Sara Paxton - Interview

Sara Paxton - Interview
Talking about The Last House on the Left and swimming for her life
Updated: 03-06-2009



Staci Layne Wilson reporting


Q: Have you seen this movie yet?
Sara Paxton: I have I've seen it twice.
Q: So you say Saturday night, let's go to the movies what's showing in the papers? Is this the movie you would pick?
Paxton: You know, I've become more of a fan. Of course now that I have done this movie. Of course, I've become more of a fan of the thing of the genre, and everything. I always knew who Wes Craven was because of course he's an icon even though last House the original was made before I was even born many years. I of course know who Wes Craven is. I always have.
Q: Do you see the entertainment now in the value of being scared out of your wits?
Paxton: Oh, definitely. I never really got that scared with supernatural movies with ghosts and all that stuff. But this, this was even terrifying to film. At some points really, and it was a lot of fun. Mostly fun, but there was definitely some moments where we were filming and it was really interesting, because I'm used to filming on a soundstage and being on a soundstage really takes you out of the character because one minute you're on the set and the next minute you're looking at all the grips and the lights on the ceilings and everything and then you realize always fake. But being in the woods with not very many people and three cameras and Dennis and just quiet and looking up at the trees. All I could think of was that somebody has really suffered like this in real life just the way we are doing this and that just chilled me and scared me to the point where it didn't go away for a long time.
Q: What attracted you to acting?
Paxton: Well of course I started acting professionally when I was very young. I was six, and for me at that point it was just more about fun. I wasn't into sports or anything so theater and drama was more my thing. And I just went on auditions for fun, and just kind of as an afterschool activity. I wasn't really looking for roles, and it wasn't until I got older that I started becoming more involved in it. I've always been a huge fan of film. My mother and father always had the watching the classic movies that are way before my time. And I don't look to a certain genre or a certain, you know, I think it's about the character and the role. And I just don't want to be placed in any kind of box, whether it's a horror movie box or the Disney box. I don't I don't want to wear any box. I just want to be able to keep growing as an actor and keep challenging myself and keep moving forward. You know, I don't really want to be stagnant ever, which is why I did this movie in the first place.
Q: Was this experience, being made so vulnerable as an actor, traumatic for you?
Paxton: Traumatic, no. Stressful yes. Was I nervous and scared out of my mind before I went to go film, yes. Because I didn't know if I even had it within myself to do it. But once I got down there and I met Dennis and I met the rest of the actors. Not including Garret, because I had known him already and we all bonded so quickly and had such a great chemistry. And I trusted them completely. I don't think that I could have gotten through it without them. I knew the whole time that they had my back. And knowing that allowed me to open up more, and to take the scenes to places that I didn't think I could before.
Q: That sense of realism that you talked about before, I would think certainly comes into play in that crucial scene in the woods…
Paxton: Kind of what I said earlier: it felt real. You weren't in a soundstage. We were in a real forest with real live animals and bugs and rocks and everything around us. And that really gets you into the mode immediately. It was so emotionally challenging, because that whole morning I was so nervous coming to set at six o'clock in the morning. I kept running over to the trashcan. I thought I was going to vomit every five seconds. I couldn't get it under control. And then it kind of went away and had a talk for ourselves before we began the day, and it really helped a lot. Knowing him and trusting him, and he's such a talented actor. And really it was the support of my fellow actors and the crew and the respect of the producers and everyone. It was a team effort, and it really helped. It really helped everyone's performance I think too.
Q: How did affect you personally, with other people?
Paxton: In people, I guess not being able to trust people, because you really never know who somebody is. I mean all these famous serial killers have all on the outside appeared to be these intelligence charming handsome people. Ted Bundy, I mean, it's scary. I feel like I don't really trust any person when I first meet them. That's kind of scary, but what really scares me in real life is bugs.
Q: Do you believe that there is a beast inside all of us?
Paxton: Yes, I mean, I definitely think that the battle between good and evil is inside of a fall a little bit. Definitely. I'm not afraid of every shadow I'm not afraid of every person, you still have to go on living life. But I definitely think that some people get caught up in this dream world where everything is perfect. And they refuse to acknowledge what's going on around them and what is really happening in the real world. And I think that this movie is very powerful, because you really leave affected I was in the movie and I knew these people and I still left feeling shaken up.
Q: You mention that you started to act when you were six years old. It's not like he just get up and went to an audition, how did that happen? Your parents were steering you in the showbiz?
Paxton: No, my parents are dentists. They're not in show business at all. I am the only person in my whole family. When I was little my aunt owned a children's clothing store, and for fun she would have me model. The clothes in the store, I don't know I was five. I don't remember, but I guess some man gave my mother a business card for photographs or acting classes. My mother ripped it up and threw it away. She was like there was no way. I begged her and I begged her and I begged her and finally a year later, she let me go to acting classes. After I begged her enough.Some kids are outside playing all day. I was always watching movies, constantly one after the other or over and over again.
Q: Where did you grow up?
Sara Paxton: I grew up in Los Angeles. My mother is from Mexico, and so it was only natural that they would immigrate here to L.A. I have lived here my whole life.
Q: Which kind of movies did you see when you were young, very young?
Paxton: Of course, I saw children’s movies, classic Disney cartoons and stuff like that. But my father is really into westerns. So I watched all of the John Wayne movies and that kind of stuff and my mother was really into gone with the wind. And I've seen a lot of seeing different black and white to 80s and people my age. Consider an old movie, you know, Ferris Bueller's Day Off. So I've seen The Quiet Man, to Fellini, to Citizen Kane.
Q: What would be the most challenging part of the acting in your profession as far as your experience goes?
Paxton: I think that it is a great industry to be in because I am fortunate enough to go every day and do what I love at work, but there is of course also bad that goes along with it. Sometimes and I guess the hard part of it that when you are going to put yourself out like that, there are going to be people that don't like you. And even if it's for no reason at all, but just don't seem to like you and I haven't really grasped that yet. But yet, you just got to have tough skin, I guess.
Q: Since you're biggest fear is bugs… would you face that and do it for, say, a Spielberg movie?
Paxton: I would hypnotize myself. I would just do it. Oh my gosh, I would probably just torture myself and go for it. I mean, Steven Spielberg, I can't say no to that. Even if I have to eat a bug, touch a bug, squish a bug.
Q: You are saying that you weren't very good at sports. When you were younger, and yet you have to swim in this.
Paxton: I may have lied a little bit in my audition and said that I was an excellent swimmer Dennis said, “what is your experience swimming”? I said “I am an excellent swimmer”. “I played a mermaid” “I'm a fabulous swimmer, you have no idea.” And they were like “oh great she swims” and then they had me do three or four swimming lessons in which I wore floaties end was in the shallow end where they expected me to do these full Michael Phelps swimming moves. And I remembered day one of the swimming scenes and Dennis was like “are you ready to jump in the lake and swim? I want you to jump in the lake and then just swim all the way to the end." And I was like “you got a Dennis you got it Dennis.” And I dove in, and all I remember was Dennis yelling cut. And then it was like, "Yes she is drowning get her a float!" I guess I wasn't that good of a swimmer.
Q: There's also some indoor swimming scenes.
Paxton: It was definitely me and that was a really cold pool. It wasn't to represent drowning I think it was to represent that was her home, of the pool. Its peace. That's what she does to do is swimming. That's what she is. It's to represent that is for peaceful place swimming. And that's why it's so ironic that to escape the torture, she has to swim.
Q: It's one of the more touching scenes you are swimming very gracefully and you escaped the bad guys with your strength.
Paxton: Yeah, I mean, you think that she's getting away, but I don't want to give away too much but you think she's gone and in that one moment everyone in the theater gasps. And then you see the blood. I had to wear a big mechanical thing on the back of my shoulder for the blood to go and shoot out the back.
Q: This movie really shows a different side of you.
Paxton: I'm definitely not afraid to change my image. In fact that wanted to change my image, or I wouldn't have done this movie had I not wanted to show people that I could do something different. And I really love a challenge myself. And so this was the ultimate challenge for me to break away from all that.
Q: What kind of perk is it for you to travel for the movies you do? Because those of us who don't do it think oh it's great and you're getting to go to these exotic locations. It's kind of like us going to do an interview in a nice hotel. We're seeing the inside of this room. And that's it. So do you get to experience it with going to South Africa?
Paxton: Oh yeah, definitely. First I was really nervous, I didn't know why we had to go there because it takes place in middle- America Oregon supposedly and once we get to set for the first time is when I realized fully because it was so beautiful, the lake and the house. We filmed on this old Vineyard with vines growing everywhere, and it was just so beautiful and I knew right away that it was just the perfect place. And it was great, because I made so many new friends and I had never been there, and I consider myself extremely lucky that I have gone to a place that without this business I would have probably never been able to go to ever.
Q: What would your advice be to young actresses who are aspiring?
Paxton: I definitely think some advice is that people are going to tell you things all the time that you can't do something or that you are not right for something or you can't I hear can't a lot. And I think that you can't listen to that. I think that if you know what you want to do and you know that you can do it you need to. Gone are the days of sitting back and waiting for things to happen to you. I think that if you want something, you need to go out and get it. And I think that's what I would say. Persistence.
Q: Besides persistence, what qualities should a person have?
Paxton: Determination, passion. I really don't believe that if you're in something for the money that success will come to you. I really think that if you are in this business. And you are completely passionate about what you're doing and you want it because it's so competitive. I mean, there's a million other girls, just like me trying for the same parts. It's so competitive, and I think you have to want it more than anyone else.
Q: Did you have competition for this role?
Paxton: Not that I know of, I didn't really see any other girls. I just went in and read with Dennis and then they called me and said they liked me. And I was shocked. I almost fell on the ground.
Q: There was no other audition process for you?
Paxton: I had when into audition, but for some reason I was the only girl there. There were other Krug's auditioning and other Sadie's but there was no other Mari's. I don't know who else auditioned.
Q: Who's your favorite actress?
Paxton: Favorite actress. I really admire how Ann Hathaway has handled her career. I think it's really amazing that she came from Princess Diaries, a light hearted romantic comedy, Disney, to suddenly Rachel Getting Married, and being nominated. That's a huge step for anyone. I completely congratulate her on that and it's amazing, and I hope that someday I am as lucky to ever get that far.
Q: You're at the point where you can still believably play a teenager. But you're a young woman, and there are other roles that you might want to play. So is that of choice you have to look at and say no more high school movies?
Paxton: It depends on the role. I think that if it's a 16-year-old who has gone through a lot and is more mature. I could do that or if you dressed me up and did my hair and put me in high heels. I could maybe play a 22-year-old. I'm kind of in a weird intersection right now, because I'm too young to play 25, but sometimes I'm too old to play 16. It's interesting, and I'm kind of working with that right now. I think that if it's your career is your career, and you have to know what you want if you're wishy-washy about this. Then who knows, you could be swayed here are swayed their but if you know what your goal is. And you stick to it than I think that's good. And of course if your agent or manager... You always need to be a team and be on the same page. But there's no point in working with somebody if you're not on the same page, and I don't know what Anne did, but I'm sure it's her conscious decision that she said, I want to move and do this is great. I think that's what's so great about being an actress, but you get to be a different person every day. Why would you want to be the same person every day, when it's your job to play different people.
Q: Are you actually cautious in this era are you looking for paparazzi or the media attention. Are you extra cautious?
Paxton: I'm not after paparazzi. That hasn't happened to me yet. So I haven't experienced that. I'm not going to these places where the paparazzi are I'm not eating at The Ivy like, "Look at me". I'm not looking for that honestly, it's not why I'm doing what I do.
Q: What your hobbies?
Sara Paxton: We'll obviously my ultimate hobby is my work, because I love what I do. And I'm pretty normal. I went to regular high school, my whole life. Most of my friends are not actors or even involved in the business at all. They’re my next-door neighbors. I grew up with since I was a little kid and to know me and don't even care about this stuff and hobbies. I'm pretty normal. I love music. I'm learning how to play guitar right now and that I want to learn how to play the piano. I play flute right now. I played flute for about six years when I was in school. I was in the marching band I wear the stupid hats I like to go to the movies. I like to go to the beach. I like to ride bikes. I have two dogs. I'm pretty normal and boring, I guess when I'm not running through the woods screaming for my life.
Latest User Comments: