to throw an inbreeding insult at them. Is that the wisest thing to do in that situation?

I don't think so. But I think at that point, she's so pissed because they've killed the people she loves. So I think she just wants to spit at them at that point.

When you're confronting someone, do you tend to talk and negotiate, or act adversarial?

I think I negotiate my way out of it. Unless they're family, and then I know I can just get into an all-out fight, you know?

R. Lee Ermey, who plays the villainous Sheriff Hoyt, has a reputation for playing the badass, intimidating drill sergeant type. How was your experience of working with him?

He's a great actor. It was an honor to work with him, and he's a very, very, very sweet guy, and really professional. And he ad-libs a lot, which is wonderful, and improvises a lot, and goes off the script. I mean, he made the movie, I think, with making the character so quirky and so entertaining, and getting some comic relief, which I think was greatly needed in the film as well. [laughs]

What was his demeanor on set? Was he often in character?

I think he was in character most of the time.

This might be comparing apples to oranges, but how did your experience of making this film compare to working on The Faculty?

Well, I was really nervous on The Faculty, because it was my first film. And I was much more relaxed on this film. So like I had more fun on this film, and I was more wide-eyed at The Faculty.

Would you say you were the veteran on Texas Chainsaw?

Well, I don't think I was the veteran, but I think I was a lot more experienced, for sure, than I was on The Faculty. On The Faculty, I think I was just like totally lost, and just so happy to be on a set. [laughs]

Viewers of horror movies often find themselves telling characters, "Don't go in there!" or "Don't do that!" Did you have those types of moments when you were watching this film?

Ummm...I had a tiny bit of that for my own character. But I didn't on set, which was really funny. But I also understood why she made the choices she did.

What advice would you give to all these hapless teenagers in all these horror movies we've seen?

Hmmm...What would I say? [ponders] I'd say, "Don't get stuck in the middle of nowhere with your friends." [laughs] That's what I'd say. I'd say, "Don't go on a road trip."

Do you think things like cell phones make it more difficult to set these types of horror movies in modern times?

I do think so, yeah. I think it's harder to get so secluded.

You've done comedy, horror, action, and drama. Do you have a preference for a certain genre? Or is one more rewarding than another?

I think drama is the most rewarding, and horror is the most fun. [laughs]

Jordana, thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview.

Thank you very much.

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