Interview: Cabin in the Woods’ Jenkins and Whitford


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Steve Hadley and Richard Sitterson are central to the plot of Cabin in the Woods. They are both the audience who watches events unfolds, and the director that guides them. They are also funny as hell, because character actors Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford are funny as hell.

I got the chance to sit down with these two goofballs to discuss the thin line they walked between horror and comedy.

[Editor’s Note: Some responses have been edited or removed to avoid major spoilers. There are still very minor spoilers, but we do not believe they will ruin any part of the movie.]

More than any other character in the film, I went through an emotional roller coaster of liking and disliking you guys. When you first read the script did you think your characters were morally deplorable?

Richard Jenkins: I think that’s the dilemma and the fun of these guys. They have huge egos, but it is a big job and you deal with the death with humor.

Bradley Whitford: There are moments of solemnity. We feel bad for them! (laughs)

There is a dance scene in the film with you two. Were those your own moves?

RJ: Bradley was our choreographer. (laughs)

BW: The music was speaking to us.

You guys don’t usually do horror. What drove you to this project?

BW: I think for both of us if anything the horror of it all we don’t fit into the horror genre unless we are pederasts or funny uncles. You hear it’s a horror movie then you hear its more you hear its Joss and you read the script. The really wonderful thing about this moive is that you had two really wonderful writers that looked at each other and said, “If I can write anything what would I write?” And they stuck to taht and boy is that rare. And they got it made. It’s a mircale!

For a long time there, it seemed like it wouldn’t come out.

BW: It was all part of their master plan!

RJ: There was a while there where I didn’t think it would come out. This was Drew’s first time directing and I hadn’t seen it but I know how good he is. It’s a nice part of the story now: this film sat on a shelf for 3 years and it’s so good.

BW: Lionsgate saw this movie and — I hate to be nice to executives — they got this thing immediately and were instantly excited about it and totally behind it. Thank God!

Writer Joss Whedon has such an oddball sense of humor in this film. Was it difficult to tell which lines should be read for laughs or be delivered a bit more seriously?

RJ: You couldn’t hear mine because they were too busy laughing at his.

BW: I don’t think it would be as uproarious as it was, but when you see the film put together and the way it’s cut it becomes something else. You really pick up a tone reading the script; this is not an entirely irony-deficient read. (laughs)

We’ve already covered a lot of topics in this interview that I won’t print because they go into heavy spoilers. It’s a difficult film to talk about and the film’s marketing is doing a good job of keeping things secret. Is it nice to be part of a project that isn’t so transparent?

RJ: The more you know going in, the less fun it is. It’s kind of the truth. It’s nice, except people complain about that too. It’s a hard film to sell and to get out there and get people to want to see it. But, I think the best way is to not give it away.

BW: What’s fascinating about it is that these two guys have written the opposite of a cynical studio genre offering.