The Last House On The Left (2009 Film) - Production - Casting


When casting for the film, Iliadis wanted to find actors who would not portray these characters in a stereotypical way. As Craven explains, they wanted someone who would take these characters in a direction that most actors would not—they wanted originality. Craven states, "You need an actor who can bring a complete sense of commitment to that character without making it silly and not be afraid to go in there to the point where someone might say, 'Oh, you got bad in you?' You have to be brave enough and mature enough to know we've all got it, and you're not afraid of putting it out there and if you've got a problem with seeing that, tough." For instance, Iliadis wanted to avoid casting some superficially sexy actress in the role of Mari, because he did not want the rape sequence to appear enjoyable to the viewers in any possible way. Iliadis notes that when Sara Paxton came in her audition was "good", but it was this sense of intelligence and intensity that Paxton brought with her. The actress also had the "innocent face" the director was looking for, someone who had this "wholesomely American look" that would not allow anyone to enjoy watching her go through these intense events.

"We were casting for Krug and everyone was coming and doing the squinty eyes and (he growls) and Garret brought this intensity, this evil which is not premeditated, and when that evil emerges it’s even stronger because it comes from a real human being who’s very angry. It doesn’t come from someone who has just decided to be bad."
— Iliadis on casting Garret Dillahunt as Krug.

Iliadis auditioned dozens of actors before he hired Garret Dillahunt for the role of Krug, the leader of the family that kidnaps Mari. According to Iliadis, the actors coming in kept trying to portray Krug as the "typical bad guy", and that was not what the director wanted. In Iliadis's opinion, "the most sadistic criminal will smile"; when Dillahunt came in he brought a slyness to the character, and created "ambiguity and subtleties" to the character that Iliadis liked. Dillahunt attempted to humanize Krug by approaching the character more as a man who feels love for his son, but is bitter about how his life has turned out and is fearful that he is losing his position as the leader. He further clarifies that Krug fails to take responsibility for his own actions, instead blaming others, and prefers to deliver his own "twisted justice" to those he feels have wronged him.

Dillahunt took inspiration from Andrew Cunanan, the man who killed Gianni Versace, when he recalled the brutality in which Cunanan murdered a man just for his car. Dillahunt recalls how an FBI profiler noted that this type of rage is typically directed toward someone the perpetrator knows, yet Cunanan managed to pull some element from his own life and place it on this random person who attempted to stand his ground against the would-be carjacker. To Dillahunt, that was how he wanted to approach Krug. To him, Mari actually shows that she is not afraid of Krug, which causes him to go "crazy". That being said, the actor felt like the scene where his character rapes Mari was one of the hardest things emotionally to film. He notes that part of him was happy that Sara Paxton was cast as Mari, because they had worked together in the past, so they knew each other. On the other hand, he felt uncomfortable acting out such a scene with a person he considered to be a friend. Paxton echoed his sentiments to Craven, who stated the actress expressed to him a greater feeling of trust that the person who would have to do these "horrible" things to her was someone she knew, and as a result made them at least partially more bearable to act.

At the time Riki Lindhome was called in to audition for the role of Sadie, December 2007, she had not heard of Craven's original film. On the day of her audition, Lindhome was informed that she had missed her scheduled appointment and that she would need to return come January. Lindhome took the time to watch the original movie and read an article in Vanity Fair about the film, giving her some familiarity with the story and her role when she went to audition. Lindhome says she finds her character "creepy for no apparent reason", because the film does not attempt to justify why the three antagonists do what they do. The actress characterizes Sadie as being "equally as bad as ", being just as vicious as the others. Lindhome admits that early in production it was easier for her to detach herself from the violent character she was portraying, but as filming continued and the cast grew closer she says that it became more difficult and "upsetting" to perform some of the scenes. According to Lindhome, as a response to seeing how some of the scenes were affecting the women, the producers sent Paxton, Lindhome, and Martha MacIsaac to a spa for a weekend.

Before filming started, some of the actors had to undergo various training exercises for their roles. Dillahunt, Lindhome, and Aaron Paul—the latter portrays Francis—had to take part in gun training, while Sara Paxton had to get up each morning for swimming lessons so that she looked like an experienced swimmer. Iliadis also spent several weeks with the actors in rehearsal. It was Iliadis’s hope that space to rehearse their roles, and then time during filming to develop their characters individually, would help them to trust Iliadis as the director more.

Read more about this topic:  The Last House On The Left (2009 Film), Production

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