Scott Patterson discusses going toe-to-toe with this Halloween's most vicious killer.
As Jigsaw's backstory becomes more detailed and fleshed out, it becomes obvious that each film is one single piece in a giant puzzle. How many pieces will it take to complete the picture? The answer to that question is currently up in the air, as it depends on the audience's want and need to see another installment of this hugely popular franchise. That vicarious hunger is still out there, and Saw V is lining them up in droves. Horror fans love and care about these characters, and a sixth installment is already in the planning stages.
With this particular outing, most of the action hinges on a character introduced in Saw IV. Scott Patterson plays Agent Strahm, and his story arc is continued directly from the last few moments of that previous film. This time out, Strahm is right at the center of the gruesome and gory mayhem. How he plays directly into Jigsaw's overall plan is something you'll have to discover for yourself. But his own personal descent into hell answers a lot of previously unanswered questions, and it turns the ongoing plotline in a whole new direction.
We recently caught up with Scott to discuss his role in this highly anticipated Halloween horror outing. Here is our conversation in full:
Did you make it to the premiere last night?
Scott Patterson: I did.
Did you enjoy watching it with such a large crowd? The audience seemed to love every minute of it.
Scott Patterson: I did like the film. I was pleasantly surprised. It was a better movie than what I anticipated by a factor of about three.
Its interesting to do these interviews, because I am not allowed to really talk about what happens in the movie. But I wanted to know if it was always the intent to make Agent Strahm the main character of part V? Did you know when you signed on for IV that you would play such a major role here?
Scott Patterson: Yeah, I did. I didn't know if I was going to become...I don't know how much I can reveal. When is this interview going to be published?
It will be published today or tomorrow, before the release of the film. And I am already under an agreement not to reveal any of the plot points, so I will have to x out anything that might be considered a spoiler.
Scott Patterson: Well, then. I better be careful. (sighs) I did know that I would be a central character. I did know that. They did tell me. I just didn't know how prominent I would be, or what my arc would become. I ran into producer Marc Burg in Colorado over Christmas. He told me what the script was shaping up to be. And I was extremely excited.
Can you talk about some of the differences between working with Darren Lynn Bousman on Part IV, and then coming in to work with David Hackl on Part V?
Scott Patterson: They were very different experiences. Those two have completely different energies. Darren is very kinetic and very fast paced. He flies by the seat of his pants. He likes to create shots as we go. He gets inspired by any number of things. I like that. I like a high-energy guy that knows what he wants. So it was tremendous fun. David is also a person that knows what he wants and how he is going to execute it. But he has a different personality. Completely. He is very low-key. He is very confident in his abilities and in his actors. But it was a much milder set. It was a much different experience. I couldn't tell you if I preferred one over the other. They may have had different personalities, but they were equally focused on the task at hand. The one thing that you want from a director is a vision and not too much conversation. They need to communicate what they want with as few words as possible. I think they both accomplished that. It was great working with both of them.
Continuing this character from IV, were you able to create your own personality and bring that into the fifth film?
Scott Patterson: Yeah, sure. I set the establishing rules in IV. The character was built up in IV. So, David was dealing with a fully fleshed out human being by the time he took over the reigns. His job was easy with me.
I don't want to give anything away, but it does seem that you have a strain on your voice in this film. Was that something you had to work on with your vocal chords, or was that a digitizing effect?
Scott Patterson: No, that was me. I did that. That is not any kind of postproduction effect at all. That was just imagining what it would be like to have that impediment. And you work on it. It really wasn't that difficult. How would you sound if you had a (removed) in your (removed)?
Great. Now I have to cut some of that out of the interview.
Scott Patterson: (Laughs) Yeah, you do.
That's alright. Was it a strain on your voice? It seems like talking in that manner would be such a strain on your voice after three months of shooting.
Scott Patterson: I didn't really have that much to say. We did those hospital scenes in one day. It wasn't like I was talking like that for three months. Most of the time I was just running around with a flashlight and a gun, and I wasn't saying much.
I think its safe to say that every single character in these films runs into one of Jigsaw's traps sooner or later. Whether it's looking at it in the dark with a flashlight, or becoming intimately involed with it. When you go on set and you see these traps, are they set up like a real trap. Do you ever feel like you are in any real danger?
Scott Patterson: Those are steel traps. That is real steel. That is real glass. And those traps really work. It is daunting to see them. When I saw the head trap for the first time, I really wasn't terribly intimidated by it until I got inside the thing. Then I said, "This is serious." Its not kid's stuff. They know what they are doing over there.
Did they actually fill that thing up with water?
Scott Patterson: Yeah, they did. The best story that comes out of that day of shooting is that we shot everything up until we filled it with water. The water came up, and that was the last take of the day. After a very long fourteen hour day. There was a lot of business with me in the empty tank; panicked and screaming. That kind of thing. Different angles, different set-ups. We spent all day doing that. Then they filled it up with water, and you could sense a certain amount of tension on the set. People were nervous, and the medical crew was standing by. It was a very tense thing. I wasn't scared, though. But after the very first take, water shot up my nose. And I swallowed a large amount of water. I got very scared, and they got me out of it very quickly. I choked and spit up water. They reset and did it again, and we got the same results. I almost went into shock. They were going to pull me out of that thing, because I was shaking uncontrollably and my heart was beating through my chest. Because I was so frightened. But they had to get the shot. They couldn't use a stunt double. It would have ruined the shot. Because they had to cut around it so much. So I put some Vaseline in my nostrils, so that the water wouldn't go up it as much. And we did three more takes. And that was that.
Basically, they don't ask you to act on the set, they throw you into the situation and get a real response.
Scott Patterson: They had prepped me about this trap a couple of months prior to shooting. And they let me know that it was dangerous. That there was a chance something could go wrong. They asked if I wanted to do it, or if I wanted them to prep it for a stunt coordinator. I said, "Sure, I will try to do my own stunt." I thought it was important to at least try it. That one minor detail about plugging up the nose was the only obstacle. Once we solved that problem, it was kind of easy. On the very last take of the day, with the water filling up, I was in that tank for a solid minute. I said, "Look, I know it's going to look like I am drowning. And I know you guys are going to be scared. But keep the cameras rolling until I give the signal." And we had a signal worked out to get the water out of there. And it just kept going, and going, and going. It went from being quite frightening to me becoming quite cocky about it on the last take. It ended up looking quite good.
Did they have a documentary crew there that day?
Scott Patterson: I think that was one of the more well documented scenes in Saw history. There were all kinds of photos being taken, and camcorders going. Yeah. There was a lot of behind the scenes stuff on that. And I'm sure there will be some footage of me cowering, looking very freaked out. Lets hope it winds up on the DVD.
It's interesting to me that they brought back in the concept of the puzzle piece with this one. A lot of fans have been asking about that. Do you view this film as one of the many pieces to this giant puzzle these guys are working towards?
Scott Patterson: I thought that V was more representative of that puzzle piece format. For me, anyway. Certainly in watching it. Because it didn't have as many characters, which is good. It made sense to me. It wasn't so complex that I couldn't follow it, but it was complex enough that it kept me in suspense. It also surprised me in a few places. I got lucky. I am involved in two great traps. It is kind of a privilege. Now I am in the Saw hall of fame.
Do you know if your character will come back for part VI?
Scott Patterson: Oh, sure. I did signed for another picture. I signed on for Part VI, but that doesn't necessarily mean that I will be in it. They tell me that I will be. But they don't even have a script yet. They are hoping to head into preproduction in November, depending on whether or not they have a script. Look, we don't know what happens at the end of this film. Sure, it looks bad. But who knows? Right?
It always looks bad. And they always figure out a way to mend the broken bones. Some of the other actors have said that they have contracts through so-and-so number of films. Do you think they say that just to throw the audience off about their impending demise?
Scott Patterson: No, I think the filmmakers want to keep their options open. They want to have you available and under contract if they decide that they need you in the next one. There are many different versions of the script that they hammer out. A great amount of time and care goes into crafting these things.
I was told that there was more to the ending that got cut out of the final film. Can you talk about what didn't make it on screen? Or is that giving something away?
Scott Patterson: I don't feel comfortable talking about that. It could get me in trouble. Hang on one second...
(Scott leaves for a period of time.)
Scott Patterson: Yeah, I can't really comment on that.
Not a problem.
Scott Patterson: Sorry.
Can you talk about some of the stunt training that you had to go through before filming? Some of this stuff is pretty intense.
Scott Patterson: That final scene is pretty intense stuff. I train in a boxing gym in Los Angeles, so I'm used to throwing punches. Still, it was fun. It was easier to choreograph this stuff, because it was just your basic moves. But I was really pleased with that fight scene. It was a very cool movie fight. It looked real. It was edited together very nicely. It looked like we were both getting hit very hard. And it hurt. Those things can be tough. Sometimes they don't look so good, or so real. But this one looks really good. I thought it was a great fight.
It was awesome. Are you looking forward to taking your family to see this on Halloween?
Scott Patterson: My film family, yeah. A bunch of the Lionsgate people, some of my friends, and some of my management are all going to get together on Friday night and go around to different theaters and check out the different reactions. It is a lot of fun. I am looking forward to that. That is our Trick or Treating.
Saw V is setting its best trap yet on October 24th, 2008.