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Nathan Fillion

Nathan Fillion - "Slither" Movie - Ifmagazine.com Interview

Sean Elliott

Wednesday 29 March 2006, by Webmaster

Movie News: THE CAST AND DIRECTOR OF SLITHER GET SILLY - PART 1 Zaniness from Nathan Fillion, Elizabeth Banks, Michael Rooker, Greg Henry, and writer-director James Gunn

Backed up sewage lines, falling asleep in prosthetics, and monster movies being love stories were just some of the topics discussed at the SLITHER press conference in Los Angeles in March. The press conference was a bit of an open mic, with the actors and director shouting out over the top of each other to make their comments heard. The entire panel was more like a comedy skit than a press conference, so when reading the interview below feel free to insert laughter after almost every person speaks.

After the premiere of the new horror comedy SLITHER in Los Angeles a press conference was held the next day to bring members of the cast and director face-to-face with the reporters who had seen the film the night before. On hand for the conference were, wrier-director James Gunn, Nathan Fillion, Elizabeth Banks, Michael Rooker, and Gregg Henry.

*Be warned that the following interview does contain several plot spoilers. *

Question: What is it like to define your own world of horror / sci-fi and be able to create your own rules?

NATHAN FILLION: And then break ‘em!

ELIZABETH BANKS: What does that mean?

JAMES GUNN: I understand what he means. I had to map out the whole biology of the creature, which I had to do early on. But, I still think it’s something only I understand. They used to make fun of me on set all the time because I’d say ‘you can’t do that, because the guy doesn’t think that way. He doesn’t have that knowledge, he has the other guys brain.’ These guys would say ‘it only makes sense to you.’

BANKS: Then he gave me an entire exposition line in the car about the disease is conscious. I still don’t think it makes any sense.

GUNN: Every time I see Elizabeth say that line I think I went one step too far!

BANKS: You don’t need me explaining the whole thing, all we need is for her [Tania Saulnier] to say ‘up there’ and you could cut. Why am I talking?

MICHAEL ROOKER: [Walking into room] You can begin everyone, now I’ve arrived.

GUNN: I like the scene in the car because it’s really funny. It’s an exposition scene that’s really fun to watch. Nathan says his line about them [the slugs] all being part of one deal, and I want to stop there and ask myself why I keep going. Then you [Elizabeth] say that line and you’re so dramatic.

BANKS: No! I didn’t even know what I was saying! [Laughs]

GUNN: She kept giggling every time after she said it.

BANKS: I’ll be honest with you, that entire car scene all [of the actors] thought that it was going to be cut. It didn’t matter what we said. Keep the ‘Mr. Pibb’ lines and the bathroom humor with Nathan’s mom because we improved all of that.

GUNN: The beginning part of that scene I wrote the night before, because my wife [Jenna Fischer] had to play Shelby. That role was supposed to be played by a man who backed out on us two days before shooting to go do a TV pilot. My wife fortunately was in town, and Thank God, because we had already shot his [the male Shelby] sides of the conversation. Which fortunately could be with a man or a woman. I re-wrote the scenes to fit a woman, and one of the scenes was ‘it’s what you done in there last night that caused the back up.’ Nathan went from there and tried to explain it [the toilet backing up] away.

ROOKER: That’s true. That happens all the time with trees and roots and lines.

FILLION: To you?

ROOKER: Roots get in there and I’ve had to Roto-rooter the hell outta my pipes. I’ve got a 1927 home and my pipes get stuffed all the time.

GUNN: Mine do too every time after you visit me.

Question: James, what sort of film influence do you have on your work?

GUNN: The biggest influence would have to be Cronenberg. I grew up loving his movies. The thing I like about his movies is that they may not always be scary but they are creepy as hell. I wanted to bring some of that creepiness back to movies. Then movies like THE FLY are quite humorous and Jeff Goldblum deserved an Academy Award for Brundle. So, it’s Cronenberg and all of the movies of the 80’s like RE-ANIMATOR and BASKET CASE. John Carpenter’s THE THING was a huge, huge influence. Also, in some ways the Universal horror movies of the 30’s and 40’s, because they were films in which the monster had a heart. Films like CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON and BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN are the same kind of monsters like Grant [Michael Rooker] who is destroyed because he loves. That’s really the message of the movie that if you love you will be destroyed.

ROOKER: If you love enough and can’t give it up. Give it up, give up that love, and you will be fine. You’ll be able to take over the world and eat everybody, impregnate everybody, and make the other people your slaves. Then you can move on to another planet. But NO, no I’ve gotta love. That was definitely the through line. When I first read it, I thought it was a beautiful love story. If you know anything about my career, you know this is about as close as I am ever gonna fuckin’ get to having a love story.

GUNN: You kiss two girls in this movie! No one gets to kiss a girl in the movie except for you and you get to kiss two!

ROOKER: I know I kiss two and I don’t even kill them. Well, one splits, but that wasn’t my fault. Not really.

GUNN: Rooker would come to me with these notes on the page and he’d say ‘this is beautiful...she gives birth in a manger...she is like Mary.’

ROOKER: What do you want I grew up BAPTIST!! All of a sudden there were cows, well they’re dead, but there were cows and sheep and there’s hay. I thought ‘she’s in a little manger, she’s giving birth to the new human race.’ It was a wonderful experience. Did you get it?

GUNN: I did. It was one of the weirdest things. A lot of the script I switched back and forth from seeing from these guys point of view [Nathan, Beth, Gregg] and the other part of the time I saw it from Rooker’s point of view. So, half of the time, I thought of Rooker as the hero. To me he’s just doing what he needs to do, and Elizabeth f**ks him over.

BANKS: I do, I really do.

ROOKER: She’s a country western song.

GREGG HENRY: Bitch is hard-core.

ROOKER: It’s always the woman. It is always her fault.

GUNN: If it’s survival of the fittest, you’re the fittest Elizabeth.

BANKS: That’s it.

Question: How was working in the makeup for you Michael?

ROOKER: I wasn’t in it every morning. They gave me breaks and scheduled it quite well. I was pleased by that, but there were some times when I got in about four or five hours before these other schmucks cracked an eyelid. I’m there in the middle of the night, literally at three am. I sit down and they were working on me for five hours before anyone gets to the set. It’s rough because you can’t sleep. [Special Make-Up Effects Artist] Todd Masters would raise my head because I had fallen asleep in the make-up chair and was snoring. I would ask if I had been asleep and he would tell me to stop talking because I was going to break the seal. We had varying levels of the makeup and some of them weren’t so bad. Taking it off actually ended up being the worst part. If they went too fast it would rip your skin off. If they went too slow you’d be thinking ‘come on I want to get outta here.’

GUNN: He put up with a lot of pain. The guy is amazing, because not too many people will put up with what he put up with. He really deserves props.

BANKS: Very professional. [Nodding]

ROOKER: It was painful at times, but it was ok. My neck hurt a little bit. My shoulder was dislocated because I had to hold my arm back all day long when I had a rubber arm. The day I had to swing that fake arm around I swung my arm so that heard something tear.

GUNN: You worked for four hours after that, and you never told me until just the other night.

ROOKER: It’s all better. I can do all kind of stuff with it now.