House of Wax Interview: Elisha Cuthbert ("Carly")

House of Wax Interview: Elisha Cuthbert ("Carly")
The actress talks about her role in The House of Wax -- reported by Staci Layne Wilson
Updated: 04-29-2005

Q: Good morning, Elisha. I think it's appropriate to say that you clean up nice. This shoot must have been grueling.


You not only go into the road kill pit, but the other things you go through. I think I went through the most…not prosthetics, but gore, blood, goo you know, everything. Green finger, the whole thing. We were strategically putting white dots on a green tip so we could digitally remove the finger. So it was like, don't touch the finger. Don't touch the finger. We have special dots on the finger. Also throughout the course of the film always bandaging the finger up and remembering that I'm in pain. If you notice in one sequence of the film, which I'm so proud of myself for remembering...we did it like four months after, where I pick up the phone but I remember to keep my finger away - No Dial Tone. Click. - all these little continuity things matter, especially in a movie like this.


Q: So what scares you in real life?


Flying. That's my most…I think I worry about it so much. I think fear comes from a lack of knowledge as far as…anyway for me, the fact that I don't understand how a 40 ton craft somehow maneuvers itself in the air and I'm 106 and I can't lift off at any means. How am I doing this right now? It just doesn't feel safe. So I think it's the unknown. Yeah, flying is definitely frightening.


Q: Do you have rituals or superstitions you go through?


Oh yeah. I always get on the plane with my right foot first. I pray a lot. I always talk to my mom before I get on a flight. There's all kinds of things, but I try not to be a psycho about it. I realize with my job that I have to fly so I kind do bite my lip and go for it, but there's always that fear in the back of my mind.


Q: Thank god this is only in Australia.


I loved everything about the movie except the 15 hours flight to Australia and then the whole three months that I was there dreading every day that I had a 15 hours flight back to Los Angeles.


Q: But you can use that fear.


Exactly. That fear. Where do you think that scream came from?


Q: Have you ever super-glued anything to yourself?


No, I stay away from that sort of thing, but I'll tell you one thing. I tried to act out everything as natural and sort of comfortable as possible, but there is no way to simulate your lips tearing apart so I said to…originally we had this sort of fake glue put on a prosthetic and I cannot act my lips tearing apart from each other so I said bring the glue, let's do this because I do not want this to look fake. So he comes out. He takes the superglue. We superglue it together. I'm breathing out of my nose and all of a sudden I just…we tear them apart. I didn't pull my lips apart; it was more before pulling the lips apart where that moment when you can actually see my lips fighting against each other. You can't create that. It doesn't matter how good you are. You can have all the awards and not know how to do that. It's like physically impossible so we had to go for it, but that's what this movie is about. Go for it.


Q: We were talking to Chad about the whole physicality, and obviously that's a tiny part of it, but was that something that enticed you? And how do you work with the very physical nature of the role?


I think I knew as soon as I read the script. Every time I take a movie on I break down the character and I know exactly how intense it's going to be. The whole sequence where I'm being chained up in that sort of simulated high chair. People see that for maybe a minute and a half on screen. It took me four days to shoot it. So it's physically demanding and you know it's going to be that way because you have to break it up into little parts and create it and make it all work. To stay consistent is the hardest thing because you want it to all work when it all gets put together at a later time. But that's what makes it fun. Anything that scares me I go for. All the movie choices I've made have been like this thing freaks me out. Let's do it. I think a lot of the best work comes out of challenging yourself. You never know what's going to happen although I do have a strong idea of what I want to do before I get there.


The scream was the hardest for me. I think to get a really good scream it has to come from a real place. I don't think you can just go oh my God I'm scared and scream. I think it's more than that. I think you have to really frighten yourself and whatever that fear that's really deep inside comes out, something happens in the scream. I was really pleased with mine because I felt I really wanted to go there with it. And I'm trying to think of anyone else who has a really good scream - Naomi Watts in the first Ring when she turns the guy around in the chair. You know what I'm talking about? That's what I was striving for because that's what makes a good scream. It's got to come from really deep.


Q: Did you draw on anything for your sibling rivalry with Chad?


I think anyone who has a sibling knows there are challenges that go along with getting along with people that you live with on a day to day basis. I'm luck enough to have a really great brother and sister. I think the older we get the easier things are. The gaps kind of close. I'm 8 years older than my brother and I think it's just now that he's beginning to understand me as a human being and I'm beginning to understand him as a human being. My sister and I are 4 years apart so we've always been really close. Obviously she steals all my stuff but, that's another situation. With Chad it was easy because we're the same age and I had to go, OK, how would it be like to be competing against each other all the time. Like we refer to in the movie, good twin, bad twin but my character is obviously achieving things a little faster than he is. Doesn't make him any better or any worse, it's just that things happen to people at different times. That's sort of what I drew on. I think it's a more natural way to go about it. It was easy to play. Anybody with a sibling understands what it's like to have fights and disagreements. I like the character development of it, though. The idea that we see them grow as the movie progresses, it's sort of like wow, we're watching this really fun horror film but at the same time we're understanding what these two people are going through.




Q: How about the ending when you are in the ambulance? What do you think happens?


I think that's one of the best parts of the movie. You go, Oh my gosh this is just like one of those movies I watched as a kid. This is not, you know, any sort of new horror film. This is what we love about movie making and horror in general. I think we amp the gore up a little bit. Obviously, it's an R rating. But you know what? It's so worth it because that last sequence I love so much.


Q: Are you a big horror film in general?


I am a big horror fan. I've always gone to see horror films. A lot of horror films scared me as a kid. In particular was Fire in the Sky. Anything that had to do with extra terrestrials scared the crap out of me. Some people, the religion thing freaks them out, or whatever it may be - ghost vampires - but aliens did it for me.


Q: What was it like working with the guy who plays Bo and Vincent? What was he like? What kind of relationship did you have working together?


A good one.


Q: That scene was scary downstairs in the chair.


He actually…unfortunately when he backhands me I did get hit one time. Obviously not his fault but just slightly got the tips of his fingers. It was painful, but you know what? It's funny. When you're working that closely with an actor it's almost like a dance. It may look all scattered and messy at the time - and sometimes it is and I like that about it - but at other times there's moments that have to happen in the course of all that chaos, to notice the scars, to be pinned down, all of these things. But it's so much fun because you're going in this sort of crazy frantic thing and then you stop and we all just crack up laughing because we're like, what are we doing now because it doesn't make any sense here, but onscreen it's brilliant. We're constantly going back and forth - are you OK? Did I hurt you?


Q: When you're on set and you're doing it you know it's not real, but have you seen the movie? And what is it like?


It's scary. It is scary for me. I watch it and think, I was there and I know this happened, but you can never underestimate the power of editing, the idea that all of these things get cut together and you think, wow, this is incredible. Paris' sequence in the film scared the crap out of me. She really did a great job with her sequence. And then at the end when everything is coming to a demise, that really impressed me because a lot of it was green screen. We couldn't really tell. I like to look at the breakdown on the storyboards, but you

never know what it's going to look like until it's actually put together and done. When I first saw it there were moments when I jumped and I thought, God I'm a loser. I jumped at my own movie.


Q: Did you get a chance to bond with Paris since you two are the only females?


What did you do with your down time? Did you go shopping or… No, we didn't. We went to dinner quite a few times and we went out a few times, but I think on the whole Paris really wanted to achieve one of the first movie roles and do a really great job and I could feel that. I could see that about her. We ran lines a lot of times. The more rehearsal the more comfortable we all are. We didn't have a lot of time. The show kind of shows that. I came in quite at the last minute, but while we were on set we did a lot of rehearsing together and she did a good job. I'm really proud of her actually because you just never know. You never know what's going to happen of how everyone is going to do. I think she was very strong in the movie.


Q: Are you coming in on 24 at the end of this year because there is such a rumor and also have you been watching it this year?


I've been busy. I Tivoed it. I've been watching a few here and there. I haven't seen the season itself. I'm like everyone else - DVD. They'd kill me if I said that but hey, it's reality. But there's been talk. I think we're kind of going back and forth. We want it to be right. It's got to be right. I think the whole reason for getting rid of a lot of the main characters was to change it up. It's such a particular type of show and they have to keep it fresh. But if I come back I want it to be huge and exciting.


Q: Do you watch things like Desperate Housewives? Do you watch any of those popular shows?


I watch Amazing Race. I get really into Amazing Race. I don't like to fly but I do like to travel which is a bit of a tricky situation for me. But the idea of these people, talk about a dynamic - twins. They should have neighbors because my neighbor is crazy. We would have a great time. But the fact that they go out and they go all over the world and they're like on a budget and a time frame. It's just panicky. I want to turn it off because it's so nerve wracking, but it's so exciting. When that girl shaved her head… I know its fake hair, but…


Q: Do wish you could have shaved your head to get the wax out of your hair at the end of this shoot?


No, but I can't wait to shave my head. I'm looking for the right part.




Reported by Staci Layne Wilson

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