Richard Jenkins throws open the doors of ‘The Cabin in the Woods’
Richard Jenkins, Amy Acker and Bradley Whitford in 'The Cabin in the Woods' (Photo: Lionsgate)
The last place you'd expect to find the Oscar-nominated star of the acclaimed independent drama "The Visitor" is in a horror movie about a group of college students being terrorized by a redneck zombie torture family. But that's just one of the many surprises in "The Cabin in the Woods," the twisted take on the horror genre from producer Joss Whedon ("The Avengers") and director Drew Goddard (the writer of "Cloverfield").
In "Cabin," Richard Jenkins teams up with Bradley Whitford (Emmy winner for "The West Wing"), and the role they play in how five young people become hunted by an undead clan is the central mystery of the film. So if you haven't seen it, check out "The Cabin in the Woods" now on DVD, Blu-ray, or digital download. And if you have watched it already, read this spoiler-filled conversation I had with Richard Jenkins. He revealed how he got involved in this unlikely project, his main worry when the film was shelved for years, and how Joss Whedon's shoes ended up stained with blood.
[Related: 'The Cabin in the Woods' on DVD/Blu-ray]
Matt McDaniel: I remember when it was first announced that Joss Whedon would be doing a horror movie with Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford and it just seemed so incongruous. It was immediately intriguing. So what was it about this project that drew you to it?
Richard Jenkins: Well, I had the same feeling when my agent said, "They want you to do a horror movie." I said, "No, I don't. It's not what I do. I don't think so." She said, "It's Joss Whedon. Read it. It's really good." So I read it, and the next day I said, "Okay, I'll do this."
I just loved it. I've got it immediately, and I understood what it was doing, even though I haven't seen a lot of horror films. I remember watching movies with my father when I was a little boy. The people would run from the monster, or whatever it was, and they would always stop, turn around, and look for where the monster was. My father would yell at the television or the film, "Keep running, you idiot! Why are you stopping?" And the kids that go to the cabin in the woods make the same dumb mistakes every time. And finally, somebody is telling us why the guy stops, turns around and looks for the monster. I just thought it was so smart.
MM: Now, you and Bradley Whitford have this entirely separate storyline going on at the same time as the cabin stuff. So, it did seem like those guys are working together for a long time doing this job, did you two talk about the backstory developing, how these guys got to there?
RJ: No, we just kind of knew they were good at what they do, have to be. It's just like if you're going to do this job, you've got to have a lot of confidence. You have to be pretty sure of yourself, have a big ego. You have to be confident. I always thought of it like a neurosurgeon or somebody. I think I'll cut this cranium open and go in there -- takes a little bit of ego.
MM: I've got the sense your character -- it might have been like the short-sleeve shirt with the skinny tie — that he was like one of the mission control guys from the Apollo moon landing.
RJ: He's a little bit of a throw back, yeah, I agree. That's what it kind of reminded me of, too.