Max Thieriot talks House at the End of the Street
On September 21st, a new tale of terror starring Jennifer Lawrence, Elisabeth Shue, and Max Thieriot will be released in theaters. House at the End of the Street tells the story of Sara (Shue) and her daughter Elissa (Lawrence) who move into the house of their dreams in a small town. Much to their surprise, the house next door was the scene of two grisly murders.
Years earlier, a daughter killed her parents in the house, leaving her brother Ryan (Thieriot) as the sole survivor. Elissa falls for Ryan and begins seeing him behind her mother’s back, but the closer she gets to him, the more she discovers about his dark past.
Max Thieriot, who plays Ryan, began his career in family-friendly films like The Pacifier and Nancy Drew, and now you can find him in thrillers like My Soul to Take, Chloe, and House at the End of the Street. Don’t expect him to freak out on the scary sets, though! In this interview with The Reel Story, he talks about scary movies sets not being so scary, the evolution of his career, and what scared him as a kid.
You can follow Max on twitter @maxthieriot, and watch the official trailer for House at the End of Street below the interview!
AG: Let’s start with you telling us a little bit about your character, Ryan.
MT: Yeah, of course. So obviously I play Ryan Jacobsen, who is the sole survivor – well, is a survivor, I don’t know if he’s the sole survivor or not, he may not be – of a murder that occurs in his household. His parents were killed. Throughout the movie, you see a lot of different sides of Ryan. You see that he’s passionate, he’s loving, but he has a dark, dark past, and with that, comes a little baggage. He’s interesting. He’s got a lot of layers to him, and that made it a lot of fun and also a challenge to play a character like that. He’s just got so much going on.
AG: Was there any sort of personal connection between you and Ryan, anything you could sort of personally relate to with him?
MT: Personal connections…not really. No, I pretty much just had to do my homework and kind of come up with all of it. I watched a lot of YouTube videos, read a lot of articles, and made kind of a compilation of people who are still alive and people who are not. Also, working with Mark Tonderai, we came up with what we thought would be a good Ryan.
AG: Speaking of research, did you look to any other scary movies or films of the same genre for inspiration for this role?
MT: No, not really. I know a lot of people kind of compare the movie to “Psycho,” I guess, but it’s not. I looked more to some real life characters.
AG: How did the opportunity to take part in this movie arise? How did this project all come together, and how did you decide to take part in it?
MT: This movie was pretty traditional, how it all came about. I got the script, my agent read it, we loved it, and we really wanted to be a part of it. I auditioned for the director, Mark Tonderai, and had a meeting with him. That eventually led to Jen [Jennifer Lawrence] and I reading together in a room with Mark. That was pretty much it.
AG: Mark Tonderai is obviously pretty familiar with the thriller genre. What was it like working with him as a director?
MT: It was great! Mark is awesome, because he’s really, really passionate about the film industry and about directing. He’s just so passionate that he’s got a really great energy. He’s just so enthusiastic about being at work every day and making the best movie possible, so it was cool. We got to kind of collaborate, come up with stuff. He’s open to any changes or suggestions or whatever we kind of thought, but at the same time, he had a very clear vision of what he thought the movie and everything was going to be.
AG: So you started out in more family friendly films (Catch That Kid, The Pacifier, Nancy Drew), and now you’ve kind of started to appear in thrillers (My Soul to Take, Chloe). Are these projects you started looking for? How did you start appearing in these kinds of films as opposed to the ones you started out in?
MT: I guess when I started acting, those were the kind of roles that were available to 12-year-olds. Then, the fact that I’ve done two thriller genre films in the past two years is more a coincidence than anything. I don’t search out to do these types of movies. I choose to do movies that I think are good films, that interest me, that I think are different. My Soul to Take, for me, was a great opportunity to work with Wes Craven, who I think is kind of the master – one of them at least – of the genre. House at the End of the Street, for me, is a very different kind of movie. The character is very different, and it’s a lot more psychological, which I tend to gravitate more towards.
AG: I’ve always imagined that being in a scary movie is really scary. What’s that like? Are there any sleepless nights, or do you get paranoid at all about any bumps in the night while you’re filming or anything like that?
MT: No, I think I shook most of my nightmares when I was younger. Now my bad dreams are about, I don’t know, other stuff. But not really, filming a scary movie isn’t really scary. There are so many technical aspects that you’re trying to get right. Whether it’s make-up stuff, blood, special effects, all of those things that you’re really trying to focus on, and act, everything at the same time, that really, it’s not scary.
AG: So what’s been more difficult for you in your past work? Like, comedy, action, or thrillers? Which one has been the most fun for you?
MT: I guess…that’s pretty difficult. I don’t know, I really enjoy drama stuff a lot. I enjoy comedies, but I don’t really think of myself as being a really funny person. I like dramas and stuff, but I’d say some of the tougher ones that I’ve done would be…I mean, House at the End of the Street was definitely a challenging role. My Soul to Take was also a challenging role, I guess, and I have a couple films coming out that were different for me. They definitely made me really get after it. Foreverland was pretty difficult, and Yellow is another one. (?)
AG: What is the movie that scared you the most growing up?
MT: I’d have to say Chucky.
AG: Oh yeah, that one was pretty scary for me, too.
MT: Yeah, and growing up with an older sister with a lot of dolls didn’t make it any better. I wouldn’t allow any of her dolls to ever face me. Like, if I went into her room, I would turn them all away. I didn’t want to look at any of them, I don’t know, for fear that they might come to life? So Chucky was definitely up there on the list.
AG: Obviously a fear of dolls is rational for growing up in the time that we did, because Chucky was a big hit. Was there anything else that was really scary to you? Did you have a phobia of anything growing up?
MT: You know, I guess that at one point when I was little I was scared of vampires. Now I’m more just sick of them (laughs).
AG: Good point! Well is there anything else you want Houston to know about you or the movie, anything I didn’t touch on you want people to know?
MT: No, I think that’s about it! I’m just excited about this work, excited see what everyone else thinks about it.
AG: All right, well thank you so much for your time, and I’m looking forward to seeing it!
MT: No problem! Take care.