The corpse stars of 'Seven'
In Seven, Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman get all the glory as investigators pursuing a serial killer who picks his victims according to the seven deadly sins. But as the stars emoted, the actors hired to play the victims had to lie very, very still while remembering one instruction: Play dead. Forget face time; most of them spend their entire screen time facedown in fake blood. ”I can only hope this movie will do for these actors what playing a corpse in The Big Chill did for Kevin Costner,” says director David Fincher. Here, five of them recount their big moments. Naming the other two would give away the ending. And would we do that? Of corpse not.
Gluttony Played by: Bob Mack.
Cause of death: A morbidly obese shut-in in a roach-infested hovel, he dies of internal hemorrhaging after the killer force-feeds him until he bursts.
Bagging the part: ”I went and did a reading with the casting director, but I didn’t act dead or anything. I was told the character was a very heavy guy facedown in spaghetti,” says Mack, who weighed 480 pounds at the time. ”The camera,” he jokes, ”adds 300 pounds.”
Playing dead: Mack didn’t realize he would be sharing screen time with hundreds of insects until he read the call sheet. ”I was like, ‘Oh, a cockroach wrangler.”’ Mack, who bared all for the part, says, ”It’s my first film, and I’ve been Sharon Stoned.”
Perks: ”Brad Pitt flicked the roaches off me between takes.”
Greed Played by: Gene Borkan.
Cause of death: A high-powered criminal attorney, he bleeds to death after being forced to cut off a pound of his own flesh.
Bagging the part: ”I heard they wanted a Robert Shapiro look-alike,” says Borkan. ”I didn’t know I’d be lying there dead.”
Playing dead: ”Fincher wanted me to be naked, and I said, ‘I’ll be naked if you’re naked. Otherwise, you don’t get that.”’ Borkan played the part in silk underwear, hog-tied with telephone wire, doused with four quarts of fake blood. ”I insisted on closing the set, because one too many people said I was having a bad hair day,” he gripes.
Perks: ”When I found out what was happening, right there and then I renegotiated. I got five times [the $522 SAG day-scale fee],” says Borkan, whose resume includes parts in Philadelphia and Beverly Hills Cop. ”The best part was getting more money.”
Sloth Played by: Michael Reid MacKay.
Cause of death: A drug-dealing pedophile, he is chained to his bed and starved.
Bagging the part: ”It was a fast audition. They said, ‘You can stand up, sit up, or lie down, because you’re supposed to be dead.”’
Playing dead: ”They called and asked if I could lose a little more weight. I didn’t. I’m 98 pounds,” says the 5’5” MacKay. ”That’s my top weight — and I’m proud of it.”
Perks: A chance for MacKay (who plays the Monopoly man in the Ace Ventura sequel) to strut his stuff; he’s the one victim found (barely) alive. ”It was a totally emotional scene — the last take I was breathing very hard and crying. It was real heavy-duty.”
Lust Played by Cat Mueller, a set decorator.
Cause of death: A prostitute, she’s impaled by a sex toy.
Bagging the part: ”Fincher’s assistant said, ‘Cat, we’ve got this small part. You have the personality for it and definitely the body.’ I said, ‘What is it?’ and she said, ‘A dead hooker.”’
Playing dead: Lying in fake blood doesn’t pay well if you’re not in SAG: Mueller got $500 for two days’ work. ”Fincher tied me to the bed, gagged me, and poured refrigerated blood on me. I lay there for six hours…Lust on call, here.”
Perks: ”Being naked in front of Brad Pitt.”
Pride Played by: Heidi Schanz.
Cause of death: After the killer severs this model’s nose, he gives her a choice — she can either end her pain with the vial of sleeping pills glued to one hand or call for help with the phone that’s glued to the other. She takes the pills.
Bagging the part: Schanz was a last-minute replacement after another actress dropped out; to avoid delays, Fincher needed a model who already had her own pictures so they could be blown up and displayed throughout the character’s apartment.
Playing dead: ”My nose was taped to one side, and then my face was wrapped with gauze. I was in a negligee in bed, doused with blood [by Fincher]…I said, ‘David, you’re enjoying this way too much,’ and he said, ‘I have demons you can’t even imagine.”’
Perks: ”Even though I’m dead, I think it’s the most glamorized murder,” says Schanz.