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Richard Jenkins And Bradley Whitford Interview: What Can They Tell Us About ‘Cabin In The Woods’

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Who the heck are these guys? And what, exactly, can we tell you about them without ruining part of the fun of ‘The Cabin in the Woods,’ which is now playing in a theater near you? (Once you’ve finished reading this, be sure to go.)

Directed by Drew Goddard, who co-wrote with Joss Whedon, ‘The Cabin in the Woods’ gleefully subverts the horror genre and emerges as a giddy crowd-pleaser, easily one of the best films I’ve seen so far this year (and one of the smartest horror movies you’ll ever see). In the film, Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford play Sitterson and Hadley, co-workers on a suspicious project who … well, I’m not sure I can tell you yet.

Can Jenkins and Whitford — tremendous character actors given the chance to sink their teeth into a unique genre – better explain how they fit into Goddard and Whedon’s intricate puzzle? We’ll give them a shot in our exclusive interview:

So many ‘Cabin’ reviews praise the script for being smart, subversive, and totally original. We’re all saying that you just don’t see screenplays like Cabin. But is that true? Do you guys get to read a lot of clever scripts that just don’t see the light of day?

Bradley Whitford: Listen, um, no. There’s really two kinds of scripts, or “product,” as the suits call it. There are stories that people are trying to tell … just in the television world, David Chase is trying to entertain an audience he thinks is as smart and as funny as he is. And then there’s the unmistakable stench of the majority of material which … it would be as if somebody heard a joke that they didn’t think was particularly funny, but they thought they’d tell it anyway. And it’s a pretty cynical exercise.

This … it’s very rare that two guys this bright, imaginative and funny look at each other and go, “What would we write if we could write anything?” What you get is a very fresh, unique vision. And you could tell it from the first two pages. There is some sort of horror aspect about it, and I think we both were kind of cynical about that. But it’s just such fresh storytelling that you couldn’t say no.

To me, in fact, it’s more of a comedy than a horror film. Can we talk about you guys figuring out the beats to Goddard’s comedy and the accessibility of Joss Whedon’s voice?

Richard Jenkins: Well, we’re seeing that audiences are laughing so hard, they’re not hearing some of my best lines. [Laughs] I want to be like, “Look, I’m talking here! Can you all just quiet down? This is funny, dammit. ”

BW: So far, it has been really interesting to be in crowds [watching the movie]. They’re reacting to the horror. There are massive, hysterical bouts of laughter. And they really don’t know what’s going to happen next. That’s so rare! We even found, knowing how it was going to end, that you wonder how they possibly are going to get there in, say, 15 minutes.

RJ: And have it have some semblance of sense. I said to Drew, “I don’t see a lot of plot holes here. How did you do this?” [Laughs] Usually, you buy the premise, you buy the joke. I’ve heard people say, “Well you know, they really wouldn’t have done this …” But that doesn’t happen here. You really can’t nitpick stuff that will not happen. The truth is it’s just so seamless.

Most of that is just the ride.

RJ: It really is the ride. But something can take you out and stop that ride. It’s just not there in this movie. It’s a snowball that just gets bigger and bigger.

BW: I’ve noticed this. When you go between doing plays and film, at every read-through of a play, no matter what the play is, there’s a feeling at the read-through … a kind of optimism of, “Hey, we might fly in this.” Yet a reading of everything I’ve ever done that’s filmed, there’s a feeling of, “Oh my God, we might fuck this up.” There’s a palpable fear, because of the money involved I guess …

RJ: And during the process, because there are so many people involved, there’s a greater chance that something can go wrong.

BW: But I think the fact that they pulled this off is unbelievable to me.

RJ: But they let them make their movie. MGM, at the time, let them make their movie. And you have to. You have to take a chance …

BW: It might lead to bankruptcy, but hey. [Laughs]

RJ: Bradley talks about David Chase and HBO … and HBO did this with ‘Six Feet Under,’ too, where they said, “Go ahead, go make your vision.” And that’s what it should be. If I want to go see Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard’s stuff, I don’t want interference. It’s not like, “Well, I like my horror this way!” It’s not yours, buddy. It’s theirs. You come see it. Let them take you by the nose. That’s how you get great stuff.

‘The Cabin in the Woods’ is in theaters now.

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