Jacob Vargas interview

Jacob Vargas interview

Jacob Vargas is tongue-tied. “This is a sequel to a remake that has nothing to do with the original or its sequel or the remake…or anything.” What he’s trying to say is The Hills Have Eyes 2 has nothing to do with the 1977 version of Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes or its 1985 sequel, The Hills Have Eyes Part 2. It also doesn’t have too much to do with last year’s remake. This film, though, was written by Craven and his son, Jonathan, and picks up where the remake left off. Vargas assures the uninitiated, “The movie stands out on its own and you can see this one without having seen the first one.” The Mexican-born, California-raised actor, 35, plays PFC “Crank” in the film, but you may recognize him from Traffic, Bobby, Jarhead or even Next Friday. He very recently sat down with Pit correspondent Paul Salfen for an interview.

Being in a horror movie was always a dream of yours, right?
Jacob Vargas Yeah. I grew up on horror movies. I used to cut off my pants, go barefoot and shirtless in the backyard like The Wolf Man. In my teens, my brother had a car and we’d all get in and one person would pay and let everyone else in through the back and we’d watch all the horror movies like Friday The 13th, Halloween and even Parasite with Demi Moore. I kept those 3-D glasses and kept going back with them. When you’re a kid, you don’t make judgments on films. If it scares the crap out of you, it’s great. I love the adrenaline rush you get and being scared, but being able to laugh about it later. The scariest movie for me when I was a kid was The Road Warrior, which wasn’t really a horror movie. There’s one scene where I actually peed my pants. When the mowhawk guy jumps out at the kid with the boomerang. I kept watching, though, to the end. I’ve always loved horror movies and being scared. I’ve been acting since I was 12 years old and I wanted to do a horror movie. Now horror movies are getting better, so it’s a good time to do it.

What was it like working with Wes and Jonathan Craven?
Jonathan Craven is a freak. We would have conversations and we would always try to one-up each other to see how low we could get and he would always win. He’d scrape the crap at the bottom of the barrel to where I’d go, “Alright, that’s enough”. You know, stuff with babies’ umbilical cords and stuff. It was just creepy the way he thinks.

Wes was cool. I always envisioned this creepy-looking guy like Stephen King. He’s clean-cut, well put-together and looks like a grandfather that would take his grandkids to the park and feed the pigeons – and then stab them. No, it was even creepier that he wasn’t creepy. You’re thinking, “There’s something behind those eyes."

Would you want to continue in the genre after your experience on this film?
Oh, yeah. I want to bring a Latin horror movie to the screen. In Latin culture, we grew up with La Llorona [translated: “the crying woman”], the weeping woman who drowned children. My mom would tell me if we misbehaved, she would come and get us. It was cruel, but it worked. We also have the Chupacabra [“translated: “goat sucker”], but that one didn’t scare me as bad because I’m not livestock. I’d love to do La Llorona.

So shooting in Morocco wasn’t as exciting as it sounded?
No. Everybody got sick. I’ve heard great stories about Morocco, but we weren’t wherever they were talking about. We shot right in the middle of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month. Most of the crew members were fasting from sunup to sundown and we’d feel bad eating sandwiches and asking for Gatorade, but there was no fast food, no restaurants open, no Starbucks, no internet café. It was bare bones. When we did eat, we’d get sick. We got what we’d call “the zots”, where you lose control over all of your bodily functions and you’re running to the bathroom every five minutes. One guy lost fifteen pounds in three weeks. He left with muscle and ended up looking like a crackhead – like Pookie from New Jack City.

That must have, er, messed with the shooting process.
People were shitting everywhere. There’s even a scene that involves shit. It’s a great scene. You’ll see. You can never go wrong with a good shit scene. You know when you get the zots, it’s hard to be proper and do your scenes. You’d go [makes flatulence sound], “Oh sorry, man.” And then it got to the point where it was so toxic and so foul that we would have contests and then you’d start to recognize the smells and you’d know who did it. Even the girls got in on it. Girls were the worst. It was a mixture of things – I have no idea what was going on there. We were losing our minds. Martin [Weisz, director] even made shirts at the end for the crew that said, “I survived the zots” with a big splatter on it. When you lose control of yourself and you’re shitting and farting everywhere, you’re not yourself anymore. You reveal a lot about yourself when it happens. It’s actually one of Wes’s favorite scenes.


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