Texas Chainsaw Massacre Prequel: Star Matthew Bomer

Source: Bloody Disgusting
Date: October 1, 2005

The son of former Dallas Cowboy John Bomer and his wife Sissi, Matthew is a native of Spring, Texas. He earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in acting from the prestigious Carnegie Mellon University where he also underwent extensive voice and dance training. After graduation, Bomer moved to New York, where he worked on stage and before long landed a recurring role on the ABC daytime drama All My Children. Now after starring in the Jodie Foster thriller ‘Flight Plan’ he’s heading back to his home state to spend a night at the Hewitt house in Austin, Texas. Below you’ll find our interview with Bomer…

BD: Are you off today?

MB: Yeah. First day off in a while.

BD: Do you play the older or the younger brother in this film?

MB: I play the older brother.

BD: What was your familiarity with the the original movie? Did you go back to see it?

MB: Yeah, I watched all of them before I started this project. I had seen the remake that Michael Bay had done a couple of years ago.

BD: When you say all of them, do you also mean the ones with Renee Zellweger or Dennis Hopper?

MB: No … I didn’t see the Dennis Hopper one, but I had seen it years and years ago. But I went back and watched the original as well.

BD: Did that put more responsibility on your shoulders, or …

MB: Well, I think that’s more unique an experience for the characters of Mike Hoyt and Leatherface, because since this is an origin story, it’s good to know what world you’re living in and get some idea what type of movie that you’re in.

BD: When they shot the remake in 2003, I understand that that was filmed in sequence. Are they doing that again here?

MB: More or less, yes. There are a couple of small segments that are out of order, but more or less it is in order, which is very helpful for me, because I come from a theater background, so I’m just going to play like it’s all linear every night. And it’s good not to have to go back and forth.

BD: How has it been working with R. Lee Ermey?

MB: R. Lee’s great. I’ve learned a lot from working with him. He’s a tremendous actor, and he brings so much to the character and so much to the set. And we’re very fortunate, ’cause he’s one of those guys who actually, when he comes to the set in the morning, he just wants to make the scene the best it can possibly be, and he figures all that stuff out. And those are my favorite kind of people to work with. I’ve really enjoyed it. He’s thoroughly entertaining and really does different stuff every take, and just really embodies the character.

BD: Settle the debate – is this going the PG-13 route, or hardcore R?

MB: Gosh, I suppose that probably just depends on the edit. It does have a lot of graphic content in it, so I imagine there’s a possibility that it could be R?

BD: Even with the language?

MB: [Laughs] I’ve said language which would have made a drill sergeant blush in this movie. I think I even offended R. Lee at one time. So I would imagine that, yeah, there’s definitely a possibility that this could probably be an R.

BD: What separates this “Chainsaw” from the last “Chainsaw”? What takes it to the next level?

MB: Well, I think the producers, Doug and Brad and Michael and the director and the d.p., are doing a really great job of paying homage to the films that have come before this. But I think they’re also putting their own spin on it, which is hopefully what you do in this situation. It is an origin story, so a lot of what it’s doing is answering questions people may have about these characters – how did they get to be as maniacal as they are. And I think we’re definitely upping the violence factor and the gore factor. We’re definitely taking that to the next level.

BD: Is this a prequel to the remake or a prequel to the whole thing?

MB: I would say that it’s a prequel to the remake. Because, you know, the Sheriff Hoyt character is sort of a new introductory thing. So it does answer questions from the original, but I would say that it’s more specific to the remake.

BD: You said how much more violent this one is going to be. What’s the most hardcore thing you’ve seen so far?

MB: Well, I’ve only filmed my stuff, but there’s a scene where my brother and I are being tortured pretty violently. I don’t want to get too into the specifics, because I think it’s going to be a really nice surprise for the audience, but even just filming it was [chuckles] very disturbing.

BD: Can you say if it involved a chainsaw, a meat hook?

MB: It doesn’t involve a chainsaw. It’s – it’s more brutal than that. It’s more R. Lee with several different – gosh – weapons. Homemade weapons on my brother and I while we’re tied up.

BD: How has it been working with the fake blood and gore on you or around you?

MB: It was a blast. They’re such a great special-effects team on this unit. Greg Nicotero (sp) – I don’t know if you’re familiar with his work or not – they’re all just great guys. And Jake (Garber? – this is my guess), who’s working on this, is a great guy, and Kevin (?). I did, like, three or four plaster molds in L.A. before I came out here to shoot it, and one was a full-body mold, and three facial ones, I think. So it’s very surreal to see a model of your face in an agonizing position.

BD: What was the audition for this movie like for you?

MB: I’m a New York actor, so I heard about the project, and I put myself on tape twice from New York. And they said they were interested in me, so I flew myself out to L.A. to test for it with Michael Bay. And a great thing about this movie, and another way I think it’s unique, is that there is more exposition. You really get to know the protagonists of this movie a lot more in the beginning, and hopefully invest in them somehow so that when bad things go happen to them, you really care. And I think that Michael Bay just wanted to make sure – there wasn’t a lot of screaming and yelling. I think they could figure out from the scenes whether or not you could pull that off. I think he wanted to just see more of whether or not I understood the character’s duality – how he could be a nice guy with his girlfriend, but how ultimately he is this military guy who has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders.

BD: What is Eric’s background?

MB: Eric has to shoulder a lot of responsibility for his family from a very early age, and he’s decided to reenlist, go back to Vietnam. And his brother gets drafted so they can do it together. And he’s leaving his girlfriend behind, and they’re on their way to re-up.

BD: What do you think it is about the ‘Texas Chainsaw’ legacy that makes Hollywood keep returning to it?

MB: I think it’s an especially scary story because it’s not monsters. There’s no sci-fi element to it. They’re real people. And it’s got that great element through it like the original ‘Alien’ did. It was, like, establishing this vast expanse of nothingness where there is nobody to help you. And here are real crazy people who – we don’t know their motives, we don’t know why they do what they do, but they’re doing horrific things to unsuspecting people. And I think that’s a classic horror-movie format. But it’s something that’s here, it could – I guess, technically, it could happen – and it’s something that happens in our country.

BD: How far does this movie go in explaining why they did what they did?

MB: It goes pretty far. I mean, it’s an origin story, so hopefully it answers questions that fans of the franchise have without beating everybody on the head. We’ll get beat on the head, but hopefully the audience won’t.

BD: The original and the remake wore their “based on true events” boasts like a badge of honor. Does the prequel go back further in the real-life tale or at this point are all facts out of the window?

MB: Well, you know the history that it – of course, John Larroquette comes on at the beginning of the movies and says that it’s a true story, but it’s not really a true story. I mean, Ed Gein was a real person, but …

BD: Is this prequel telling the real-life backstory of the real-life murders?

MB: Yeah. It’s got partial truths in it that explain why these real characters do what they do. But, to be honest with you, I don’t know if there’s going to be narration in the beginning or if they’re going to introduce it in the same way or not.

BD: You’re not sure if Larroquette will be back or not?

MB: I hope he is. I mean, it’s kind of classic. But I’m sure he probably will if they want him to.

BD: Are you hoping to get gored by a chainsaw later on?

MB: [Laughs] I’m from Texas originally, and I’ve always wanted to be in a horror movie, so I’ve gotten both of my wishes with this project. It would be an honor to get dismembered by a chainsaw. I’d be part of Texas folklore.

BD: Have you gotten to work with Andrew Bryniarski yet?

MB: Yeah.

BD: We hear that he really gets into the character of Leatherface.

MB: He is, yeah.

BD: How does that affect you as an actor?

MB: As an actor, when you walk onto a set, you’re always working with different actors with different processes, and I kind of respect them all. And if they make the movie better, and if they help you out as an actor, then I have no problem with it.

BD: Does he bring out the best in …

MB: Absolutely. The first time I saw him, he did coverage for me, and his big scary ass came around that corner and looked through the car windshield at me, there was no acting involved. I almost soiled myself. So, yeah, it’s really great to work with him. And I’ve done a lot of physical stuff with him where I could’ve gotten hurt, and he’s incredibly respectful in that sense. He’s very intense physically, but he never crosses any kind of line where it could be dangerous, which is very professional in my opinion.

BD: Is there a different kind of acting between doing a horror film and doing another type of project? Is it more stylized? Do you take it less seriously?

MB: I’m such a huge horror fan that I have so many images in my head, and so many different ideas of what it means to be in a horror movie. And I have to say that, keeping that in mind, I had a very romanticized concept of what it would be like to be in a horror movie. But, ultimately, your process doesn’t really change. Ultimately, you’re playing a character, and you have these exposition scenes where it’s just like any other movie. And then when the horrific things happen, there’s only a certain extent where you can prepare for those as an actor beforehand. I mean, I couldn’t be screaming my head off in my hotel room. I would have been kicked out of here by now. You just show up on set and when the stuff happens, you react to it in any way that you would. [Chuckles] There’s only so much life experience you can really bring into it when you’re being systematically dismembered. But your process doesn’t really change. You just hope that you’re playing a character that people can relate to and be empathetic towards.

BD: What about being on location on that set outside of town? Does that help the acting process at all?

MB: Yes and no. I mean, ultimately there are 30 people around you, and somebody eating a donut at the craft services table. But, yeah, that house – we’re very fortunate that Brad Fuller and Andrew Form, the producers, brought us down early to kind of just form an ensemble and get to know each other and get to know the world that we were in before we started shooting. And we came down here, and they took us to the house. And it is a house – it’s a really old house where people have passed on from natural causes, so there really is a sense of – there’s a weight about it. I mean, I would not spend the night there. I won’t. So, you know, keeping that in mind, yeah, I guess it definitely adds to the reality and everything. And once Bryniarski comes out, and the mask, it’s, like, you’re there.

BD: Were the ‘Chainsaw’ films the ones that made you a horror fan?

MB: Some of, yeah. Some of the films made me a horror fan. My parents used a lot of discretion in what movies I was allowed to see when I was a kid, but I remember being at my grandmother’s house and seeing a preview for ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre II,’ the Dennis Hopper one. And there was a part where Leatherface jumps through a window or something like that, and I remember sleeping on my grandma’s couch and being petrified that Leatherface was going to jump me. So it definitely horrified me in that aspect. And once I became familiarized with the concept, it of course became one of my favorite horror films. But I would said that ‘Alien’ and ‘Jaws’ and ‘Scream’ and those types of movies were always a big part of my life. I’m definitely one of the people who contributes to these movies opening up at No. 1.

BD: With most of the classic slasher villains, we only see bits and pieces of their backstories over time. Here we get the whole thing. This is arguably the first official horror prequel. How do you expect that to perhaps shift the focus from rooting for the victims to rooting for the bad guys?

MB: Possibly. I mean, who’s to say? Who’s to say, really? It’s interesting to do a prequel to a horror movie because a lot of times what horrifies you so much about a movie is the unknown. But now you’ve got a franchise that people have really come to know and love, these characters, so I’m sure that hopefully, they’ll be excited to learn about them – but hopefully they’ll be invested enough in our characters that they do actually care when things go wrong, things go downhill.

BD: How do you get horror out of that, when people know the franchise and know how things operate?

MB: I think a lot of what makes great entertainment is surprising people with what they expect, and hopefully there won’t be any contrived conventions when it comes to explaining these characters when there are given their backstory.

BD: How far back will this go? Will we see Leatherface at age 6?

MB: I can’t tell you.

BD: How much of the ’60s look is in the movie?

MB: It’s definitely a part of it. I think a lot of what our characters are dealing with is the mindset of that period. A lot of what my character is dealing with is coming home from this war the first time on injured leave and coming home and seeing this whole movement of people who are protesting the war that he was a part of. And it plays heavily into our story, the time period, and hopefully the look as well.

BD: Did you do you research on the Vietnam era to get ready for this part?

MB: I did. I read several books, the most important of which was ‘Born on the Fourth of July,’ because my character was injured and then sent home. It gives a really personal insight into that.

BD: Are there any parallels to current events here?

MB: [Pause] Yes and no. I mean, it is similar to things that are happening now, but it’s more pertinent to the time period of the late ’60s.

BD: How has it been working with Jonathan Liebesman, the director?

MB: Jonathan’s wonderful. I was a huge fan of ‘Darkness Falls,’ and he’s really only exceeded my expectations since I got here. He really knows how to communicate with his actors, he never loses his cool, and he and the d.p., Lukas Ettlin, just have a really great eye for the camera. Every shot I’ve seen has been really interesting. So I love working with him.

BD: He must be pretty excited as well.

MB: I think he’s very excited, yeah. We’re so fortunate in this cast and crew that we have people who are out there, and we can be working 15 hours, and we’re still having a lot of fun, and we just want to do more and get everything out of every scene that we can. So I feel very fortunate to work with someone like that. If the camera guy were getting tired, Jonathan would take the camera off his shoulder and do it himself. He’s that kind of director.

BD: As a horror fan, what are your feelings about remaking these classic movies, and which ones would you like to see get a new treatment?

MB: What a great question. I think it’s a trend in Hollywood now to revisit old franchises no matter what the genre is, because you have allegiance from old fans, and you can bring in a new audience, and I think it spreads the word, and I think it makes money. So you have to respect that, the business aspect of it. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with remaking an old horror movie as long as you can put your own personal stamp on it as well and add to the franchise. What would I like to see remade? I don’t know. Some of my favorite horror movies are such classics, I don’t know if I would want to see them remade. ‘When a Stranger Calls.’

BD: They’re remaking that now.

MB: Are they really? Shit! I missed the boat!

BD: Think of something obscure, maybe.

MB: Oh, my gosh. Can I take two seconds? Do you guys care? Well, they’re doing ‘The Birds.’ Are they doing ‘The Changling?’

BD: Yes.

MB: Well, what can I say? They’re all already being done.

BD: If you can think of it, they’ve already thought of it.

MB: They’re redoing ‘The Omen,’ they did ‘The Exorcist’ – what’s a really obscure one that I like? ‘The Hills Have Eyes,’ they’re redoing. I can’t come up with anything. I’ll have to call you back later.

BD: When there are 30-some horror movies being remade, why this one? What was it about this one that caught your attention?

MB: I mean, come on. In my opinion, this is the superior franchise. And also, being a Texan, getting a chance to be a part of Texas folklore is right up my alley, more so than ‘The Hills Have Eyes’ or any of those other projects. Even though I’m sure they’re all going to be great …

BD: Have you been acting as a tour guide for the others during filming?

MB: A little bit. We’ve been working such long weeks that we kind of just stay in the general vicinity when the weekend rolls around. But I’ve definitely been doing family duty and stuff like that when the weekend rolls around as well.

BD: How long had it been since you were back in Texas?

MB: Well, I always come back for the holidays, and I usually come back during the summer. I think the last time I was in Austin was maybe April or May.

BD: Do you fear that this franchise hurts the image of Texas at all?

MB: I don’t think that this franchise tarnishes the image of Texas at all. I don’t think anybody enjoys self-parody more than Texans. I mean, it’s such a huge place, it is such a place of big stories and grandeur and all that stuff. Texans don’t mind. It’s not going to do anything negative to their image, I don’t think.

BD: Did you wrap anything before starting on this or have anything coming out other than this?

MB: I was actually working on a play when I got this job, and I started working on that right after I did ‘Flightplan.’

BD: Anything else coming up?

MB: I’m going to do the tour of the Ice Capades. [Laughs] Not yet, man. Send the jobs my way.

This is the start of it all!