CS Interview: Tobin Bell on retro horror pic The Call
Just in time for the film’s digital debut, ComingSoon.net got the opportunity to chat with horror genre legend Tobin Bell (Saw franchise, Belzebuth) to discuss his role in the retro-vibe genre pic The Call in which he stars alongside fellow genre legend Lin Shaye (Insidious franchise)!
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ComingSoon.net: So this film is just about as fun as Belzebuth, it’s got a nice retro vibe to it, but what about The Call really drew you to the project?
Tobin Bell: It was the long scene with the kids. You do things for different reasons, sometimes it’s the location, sometimes it’s the actors you’re working with, sometimes it’s the money, sometimes it’s the director, and sometimes it’s the script. In this case, there was this wonderful challenge to make the scene in the house with the kids, which is a very long scene, be organic and seem real and how to make how to play off of each individual kid. You know, these are, these are wonderful challenges and hurdles to overcome. So sometimes I do things because I’m like, “I think I can make this work if I can get the physical logic down and the timing,” right? I can make this seem like it’s his house and his moment. If I’ve done my preparation properly and created the elements properly, this can be fun, snd so that’s why I did The Call, plus I thought the script was good, and I love one of those group of young actors in something, and you’re going to get to deal with them all the time and pick up their vibe. You know, it’s always a great thing. So that’s the answer to your question is I’m gonna overcome this hurdle, plus, I had a car payment [laughs].
CS: So since you mentioned picking up on each kid’s vibe and playing off of them, did you find that you got to do that a lot in rehearsal or did a lot of that come from doing the scenes in front of the cameras?
TB: You know, casting has a great deal to do with that. If people are cast, like you pick up their vibe almost right away, because the casting director picked up that same vibe. In this case, there’s Tonya, and she’s kind of a loose cannon in a certain way, and then there’s Zack, the sort of good looking guy, and then there’s a nerdy guy, and then there’s the role Chester Rushing plays and so mostly, you get it from just their persona, you know, you walk up and shake their hands, and if they’re cast properly, you get exactly why they were cast as that character from the moment you meet. You can minimize risk by perfect casting, and in this case the film was cast really, really well. You know how it is, you meet someone in a restaurant or something in real life and pick up a vibe from from them right away. Well, not only do these kids have that vibe, personally, but they needed to have it to play who they were playing in the film, so that’s a testament to the casting. They were very energetic, very attentive, very dedicated to what they were doing and when you have young actors, they’re always so enthusiastic to be there. You know, they’re starting their career and they’re working with people that they’ve seen in films. So that’s exciting on both sides of the equation, you know, it’s exciting for me, and, and for them.
CS: Speaking of fantastic casting, we finally get to see you paired with Lin, who told me a little joke about how James Wan was like both of godfathers for the horror genre, what was it like finally getting to work with her?
TB: It was great, I mean, I had never met her before and I wasn’t that familiar with her work. But I knew that she had worked with Leigh Whannell and also with James and I also knew how dedicated to the craft she is. So that was encouraging and it’s great to work with, I really liked what she brought to the moments.
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CS: There’s a really warm rapport between you two when things aren’t going in the scary direction, what was it like building that rapport between you two?
TB: Well we barely knew each other, and really in the end, the camera sees everything. So if we were at all reticent or nervous, or whatever, on more uncomfortable, awkward, whatever the camera will see that. So fortunately, Lin likes to connect and I felt an immediate willingness and hunger on her part to connect with me and to that the camera sees that too. So that was both welcome and and refreshing and very encouraging, because, you know, I had only met her like 15 minutes before we started acting together. So the human element becomes hugely important and the fact that she’s willing to let her defenses down, and me too, and her guard down, and me too, makes it easier to make that instantaneous connect that was required for the relationship between each of them. The kind of training that Lin has and the way she honors the acting profession, those are the kind of people you want to work with. People who respect to the profession that we’re in and are so dedicated to it and have such have the kind of skills that Dublin has had for so many years, it’s always a treat. Whenever you’re cast in something, the actors that you’re with makes a difference, andso it it was a joy to play her, her husband in The Call and and to be part of that whole project, and I’m really glad it’s, it’s gonna be streaming at the end of the month, I’ve talked to a lot of people that saw it and drive-in theaters and they loved it. They loved being out of the house and sitting in sitting with the big screen in front of them. It’s a lot of fun to see it that way.
CS: After making the rounds at drive-ins earlier this month, the film’s now coming to digital platforms, how do you feel about the release model for it?
TB: You know, I think it’s great. I mean, obviously we’ve been trapped in this bubble since February and where are we now, almost November. Any way that we can, you know, stay safe and not endanger people, but go on with life and with the living of life, particularly when it comes to performing arts. Because performing arts, except for streaming and that sort of thing, I mean, I’m particularly gratified that on October 30, that The Call will be available on multiple platforms that people can enjoy at home, but I’m very concerned about what’s going to happen to Broadway, Off Broadway, what’s going to happen to, you know, the Old Vic in London, and theaters that are a huge cultural resource on the performing artists. If you depend on streaming, I mean, I’m not going to mention companies, musicians are having a horrible time making money on their music, the only way you can make money is is in touring, and now they can’t tour, you can’t be in any performance space. I think we’ve got to figure out a way to overcome that, and obviously I don’t have the answer, because I’m not a scientist. But we’ve got to pay attention to what the scientists tell us about this whole COVID thing, but I’m very concerned, there is nothing more important than the performing arts from a cultural point of view. What we’re doing to children, you know, not being able to go to school, not being able to participate in sports and do the things that make growing up so vital to the development of human beings. We can’t do that anymore. I’m really concerned about all of that. I suppose a lot of people are so I’m not speaking out of turn here, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be being careful. We should, so I don’t have the answer, I’m just really worried about the performing arts, because of the necessity of keep distance. What we’re told is the necessity, which I believe in.
CS: So, to look away from the film for a moment, next year we hopefully will see the return of the Saw franchise with Spiral, can you tell me your thoughts on the next installment in the series?
TB: It’s kind of hard for me to talk about it, but I can tell you this. If it came out of Chris Rock’s mind, it’s probably gonna be worth seeing. So that’s as much as I’m gonna say [chuckles] I’m gonna say he’s a pretty creative guy and a valued artist.
Four Friends. One Phone Call. 60 Seconds to Stay Alive. In the fall of 1987, a group of small-town friends must survive the night in the home of a sinister couple after a tragic accident occurs in The Call. Needing only to make a single phone call, the request seems horribly ordinary until they realize that this call could change their life…or end it. This simple task quickly spirals into terror as their worst nightmares become reality as they enter the realm of The Call.
This spine-tingling tale stars horror icons Shaye and Bell alongside Chester Rushing (Stranger Things), Erin Sanders (Big Time Rush) and Judd Lormand (SEAL Team).
“Pairing Tobin and Lin, or Saw’s Jigsaw and Insidious’ Elise Rainier as they’re known to horror fans around the world, brings so much terror to the screen,” Emmy-nominated director Timothy Woodward Jr, said in a statement. “Their chemistry is undeniable, and the power of their scenes splinters off, creating this dark, macabre world these characters are forced to survive in.”
Directed by Woodward Jr., The Call was written by Patrick Stibbs and produced by Final Destination creator Jeffrey Reddick, Stibbs, Zebulun Huling, Gina Rugolo and Randy J. Goodwin. Executive Producers include Nicolas Chartier, Jonathan Deckter, Matthew Helderman, Joe Listhaus, Drew Ryce, James Shavick, Kirk Shaw and Luke Taylor. Co Producers include James Cullen Bressack and Chaysen Beacham.
The Call is now available on digital platforms and premium VOD!