The Cabin In The Woods Fran Kranz Interview
Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
The best Joss Whedon film of the year (that’s right, we said it) arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on Monday. To celebrate we spoke to Fran Kranz, Dollhouse’s brain-breaking genius and Cabin In The Woods’ stoner extraordinaire, about the challenge of keeping the film’s secrets, pestering Joss Whedon for a role in The Avengers 2 and his love for The Legend Of Zelda.
And when you’re done be sure to enter our competition to win one of five copies of the film on DVD (GB residents only).
Also BEWARE, there be spoilers ahead. If you haven’t seen The Cabin In The Woods yet, don’t say we didn’t warn you.
SFX: The first rule of The Cabin In The Woods is you don’t talk about The Cabin In The Woods. How difficult has it been for you to keep the film’s secrets?
Fran Kranz: “I did my own promotion campaign, long before Lionsgate was attached. People were like: “Wow, Fran’s lost his mind. He’s talking about this Cabin In The Woods movie, it’s really kinda sad.” I held on to this beacon of hope, that it would come out and that all the work would be worth it. In order to keep people’s interest, or to keep people from thinking I was crazy, I would drop little hints. I feel like the movie has so many twists and turns that you can tell someone about one aspect, without ruining the movie. I think telling someone about a certain twist or turn actually just makes the movie seem that much more intriguing. If you showed someone a clip from the first half of the film, then showed someone another from the second half it would be hard to believe it’s the same movie. To tease people with that, with the story of the film, really keeps people’s interest. I definitely held onto that script tight, it was very confidential to me, because it was important to me that audiences, even my friends and family, got to see it as a surprise.”
How much of a relief was it for you when the film finally made it to cinemas?
“It was difficult, now that it’s on DVD, and now it’s been released in theatres, I feel that I can speak about the whole journey differently. At the time I was coached to say: “Oh, everything is great. No problems,” like everything was really fun. But the truth is that it was a real struggle, and for me in particular. I knew how good the movie was. It was one of the best scripts I’d ever read. I was there on set everyday, I cared about it and had my heart and soul in this project, unlike any I’d done before. So I knew that we did a good job, I believed that. I felt that I did a good job. I was proud of what we did. So for it essentially to go away was really frustrating, even a little heartbreaking, because as much faith as I had in the project, my belief that people would eventually see it was tested. I did have my days or moments where I doubted it, doubted that people would get to see what we did, and what I was so proud of. That was really difficult. It was such a great relief, so immensely satisfying for it to come out and get those good reviews and that great reaction, and finally be able to see it with an audience, and to hear the crowd’s reaction was really satisfying. It sounds like I’m just saying it, but it really is true, it was worth the wait. It was great to end up at Lionsgate, because they got it. There was some fear along the way that we’d made a movie that might have been too complicated for the genre. Maybe we geeked out too far and lost an audience. But then we found Lionsgate and it felt like we were all reaffirmed. The movie was reaffirmed. It was what we thought it was – this crazy, kick-ass, funny horror film.”
How much did you know about the film before you auditioned?
“I did one audition with this crazy monologue that was written just for actors reading for Marty. There was this kid who was being interrogated by the police, having just seen his friend decapitated by the Click Clack Man. It was so bizarre. I had to do that twice. I did it once for a casting director, then I did it once for Joss and Drew, which is funny because I was working with Joss at the time. You would think that I might go in for Joss and Drew immediately, especially because later down the road I heard that they had me in mind for the part. Joss told me that he had told Drew: “I think I’ve found Marty.” Before I even knew this whole project existed. I think they were trying to keep a distance and see my interpretation of the role. I don’t think they wanted to have any influence on my performance. I guess Joss was seeing if his hunch was right. Thankfully it was. I assume that’s what it was. To me it was very strange to get an audition for a Joss Whedon film, and not have him talk to me about it, because I saw the guy daily at the time. I’d met Drew once. It felt strange because in general I read for directors immediately. So to go in and do a pre-read – I asked my agent about it, I thought it was strange – but I went ahead and did it. Eventually after I read for Joss and Drew they sent me the script, before I had the part, thankfully. It’s very difficult to audition for a film when you have no idea what it’s about. Unfortunately that happens all the time in Hollywood, your projects are confidential, so you go in and do this take. So I came in with my strong take on Marty, this Shaggy meets Scooby meets Corey Feldman from The ‘Burbs, and I took elements from an ex-girlfriend. I came in with a fully developed character because the script blew me away so much that I was passionate about it from page one. I sort of got it, and loved it so much that I put a hell of a lot into Marty from the very beginning.”
Lucky for us it wasn't Marty making out with the wolf.
We hear you’re a bit of a horror geek…
“Drew came to the Dollhouse set to show Joss possible locations for the lake in the movie. One of them was the original Crystal Lake, from the original Friday the 13th and I totally geeked out, even if those movies really go off the deep end, some are so ridiculous! The simplicity of kids in the woods and some nemesis, whether it’s a psychopath or supernatural, I think that’s great. I can’t really get enough of that. I think it’s tried and true. For sure, I love the genre but what I love is this took the genre and placed it on a landmine. It’s so outrageous, that it went into science fiction. It went into straight up action adventure. The relationship between the kids I really believed. There was real depth there, I believed they were friends. Even though they became these stereotypes, and we see them devolve into clichés, there is really great writing at the heart of it and the five of us became close. To me that reminded me of The Goonies or something – a good adventure story with five friends. There were so many elements of the script that appealed to me, especially when the Army of Nightmares shows up. You can’t not like that. There’s something for everyone!”
There’s a featurette on the DVD where you give us a tour of your drug paraphernalia. How much research did you do into that aspect of Marty?
“It was great; it was such a fun set. It was such a fun movie, that there were all these little camcorders on set just being handed out. Anyone that wanted to take it could take it. People were encouraged to have fun and create their own behind the scenes clips. Chris [Hemsworth], you see him as Thor, but he’s hilarious. He was really funny, and really wanted to come up with skits. Jesse Williams is equally funny. Those guys were constantly doing weird little things and little satires, or making fun of the movie or making fun of Joss. There’s a great bit where Joss is talking sequel to Cabin In The Woods that none of us want to be on board with because we’ve hated working with him. They asked me very impromptu to do my bit, so I can’t promise it’s very funny or even witty or intelligent or anything! They showed up and said: “Hey, will you give us a tour of Marty’s stash?” He’s got a comprehensive marijuana paraphernalia collection. It was fun to go through it because we had some real experts in the prop and arts direction department, creating Marty’s marijuana kit. I go through it, piece by piece and I remember it being pretty funny, but it’s also probably really incriminating. There’s a really fine line, talking about where I drew my experience from to play a giant pothead. I do my best to keep my parents proud.
Find out what Fran had to say about Dollhouse, The Avengers 2 and playing Link in a Zelda movie on page 2…