A long-delayed trip

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A long-delayed trip

Fran Kranz talks about taking the highway to horror in The Cabin in the Woods

By (New York Times Syndicate)

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Published: Tue 17 Apr 2012, 3:29 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 9:53 PM

A great many people have been waiting a very, very long time for The Cabin in the Woods, a collaboration between Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003) mastermind Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, a writer for that show and also for Lost (2004-2010) and Cloverfield (2008). Fran Kranz, who stars in the horror movie, is one of those people.

“I can’t even tell you how excited I am that it’s finally opened,” Kranz says. “It’s all very surreal, because it’s a long, long time ago that we filmed it. We shot this in 2009, and it was the best opportunity I had at that time. So to see it go away was discouraging, because I thought that it’d be very good for me and do big things for my career.

“Now, to see it coming back, and to know that there’s good response percolating, it’s great,” he continues. “I’m reading about it online, people are tweeting about it, people are getting in touch with me. It screened at South by Southwest and went over really well. So now it’s really happening and it’s exciting because, for so long, just to protect my own sanity, I had to kind of forget Cabin and say, ‘When it comes out, great.’

“I had to focus on the next things, on my career,” Kranz says. “I couldn’t just rely on this movie I’d made years ago. Now anything that comes from Cabin is an added bonus, but I always knew that it’d be an awesome, fun, entertaining movie that audiences would eat up and probably want to see multiple times.’’

Horror comes calling

Kranz is a 30-year-old from California. He notched small roles in such films and television shows as Frasier (1998), Donnie Darko (2000), Training Day (2001), The Village (2004), Rise: Blood Hunter (2007) and Private Practice (2008) before landing the role for which he’s best known, as the snarky scientist Topher Brink on the sci-fi show Dollhouse (2009-2010).

Kranz won his role in The Cabin in the Woods thanks to his work on Dollhouse, which was created and produced by Whedon. In fact, Kranz shot The Cabin in the Woods while Dollhouse was still on the air.

Kranz waxes enthusiastic about The Cabin in the Woods which he describes as “much, much more’’ than an ordinary horror movie.

“I read the script and I didn’t walk away thinking, ‘That’s a great horror film,’” he says. “I walked away thinking, ‘That’s a great film.’ To me it’s action, science fiction, horror, and it was funny and scary and out there. There are heroic characters and despicable characters. There are endless amounts of monsters. There’s humour.

“It’s not just a subversive horror film,” he continues. “It’s a combination of all kinds of horror films and just films in general. I’d never really read such a wildly creative script. It was all over the place, but also incredibly tight and well-structured, so I was blown away by it.

“Then, not to give too much away, but I get to show two different sides of my character, Marty,” Kranz adds. “As an actor, I love diversity. The actors I respect are the ones who disappear from role to role. Marty begins as one thing, but there’s this wonderful transition that allows me to show more colours. It’s the same person, but I get to show a different side of him and show a different side of my acting ability, which I don’t normally get to do.

“For me it was the perfect opportunity.”

Many horror fans are calling The Cabin in the Woods “a Joss Whedon film,” and it is – to a certain extent. Whedon co-wrote and co-produced it, and was on set nearly every day. However, it was Goddard who directed it, in addition to co-writing and co-producing it with Whedon.

“On set Drew was the guy,” Kranz recalls. “If I had questions, I went to Drew. He was definitely our leader. His passion for films was so contagious that you were drawn to him. Joss definitely respected that Drew was the director. He’d be behind Drew at the monitor, but Drew was No. 1 of the crew.

“There’d be moments when Drew would call, ‘Cut,’ and say, ‘No, this is how zombies eat people,’” the actor continues, “then get down on the ground and start eating intestines himself, just to make people understand how it was done. He was really in it. He was covered in blood just like the rest of us.”

Broadway calling

Beyond The Cabin in the Woods, Kranz has completed several upcoming projects. He co-stars in the indie films Putzel and Lust for Love, both of which are in postproduction and seeking distributors, and also in Much Ado About Nothing, a modern take on the Shakespeare tale adapted – and directed in secret at his house – by Joss Whedon.

Most immediately relevant, however, is Death of a Salesman, currently running on Broadway. Kranz plays Bernard opposite Hoffman as Willy Loman, Andrew Garfield as Biff, Linda Emond as Linda and John Glover as Uncle Ben.

It may seem odd that a man with Dollhouse and The Cabin in the Woods on his CV should be on Broadway in what many consider to be the greatest American play, but Kranz is no stranger to the stage. He studied acting at Yale, appearing in numerous productions there, and in 2010 starred in the Off-Broadway show Bachelorette.

“When I did Bachelorette, I couldn’t believe it had been such a long time since I’d been on stage,” Kranz says. “It had been five or six years. Once I was up there, I realised how much this all means to me and how much I love it. It’s why and how I fell in love with acting in the first place, doing theatre in high school and at college.

“It took longer than I was hoping it would to do another show after Bachelorette,” he continues, “but this was worth the wait. Miller saw things in his own day that are only worse and more prevalent now, in terms of the obsession of being known and seeming rather than being. There’s this emphasis that Willy has on appearance and being well-liked. That’s what he thinks is most valuable, not the actual process of getting there. I see that everywhere today.

“You also have everything going on right now with the economy, with people at Zucotti Park, the 1 per cent,” Kranz continues, “but I think the obsession with being known is what’s most timely. I don’t think, in Miller’s day, it could be nearly as much of the social landscape as it is now, because now everything is so accessible. You have Facebook, you have the obsession with celebrity culture ... It was all just beginning back when Miller wrote Salesman. So Miller saw the direction in which America was going, and he was very prophetic.

“If anything, I’m afraid Salesman will just become even timelier.” Ian Spelling,



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