The Grudge 2 :An Interview with Amber Tamblyn and Arielle Kebbel
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Over the last few years Japanese horror films have done well with American remakes, so why stop the rollercoaster ride that studio having. From "Dark Water", to "The Ring", sequels are inevitable. While at the San Diego Comic Con, Amber Tamblyn and Arielle Kebbel talked about their parts in "The Grudge 2", the sequel to the film that starred Sarah Michelle Gellar.
Amber Tamblyn: I had a small part in The Ring and I really enjoyed that experience and I had never really never been able to carry a horror film before and my dad did The Haunting in the '50s and he said it was one of the most amazing experiences he ever had so when I read the script I was really excited about it and wanted to do a horror film.
Arielle can you tell us what you do in the film?
Arielle Kebbel: I play Allison Fleming, she's not very attractive, she's not very confident...
Amber Tamblyn: Clearly...
Arielle Kebbel: [laughing] She's kind of the wallflower of the group, she's studying over at the international high school and she's the kind of girl you see in the background of all the pictures that wants to be part of everything but never really is. So one day the cool girls in school, played by Teresa Palmer, who's an Australian actress and Misako, who's a Japanese pop star. They're the cool girls in school and they take me to the "grudge" house and I think it is part of an initiation to finally become part of their group when in fact it's part of their plot to humiliate me one more time and watch me get scared in this house and of course nobody plans on the "grudge" curse coming alive and then everyone gets what they deserve.
Was there any reference the "Ju On" films at all?
Arielle: Yes. What's really interesting is that we sat and watched the "Ju-On 1" series and it was interesting because I think there are moments in our movie that are scarier and more intense and I think there are moments in the original Ju-On that are scarier. I think The Grudge 1 and 2 are actually a better representation of "Ju-On 1", it's almost like they split Ju-On 1 into two parts and made Grudge 1 and 2 so I am interested to see (how people respond).
Amber: A lot of people have been asking how this film is going to mirror the sequel to Ju On and it really barely does. I think maybe one plot does, but everything else is changed.
Arielle: It's more like Ju-On 1.
Amber: It's Ju-On 17. (Laughs)
What was challenging about making this film?
Arielle: The obvious thing is the time and the language barrier, which puts a baring on the time because everythng takes twice as long, but I also think depending on your mindset when you go over there, that could be one of the greatest gifts about working over there because everything there is nothing like it is here. For me, it was interesting going over there, even though you know we do what we do here, which is make movies and you show up on set everyday whether it's on location or studio and you are used to routine. You get out, you change, you go to hair and makeup, you get your food and you rehearse, whatever; and over there, it's completely different. For me, in the beginning, that was kind of a difficult change because I wanted to embrace as much as possible, but it required change on my part to learn and accept and that's what I came back with.
Amber: I was really suprised to learn that you're supposed to take your shoes off when you go inside the house so you don't track dirt in. That's the irony of the Japanese culture, which I appreciate very much. I really had a great time just experiencing a really different lifestyle, a completely different way of doing things. Sometimes things do get lost in translation where you're trying to explain something to the director about the way you feel about a certain thing...One of the things with Shimizu was about looks, he really wanted [makes a startled sound], the fright scare looks so I had to talk to him about why I didn't think that was such a good idea, and then it becomes charades.
Arielle: Yeah, because words don't work after a while and you try and think "how can I explain this to you if you don't understand what I am saying?" There were areas we you would get lost but for the most things were incredible.
Did either one of you have scenes with Sarah Michelle Gellar?
Amber: I had scenes with Sarah, yeah.
Arielle: I had scenes with Amber which is way better
What's your role in the film?
Amber: I play Sarah's younger sister, Aubrey, who is sort of the underdog in the family in the sense that Sarah's character, Karen, is really loved by her mother, she's very close to our mom and I am not that close to our mother. So when Karen has gone through what happened at the end of the first Grudge, my mother sends me off to see what happened to her. So it is sort of about reevaluating and refiguring my relationship with here and where that stands and where that leads us, which means anywhere
What role does Edison Chen stand in the film?
Amber: Edison plays someone who was more connected to Karen's side of the story and he's somebody that has a little more background about the house and the story behind the house and the family that was there that inhabited the house before and all of those sort of things, so he has always been curious and suspicious about what is going on inside of the house and what happened to Karen is just another thing to prove that. So we get together to figure out what is going on and what is happening to Karen and all those of things. It's interesting because although Arielle and I didn't get to work a lot together because there are so many different platforms for storylines in this film...
Arielle: There's three solid different storylines.
Amber: Yeah, they become sort of interwoven, but Edison and I worked mostly together.
Did Jennifer Beals' storyline work with your character?
Arielle: Well you're just going to have to watch and find out... [laughing] No, I think that part of the fun of this film is that it sticks with Shimizu's style with all of his Ju-On and Grudge films, which is to say that it is told in non-sequential order, a lot of it is flashes and you are trying to figure out who is dead, who is alive, what is the time sequence of it all and how is it all related. The fun thing about this film is that, because it's a sequel, you have all those things, but they're doubled and in this case tripled because there really are three different, solid storylines and it takes until the last seconds of the film to try and figure out how Jennifer's storyline is linking to Amber's storyline, which is linking to my storyline. Some of the secrets are hard to talk about.
Amber: and she does this incredible flash dance... It's crazy, with Kayako (Takako Fuji) they just like bust out... they had a chair there, it was crazy.
How much of your scenes are mostly in silence?
Arielle: That's a good question. I scream a lot. I think what Amber was saying earlier about having the frighten look and what's interesting is that we're making a Japanese story, but we're making it for an American audience. So what we were supposed to bring to the table was how we can tell [Shimizu's] story and have it appeal to our viewers. So a lot of what he did was body positioning...
Amber: Timing is a huge deal with him. He doesn't like to use CGI, in the first Grudge there was a scene with Sarah when Kayako sticks her hands underneath her hair in the shower and all of my friends when we saw that film thought it was CGI but it wasn't. They had the actress put her hands through Sarah's hair and by the time the camera had panned around she had dropped down so you couldn't see her and he loves to do stuff like that. Everything for him is about making it as scary as possible and making it real, which I think is a major absent part of horror films as of lately. Everything is so overexposed and overdialated that you get to a point where you are like, "All right, well I don't really have much to leave to the imagination." It's also fun to know when it's real or when you feel that tricks are actually real, like it is happening in the actual presence of the moment of the scene. Then you can feel like there wasn't a completely separate additive in a computer afterwards.
Arielle: Yeah, going back to timing, there are moments where he's big on that and you do have your moments of silence and what he doesn't like is a whole lot of the screaming and the panic, he likes the frozen terror. He's really big on big eyes and frozen terror and seeing how your body reacts. One of the moments where I'm freaking out the most and it was my second day of shooting and I had plenty of time to prepare and every take that we do, he would come and shake me a bit and then it was move my eyes a little lower and a little slower, and by the end it was don't breathe, and then I realized was he trying to do was for me to hold the terror.
Amber: I laughed a couple of times, especially when he yells out, "It's okay".
How would you compare/contrast horror films made here and Japan?
Amber: There's a major definitive difference between having a film that's about ghosts that plays out scenarios and real situations that we as human beings go through and we understand things like domestic violence which is what The Grudge is basically about, the haunting of a woman who went through a horrible pain and all these different things. So when you have that you are taking a supernatural idea that is based on something real whereas in our culture you have Paris Hilton running into a stake. My point being, that I think Japanese films in general have so much to do with the spiritual world, which is something that we as Americans don't honor all the time in film and especially in the genre of horror it's just sort of seen as the come and go fun flick. There's so much, there's Kurosawa, Miyazaki and all of the Japanese directors, even with animation, so much of their underlying themes and so much about what their films are about are spirituality and human suffrage, a lot of it is about that and overcoming that. That is what is so beautiful and relatable about it. When watching the Ju-On films, I was scared because I was watching a girl who was trying to escape a past. That she was dead and stuck in a position of escaping a past of abuse and terror. Even if we haven't been through them personally, we kind of understand it because that's what we see on CNN everyday. When you put that in the realm of the supernatural where so many things can be played with and the unknown can come into power, you're mixing the known with the unknown and that's what's amzing to me about Japanese films.
How much involvement did Sam Raini have with the film?
Amber: Sam had a fairly good amount of involvement; because he was shooting Spider-Man at the same time, he wasn't able to be there, but he would hear things and give notes he wanted to give on encouragement. For our wrap, he put together an awesome clip of the film so that the crew could feel happy about what we are doing. That was pretty incredible.
Arielle: What I liked is that he's involved in the marketing of the film and the creative aspects and what they are trying to do like on the internet and I think that says something. He's taking the marketing just as important as the filming.
Amber, has anyone talked to you about doing the next Traveling Pants movie?
Amber: Right now, I'm doing a film called "Spring Breakdown" with Amy Poehler and Parker Posey. Rachel Dratch wrote it and the director, Ryan Sharaki, has told me that he loved that film and would love to see a sequel and he trying to get the other girls from the film to do walk-on in his film. There has been a little bit of talk about it, but I don't think to a very large degree. Nothing that I know of.
The Grudge 2 opens October 13, 2006
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