By Piya Sinha-Roy
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Sam Claflin has fought pirates, fallen in love with Snow White and participated in a "Hunger Games" battle-to-the-death, but in his latest film, the British actor takes on the frightening consequences of the supernatural.
"The Quiet Ones," out in U.S. theaters on Friday, sees Claflin play Brian, a cameraman hired to document "the experiment," where an Oxford professor tries to make a young girl manifest a supernatural being that haunts her.
The role is the latest for the rising actor, who made his debut in 2011's "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," starred opposite Kristen Stewart in 2012's "Snow White and the Huntsman," and plays the charming fisherman Finnick Odair in "The Hunger Games" film franchise.
Claflin, 27, spoke to Reuters about acting in a horror film, being intimidated by "The Hunger Games" and dealing with fan negativity.
Q: Doing a horror movie, did it make you more curious about the supernatural or did it help debunk a lot of those mysteries?
A: The horror movies that really connect with me are the ones where you never see the monster, you never see or quite understand what it is that they're chasing. This (film) is a prime example of that - you never see what Evey is, it's a power or a force you can't explain, not too dissimilar to the "Paranormal Activity" (films) and "The Blair Witch Project." There's something about your imagination able to run free that really is quite dangerous because you conjure up such horrible things, and you can't even quite put it on paper.
Q: Did you draw any parallels between yourself and Brian?
A: There were definitely parallels between me and Brian; he's a non-believer, he's a skeptic but he's curious, which is why he's more than happy to get involved in the project. I think ... someone said "come and explore this haunted house with me," I'd like to think I'd say "of course" ...
Once he gets involved, he finds it difficult to walk away, and it's the same thing that I have to see a job done. I can't leave something halfway through and return to it later.
Q: Do you get very invested in the roles that you play?
A: Yes, I think so. Brian's probably the closest to myself that I've played, or had played up until that point. I've since done another film that I feel has a lot more parallels to myself ... the characters felt very real and natural and normal. I was interested in playing someone who was very average, I didn't want to be the heartthrob, as much as Brian does become a kind of hero, he finds his voice, but then he loses it all.
Q: You've often played the love interest. Are you worried about being typecast as the romantic hero?
A: It's definitely something that still scares me. Even now I'm in the process of making a decision of where I'm going to be going after "Hunger Games," and I want to make the right decision. I want a long-lasting career as opposed to someone that does the same thing over and over again, people get bored of you, and you then get washed up because the next young, better-looking version of you will arrive. I want to try my hand at new things, I want to be a character actor, I'd like to think of myself as a chameleon.
Q: What drew you to Finnick Odair in "Catching Fire"?
A: Knowing the journey that he goes on, where he begins; he's got this exterior, he's a confident, charming man, very good-looking and often judged on the way he looks, and I think he's the epitome of Hollywood ... but actually what's going on inside, there's a lot more going on. He's very similar to me in that sense, I think I put on a brave face a lot of the time, but actually what I'm thinking is I'm so nervous and intimated by what's going on. He's so vulnerable and naive to the world, he's just had to put on a front.
Q: What's been the most intimidating moment in your career?
A: I think portraying Finnick Odair would be the poignant moment in my career in the sense of I put most pressure on myself. I felt hugely intimidated entering into a franchise I was already a fan of, and had the likes of Jennifer Lawrence, Woody Harrelson, Philip Seymour Hoffman coming on board, I didn't know what to do with myself. A lot of the fans showed a lot of negative thoughts with the role.
Q: How do you deal with that negativity?
A: I use it to my advantage. To me, that made me work harder ... it pushed me further, whereas I think if everyone was like, "He's perfect the way he is," I wouldn't have done anything; I would have just turned up. But I felt like, "I'm going to prove you wrong," and I can only do as much as I can do, and if they still hate me, they hate me, I can't change my face, I'm sorry. Well, I can with surgery! (laughs)
(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Eric Kelsey and Jonathan Oatis)