Interview: Radha Mitchell of The Crazies — "I like things that are a little bit deranged, and I'm always lobbying for the gun!"
Mon, 22 Feb 2010 09:48:19
Radha Mitchell Videos
In The Crazies, Radha Mitchell gets to be a real badass.
Unlike the standard hot-girl-in-a-horror-movie, Mitchell doesn't simply run. Playing doctor Judy Dutton, she outwits the film's eponymous psychos and takes down a few with some bloody and brutal battering. Mitchell's no stranger to horror films—check her entrancing and engaging performance in Silent Hill. In The Crazies, she imbues her character with an incisive intelligence that makes her the perfect heroine for the film. She's smart and sexy, and most importantly, she's not scared at all—no matter how Crazy things get.
Radha Mitchell sat down with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino for this exclusive interview about losing it for The Crazies, why she likes "things that are a little bit deranged," the movie's similarities to Metallica and Serge Gainsbourg and why she wants to pack some heat…
Does the horror genre encourage strong women? You've always got savvy female heroes in these films.
You do! You've also always got the buxom chicks who get their heads cut off, so there are two iconic images [Laughs]. It's good! In reality, we have strong human beings—some of them are women and some of them are men. It's great to see that projected in the stories that we create.
Is it gratifying to be the hero in The Crazies?
Totally! I'm always lobbying for the gun [Laughs]. In this case, Judy doesn't have a gun, so there's a lot of screaming. There's a sequence where she does some fighting, which, for me, really was the most fun part to shoot. Screaming and fighting at the same time was totally primal. I have this wrestling scene with one of The Crazies. That was my favorite day of shooting because there was so much adrenaline involved and we were soaking wet. It's very physical and fun! You never get to do that in real life! When do you get to roll around soaking wet kicking a Crazy's ass? [Laughs] There's definitely a fantasy element in there that's fun to play out.
But you didn't get a gun…
Actually, I did get a gun, just for a minute [Laughs]. I wanted a gun for the whole game, but they wouldn't give it to me. There's one scene where I get to shoot, and that was also fun. I don't know why I would be lobbying for a gun…there's something iconic about it. It's in your subconscious and you see it in cinema. There's something specific about a gun in these movies, which is cool. Judy does have a moment of shooting, and she has some moments of fighting. It's a really good film! You're going to enjoy it.
Was there anything about Judy that resonated with you personally?
Initially reading the script, I liked that it's a very intense story. It's about a group of people who are reliant on each other. I liked the fact that the story is centered on a husband and wife and two of their friends. She's pregnant as well. To have this domestic situation going on in this insane reality was really interesting to explore. These characters are all dependent on each other for survival. Exploring their relationships was the most intriguing part to play out in the time that we had to do that between being on the run and being killed. Those were the interesting beats.
There's a real rhythm to your performances. Do you ever listen to music to get into character?
Sometimes, I actually do listen to music to block everything else out, especially because when you're on a set, there are hundreds of people that are all busy doing their thing. You have to stay focused on what you're doing. One way to do that is to listen to music—obviously you listen to music that relates to the mood that you're supposed to be in. I would listen to my iPod sometimes to block everything out and help create some of the dramatic moods that we were in at the time.
If you could compare The Crazies to a band or a record what or who would you compare it to?
Interesting question! It kind of reminds me of those Italian western films from the 1960's—it's got this Michaelangelo Antonioni feeling. I'm comparing it to cinema more than music, but there's something cool about the movie like those films. Maybe it's got a Serge Gainsbourg quality—a French vibe—mixed up with something like AC/DC [Laughs]. Could you imagine the mix? You'll see that there's an elegance to the film, and it's shot beautifully, but then it's like Metallica [Laughs]. It goes very far in the other direction as well. Chaos and order—I like it when it's teetering on the edge. It's funny because we started talking about insanity. I like things that are a little bit deranged but are still contained. There's an order to it.
That's the most interesting space. It's good to be surprised.
In a way, I think this movie has that about it too. It's structured, and it's very elegantly shot. At the same time, it goes far into chaos, which is what's great about the movie. What are some of your favorite horror flicks? Are you a fan of the genre in general?
I never knew that I was a horror fan, but I've been involved in so many of them that I've started to appreciate them. Two of my favorite movies ever and consequentially two of the scariest movies I've seen—maybe it's because of the age that I saw it—were The Hunger and Cat People. They're freaky and weird! I'd seen them when I was really young, and they just stayed in my mind. They're very stylistically iconic, sexy, scary, bizarre and weird. I don't know if you'd classify them as horror, but they're certainly interesting and weird films to put in this category.
Silent Hill was an atypical horror film.
Again, it wasn't a normal horror film. Obvious, Christophe Gans, the director, had a lot to do with that. Before we started making the movie, he was referencing films like Orphee which is a French art film from the 1940s. It's a surrealistic movie. His references were very highbrow. He was a complete film buff, but he was in love with the game Silent Hill. He was just obsessed with it. It was a strange situation where he was an absolute fan of the genre but he got to experiment with it and create the movie. He was very passionate and also very French [Laughs]. That's what you're looking at with the film; it's a very European horror movie.
What's your acting approach? What do you want to give the audience?
I just think about how I want to make the performance real. I hope that it seems real, and that's the main thing. I hope that it feels like it's really happening on a basic level—depending on who the character is and what the story's about. That's what I'd want to show. In this case, I wanted to feel that it was real and the characters are connected and this is actually happening and you like them. You don't want to be sitting there waiting for the characters to die because then you lose all the tension. It's possible when you have people running around screaming that you just want to have them hurry up and die. I don't think that's the effect in this film at all. You certainly want them to live, and that's important when you're making a movie about people on the run.
What's up with the movie you produced, The Waiting City?
We shot The Waiting City in Calcutta just before shooting The Crazies. It went to the Toronto Film Festival. It's getting released in Australia later this year. It's the story about a couple who go to India to adopt a baby and an exploration of their relationship while they're figuring out what's happening there. They fall in love again in a way. Obviously as an actor, you're acting in other people stories most of the time. If there's a character or story that moves you, it's wonderful to bring it to reality. In this case, I was able to get behind the project and help bring people to it and make it actually be a real thing and not just a script. It's something I'd like to do again.
Check out Rick Florino's new novel Dolor available now for FREE here…