Chad Lindberg discusses playing Matthew in the I Spit On Your Grave remake, bonding between the actors on set, meeting Meir Zarchi and much more.
It has always been my contention that the best remakes are those where more obscure, non-mainstream movies are re-told for a new audience. One of the most "non-mainstream" movies out there is the 1978 cult classic I Spit on Your Grave, the tale of a young woman raped and left for dead, who gets bloody vengeance in horrifying ways. Now, more than 30 years later, a new version of I Spit on Your Grave will hit the shelves on Blu-ray and DVD this February 8.
Chad Lindberg plays Matthew in this new I Spit on Your Grave remake, the most unlikely of assailants, a mentally-challenged young man who gets goaded into watching and doing some truly horrible acts. I recently had the chance to speak with Chad Lindberg on the phone about his experiences on the movie and here's what he had to say below.
When you first were approached for this, were you aware of the original movie? Can you talk about the process of becoming this wonderful character, Matthew?
Chad Lindberg: Sure. I actually had never heard of it, before I auditioned for it. It went out as Day of the Woman, actually, so I was going in for a movie called Day of the Woman. I read this script and, man, it was the sickest thing I had ever read in my entire life. My representation wanted me to try out for a different character. I read it and thought I was more of a fit for Matthew. They let me go in and read for Matthew and I got called back. (Director) Steven (R. Monroe) loved me and then they brought me back a third time and I ended up booking it, still not realized it was a remake. I thought, it was an incredibly-written script and then I came home and was looking online, doing my homework, and saw it was a cult phenomenon. I had no clue until after I was cast, that this was a remake. We had a lot to live up to and we took it very seriously. We wanted to honor the original and it was pretty awesome.
I read that the production was rather rushed. You only had a few weeks to rehearse and I assume the production schedule wasn't too long. Can you talk about the nature of getting ready to play Matthew?
Chad Lindberg: Yeah, I was cast like two weeks before we had to go, so, in my mind, it was scary. I mean, I had never played a mentally-challenged man before. It was something I had always wanted to do, but to have two weeks to prepare? But once I got on set, it just felt incredibly natural and right. We all fit in like a family. We started doing the heavy scenes first and we just bonded over those crazy scenes. The preparation for that role was I wanted to keep it pure of heart and try to make him as sympathetic as I possibly could, because he is and he isn't sympathetic, at the same time. I worked on my stuttering and tried to play it simple.
That's the interesting thing about the character. He is largely sympathetic, but when you see that scene, a whole new side comes out of him and you're not sure how to feel about this guy.
Chad Lindberg: Exactly, exactly. His body takes over. He's kind of goaded into it and thinks he might be able to save her life if he does this, but he also likes her. He does make a choice and this other side of him comes out. He has to face those consequences, even though I feel he was a victim himself, in a lot of ways. It's a fine line to walk, and I knew that going in, so I was careful not to play it too much or too little. I wanted to do it truthfully.
This is a rare instance where the director of the original movie actually endorsed and embraced the remake, and was the executive producer. Was Meir Zarchi on the set a lot with you guys? Can you talk about any of your interactions with him?
Chad Lindberg: Yeah. He was on the set towards the end. He's an extremely sweet man and he was like a kid in a candy story. He was just beaming when he came on the set and would see the work we were doing. He was so excited and he would tell us his stories about the original and how it came to be. It's so cool to be able to hang out with him and talk to him and learn how this movie came to be. Yeah, it was really cool. He endorsed it and loved it and, it is pretty rare. You're right.
You guys shot in Louisiana and there are some very cool and gritty locations in the movie. Can you talk about what filming in Louisiana brought to the production?
Chad Lindberg: Yeah. You know, those sets needed very little set dressing at all. I mean, whenever we came in, it was like the real deal. They hardly had to dress anything. It was all natural, the way it was. We shot a lot right outside of Shreveport in really remote locations. It was beautiful, wherever we shot. For a movie like that, you have to shoot it on location, you have to shoot it in those remote places. I couldn't have come home at night after filming that in Los Angeles. It just wouldn't have been the same.
There are really wonderful performances by everyone here. Can you talk a bit more about how the camaraderie formed between yourself and the other cast members?
Chad Lindberg: Yeah. They had been out there a couple of days before me and once I got out there, we all gelled like a family. Like I said, we all did the really heavy stuff right away. Steven didn't want us to get too comfortable with each other. We were very respectful of each other and very protective of Sarah (Butler). She trusted us and allowed us to creatively do what we wanted to do. We gave each other the space when it was needed and then at the end of the day, at 6 o'clock in the morning, we'd go back to the hotel and get in the hot tub and have a beer. It was like, 'Oh my God. What did we just do?' We couldn't believe. It was just such a creative high for all of us. We all bonded immediately and it's probably one of my favorite casts that I've ever worked with.
Can you talk a bit about working with your director Steven R. Monroe?
Chad Lindberg: He wanted to honor the original and be as realistic as possible. He didn't think her seducing the guys, like in the original, was the right way for this one. Steven is a wonderful director, but he doesn't come across as a director. He comes across as a buddy and he gave us the space to really let us do what we wanted to do. He would come over and give us a note or two, but he trusted us so much. He's an awesome guy and he was very compassionate to Sarah. I can't say enough good things about Steven.
I also noticed that when they submitted this to the MPAA, they knew it was an NC-17 movie but actually recommended not to make any cuts. It is quite bizarre, especially considering how the MPAA has been lately.
Chad Lindberg: They had actually come back and said, 'This is a good, disturbing movie. We don't think you should screw with it at all.' It was like, 'Hey, cool. All right.' They just said to go out unrated.
I see you have a movie called Black Velvet coming out. Is there anything you can say about that?
For people who didn't get a chance to see I Spit on Your Grave in theaters, what would you like to say to get them to pick this up on DVD or Blu-ray on February 8?
Chad Lindberg: I don't know, enter at your own risk, man. I think curiosity is going to get people going. After awhile, it's going to be word-of-mouth like, 'Have you seen this?' Like I said, I had never heard it was a remake so I think there's a good possibility this could reach the younger generation these days. I'm hoping it just becomes one of those things, over time.
Excellent. That's about all I have for you, Chad. Thanks so much for your time and best of luck with anything else you have coming out.
Chad Lindberg: Thank you so much, Brian. Thank you for the interview. I really appreciate it.