The star of The Crazies discusses the success of the movie, a possible sequel and Breck Eisner's re-imagining of Flash Gordon
Last weekend director Breck Esiner's new film, The Crazies, a remake of the classic George A. Romero zombie movie attacked the box office and opened with not only critical but also financial success. The film, which is about a small town dealing with an outbreak of zombies and a government conspiracy to stop the pandemic, is now surrounded by rumors of a possible sequel as well as the recant news that Eisner himself will soon be helming a 3D update of the classic comic-strip hero, Flash Gordon. In The Crazies, actress Radha Mitchell best known for her roles in movies like Pitch Black, Man On Fire and The Surrogates plays Judy, a pregnant doctor trying to escape the zombie quarantine along side her Sheriff husband. We recently had an opportunity to speak with the talented actress about the movie, the chances of a sequel, working with Eisner and the cast and her thoughts on Flash Gordon. Here is what she had to say:
To begin with, the film performed very well at the box office last weekend and got great reviews from fans and critics alike, so has Breck Eisner or anyone from the studio contacted you about a sequel yet and were there any ideas for a possible follow-up discussed while making the film, as the movie's ending could certainly leave room for a second film?
Radha Mitchell: Yeah. I think we're just dealing with getting it out their for the moment but possibly. It certainly does, I mean you can imagine all kinds of horrible things happening half an hour later once they get to Cedar Rapids. So it certainly lends itself to certain potentialities that we haven't quite got into what they would be yet for sure. I don't think there's been that kind of discussion immediately. But you never know what could happen in the next couple of weeks. I don't know?
Is a sequel to this film something you would like to do? Did you enjoy working with director Breck Eisner, Timothy Olyphant and the rest of the cast on the film enough to want to return for another movie?
Radha Mitchell: Yeah, I mean I loved working with Breck. He's very passionate and I think really understands the genre and really understood this script in a really great way. I think it was his sense of timing and pacing that created all the scares in all the right places. Then I loved Tim's character and I think he really fit well as Dave. So the whole little group was really fun and it was great working with everybody. It was fun to work with basically these four actors alone with each other with that level of intensity. So yeah, in terms of creating story it was great and I'd love to do it again.
So no we haven't had those sorts of conversations but I don't know if other people are or what their plans are for it. But I think they're just kind of happy to put it out there at this stage and to have the opening weekend. I think everyone's quite happy it did well and that it got well reviewed. That was great, I mean the reviews were really good. It sort of did as great as it possibly could have, as we might have imagined it to do so that's always a great thing to be able to share with people.
Speaking of Breck, it was recently announced that he would be directing a new big screen version of "Flash Gordon" in 3D. Since you and Timothy Olyphant have such a great onscreen chemistry it would make sense that you two would be perfect for the roles of Flash and Dale Arden, respectively so is that something you would be interested in doing and did Breck ever mention anything about that project to you while on set?
Radha Mitchell: Oh really? Well, I have no idea what his plans are for that but that's great. He's doing Flash Gordon? I didn't know that? I'll have to ask him and see what's up? I don't remember it that well, I just remember the great like graphics and puppets and stuff. There were puppets in it right? They kind of looked like puppets, the special effects. It's great. I love those kinds of effects. There kind of cool and I hope he keeps that style.
Back to "The Crazies," the original George Romero film really had two stories, the town dealing with zombies, and the government plotting their conspiracy. A big difference here is that we never really see the government plotting, can you talk about the changes from the original film that were made to update this and the choice to make the government the real threat as apposed to the zombies?
Radha Mitchell: Yeah, I don't think those were necessarily the best beats in the original movie, focusing on the whole military with the drum roll and all of that stuff. It was kind of just hard to watch. But when you are focused on the characters and just seeing the affect that the bureaucracy can have on the individual, it sort of makes you feel like wow, we are all statistics basically in this game and how much can we actually trust our governments in the first place? I guess the less we know the more vulnerable we feel in that way. So the more we relate and identify with the character's predicaments. If you see them from the military point of view then I guess you do start to view people in that light. Where is by saying that with our wisdom as individuals we kind of, well they retain their individuality so to speak.
There is some question throughout the film whether your character actually has the virus or not and if she is sick, can you talk about that mystery and how you played it as an actress?
Radha Mitchell: Is she sick? No she's not sick, she's pregnant. She has an elevated temperature because she is caring a baby. But I guess she doesn't know for sure? I mean nobody knows nobody knows what he or she has been exposed to. I guess you never know what's right in front of you and that's the scary thing I think, "could it be me?" "Am I going to loose it?" I think that's probably the scariest thought, the scariest proposition in the film?
You have some great scenes in the film with co-stars Timothy Olyphant and Joe Anderson, can you talk about working with them and the work you did to build these characters?
Radha Mitchell: Well, I guess we did rehearse. When we first arrived in Georgia we all sat around with Breck and we rehearsed a lot of the scenes before we shot them so we kind of knew what they were each day. In terms of character I think everybody just sort of brought what they ... I mean Tim and I just brought what we know about relationships to that relationship, which is kind of weird. And with Joe, he was real interesting to watch work. He's a very intense actor and in many ways kind of looses himself in the character. So some of those scenes were very intense to shoot. We were shooting a horror movie but it felt like we were shooting a really serious drama, when we were shooting. So that was great. Everybody was really committed to his or her roles, so there was a real sense of focus when we were on set.
Finally, without giving too much away for those who haven't seen it, there are two scenes in particular that fans have been really excited about in the film, the knife scene in the bedroom and the car wash scene. Could you talk about those two set scenes, shooting them, preparing for them and why do you think those two sequences in particular standout so much and are so scary for fans?
Radha Mitchell: Yeah, I mean I guess those scenes were really fun because it was really about the stunts and the actors coming together because there was so much to kind of put together in those scenes. I guess Breck sort of had to maintain pace with the whole thing and tease the audience through those scenes. But I think the reason why they really worked was because it was a marriage where the stunt guys finally got to do their thing and the actors and were really working together. So they were supposed to be very, very intense and they were and even the shots were like very specific. The shot in the bedroom where there is the reveal, you know that's a very specific shot that I think Breck had in mind before we even got to set. So those kinds of things and you know, a lot of it was just sort of what we had time to shoot and how it was all put together. But I think why it worked is because the stunt men really got to come in and do some fun stuff.
The Crazies is currently in theaters everywhere.
The Crazies was released February 26th, 2010 and stars Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell, Joe Anderson, Danielle Panabaker, Christie Lynn Smith, Brett Rickaby, Preston Bailey, John Aylward. The film is directed by Breck Eisner.