Ezra Buzzington interview
Character actor Ezra Buzzington, who appears as the character Goggle in Alexandra Aja's remake of The Hills Have Eyes, has lent his comments to an interview with John Gray in which talks about his experiences on the set of that film as well as past features (including 1999's Fight Club) and upcoming projects. Many thanks to Ezra for his time, and we wish him the very best!
Did you have any second thoughts when you were
offered the remake, or did you accept it straight
Straight away. But, if I heard that Alexandre Aja
was directing a remake of Mary Poppins I'd accept
that straight away too. When I first read that Alex
was directing Hills, I contacted my representation
and made sure my name was in the mix. And I hadn't the
slightest concern about the quality of the project.
The guy's a freaking genius in my book. I'd seen
Haute Tension at Sundance the year before and was
still breathless from its relentlessness. In spite of
any script concerns anyone might have with that film,
the pure, unapologetic evil of the antagonist was so
in your face that I thought, anybody who's got the
balls to put that kind of energy on the screen is
somebody I gotta get to know. And, I figured, with
Wes's original script as a basis, and Alex and
Gregory's modern re-visioning, it was a no-brainer.
You always wonder, of course. Even the best mix of
director/script/actor doesn't guarantee a good
product. But, when I read the script, I was thrilled
to see that my faith hadn't been misplaced. They were
loyal to the original in the ways that mattered most
and altered it in the places most appropriate for our
Are you a fan of the original?
Yeah. I remember watching it the first time
through my fingers and shrieking with delight several
times. But, I'm really glad it was remade. I don't
feel that a good remake, by any means replaces or
usurps the original. I'm from the theater. And I can't
imagine a play being done only once and never
re-mounted. In a lot of ways I feel the same about
film. But not all films. It depends on why the remake
is being done in the first place. It should be on a
case by case basis. And that case should be determined
by the artists who are involved. Not just the studio.
Especially not just the studio. Updating simply for
the sake of updating or trying to make a quick buck
off a franchise name is serving neither the art form,
nor the remake, nor the original. But with Hills it
was blatantly clear to me that all parties involved,
from production on down really wanted to make a good
film in a demanding and tricky genre. Why not go back
in time and re-visit one of the seminal films of that
specific genre? I stop short at saying it's an homage.
Because it's not. It's definitely its own film that
stand alone. But, Alex and Gregory always knew what to
tweak and what to leave the hell alone. So, it's an
homage in that they always held the original in the
How do you think the remake holds up to the
It's more frightening in different ways. The basic
terror (surviving in an unknown place) is still there
obviously. But it's shaded differently now. As it
should be. The psychology of survival/killing is more
upfront with this one. Primarily because we get to
know the characters a lot better. And that makes it
far more disturbing to witness the horror as they go
through it. And far more fun. There's also the larger
terror of what caused all this to happen in the first
place? What was our part in the creation of this?
Hills 2006 walks the "who's-really-the-bad-guy-here?" line better than the
original, I think. There's more wallop behind why the
Hill People are the way they are. Then there's the
technical improvements our age brings to the mix.
There can only be improvement in that department, I
think. But again, this takes nothing away from the
How was it working with Alexandre Aja?
I love the French. They get me. And I get them.
There is an ease to both Alex and Gregory that I found
supportive and comfortable. Making this film was a
mammoth task : 14 different languages spoken on set,
unbelievably nasty wind/dust storms, hot freaking
beyond-your-wildest-fantasies day shoots in the Sahara
freaking desert, etc, and to have such calming,
soothing (for me anyway) influences at the top of the
food chain only goes to help build a more creative
environment. It's difficult to find directors who are
both text-loyal and open to improv. Directors who are
known for casting well are also known for this
tendency. Now, if he'd just quit calling me Google,
I'd be happy.
Did you work with Wes Craven at all?
Sadly, no. But he owes me a beer.
You also got a great cast here to work with. Ted
Levine, Emilie DeRaven, Michael Bailey Smith, Billy
Drago etc....Did you all hang out much?
What's most interesting to me about your question
is who hung out with whom. Almost immediately it
happened that at the hotel in Ouarzazate the clans
would stick pretty much to each other. All the actors
were charming, sweet, open, gracious and exceedingly
professional. As was the crew. (I'm not blowing smoke.
I simply wouldn't say anything if it had been
otherwise.) And there were times when beers were
shared by everybody. But mostly the Hill People
grouped together and the Carters grouped together.
There was also so much to shoot that there was
relatively little down time for most of the actors. My
favorite memory is at the hotel: Robert Joy (Lizard),
Michael Bailey Smith (Pluto), Billy Drago (Jupiter)
and myself were finishing up a lovely dinner outside
by the pool. (Sweet!) Evening was coming on and we
started talking horror. About then, dozens of bats
came out, as they do every night, and swooped the area
clean of flying bugs. They did that for hours coming
closer and closer to our table with each swoop. At
times you could feel the wake of their wings as they
zipped passed you. That's horror heaven to me. Ted
also helped me not get lost in Casablanca. Big Bob
Carter is the guy you want watching your back at a
third world airport, believe me.
Is there much to do in Morocco?
Yeah, a helluva lot. But I couldn't do any of it
because of the schedule. I plan to go back as soon as
possible. I sure see why cinematographers love the
light there. It's very special. It makes things look
as if they're lit from within.
Your character of 'Goggle' is not in the original,
but I would have to guess he is a representation of
the character Mercury from the original, is that
Yes. Goggle is the watchdog of the Hill People. He
likes to traverse the rocks and is very dog-like in
his mannerisms and vocalization. Being nearly
featureless, he's hard to read. Definitely a loner but
in need of the group dynamic. He was the youngest till
Ruby came along. His job is to protect, scout and
advise Jupiter on escape and attack routes. Mercury
was played by an uncredited Peter Locke (Producer on
both pics.) While I'd met Peter at the original
audition, I didn't see him again until my first day
shooting in full make-up. At lunch I hunkered down at
his table and was talking with everybody. I pretended
to not know who he was. Someone asked about Goggle and
I said : "Goggle is based on Mercury in the original
film. But, Man, whoever the hell they got for that
part totally sucked. So I've go nowhere to go but up."
I had him going for awhile. Then he fired me.
There’s a line in the film where one of the
characters says, “You did this to us. You made us what
we are." Is there a strong political context in this
That's one of the shades of terror I was trying to
get to earlier. I think, because there's a clearer
connection in this version between the Hill People and
their origin there's a more subliminal horror that
encompasses the entire film. And the Carter Clan are a
little less guiltless in a way. I'm not saying they
"deserve" what they go through, but, as I've said
before, on one level, they have a direct
responsibility for the Hill People's current state. We
all do. What we create, what we do, what we are
currently doing in this world will, undoubtedly, be
brought back upon us. In spades. I don't think that
this socio-political viewpoint is the overriding point
of the new "Hills", but it's definitely there. And it
makes it even more horrifying to me. The Hill People
are Americans too, you know. They're not just
cardboard cutouts representing unbridled evil. They're
SURVIVING. As the Carters soon discover they need to
do themselves. Some are simply better at it than
others. And hey, that's the American way, isn't it?
The Hill People are the Cunninghams from "Happy Days"
but with a twist: The Hill People are more honest
about their cannibalism.
Do you have any other projects happening right
Just finished working with David Fincher again.
Fight Club was my first film in LA and he found a
spot for me in his new film Zodiac. I'm a kind of
nerdy, nervous, speck of a man who thinks he knows who
the Zodiac is. Next month I get to work with
Christopher Nolan (Memento, Batman Begins) on The
Prestige. I'm a guy who guides one of the leads
(can't say who) toward a new "wonder of the age". I
just finished locking picture on my first feature as a
director. It's a "fockumentary" chronicling the
inexplicable rise and predictable fall of a
middle-aged boy band. It's called Outta Sync. And there's other stuff in
the works I'm not at liberty to divulge. Watch this
space: www.ezrabuzzington.com. Oh, and check out
www.goggleseyes.com. It's a work in progress.
So are you game to stay in this genre for the
moment? Any buzz on a Hills sequel?
I don't plan to stick to any single genre. But I
now am in love with horror. I'm blessed and cursed in
that I change with every role. Blessed in that that's
excactexactlyind of actor I strive to be. Cursed in
that it's sometimes difficult to sell yourself to the
peeps with the power. "Who is he again? Oh, that guy?
Nah. He looks all wrong for this. Oh, he did that too?
Still not right. Wait, THAT was him as well? Huh. I'm
confused. Pass". You get the idea. I've been told that
I have a face that's worth either millions or nothing.
We'll see how that all shakes out. The only thing I
definitely want to do is work with good directors. And
I've been incredibly lucky thus far. Buzz on a sequel?
Why do you ask, have you heard something? I'm
What are your top five horror films?
In no particular order:
And there are others.
Oh, and The Hills Have Eyes.
THE HILLS HAVE EYES REVIEW --EXCLUSIVE!
THE HILLS HAVE EYES OFFICIAL SITE
DISCUSS ON GUTS AND GORY
ALEXANDRE AJA INTERVIEW
MICHAEL BAILEY SMITH INTERVIEW
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