We have exclusive interviews coming up with the cast of The Cabin in the Woods and Drew Goddard at SXSW. Joss Whedon was very busy giving a talk and going to screenings of Wonder Women: The Untold Story of American Superheroines so we sat in on a roundtable with him and Goddard. We got a bunch of questions in too but we hung on every word Whedon said, so here they are.
We ask, as a great lover of genre, how much of The Cabin in the Woods is things he always wished you’d see in these kinds of movies and they never went there before?
Joss Whedon: I think everything we write is an element of that. We only write the things that we want to see and haven’t seen yet. And occasionally we write the things that we have seen and really liked but I don’t remember as a kid going, “You know what I wish is that there would be this whole structure around a horror movie.” I just remember going, “I’m really scared, it’s awesome.”
Joss Whedon on his reputation for killing major characters and transitioning that into actual horror movies.
I think we like killing characters. I think we’re ready to step it up and kill actual people. Sort of a Leopold and Loeb thing. Should I be saying that into tape recorders? No, I do not love for to kill people. I love the people. The point of this movie I think to a large extent - - no I don’t love actual people, I mean the people that we write. I don’t love drifters so it’s going to be okay. I’m not going to freak out at the last minute. Part of this movie was definitely about the idea that people are not expendable and that as a culture, for our own entertainment we tend to assume that they are. Although I absolutely love horror movies and always have, I love them most when I really, really care about the people who are in dire trouble, with the exception of Alien I think. It’s not that I don’t care about them. It’s that I was very frightened by that movie because they didn’t care about each other. I didn’t think they were going to band together and fight back. I thought these guys will sell each other down the river in a heartbeat. It actually freaked me out almost more than the Giger stuff.
Joss Whedon on the concept of a cabin in the woods.
It was always going to be The Cabin because it was iconic to us. And not just because of Evil Dead but not not because of Evil Dead. The story in itself really just popped out. I was like one of those people who doesn’t know they’re pregnant. “Oh, that’s why my stomach hurt.” One of those sad, sad people. Prom bathroom, the sequel. Then because it’s so clearly the kind of thing that we love which is true horror with a cold eye towards well, what is that about, at the same time as we’re in the thick of it. Then once the idea just came, it was years before we actually sat down and did it. But that was sort of what made it so easy to do when we finally did because we bandied back and forth, “You know what would be hilarious? You know what would be fun? Oh, I wish we could.” This is an entire movie of “I wish we could.” It’s two raging ids just enjoying themselves for 90 minutes.
We ask if female empowerment was important in the Jules and Dana characters?
That’s really his [Goddard’s] thing. I don’t get that whole women’s rights, those feminazis as I call them. You know, it was important for the characters to have integrity and to pretty much leave it at that. This is not a movie about gender. Oddly enough, I’ve seen the movie several times, there is no adolescent girl with super powers. It’s weird for me but I’m dealing with it. No, it is not a text about that. It is just making sure that everybody is a human being with integrity across the board.
On the two-year delay between MGM’s bankruptcy and Lionsgate releasing the film.
For me the advantage is simply that you’re not busy trying to just dial in the last bits of it. You’re not looking at it fresh and going, “Wait!” Because the pain of childbirth is somewhat forgotten, all this is just a big gift.
On the challenge to other horror filmmakers to think outside the box.
You know what, we just wanted to make a horror movie that people would really, really enjoy. I don’t see this as a watershed movie. I just see it as if people have a great time, it’s not going to make them go, “Well, now I think differently about loving horror but I still love it.” Other filmmakers are going to do something that we could never have thought of and didn’t expect and that’s what I’m waiting for. It’s not an answer to this, it’s a new question.
We ask Whedon how he applies his distinct dialogue to different genres, including The Avengers.
I talk, other people like to talk us, I talk, we talking is normals. It’s a blessing and a curse to have your style recognized. Part of the great thing about running a TV show is that you get a bunch of people together who both influence it and can echo it. So Drew and I when we write, we speak each other’s language. There’s no, “Oh, that’s clearly Drew, that’s clearly me.” There’s a couple things that I recognize as clearly coming from one of the other but it’s the same voice. Ultimately I don’t want people to hear my voice. I don’t want people to think about what we wrote. I want them to go, “Oh, what’s going to happen to Marty?” You don’t want the distance that that brings.
An actual Avengers status update.
We’re picture locked. We’re just doing the sound mix and finishing effects. In about a month I will actually just push it away from me and die of old age.
As he leaves, we ask if a Dr. Horrible 2 come after The Avengers.
That’s the plan. We plan to be working on it this summer.