Fright Night interview: Anton Yelchin and Christopher Mintz-Plasse

We chat to the two stars of Fright Night, Anton Yelchin and Christopher Mintz-Plasse, about remakes, vampires and David Tennant…

With the release of the Fright Night remake out today, we caught up with its young leads, Anton Yelchin and Christopher Mintz-Plasse, who play Charley and Ed in the movie, to talk remakes, David Tennant, Comic-Con, geeks, and the Star Trek and Kick-Ass sequels.

So, bearing in mind that the original movie is treasured by a lot of people, were you worried at any point about receiving death threats from rabid fans of the original?

Christopher Mintz-Plasse: [laughs] I know there’s got to be some people out there that hate me just cos…

Anton Yelchin: I hate you.

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CM-P: [laughs] See? There’s someone right here. No, you know because they love the original Evil Ed and they love the original movie, but I’m kind of excited because I know that ours is a great movie so I want to prove them wrong, I want them to enjoy it.

You’ve said in the past, Christopher, that remakes aren’t really your thing though?

CM-P: Yeah I’m never a big fan of remakes, except for True Grit, I thought that was fantastic, but the Coen brothers can do anything. So yeah, I saw it was a remake but I loved the script…

A lot of people, including both of you and Craig Gillespie [Fright Night director] have said it was Marti Noxon’s script which attracted them to the movie, what do you think she did so right?

CM-P: It was a combination of comedy and horror, I mean, she wrote for Buffy, so she knew how to write for vampires, she knew how to write kills and all that kind of stuff so she wrote our characters some really good scenes and I wanted to be a part of it.

Had either of you watched Buffy beforehand?

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AY: I haven’t.

CM-P: I had. My dad is a big Buffy fan, and Angel as well, so I watched a couple of those.

This version of Fright Night has kind of had the Buffy treatment hasn’t it? In that your character Anton, is fighting a literal demon at the same time as fighting some metaphorical demons as to the kind of man he wants to be. Is that what attracted you to the part?

AY: That’s actually a great way to put it, I really thought it was a strong character arc and very relatable. This idea that someone that’s sort of blind to what is actually very important to them and most valuable to them in their life, and who suffers tremendously because of that temporary blindness when he loses Ed, and then reassesses his life and realises that there’s nothing in it as important as these people.

You know, and he’s willing to lose his life for these people that he cares about, and I think there’s something very poignant and also relatable in that.

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Speaking of friendships, it’s been said you both forged quite a friendship on set – even though he just told you he hated you – and that you both did some improv in some scenes. Did any of that make it into the final cut?

CM-P: Yeah, we did a little bit of improv in the school scene where I confront him about a missing friend, and then we also did some in the house where we’re kind of lurking around trying to find our missing friend. Craig really let us… I guess, you know, he cast us because he wanted us to bring our own flavour and whatnot, so he really let us improv, and David Tennant too improv’d a bunch… [to a very sleepy AY] Are you with me?

Marti Noxon’s written a film full of men who are kind of, douchebags, for want of a better word…

AY: Yeah.

Peter Vincent, Jerry, even Charley dumps his mate for a chance at high school popularity…

AY: Sure, yeah.

CM-P: She must have had a lot of bad boyfriends… [laughter].

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Why do you think that choice was made for those characters?

CM-P: I think it just worked for the characters.

AY: Yeah, I would say that’s it, yeah.

CM-P: I mean, he [Charley] had to be an asshole in the beginning because there had to be a reason to lose me [Ed].

AY: Yeah, and there’s a journey you go on.

CM-P: Yeah, and then Charley goes on a journey, and then Tennant’s got to be an asshole because…

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AY: That’s the character.

CM-P: Yeah, that’s the character, you know, and then Jerry has to be an asshole because he’s a vampire.

Did you meet with Noxon before making the film? Did you speak to her much about the characters she’d written?

CM-P: Well, we talked to Craig about the characters a bunch, we had rehearsals with Craig.

AY: Yeah.

CM-P: But Marti was on set for I think the first two weeks, and then she had to go off and do stuff for I Am Number Four [Noxon co-wrote the screenplay] I believe, and then she came back for like, a little bit near the end.

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How aware were you of David Tennant before you worked together on this?

CM-P: I had never seen his work, never seen Doctor Who, but all the producers were telling me how great he was. It’s kind of exciting not to see his work, because then you get to make the judgement all on your own while working with him, and he is a fantastic actor, he’s hilarious, and a sweet man too, a very, very nice man.

Are you going to get hold of some Doctor Who box-sets when you get some time off now?

CM-P: I should man, we should get that and watch Tennant in that, we were supposed to see his play tonight but he got ill.

The Shakespeare?

CM-P: Yeah.

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He plays a bit of a douchebag in that too.

CM-P: Really? [laughs] Nice. We’ll have to see that.

How well known is Doctor Who in the States?

CM-P: It’s starting to be. I have some friends that are kind of geeky and they love Doctor Who and they love him too, they keep saying he’s like one of the best.

On that word there, ‘geek’ – do you, Christopher, feel at all frustrated or typecast with that high school nerd label?

CM-P: No, definitely not. Because, I’ve played geeks but they’re always in such, I like to think, really good films that I’ve been a part of, and I feel like the roles that I’ve played have helped make them great films and I want to keep doing that.

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I mean, I have done multiple geeks but they’re all kind of different styles of geek, but, I’m going to try something new soon, don’t worry about it!

And geeks are cool now…

AY: Yeah, sure.

CM-P: Yeah!

Fright Night premiered in the UK as part of FrightFest, the UK horror film festival. What kind of horror you guys grew up with? Did you prepare for this movie by watching a lot of horror films?

AY: No, I mean, I definitely grew up with it, not watching it a lot but watching it enough. I didn’t really watch horror movies for this role. I watched the original and then watched it throughout the process of making this film to see if there was something I could bring to it, or if I could capture certain things.

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CM-P: I’m a huge horror movie fan, I love it, but I didn’t watch horror movies to get in to the vibe of this movie, I watched the original a bunch but that was it really.

And you think you’ve made a less campy version of the film this time around?

CM-P: It’s definitely less campy, but there are still campy aspects in it that you kind of need to have, because it’s Fright Night.

So why do you think people should watch your version of Fright Night?

CM-P: It’s got the perfect amount of scares and comedy and great performances, David Tennant kills in this movie, and it’s got great direction, great cinematography, it’s just a great movie.

Fright Night is a horror comedy, is there a sense in which genre mash-up movies like this run the risk of not being either scary or funny enough because they’ve tried to cram both genres in?

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CM-P: Umm, I think if done wrongly, it can definitely be that way, but I think Craig did a great job with this one. It’s not like, the first half is this and the second half is this, it just all kind of flows. Like, it never loses the thriller vibe and the scary vibe, and it never loses the comedy either, it’s just kind of through the whole movie.

And the same goes for you Anton?

AY: Yeah, I think that’s a great way to put it. If it’s done wrong, anything will kind of suck.

We’ve mentioned David Tennant, you also worked with Colin Farrell and Imogen Poots on Fright Night and you, Anton, have worked with Simon Pegg on the Star Trek movie. Why do you think there are so many Brits in Hollywood and playing American? Is it because we’re cheap?

AY: Because they’re good [laughs] they’re better than us. Yeah, [obviously joking] I think they just got David because he’s cheap… [laughs] I don’t know, there’s just a lot of talented people. There’ve always been English actors working in Hollywood.

Did you guys help Imogen with her accent at all?

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AY: No, she’s really great at it

CM-P: She had a dialect coach every day, so…

Can you tell us a bit about the reception you got at Comic-Con this year?

AY: It was great, I mean, when you go to that forum, it’s like dedicated to this…

CM-P: They’re the best fans in the world.

AY: Yeah, they’re so into it and excited.

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CM-P: I mean, people fly out to go to Comic-Con, they’re so stoked for it so, you know. They are the toughest critics, too, because you know, they’re film buffs and comic book buffs and horror movie buffs and they’re going to be judging, but if they love it, they truly love it. I think we had a really good reaction there.

AY: Definitely, yeah.

You had Chris Sarandon [played Jerry the vampire in the original Fright Night] chairing your questions.

CM-P: Yeah, he even promoted with us, it was so nice of him.

AY: It was very nice of him, yeah.

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Do you know what he thought of your version? Did you get his blessing?

AY: He seems to like it, otherwise I don’t know why he’d be there.

CM-P: Yeah, he wouldn’t be there if he didn’t.

I expect you’ve been asked about vampires a lot, so what do you think are the best non-vamp monsters in film? The shark from Jaws gets a name check in the movie…

CM-P: Jaws is fantastic.

AY: King Kong.

CM-P: The thing in The Thing. The monster in Cloverfield is awesome, I liked that one, I know it’s really recent but I liked that, umm, Super 8 was great…

As a horror fan, Chris, this kind of subject matter must be pretty close to your heart, vampires etc…

CM-P: Yeah, I was never the biggest vampire fan, but horror movies in general are just so good, Michael Myers is great, very scary. I’m trying to think… What do you think?

Cloverfield’s okay, have you seen Attack The Block?

CM-P: I haven’t no.

AY: I want to see that, it’s supposed to be great.

Joe Cornish is one of our favourite guys.

CM-P: And Edgar Wright produced that too.

There’s a Simon Pegg link there, it’s all Brits again! Speaking of Simon Pegg, Anton, can I ask where you are with the Star Trek sequel?

AY: I don’t know, I really don’t know [long pause] I know I’m going to be a part of it I just don’t know when or what we’re doing, it’s happening.

CM-P: It’s definitely happening.

AY: Yeah, I just don’t know when or where or… but it’ll definitely happen though.

And Christopher, can you tell us anything about Kick-Ass 2?What’s the progress on that rumour you started about Eli Roth directing?

CM-P: Oh no [laughs] that’s not, that was just me saying… you know that’s definitely not… Nothing’s true about that. No, everyone’s super busy so we don’t know if that’s going to happen anytime soon, I know we would love to do it but everyone’s just super busy right now.

Anton Yelchin and Christopher Mintz-Plasse, thank you very much.

You can read our review of Fright Night here.

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