'Don't Breathe' Stars Talk About Needing a "Safe" Word with Stephen Lang

'Don't Breathe' Stars Talk About Needing a "Safe" Word with Stephen Lang

Mar 23, 2016

Dylan Minnette Goosebumps
[Dylan Minnette in Goosebumps]

Starring in a horror movie is a rite of passage for young actors, but once they've made a few they tend to step away from the genre for a while lest they become typecast. You might think that would be the case for the young stars of Fede Alvarez's new horror movie, Don't Breathe. Jane Levy made a big splash in the horror world when she starred in Evil Dead. Dylan Minnette cut some great horror teeth in Let Me In. Daniel Zovatto's had leading spots in both Beneath and It Follows.

It's a testament, then, to what Alvarez was planning for Don't Breathe that the trio all eagerly signed up for the movie despite already having checked some major horror movie boxes off of their filmographies. 

We spoke to Minette and Zovatto after the movie's world premiere at SXSW and they told us about the easy choice to join the movie and the surprises that came once they got on set. As it turns out, Stephen Lang, who plays the shockingly hardcore blind man standing between the teens and a fat stack of cash, takes things very seriously on set.

[Note: Since no images from Don't Breathe have been released online yet, we'll be using images from other movies.]


On making multiple horror movies:

Daniel Zovatto: "I've been really lucky. In a way you try to pick them, but I'm not in a position to pick what kind of movies I get. But you do get to control what kind of movies you go in for and a lot of that has to do with what kind of team is behind it. The team, the feeling you get when you read it, and the character are the three things I care about. And for this it was easy to jump in."

Dylan Minnette: "Same. If I'm going to do more horror it has not just be a great script but it has to be a character I've never played before. So I may not want to play an Alex again, but if a character comes along that's like [Zovatto's character] or is the character who is the threat, I'd do it in a heartbeat. It's a fun genre to do."

[Daniel Zovatto in It Follows]

On the surprising thing they learned about real home invasions:

Minnette: "It was less movies and more things like, watch this video of people breaking into a home, or watch this documentary about pre-teens in jail. Real stuff, not movies. We learned an interesting fact that most of the time when people rob a house and there is someone in the house they find poop on the floor. People literally shit themselves when they rob a house and someone is in it. So he gave us things like that, lots of insights into real people who do this stuff."


On Stephen Lang taking the action very seriously:

Minnette: "Jane had to deal with him first."

Zovatto: "I remember Jane coming up and saying things like 'He is very, very, very violent and he really pulled my hair.' And for me that's really cool because I knew he was going to have to beat me up. And then it was Dylan's turn, they were doing a scene with the gun, and I remember you came back and all of this [points to jaw] was sore as shit."

Minnette: "Oh yeah! That was our first thing. You're right!"

Zovatto: "He had to keep shoving the gun into him, and I remember Dylan saying 'Dude, my jaw is wrecked.'"

Minnette: "My jaw really did hurt."

Stephen Lang, Avatar
[Stephen Lang in Avatar]

On needing a safe word for the action scenes:

Minnette: "There was a safe word, but we only had to actually stop, I think, one time. I was like 'I'm so glad we're done' and then they go, 'Okay, we're going to pick this up tomorrow' and I just groaned. It was worth it because that whole shot is amazing, I love it. But that first experience was rough. I was sitting there like, 'Oh God, what am I doing?'"

Zovatto: "For me film needs to be real. If you're not doing real stuff... if you're doing a piano movie, I want to see you playing piano. That physicality that he provides, and that we reciprocated because we do push back, makes it even more real for the viewers. He is great at doing that. He is a strong, buff dude.

"I was telling Dylan earlier that I got lost watching the movie. I'm in the movie, and even I got lost. It was like I was watching Alex and Rocky and the Blind Man, not Dylan and Jane and Slang."


Wait, what? Stephen Lang likes to be called Slang?

Zovatto: "Oh, you gotta call him Slang."

Minnette: "You've got to."

Zovatto: "It ain't Stephen, it's Slang. For real. If you call him Stephen, he'll be like 'It's Slang.'"

Minnette: "There is one scene that, watching it, I was hoping would be a big holy s--t moment, because you don't know what's going to happen, and it works so well. I was watching it, leaning forward, and the acting is so unbelievably good it really affected me."

Zovatto: "It's not acting, dude. He was actually doing that to me."

Don't Breathe hits theaters on August 26, 2016. Read our interview with director Fede Alvarez here.


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