"Oh yes there will be blood," and considering the annual profits being raked in by the Saw series, there might very well be blood every October for the rest of time. Regardless of your feelings toward them, there's no denying these folks have gotten the formula down cold for budget filmmaking that yields fattening returns. Of course it helps that the movies are mostly starless (no offense, Donnie Wahlberg), with the sole exception of Tobin Bell, a character actor who's appeared on roughly 40 percent of all the world's television shows and has become famous as the face of the franchise. It's no wonder that his character Jigsaw, the diabolical madman who teaches people how to appreciate life just in time for them to die, is back for Saw IV despite meeting a grisly end in the last chapter. We visited with Bell in his lair (OK, hotel suite), where he told us about interactions with fans and the time he read his young son the Saw script as a bedtime story. Well, sort of.
Cinematical: Do you get recognized much for your playing Jigsaw?
Tobin Bell: Oh yeah sure. But you know, I'm always amazed... I took my 11-year-old to an oceanography camp and these girls came over to me, and my son was like "Oh here we go, Dad," because they had been looking. They were like, "You're the guy, aren't you?" And I said, "Well, maybe." They said, "He is, he's the guy on Charmed!" They were like 13, and Charmed was their favorite show and I did one episode of Charmed as this blind guy. Sometimes people will say "You're the guy on Stargate." Or, "I loved you on Seinfeld." So I get recognized depending on where I am. Saw is a particularly popular film with 14-30 year olds, so I'll be at a playground and meet six or 10 skateboarders who just wanna talk about Saw. They don't want to talk about Seinfeld but they are just very excited about Saw. I'm always psyched about that because seeing something that engenders as much enthusiasm amongst young people as Saw does is a very interesting experience.
Cinematical: What do you think drives that fascination with 'Saw'?
TB: I remember meeting a girl in New York some years ago and she went to horror films all the time. She was very reserved, very presentable, a personal assistant type, extremely articulate, very well educated. She went to horror films and I asked her, "Why do you go to horror films?" Because I never personally was drawn to being frightened in the theater. She said it's because it's such a visceral experience. It's not something you can intellectualize. You can't control it. So she liked that. That always stuck with me. When I sit in the theaters and watch the Saw films and watch the audiences' reaction, it's true. You can't control what your body does. Like the last moment of Saw 1 when I get up off the floor, it induced this sort of universal reaction that people had to this moment. It was like "Ahh!," and their little asses came right off their seats in that moment. Their bodies would rise out of the chair. And there are other moments like that.