Radha Mitchell is set to play the sheriff's wife in this frightening tale of biochemical warfare gone awry
This Friday, George A. Romero's Trixie virus returns to the big screen in the latest horror remake The Crazies. A terrifying tale of the "American Dream" gone wrong, four friends suddenly find themselves trapped in their small hometown of Ogden Marsh, where they are surrounded by an insane community infected by a manmade contaminant. Radha Mitchell stars opposite Timothy Olyphant as the sheriff's very pregnant wife. Together, this loving couple must struggle to survival the night if they hope to get out of town alive. Which won't be easy with flesh eating gore hounds on the loose. We recently traveled to Ogden Marsh to chat with Radha about this very exciting Breck Eisner film. Here's what she had to say:
What's going on with your character? I hear she's pregnant.
Radha Mitchell: You know the conceit of the story? There has been this situation where a chemical weapon has been dumped into the water supply of this small town. It has infected the community. Everyone has been victimized by that situation. The government officials are trying to suppress this information. And they are trying to keep these people contained. We've all been lined up in a concentration camp, and we don't realty know what is going to happen to us. The government officials don't know how they are going to deal with us. They are measuring people's temperatures to see who has an elevated temperature. The people that appear to be sick are being pushed in one direction. And the people who aren't sick are being pushed in another direction. Maybe they will be taken out of the town. I'm pregnant. And when we are in the contamination tent, my husband and I might get separated. We might find each other at opposite ends of the rope.
Are there labor pains involved?
Radha Mitchell: No. My character isn't that pregnant. She is skinny pregnant. She is just at the beginning stages. She is "hot" pregnant. (Laughs) She's not that "hot". She is a doctor. There is no bump. I would have liked for they're to be a bump, but there is no bump at all. You wouldn't know. That's part of the problem. She has an elevated temperature because she's pregnant. And the government officials don't believe her. Either that, or they don't care. So I'm going in one direction, and my husband, the sheriff, is going in the other direction. It's going to be quite traumatic.
Would you say this is a horror film?
Radha Mitchell: Yes. This is definitely a horror film. Right? It's a remake of a Romero story. It's a thrilling horror movie. It's interesting to shoot it. We've been trying to figure out how much horror there is, and how much of a thriller it should be. There are upbeats that are full of suspense. Then there are some beats that have been quite intense. Then there are these horrific looking Crazies walking around. That combined with a naturalistic style makes the project quite interesting. I've never been down South before, which has made this all very interesting. Its great to be down here working.
How stressful has this shoot been?
Radha Mitchell: I had a sore neck the other night. Because I was bashing in the head of a Crazy. Which was fun. But that certainly takes a toll on your muscles. You need Epson salts if you are going to do a movie like this. I was bashing this guy's head in with my bare hands. It was fun. If you don't have a gun, you want to have something like that. Everything I seem to do is demanding. This has been interesting because not a lot of it is in the dialogue. It's in the actions and the activities. You have to be fully committed to those things. Even though a fight scene with a crazy is quite physically demanding, you don't feel it in the scene. The next day, you realize that it hurts. I'm not fighting people all throughout the movie. Bashing in the head of that Crazy was a high point. But there are a lot of those scenes in this film. I'm filming another scene that is quite intense as well. I don't know how much of the story I can give away. We go into a situation where the Crazies are going to be. I am going to be strapped to this gurney. I am getting injected with stuff. The emotions that go with all of that are quite intense.
How is the group dynamic on this film?
Radha Mitchell: Most of the movie is the sheriff, his deputy, my assistant, and I. It's a story about four people that have found themselves on the run. It's a political experience through the eyes of these people who live in a condemned town. They are thrown together in this way. It has been nice to work in this group. To see how the nuances of our characters come out in these straining circumstances. Joe Anderson's character, deputy Clank, is a really interesting character to watch go through this nightmare as well. I can't tell you why. There is some finger pointing. That is an aspect of the story. Who can you trust? Who can't you trust? I can't tell you more than that. It's certainly something that keeps everybody on their toes. That they can't quite trust each other. It keeps it exciting, because they are all so dependant on each other as well.
Where does this role stand for you?
Radha Mitchell: I've really enjoyed it. What I like about the story is that it's about a normal married couple forced into this crazy situation. They are reliant on each other. I don't think you see that a lot in this genre. Usually its just one heroic somebody. In this case, these guys are in love. They have the baby. And they are normal. That's what I like about it. That's what drew me to it to begin with.
What sets off these events? What pulls you into the action?
Radha Mitchell: I am playing the town doctor. There is this weird thing that is happening in the first scene, and it triggers the sheriff's paranoia. His suspicion. Then people start to come into the clinic with this weird aura. We start to put the pieces together. We figure out that each thing is connected to the next. Holly shit! What are we going to do. As soon as we figure it out, we are deep into the middle of it all. We fall into it at the exact moment that we figure it out. I can't tell you about exact events. But as soon as they understand what is going on in this town, they become victimized by it. It turns out to be quite the situation.
How smart are the characters?
Radha Mitchell: Well, in horror movies, the girl usually does that one stupid thing. She is screaming, going where she isn't supposed to go. We don't have too much of that going on here. Well, we do have a bit of screaming. But it's not scary. You have to have those intense emotions going on. We tried to keep everything rational. And we tried to keep some respect in regards to the female characters. There have to be a few screams, because it's just not scary if that doesn't happen. When the emotions rise to that level, you don't want it to be there for its own sake. And you don't want to be doing it in a bikini. Especially when you're pregnant. That is a niche market.
Was there a moment while reading the script, or shooting the film, where you thought to yourself, "This could really happen?"
Radha Mitchell: The entire thing is quite conceivable. This could happen. And if it did, you wouldn't be trusting the government to take care of you. I am not going to sit here and point out specific incidences where this did happen. It's just the way society is structured. This is the kind of thing that would get buried if it were possible to do that. For the people that may or may not be infected? I can't imagine them being invited into society. Who knows what some of these chemical weapons are designed to do. Or how capable we are of guiding them. Do we really trust the bureaucracy to control that? You have to look at places in history where things have fallen apart. Where its been covered up. Where people are dying of radiation. This could easily happen. And the film poses that issue.
Are you trying on a southern accent?
Radha Mitchell: We have Iowan, American accents. What is an Iowan accent? There is one supposedly. It's charming. Its infectious if you hang around it. It's easy to pick up. Its fun.
The Crazies is set to terrorize audiences this Firday, February 26th, 2010.