Feature: Elias Koteas On The Haunting in Connecticut
Mon, 30 Mar 2009 11:15:52
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An evil aura penetrates every frame of The Haunting in Connecticut, a film "based on true events." Elias Koteas, who plays the heroic Reverend Nicholas Popescu, has an intriguing take on the story: "I think the movie is about the loss of control," says Elias. "The film never really struck me as being about possession like the typical spiritual horror flick is. There really is something in the house, and it's pulling everyone to the other side."
That evil has its sights set on a cancer-stricken boy named Matt Campbell (Kyle Gallner). Matt's mom, Sara (Virginia Madsen), purchases an old house close to the hospital where he's receiving treatment. The house was famous for "amplified" séances that ended in the death of five people and the disappearance of a strange young medium. Upon moving in, Matt becomes tormented by something supernatural. He meets Reverend Popescu in treatment, and the two square off against the terror together.
Elias found that terror to be genuine because of the strength of the performances. He says, "All of these actors were good enough to generate that creepiness. You dig into yourself and create that energy. The director and the crew rely on the actors to somehow bring it. That happens through a lot of preparation—and a little divine inspiration [laughs]."
The cast's tense dramatic interplay stirs up fear. As a result, the film becomes more about a family on the brink than it is about some biblical battle, with some earth shatteringly scary sequences scattered in-between. "As an actor, you want to be a part of a good story," says Elias. "To play a reverend who can to tap into this spirituality and help a family, you need a kind energy. The character must have a benevolent regard for the family. He also has to be able to see this other world. That's quite terrifying, though. Could you imagine living a life where you're completely open to the spirits all around you? What kind of life would that be?"
“I was playing a character close to death. In that situation, you take into account what's really important—family, love, friends, and leaving some sort of positive legacy in the world.”
Despite this all-encompassing torment, Elias did find a positive light in the role. "I was playing a character close to death, and I felt free of any sort of petty concerns. In that situation, you take into account what's really important—family, love, friends, and leaving some sort of positive legacy in the world. It felt pretty profound."
Elias was also no stranger to working with some of the cast. "I worked with Virginia Madsen on The Prophecy. It was back in 1993, and that feels like ages ago! Virginia hasn't changed a bit. She looks just as beautiful as she did back in '93. It's me who went through some metamorphosis [laughs]. I felt like I had the front row seat for a lot of brilliant actors flying all around me in The Prophecy. I think it was a little bit over my head, but I've grown immensely. I consider myself a late bloomer."
Elias has bloomed into one of the most enigmatic character actors on the scene, and he has a host of projects coming out this year, including Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island. Plus he's stolen scenes in Fallen, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and Crash, to name a few.
About his acting style, he explains, "I do the best I can. I live kind of a chaotic life. I have an acting coach who helps ground me and very close friends who reach up and bring me down to Earth. They help me prepare to be there and be open emotionally for my work. I've been around a long time, so I don't know any other way to do it. Sometimes you connect, and sometimes you don't, but you always go in head first and see what happens. Hopefully, the work has some sort of spiritual content, some soul, and humanity. Then you go onto the next experience."