Radha Mitchell on making ''Silent Hill''
In the videogame-based horror flick Silent Hill, Radha Mitchell plays a woman whose creepy-kid daughter disappears in the evil title town. Entertainment Weekly caught up with the Aussie-born actress at the movie’s premiere — here’s what she told us about her own fears, her 11-year-old costar’s impressive horror résumé, and more.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Did you know about the game or had you played it before you took this part on?
RADHA MITCHELL I had no awareness of the videogame or the concept at all until I read the script. The first time I was reading the script I had to put it down because it was freaking me out. It was dark out and I was by myself. I picked it up the next day and finished it, and it haunted me. There were very detailed images in it. But that also was the thing that attracted me to it.
In the last couple of years, horror films have become increasingly popular and often open at No. 1. Why do you think people like them so much?
People want to feel their adrenaline pump. You go to the theater, get creeped out, and then it’s over — you go back to your real life, where hopefully none of the creatures from Silent Hill are haunting you. I think it makes you feel a jolt of life by watching them.
These movies are so frightening to watch — is it creepy making them?
It isn’t very scary on set, because a lot of the stuff is created in post [production]. And it feels a little ridiculous when people dressed in rubber are chasing after you. When I wasn’t screaming for the camera I was actually laughing a lot, because it looked silly. Plus, there’s no music, no loud bangs, no effects. But you have to get to a place where you really believe it, or you won’t appear believable. You have to get into your mental state. I mined a few of my own fears: I am afraid of suffocation, really deep water, and deep-sea diving, and I’d think about those things to get in the moment.
How do you feel this scary movie differs from the hordes of others out there this year?
This film is directed by an artist [Frenchman Christophe Gans] who is very sophisticated, and therefore the story is sophisticated. It isn’t just about cheap scares. These images will stick with you. They crept into my nightmares after shooting. It makes your skin crawl a little. Christophe was really passionate about the game and had a distinct vision for the film. He has a very existential French take on a horror film. I was impressed by that. It is a bigger idea than you have come to expect from this genre of material.
Your costar, Jodelle Ferland, is only 11 years old, but she’s already a horror veteran — on TV, she’s been in the Carrie remake, Wes Craven’s They, and Stephen King’s Kingdom Hospital. Why do you think she’s constantly cast in this genre?
Jodelle was a doll to work with — I’m not sure why she is always cast as this scary, creepy kid. I guess it’s the dark hair and pale skin. But I think she looks like Elizabeth Taylor. Unless she has the scary makeup on — then she looks like Marilyn Manson. Even in the posters where she’s missing a mouth, she does not freak me out — I think she’s still cute. She was my favorite person to work with because she is so natural and sweet and has a good nature. She is always giggling. I really did feel like protecting her.
What’s next for you?
I just finished a couple of films — one in Australia called Rogue. It’s another genre piece. It’s about a crocodile that gets angry and seeks revenge. It was a really cool movie to work on, and it has Michael Vartan [Alias] in it. He’s hunky. And it is directed by the guy who did Wolf Creek [Greg McLean]. He’s a genius as well. There hasn’t been a man-eating animal film in a while. And just before that one started, I did a film in Romania. It is about Perestroika Russia and the breakdown of the Soviet Union. This guy puts some plutonium on the black market to be able to support his family? I love shooting all over the globe. Only exotic locales for me from now on. It’s a bit of a free vacation.