HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET
Relativity Media, Zed Filmworks, A Bigger Boat, FilmNation Entertainment's Horror, Thriller directed by Mark Tonderai starring Jennifer Lawrence "Elissa", Max Thieriot "Ryan", Elisabeth Shue "Sarah", Gil Bellows "Weaver", Eva Link "Carrie Anne", Nolan Gerard Funk "Tyler", Allie MacDonald "Jillian", Jordan Hayes "Penn State Carrie Anne", Krista Bridges "Mary Jacobson", James Thomas "Ben Reynolds", Hailee Sisera "Caitlin", Craig Eldridge "Dan Gifford", Jonathan Higgins "Dr. Kohler". Screenplay by: David Loucka. Story by: Jonathan Mostow. Produced by: Aaron Ryder, Peter Block, Hal Lieberman. Original Music by: Theo Green. Music Supervisor: Steve Linsey. RELEASE DATE: 21 SEPTEMBER 2012 (USA)
The role was challenging for the young actor, both physically and emotionally. Like Lawrence, he found the movie’s intensely physical fight sequences demanding. “It’s hard to get to where you need to be in those moments,” he says. “Your emotions have to be ridiculously high. I want it to be as real as possible, so I tell people, just hit me, just kick me; it’s not going to hurt. It needs to look real. Convincing people that it’s okay to go a little bit further can be one of the most difficult parts.” That level of commitment impressed Thieriot’s cast mates. “Max is a wonderful actor,” Lawrence says. “He can just turn it on and off. It was eerie to watch the light in his eyes change the instant Mark called action. All of a sudden he was a different person. It never felt like acting with Max.” Gil Bellows, an Emmy®-winning producer as well as a veteran actor, joined the cast as local law enforcement officer Bill Weaver, whose past relationship with Ryan colors his budding romance with Sarah. “Gil has that cop masculinity, with a bit of darkness underneath,” says Shue. “That kind of mystery is really interesting.” Weaver and Sarah meet when she tries to get information about Ryan’s past. They have an immediate spark. “Bill is the friendly face of law enforcement in town,” says Bellows. “Elisabeth Shue is a bundle of positivity and in this world if you’re a very positive person people seem to think that you must be crazy. I happen to think it’s just great and really good for everybody else’s general morale. I’ve always liked her from a distance and now I’ve had a chance to work with her up close and personal and she’s definitely a super cool lady.” The police officer has protective feelings toward Ryan that have their roots deep in the past. “There’s a lot of history that goes back to well before Sarah and Elissa come to town and my character is a part of that,” he says. “They are struggling to understand the world that they’ve just stepped into. Part of what I do is give them some context because most of the townspeople are extremely judgmental about Ryan. I offer a slightly different perspective. “A lot of bad things happened a long time ago,” says Bellows. “Weaver believes that the boy isn’t responsible. He sees both sides of who Ryan is. You get to see both sides of all the characters, really. We’re playing within a genre where people make snap judgments about whether this is a good character or this is a bad character. I think this film does a really good job of playing against that.” The filmmakers are particularly proud to have discovered Eva Link, a gifted young actress from Ottawa, and given her a small but crucial role in her first film. “When you go into smaller cities, you never quite know how deep the talent pool is going to be,” says Ryder. “We were shocked to see how talented this young girl is. I don’t think she had done much more than a high school play, but she’s a real talent. She may take Hollywood by storm.” In the end, the producer says, the entire cast’s commitment was critical to the success of the film. “Everybody was working towards the same endgame,” says Ryder. “We had a relatively short period to shoot and it was a tricky three-point balance. They had to be really dedicated to making the days, to finding the best parts of the characters, and making a fun movie. I think that we achieved that and in large part it’s because of these actors and the way they meshed together and took the job really seriously.”
HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET Relativity Media, Zed Filmworks, A Bigger Boat, FilmNation Entertainment's Horror, Thriller directed by Mark Tonderai.
Jennifer Lawrence stars in Relativity Media’s edge-of-your seat thriller House at the End of the Street.
© Copyright 2012 Relativity Media. All Rights Reserved.
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"House At The End Of The Street"
"Jennifer Lawrence On The Story"
"Jennifer Lawrence On House At The End Of The Street"
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"All You've Got To Do Is Fall In Love"
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"Max Thieriot on Jennifer Lawrence"
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SAFE HAVEN Nicholas Sparks Productions, Relativity Media, Temple Hill Entertainment's Romance directed by Lasse Hallström starring Josh Duhamel.
21 AND OVER Mandeville Films, Relativity Media, SkyLand Entertainment, Virgin Produced's Comedy directed by Jon Lucas & Scott Moore starring Justin Chon.
FILLING THE HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET: The filmmakers scored a major casting coup when they selected Jennifer Lawrence to play Elissa. Lawrence, whose career has skyrocketed in the past two years, had already starred in the searing independent drama Winter’s Bone, for which she would be nominated for an Oscar at age 20. But she had not yet been cast in the role that would propel her to stardom, Katniss Everdeen in the action blockbuster The Hunger Games. Still, according to Aaron Ryder, her potential was unmistakable. “The minute you meet Jennifer, you realize this girl has a very long career ahead of her,” says the producer. “She’s incredibly talented. Her work in Winter’s Bone was one of the best performances I’d seen in a long time. She walked into my office on a general meeting before we even read the script and I couldn’t figure out if she was 30 years old or 18. She has a maturity and wisdom about her that is rare. Some people are just naturally confident, and that’s certainly the case with Jen. She’s exceptional. She’s a superstar in the making and we’re lucky to have her.” The filmmakers cast Lawrence shortly after the release of Winter’s Bone. “With The Hunger Games, she became huge,” says Tonderai. “But at the time, it was a risk. It obviously paid off. Jen seized the part and made a difficult, complicated role her own.” Lawrence had only a handful of films under her belt at the time and the idea of taking on a horror-thriller for the first time was immensely appealing. “This was something completely different for me,” says Lawrence. “I had never worked in this genre before and it was an amazing experience to do something so completely out of my comfort zone. But I really liked that it wasn’t about scaring people with blood or what I think of as ‘boo’ elements. The characters are very well developed and you find yourself getting scared for them in a personal way. You are both invested in the love story and afraid for Elissa. It is a very sophisticated way to frighten an audience.” The actress says she also responded to the way the script deals with the idea of how we make choices about other people. “We constantly tell ourselves to listen to our instincts,” Lawrence says. “But what if you go out on a limb listening to your gut and then you end up being wrong? There are so many twists in the characters that you never know who you can trust. You spend the entire movie wondering. “I love horror movies,” she admits. “I love scary shows like ‘Celebrity Ghost Story,’ which is not supposed to be scary but scares me to death. I’m like a five-year-old. My imagination is out of control.” She credits Tonderai with making the fear factor real and visceral by keeping the focus on good storytelling and realistic characters. “I had faith in Mark,” she says. “He always saw it as a character piece, with no cheap scares, just humans being frightened, because we can’t trust ourselves. He’s the most inspiring person I’ve worked with. He really cares about what he does, which you see in things like the bible. He broke down the entire movie, including each character. It helped us get a better perspective on everything.” The role, with its complicated action scenes, required more physicality than the young actress had ever handled before. “There was a lot more thinking on my feet than I had done previously,” Lawrence says. “In a big emotional scene with another actor, we can always rehearse it. But how in the world are you going to rehearse running upstairs, screaming and crawling on the floor? I would sit there before Mark called action playing it over and over in my head, but it could turn out completely different in the moment. You don’t know what can happen until you do it.” Because her character is a budding musician, Lawrence got the opportunity to return to a passion she had abandoned. “I love to sing,” she says. “But once I became an actress, I shut it all down. It was so much fun to go to the studio with Benji Hughes and Steve Lindsey, who are absolute geniuses. We recorded music for hours and hours.” To play Elissa’s errant mother, Sarah, the filmmakers brought in another Academy Award®-nominated actress, Elisabeth Shue. “Elisabeth is a great actress and a really special person as well,” says Tonderai. “She’s just quality. It was also great getting to work with someone I had a crush on as a kid.” The director says the two women’s real life experiences added a unique dimension to their characters’ mother-daughter relationship. “Elisabeth became a huge star at a very young age,” he says. “She was about 19 when she made The Karate Kid and it had a massive impact. Jennifer was about the same age when she made Winter’s Bone. When we were shooting, she was just starting to experience fame. I felt we’d be able to get that kind of frisson between mother and daughter.” House at the End of the Street was a reunion for Shue and Ryder, who had previously worked together on the 2008 off-beat comedy, Hamlet 2. “Elisabeth is fantastic,” says Ryder. “She’s a real pro. She’s one of those actresses who make your movie better just by being in it. She’s sexy and talented, and you like her the minute she comes on the screen. Every time I see her in front of the camera, I think, that’s a movie star. She just has that glow about her.” Sarah and Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence) have reversed mother and daughter roles at the beginning of the film and Sarah is struggling to regain authority. “Sarah is newly divorced with a 17-year-old daughter,” explains Shue. “She used to be a rock ‘n’ roll mom, following her husband from show to show, but now she and her daughter have moved to a small town looking for a fresh start. Sarah has not been a hands-on mother. She’s less mature in many ways than her daughter, who pretty much takes care of her, but the challenges she faces force her to become a mother in the end. “It’s an unusual dynamic and one of the reasons I really liked the script,” adds the actress. “Jen was perfect in the role because as a person she has such a strong presence that it was easy for me to feel a little immature around her.” The script’s unexpected twists and turns fill the movie with a pervasive sense of dread and ratchet up the suspense, according to Shue. “I can usually see them coming, but I was surprised while reading it. What’s great is that they are not just there for shock value. They are grounded in the story, which makes it all the more haunting and unnerving. The movie is tense and scary from the moment it begins. The girl who stabbed her parents is believed to be living in the woods and from the beginning of the film, there’s this feeling that there is somebody watching. That element pervades the atmosphere and elevates the tension.” The film is both smart and scary, says Shue, a rare combination in her experience. “I think the audience will be scared from the moment they sit down in their seats all the way through to the end of the film. They’ll be engaged by the psychologically complexities and then terrified because there are some truly scary moments that will have them jumping out of their seats.” Shue says that at this point in her career, the people she will be working with are usually the deciding factor in accepting a role that will take her away from her family for weeks or months. “Mark is such an extraordinary director. He’s so warm and, as a former actor, he understands what we’re going through and makes sure everybody is very comfortable on the set. He has injected a lot of style into the film, but it’s never overwhelming. The camera is not the most important character, but it does work in a really creepy way at times.” After surviving early success herself, the actress has a great appreciation for her young co-stars’ talent and tenacity. “I just have so much respect for both Jen and Max Thieriot—for the depth of their talent, as well as their lack of ego. I had seen Winter’s Bone, so I knew what an extraordinary actress Jen was. There’s a real stillness to her performance that is electrifying, especially in the moments of fear and panic. She’s like a colt, feeling her legs for the first time, but she also has a maturity that is surprising for somebody her age. She’s very comfortable in her own skin.” Shue’s dedication and professionalism were an inspiration to Lawrence. “Working with Elisabeth was unbelievable,” she says. “She asks real questions that get you thinking. It was a very intense shoot and sometimes I was on autopilot, but she would stop and ask why we would do things. She always made good, thoughtful points.” As Ryan, Elissa’s love interest in the film, Max Thieriot reminded Lawrence of an acting legend and one of her favorite stars. “He’s like Paul Newman reincarnated,” she says. “And it takes a lot for me to say that—I love Paul Newman. He is good-looking and immensely talented, but he’s also like a cowboy. He doesn’t seem to care. He sits in his trailer and listens to country music and chews tobacco. It’s sexy.” In an intense and complex role, Thieriot managed to keep things relaxed on set while delivering a riveting and nuanced performance, says Tonderai. “Max was very loose and very, very funny,” says the director. “His performance has such beautiful shadings to it. Watching it a second time, knowing what you know about the story, illuminates all kinds of subtleties that may have gone unnoticed during a first viewing. It has been said that filmmaking is 90 percent casting and it’s absolutely true. This is an incredibly difficult part and I can’t imagine anyone who could have done it better.” Thieriot says the script set his mind racing on the first read. “I was shocked and surprised by the originality of the story. The twists and madness of it really caught my imagination. I never saw the ending coming, and I can usually predict how a script will end.” Playing Ryan was an opportunity to create a unique character, unlike any Thieriot had played before. “He is really intense,” the actor says. “He has a lot of stuff going on and it is really exciting to play someone out of the ordinary. Mark worked with me on a deeper level than I think most directors do and that definitely helped. “Clearly, Ryan had a traumatic and tormented childhood that transformed him into someone outside the norm,” Thieriot continues. “He lives as a hermit because he knows he is misunderstood and looked down upon. When Elissa comes into his life, she sees him in a different light. That changes something in him. It exposes a part of him that even he didn’t know was there.” Ryan is hiding some devastating secrets about his past, but the director and the actor agreed that he is also living his life without any telltale shadows of guilt. “He isn’t consciously concealing anything,” says Thieriot. “It all seems normal to him and that’s how I played it moment to moment.” Tonderai’s bible was a real help in establishing the character, he says. “You don’t often get to work with a director who goes that extra mile. Mark is so committed to the work. You can’t help but be drawn to his passion and enthusiasm.” Although he was not familiar with Lawrence’s work before the film, Thieriot says it was clear from day one that she had what it takes to become a star. “When we began this film, she hadn’t had any of the success she had now,” he notes. “She had done some television and a couple of independent films. The Hunger Games was still just a book. But Jennifer’s acting talent just seems to come naturally to her.”
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