Rolling With It: The Anna Hutchison and Kristen Connolly Interview

The leading ladies of The Cabin in the Woods on the genre-bending horror film's casting process and that lost scene with the pterodactyls.

Fred Topelby Fred Topel

 

We still don’t want to spoil any of The Cabin in the Woods for you, but we got to interview the two lovely leading ladies during SXSW. Kristen Connolly and Anna Hutchison play the two girls in a group of five that go for a weekend in a cabin. Connolly is the smart, single Dana and Hutchison is the sexy girlfriend of the Jock. You know the types, and then the genre gets twisted by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard. The gals chatted it up with mild, vague spoilers. So yes, they confirmed it is a horror movie and there are scary things. Total spoiler alert.

 

CraveOnline: So as actors you get this amazing break in this big movie, and then it takes two years to come out. What do you do?

Anna Hutchison: Just keep working. You just keep auditioning and do a couple TV series in the meantime and you just hope that one day people will watch and see this film. You have confidence in Joss and Drew, and we’re lucky that Lionsgate did.

 

What do your agents do during that time?

Anna Hutchison: They’re just like, “Awesome! You’ve done that so now let’s just keep going and keep auditioning for other stuff.”

Kristen Connolly: Then just keep going, yeah. I think with this movie, mostly it’s like you just want people to see it because it’s so good. It is perfect that it ended up with Lionsgate and it’s perfect that it premiered at SXSW. It worked out the way it was supposed to so we’re all very lucky.

 

Did the film still open doors for you? Everyone knew the situation and they could see, “Oh, you’re in that.”

Anna Hutchison: Yes, I think people get excited that you’ve worked with Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon. You’ve done the film so that’s an exciting thing and you do just have to keep auditioning and keep working.

Kristen Connolly: And just trust that it’ll work out the way it’s supposed to.

 

Were you familiar with the conventions of the pure final girl and the not so pure girl? And did you have fun with those?

Anna Hutchison: Oh my gosh, yes. Because I’m not the not so pure girl so to kind of grasp that character and just roll with it was really, really fun.

Kristen Connolly: Yeah, I think they’re archetypes that we all know. These are characters that everybody knows. If you’ve seen one horror movie you kind of know what these things are. So yeah, it was really fun to play them.

 

Well, we think we know them at first.

Anna Hutchison: Exactly. So that was why I think it was even more fun because you know these characters, you’ve watched these films for ages and ages and then you get a chance to play one which is slightly different and it’s created differently.

 

When guys like Joss and Drew love women so much, does that make those archetypes even more sensitive?

Kristen Connolly: Well, yeah, you know that you’re being taken care of. You know that they’re not going to ask you to do something that’s offensive or disrespectful to women. Everything is done with a reason and there’s a thought behind it. They’re really smart and they’re really respectful of women and they write amazing women characters so we were so lucky and so thrilled to do it.

 

Even though nudity can be a fun tradition of horror movies, did they keep it fun and comfortable for you?

Anna Hutchison: Yeah, the set was very respectful. It was a closed set.

 

Are you a fan of horror movies where there are gratuitous naked girls?

Anna Hutchison: I think for this one, you’re told this is your character. So you can either absolutely roll with it or try and buffer away from it. I think it’s a really great role.

Kristen Connolly: Yeah, it’s not a situation where you feel that you’re being taken advantage of. Everything’s done with a reason.

Anna Hutchison: We’re kind of taking this role of “the whore” and embracing it. I think that’s kind of cool. They’re embracing the jock, they’re embracing the scholar, they’re embracing the virgin. Every single one of those, they’re not shying away with little parts and stuff, like oh, we’re going to wuss out here. We’re just going to roll with it.

 

Joss-speak is so unique, is it easy dialogue to deliver?

Anna Hutchison: Oh yeah, I think that translates when you’re watching it. You’re kind of like, “Are those guys just making it up as they go or is that scripted?”

Kristen Connolly: People have asked us already if there was improvisation and there really wasn’t. What you’re seeing is their writing being so good that it feels natural and it comes easily and it’s easy to speak.

 

It’s far more clever than anyone could improv off the top of your head.

Anna Hutchison: Oh no. If you could actually talk like that, that’d be so sweet.

Kristen Connolly: Yeah, I’d be killing all these interviews if Joss and Drew had scripted what I had to say.

Anna Hutchison: Where are they?

 


 

When you first read the script, did you have any sense of where it was going by the end?

Kristen Connolly: No way. I mean, how could you? You know that it’s not going to be a typical horror movie because it’s Joss and Drew and you know that they’re up to something, but I could not believe what was happening at the end of the script. I was totally blown away and was like I have to be a part of this movie.

 

During the premiere screening, did you feel your status change from when it started to when it was over?

Anna Hutchison: No but it was really exciting that everyone enjoyed it. That’s the one thing you can ask for I think. You just keep as you are, but to get that response was really exciting. Plus you kind of feel really happy for Joss and Drew that all the 1200 people there were laughing at their jokes and their creation, that’s exciting.

Kristen Connolly: It was awesome. It was so cool to feel like everybody was so on board with the movie. It was awesome.

 

What was the shoot out in the woods like?

Anna Hutchison: So awesome.

Kristen Connolly: It was great.

Anna Hutchison: And freaky as well.

Kristen Connolly: It was a little scary, yeah, because it’s creepy. And then there are monsters walking around. It’s Vancouver so it’s cold and it’s wet but it’s such a blast. When else do you get to do something like this? We have the best job ever.

Anna Hutchison: Oh my gosh, yeah, and they’re covering you with blood and there’s like the monsters there. “Can you just throw yourself around?” Yes, please. How many times do you want me to do it? Yay, I’ll do it again. Yeah, it was awesome.

 

Are you outdoorsy camping girls?

Anna Hutchison: I’m pretty outdoorsy so I was just gung ho for it. Plus I’d done some stunt training for “Power Rangers” before. So we had a stunt team there and I was like, “You’re not going to be used, babe. I’m going to be doing all of this myself” so yeah, I thought it was really fun.

Kristen Connolly: I have dogs so I like to take them out into the woods but now I’m kind of like [wary], like “Stay close, guys.”

 

Did you each get the roles you went out for? Was it ever switched?

Kristen Connolly: No, I never read for Jules. I went on tape, I was in New York and I went on tape for Dana there. Then I was told that Joss and Drew wanted to meet me so I flew to LA and met with them and I read with Fran [Kranz] because he had been cast already. So actually we read the last scene. We read a scene of the two of us together and I don't know if it was real because most of the scenes that they had sent us were made up. Mine had pterodactyls in it. It was a scene of Dana and Curt running from pterodactyls. I was like, “Whoa, what movie is this?” So then after they offered me the role, they sent me the actual script and I got to read that. I think they called me right after. I was on my way back to the airport and they called me to tell me that I had gotten the part. I was like, “Look, you want me to just say yes right now? I know I want to do it.” But I read the script and I was totally blown away. You came late, right? We were all wondering where Jules was going to be. We were like, “Who’s going to play Jules?” Because it was the four of us and we were all in Vancouver already. And we were like, “Uh, Joss, Drew, do we have a Jules yet?” Then Anna showed up and we were like, “Yes, thank God.”

 

So you did all your own stunts on “Power Rangers?”

Anna Hutchison: No, not on “Power Rangers” but on the Cabin film. On “Power Rangers” they have a whole team of Japanese stuntees. So even guys, but they put on the mask and you’re transformed. I did half of them.

 

So you were itching to do more after that?

Anna Hutchison: Oh yeah, I would love to do more action. It’s just fun.

 

Do kids recognize you from that?

Anna Hutchison: Yeah, every now and then, someone will go, they say to their parents, “I know that one.” Or parents will say, “Oh, I watched your show with my kids.” And go, “Thank you.”

 

What do you have coming up next?

Kristen Connolly: I have a movie called The Bay opening this summer. It’s another Lionsgate feature and Barry Levinson directed it. It’s also really scary but it’s totally different than Cabin so I’m looking forward to that. Then I start shooting House of Cards with Kevin Spacey directed by David Fincher. So that’ll be really awesome.

 

What kind of characters do you get to play in those films?

Kristen Connolly: In The Bay I play a young mom who’s on vacation with her husband and little baby and the baby’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. Things go badly. A lot of things go badly for me in movies. But then House of Cards I play the assistant to a congressman. So it’ll be a nice change of pace, just very exciting to get to do so many different kinds of roles.

 

And Anna?

Anna Hutchison: I’m filming a film in Melbourne right now called Blinder which is about Australian rules football. So it’s really fun. They’ve given me a week off to come here and hang out which is just awesome.

 

What’s Australian rules?

Anna Hutchison: You know gridiron here, or football here? It’s the Australian version of that which is really fun. It’s been fun to learn about. I knew nothing about it to begin with. I think that’s one of the cool things about acting is you constantly get to learn stuff, so it’s cool.

 

Do you play an athlete?

Anna Hutchison: No, maybe next time. It’s kind of a boys arena to play so I was very happy to be involved on the scale I am.

 

Have you been lucky to get to play powerful women?

Anna Hutchison: I think every role you get is going to be a powerful one. As long as you go in with the mindset of yeah, I’m going to make the most of this. So that’s the kind of attitude I take into each role that I play.

Kristen Connolly: Absolutely. You know that if Joss and Drew are writing these roles that they’re going to be strong, awesome women. Earlier this year I got to play Cordelia in King Lear and that was really exciting. You can’t ask for more than that.

 

Even David Fincher too.

Kristen Connolly: I’m so excited. I’m such a fan of his work so I’m really excited.

 

Wouldn’t she have to be tough in the political arena?

Kristen Connolly: Yeah, absolutely. I think even from the little bit of conversation that I’ve had with him about it, it’s a real person. It’s not just some cardboard cutout of a female character. I feel very lucky.

 

Did you always see yourself as powerful?

Anna Hutchison: Yeah, I think you give 100% energy. There are a lot of female roles out there but varying degrees. Some of them will be more vulnerable and you’ll be more vulnerable for, so it is fun when you do get to play the really outgoing strong [ones].

Kristen Connolly: And I think there are different kinds of strength. It doesn’t have to be a Tomb Raider to be a strong powerful woman. People’s strength comes in different forms. Finding that in a role is one of the real exciting fun things about doing what we do.