Wes Bentley hopes that his latest DVD release will become a Christmas Classic
Last year saw the release of many new Holiday themed films. But none of them lived up to the sheer majesty and dark tone of the 2007 Christmas horror classic in the waiting P2. Wes Bentley stars as a disturbed underground parking attendant that takes to courting one of his clients in the most disturbing of manners. What starts as a quaint Christmas dinner in chains soon turns into a life or death struggle for workaholic Angela. Will she live to escape the perils that await her on P2? Will Wes Bentley get his girl? Does the dog live? All of these, and many more questions are answered in the new DVD of P2, which hits stores on April 8th, 2008. I'm sure by the time December rolls around, it will have become requisite Christmas viewing for many of you.
We recently caught up with Wes for a quick chat about the film. A friendly, gracious guy, Bentley still had that ominous look in his eyes. The guy is a tad bit creepy, and we love him for it! (Damn it, if there is an The Evil Dead remake, they better cast this guy as Ash). Here is our conversation with Mr. Bentley:
Is this the Christmas Classic you always dreamed about being a part of?
Wes Bentley: (Laughs) Well, I never dreamed of being in a Christmas classic. But I am definitely proud of this film. I feel like we have done something different. We were playing real people. And we had a sense of humor about it. I think that comes across. Especially with the ending. I thought it was great, what they did with that Christmas picture? I am really happy with it. But I never really wanted to be part of a Christmas classic, no.
Well, I'm going to add it to my Christmas rotation when the season rolls around again.
Wes Bentley: Very cool. I'll be glad if it takes off and goes that way. I guess I never thought about it in those terms, you know? I think the Christmas element came through really nicely. I wish they would have released it a little closer to Christmas, just to really tie it in.
If you get a little too much cheer, it comes on as a great little downer for an hour and a half.
Wes Bentley: It sure does. That's why it's such a great movie for that time of year, don't you think? Some people will need this film by that time.
Now, who did you sort of seek out as inspiration when creating this character? I see a little Norman Bates in there, as well as some Bruce Campbell.
Wes Bentley: That's funny. I'm embarrassed to say it, but I have never seen Psycho. I have never been able to really appreciate what was done there. I like films a lot, but I'm not much of a film watcher. I try to stay away from some films, because I don't want to directly imitate a performance. I'm sure I get influenced by things I see. I make music, and I know I am influenced by some of the music I hear. But I try to avoid watching certain performances, because I want to do something new every time. Another approach I take is that I open up and just let the character come through me. I wouldn't call it research. I just acquaint myself with the situation. I try to go in as fresh as I can. Sometimes that is difficult to do, but I have more fun that way. And I tend to like what comes out better. I'm sorry, but I haven't ever seen Psycho or The Shining. Actually, I saw The Shining just the other night, which I thought was incredible. Someone else had said that they saw Jack Nicholson come through my performance. I hadn't seen that film when I made this movie. Now, Bruce Campbell is someone I love. "Evil Dead" was a favorite film of mine. Of course, I did use that influence. Nobody uses an ax like Bruce did.
Did you ever drive through a couple of parking structures to just sort of get a feel for the parking attendant? Cause this guy exists out there, underground somewhere. He is pretty much in every parking garage.
Wes Bentley: Yeah. He is in a lot of other places, too. I was in New York where it is a little different. In Los Angeles, movies are such a big thing. So everyone is kind of showy. It is hard to find real people. Living in New York, I had the feeling that this guy was just around the corner. People there have a more mundane life. You just know that they could snap at any moment. I've seen this guy before. He lives his life, and it is pretty boring and bland. This guy's obsessions with this one girl let all of those issues out that he had bottled up. That could happen to anyone. But, no. I never went out looking for him. I was afraid that he would just come anyway. And he did.
One of my favorite parts of the film is your relationship with the guard dog. What was your working relationship like with the dog on set?
Wes Bentley: There were three dogs. And I got along with all three of them just great. I love dogs. And dogs tend to love me. So, right away we had a good working relationship. I handled them a lot in-between takes. And I would help them out with setting up. All three of the dogs were just great. They had one for running, one for the vicious barking, and one for the bodywork. That one was the more obedient of the three.
Did it upset you when you finally saw the film, and you saw what a horrible demise your dog meets near the end?
Wes Bentley: Yeah. I obviously know that it is fake. But I can't watch any harm that comes to animals. Well, not humans either. I don't know why I'm just saying animals. But it was definitely a hard thing to watch. Especially when I lift the dog up and see that thing is really dug into his head. I do have trouble watching that. Yeah.
I found it very interesting that your character, Thomas, and Rachel Nichols' character, Angela, had such similar backgrounds. They both come across as very lonely, workaholic people. Did you and Rachel ever discuss the similarities between your two characters?
Wes Bentley: You know? No one has ever brought that up. I hadn't thought about that until just recently. Yeah, I get it. That was a similarity that Rachel and I acknowledged with each other. Even so, I think that helped with any kind of attempt she had at connecting with this guy. In such, that is how she was able to stay reasonable and try to get out of the situation in such a calm way at the very beginning. When she finds out she is chained to the table. That is something Rachel would use in developing her character. But Angela didn't acknowledge it forward. Thomas did. And he demanded that she notice that, when he is talking about her wanting a boyfriend. Thomas saw the connection, and that is something that is very interesting. For some reason, no one has really brought that up.
Watching the film, I found it very interesting that at the beginning she was a little more easy going with him. She could have almost had feelings for this guy. Do you think she develops a crush on him throughout the course of the film?
Wes Bentley: I didn't see that as much. I know in Angela's head, and in probably a few audience members' heads, that Thomas didn't look like a creep. He isn't your typical slimy guy that couldn't get girls. But his actions are what do him in. He brought himself further away from this girl than he could have. He could have brought it to her attention that he is a normal guy. But he wasn't a normal guy. That is why he ended up failing with her.
Do you specifically do anything new for this DVD coming out? Did you record an audio commentary?
Wes Bentley: I did not. I haven't done a commentary yet. For any film. Personally I'm afraid that the DVD extras kill the magic of what a film could be. I like the mysteries of film. I like the mysteries of what we do. I like to call myself an illusionist more than I like calling myself an actor. I want people to believe the character. I want them to know this guy, not Wes Bentley. I have resisted that commentary stuff. But, that said, I do appreciate a good commentary when I sit down to watch one. I just have not done anything like that yet.
Is the DVD going to have an on-screen counter of how many times you scream the name Angela in this film?
Wes Bentley: (Laughs) No, but do you know what I thought it started sounding like? I thought it started sounding like Tony Danza in Who's the Boss? after awhile. "ANGELA!" I don't know how many times I screamed that name. I did that, too, because at the beginning of the film he freaks out about her calling him "Tom!" over and over again. Thomas was annoyed by that. So I started screaming her name just as a subliminal thing, because he was so annoyed by that. He was definitely playing with her. She knew that at the time. That he was playing this game. He was mad at her because he felt hurt. I think I say Angela about two thousand times. Yeah.
P2 hits DVD stands countrywide on April 8th, 2008.