If it's Halloween, it must be Saw. And it is. So it must be. Cinematical attended a press junket this week for Saw IV. It consisted of three interviews, with reporters from various outlets throwing out questions. The first was with Jigsaw himself, Tobin Bell (phoning in because he lives in Malibu, so wish him and his family well). The second was with Lyriq Bent (Rigg), Scott Patterson (Agent Strahm), and franchise producer Mark Burg. The third was with Costas Mandylor (Hoffman), Betsy Russell (Jill -- Mrs. Jigsaw), and franchise producer Oren Koules. Lionsgate hadn't screened the movie for critics (or even the actors!) as of this junket, as the representatives are extremely secretive about its plot, particularly a final twist. All we know is, despite having seemingly died at the end of Saw III, Jigsaw is back. Oh yes, and we know that there will be blood. Lotsa blood. We discussed what makes the franchise so popular, the phrase "torture porn," and the future of the Saw series.
Can you tell us what attracted you to the role yet again?
Tobin Bell: He's a big character. There could be nothing better for an actor than to have an opportunity to play a role where the character is sort of a multi-faceted guy. I mean, he is a scientist and a very well read guy and a man of conviction and passionate about what he does. There is something Shakespearean about him in a way. And there is a lot more story to be told. I feel like the Saw story doesn't play out in a linear way. It doesn't happen in sequence, necessarily. Whenever you have the opportunity to develop a guy like this, it's a blessing. It's what actors become actors for.
It's interesting to hear you talk about the thought process that goes into creating his back-story. Because if you ask an audience after they see a Saw film, they were there for the gore. They want to see someone's guts spill out on the floor. Are you rationalizing the character for yourself? Or do you really care about the characters in these films?
TB: I think that anybody who goes to one of these films wants to care about the characters. I think you can accomplish the same thing in the horror genre that you can accomplish in any other genre, whether it's a period piece, or a romantic comedy. I think there is an opportunity in a drama of any kind for the viewer to get involved with the characters. If you sell out completely on that, and I think that is what the horror genre has done for many years, people will not think of it very highly as a genre. Many genre films of the fifties and sixties were interested in the special effects, or interested in the scare factor, or the sci-fi factor. Jacob's Ladder is a very smart, well-crafted script. It is very scary. The Dead Zone with Christopher Walken. On its face, you have a man that looks at things and lights them on fire with his eyes. Look at the film. Christopher Walken draws you in. He makes you care about him. That's what makes the film work.