Leatherface is now playing on VOD via Lionsgate Premiere.
NYC MOVIE GURU: What do you think is appealing about dark themes?
Lili Taylor: Light and dark, ying and yang---it's a part of things. Fairy tales deal with some of the more uncomfortable things. As human, you look around a little and then get the hell out of there.
NYC MOVIE GURU: How did you manage to shake Verna off emotionally? She's not the kind of person anyone sensible would want to be around.
LT: As an actor, I'm able to compartmentalize. She's not worried about things, so I guess I'm not going to worry either. I was just focusing on how she loved her good.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Is it easier to play very flawed characters as opposed to very decent characters?
LT: Not necessarily. It can get boring if it's a decent character who doesn't have other struggles or obstacles. What I try to do, if it's a decent character, is to find where the pushback is. Indecent characters can be difficult if they're not fleshed out. Any character who's not fleshed out is difficult for me to play.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Crime novelist Henning Mankell once observed that the darker the crime, the more it reveals about humanity. Do you agree or disagree with that?
LT: Interesting. Wow! I guess you could say that. I never really thought of that and I had a little resistence to it, but I guess that in a way, the darkest of the darkest crimes shows where human beings can go to---if you want to see the full spectrum. So, yes, I agree with that.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Do you believe that evil truly exists? Is Verna evil?
LT: I don't know enough about evil. I need to read some good philosophy books on evil because I kind of would say that I don't really believe in evil. When people tell me that evil does exist, it has given me pause, so I think evil probably does exist, but I don't know how to define it and what it is exactly. So, I would say that I don't think that Verna is evil because if you're going to use the word "evil", it only needs to be used very wisely. I won't waste it on Verna.
NYC MOVIE GURU: How do you see the difference between psychological horror and visceral, gory horror?
LT: I feel like the filmmakers were working on the psychological horrors as well. So, what I think of as gore is a very intense, graphic, pushing of the limits. Pyschological horror involves the imagination a little bit and involving our fear, suspense, relaxing and surprising us. I feel like Leatherface has both. While they were filming it, I could feel what they were trying to do with the lighting, pacing and sound---they were creating tension to work with audiences' psychology as opposed to just the visuals or just disgusting them.
NYC MOVIE GURU: If you were to meet Verna, what questions would you ask her?
LT: I would ask her how she can hold murder and love of her boys at the same time.
NYC MOVIE GURU: If you were to travel back in time to the Golden Age of American Cinema, which filmmakers would you have loved to work with?
LT: I love Hitchcock. He probably would have been difficult to work with, especially because I'm a woman. I find that the way he makes his films is fascinating. I would've liked to be a part of his films to see how his mind worked.
NYC MOVIE GURU: I believe that humanism is a truly special effect while CGI is just a standard effect. Do you agree or disagree?
LT: I completely agree with you. The response to The Conjuring reinforced all that. I remember we were at Comic-Con and there were like 2,000 people there and James Wan said that we didn't use any CGI. Everybody was like yaying and clapping. You can trust people's imagination. I think that there's a backlash because imagination has sort of been disrespected or not honored for a long time now. Audiences are saying that we want you to respect our imagination and fuck the CGI. We can handle old school special effects.
NYC MOVIE GURU: What do you think are the basic elements that turn a horror film into a classic?
LT: Authenticity. It's probably the key to a lot of things. It starts with the director's vision. There's an authenticity to his vision. It's probably as simple as that. With that comes an empathy: knowing how the audience is feeling. If he wants them scared, how would an audience get scared? So, he was putting himself in their shoes, so there was an empathy. Treating the characters with respect is also important. A lot of what I love about classics is that all the characters feel very real to me.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Francois Truffaut once observed that a truly great film ought to have a perfect balance of Truth and Spectacle. Do you agree with that?
LT: I don't know the definition of "Spectactle." I'd be curious to know what that term means, especially its Latin origin, but because I don't know the definition, I would have to say that I don't know if what he said is true. I do think that an element of Truth has to be in there. I've seen films that I've liked that I don't think have any Spectacle in them, but they still work, but I do think that there can be Spectacle in Truth and Truth in Spectacle, so in answer to that: yes, I agree.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Do you think that Leatherface would work in black-and-white?
LT: Yeah, it probably could. In sepia tone, there's something strange about the copper, baige tones going on.
NYC MOVIE GURU:
GJ: The Addiction.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Do you think that Dementia would work in black-and-white?
GJ: Yes, I do. I have not done a black-and-white film, yet, but I would love to do one. I love the old-fashioned, not just noir, but horror. Some of my favorite films are silent films like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with John Barrymore.
NYC MOVIE GURU: What would make an interesting double feature with Dementia?
GJ: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.