Interview: Greg Dillahunt

Interview: Greg Dillahunt

Actor Greg Dillahunt explains his role as Krug one of cinema’s most vicious villains in 2009’s remake of Wes Craven’s classic of shock cinema The Last House of The Left:

Are you a fan of Wes Craven?
I have always been a huge fan of Wes Craven! He was on my mental checklist of people I wanted to work with.

When did you meet him?
I met him just before we started shooting because he had the last word with casting approvals.

Apart from the opportunity to work with Wes, what else attracted you about this project?
For me, it’s always about the story, regardless of the genre.

And what did you know about Dennis Iliadis?
Not much, but he had seen me in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. I was skeptical about him until I watched Hardcore, which I thought was pretty incredible. He dealt very well with some scenes in that movie that were uncomfortable and disturbing, so I knew he could do this movie. I don’t know what he saw in me to decide I could play Krug, but I’m glad he did!

What is he like as a director?
I think it took us a while to figure each other out, but I really enjoyed working with him. Dennis likes to rehearse, so we did that for a week before shooting, which was a real luxury. He elevated the script and, ultimately, the film.

Did you research serial killers to prepare for the villain you play in The Last House on The Left?
I did. Although in my opinion, Krug is not really a serial killer but what is known as a spree killer.

What is the difference between them?
Well, the spree killer leaves evidence behind because he knows he’s going to get caught and, in a way, even wants it to happen. He is someone who burns bright and fast.

Did you also see the original The Last House on The Left to help you?
I did. I liked it, but I mainly trusted our script to prepare for my role.

How is Krug different in this movie to the villain in the 1972 version?
Times have changed, and I wanted my guy to be more of a rageaholic, without the drug influence. And the father angle is explored further in this movie as well.

Krug must be one of the most horrific characters you have ever played.
Yes, but I also felt sorry for him. I know people who are angry at what life has handed them -- albeit not to that extreme -- and take it out on everyone around them.

And it’s even more tragic here due to the fact that he also has a kid …
And a good kid who, despite Krug, is kind of normal and ultimately does what is right, so it’s tragic that he doesn’t have a proper father.

So, your character is multi-layered then?
That’s what I liked about him. His complexity made my job interesting.

It seems that as an actor you like to challenge yourself with very different roles, going from one extreme to another.
I know, but I thought that’s what we were supposed to do as actors: one day you are the king and the next you are the beggar. I feel a sense of accomplishment if I can pull off a character that is very far from me or from the last character I played. It’s important to me.

When you think of a villain that has impressed you on screen, which film comes to mind?
I really like Terrence Malick’s Badlands because that villain -- a serial killer -- is very interesting.

What was the shoot in South Africa like?
We shot the film for two months there, and it was fun. For me, the most challenging part was staying focused during that time and exercising the right amount of mental stamina.

Which was the toughest scene for you?
It would probably be the assault scene with Sara Paxton, but more from a logistical aspect than an acting one. My main concern was to make sure she was as comfortable as possible, even though what’s going on is terrifying.

And what was the energy on set like, especially since you were working on a horror film with some very intense moments?
We were lucky with this group of people because they were very good-humored, and some fun practical jokes were played!

What makes The Last House on The Left different from other horror movies that are out there?
Some of those films are like video games where you almost root for the killers because they don’t feel real, but this movie is different because you really want the good guys to survive.

Which are your favorite films of the genre?
I enjoy movies like The Exorcist, Rosemary’s Baby or The Changeling.

What kinds of people scare you in real life?
The loud mouth guys don’t scare me, but the ones that are quiet do, because they are like snakes.

The Last House on the Left (Universal Pictures International Entertainment) is released on DVD and Blu-ray 19 Oct

And see our interview with the man behind it all, Wes Craven.

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