After making his name as a horror icon by co-writing and starring in the surprise hit Saw, local boy LEIGH WHANNELL returns to Australia with the Tasmania-set nail-biter DYING BREED.
Was it strange to be working in Australia, ostensibly for the first time?
"A lot of the time, an Australian filmmaker makes an Australian film that is fantastic and then a Hollywood talent agent comes swooping in and they have to go off and make a film. We did a low budget film in the States first, and it was strange to have to go back and work there. It was strange for me and kind of touching."
Were you worried about being typecast by doing another horror film after the Saw series?
"I was initially resistant because it was a horror film, and I'm so associated with the genre. Then I spoke to [director] Jody Dwyer and [producer] Mike Boughen, and it just became impossible to not do it; it was too good a package. So I said yes and promptly found myself sitting on a mountainside in Tasmania, drenched in rain and covered in leeches and wishing I was never there. No, that's not true."
Was it a tough shoot?
"I wouldn't make it sound too grandiose, but it was pretty tough. It was raining every day, and it was right in the middle of winter. It was freezing cold and we were on the mountain. It was great though because the characters are supposed to be lost and wet and cold and scared and being pursued. All of those elements help you achieve that performance. It's great to be an actor in those conditions. It's not so great to be a grip, sliding down the hill in mud with rain beating down your head, but when you're an actor and they want you to be alone and scared and tired, what better gift can you have but those conditions?"
The film screened at Tribeca in New York. How did it go down?
"It got a really good reaction. I'm always amazed. Horror fans are so amazing. They trawl the internet trying to seek out horror films. Who would know that, thanks to the internet, American kids could find out that there was a screening of an Australian horror film at the Tribeca Film Festival? They were there, these horror nuts - they sought it out. They came up to me after the screening and talked about Saw, and it was just great. It went over really well with the audiences. It's just an unapologetic genre film, and that's what I love about it."
Dying Breed is released on November 6. For much more on the film, pick up the latest issue of FILMINK Magazine.