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Sarah Michelle Gellar

Sarah Michelle Gellar - ’The Grudge’ Movie - Smgboard.com Interview

Thursday 25 November 2004, by Webmaster

As Sarah Michelle Gellar walked into a suite at the Knightsbridge Mandarin Hotel, I couldn’t believe how small she was. Almost everyone else in the room was a middle-aged male journalist, and they clearly couldn’t believe how fit she was. I’ve never seen so many pervy smiles in all my life. As questions about her new film ‘The Grudge’ began, she managed to pour sparkling water all over herself. It was a surreal half-hour.

Q: How difficult was it for you, working in Japan with a Japanese director whose English wasn’t fantastic? We’re told most of the vocabulary at his disposal was learned from watching ‘Star Wars’?

SMG: Actually, what was worse were the words we taught him, they’d probably get him arrested in America. It was one of those things that at first I was really excited about and then when I got there I panicked and thought “there’s no way this can possibly work”... but it was just this major education for me in communication. And what I learned is that you really don’t need language.

Q: Japanese films are a culture and a genre in themselves. Did you accordingly make any changes when preparing yourself for the role?

SMG: Oh, it was really important to all of us. The reason I made this film was because it was Japanese, because it was being done - in my opinion - in the right way. This is the first time that a Japanese film has ever been remade for an English-speaking audience with the original Japanese director. And it’s what I love about them, I think it’s one of the reasons the genre works so well in Japan, because it comes from such an emotional place. It comes from the very serious belief that they have in existentialism and, you know, just life. And it was very important to us that we didn’t Americanise it. I loved the non-linear aspect; you know, American horror films - and American films in general - have a beginning, a middle and an end. This does not work within that realm. And I love the ambiguity of it, I love that it wasn’t spelt out. It’s not gory, it’s not bloody, it wasn’t about that,

Q: The little boy who starred in at least three versions of this film: what’s he like? Has he been scarred by the experience?

SMG: Well... he’s an interesting boy. You know what? He doesn’t care. Literally. The only thing is, he hates cats; every time you had to do a scene with a cat he freaked out and got really bratty. He’s definitely, and I’m trying to say this politely, an odd child. There were questions that I wanted to ask him that I didn’t want to ask with the translator or his mom around, like “what do the kids at school say to you?”. Stuff like that. I never actually got to ask him. I think the only person the film was difficult on was him.

Q: Given the success of ‘Buffy’, have you actively looked for roles which play to the strengths of that character and yet are noticeably different to that role?

SMG: No-one’s going to out-Buffy Buffy because it was so wonderful, and I wouldn’t try to replicate that. I was just looking for something that challenged me. I don’t have a set plan, like “I have to do a comedy” or “I have to do this”. The only thing for me is that I actively seek out strong female characters or female-driven pieces, and it’s difficult to find in films. Television is driven by females but films still aren’t, so this was a lucky find for me.

[One journalist leaves the room. Sarah says “I guess I offended him, huh?!”. The interview’s host replies “It’s this strange and wonderful power you have to engender excitement among these young men. His legs will be broken later.” Sarah laughs and thanks him.]

Q: You’ve done a lot of roles involving the supernatural. How do you feel about the supernatural yourself? And did you turn down any other roles to take this one?

SMG: In terms of the supernatural and stuff, there are two answers to this question. One of them has to do with female roles, and this is a genre where women really do get to take the forefront. Look at a couple of Oscar-winners: Halle Berry did ‘Gothika’, Julianne Moore’s biggest solo hit now is ‘The Forgotten’, Naomi Watts in ‘The Ring’, Nicole Kidman in ‘The Others’. It’s one of those genres where women really get these great roles. So part of my attraction is to that. But what I loved about this was just the lore that it was based upon, and the idea that great emotion can carry through life and death.

Q: Where do you think you’ll find yourself in ten years’ time? You’re such an outgoing lady; do you have any ambition to get behind the camera?

SMG: I have no desire to direct right now. That might change, but not now. I’d love to write but I don’t think I’m talented enough, I’m not that good. But then again, there are a lot of writers out there who also aren’t that good so it’s possible I could still be successful! I do have a desire to produce, though. I think that being able to find something in its infancy, to see it develop and really create would be an amazing experience. As for ten years from now, I have trouble looking ten days from now! I would like to still be doing work that challenges me and hopefully still be loving what I do the way I do now.