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With the seventh and supposedly final entry hitting theaters today, there’s a bit more excitement and buzz around this year’s latest incarnation in the modern tradition of, “If it’s Hallowen, it must be SAW.” Sure, part of it comes from the film being shot in “mind-blowing” 3-D, and part of it is the idea of a grand finale, wondering how the creative team will go out. But truthfully, the real cause for celebration is the return of Cary Elwes as Dr. Lawrence Gordon, a coup the fans have been screaming for since the second and third films.
Fango spoke with Elwes at this year’s New York Comic Con—and while, typically for anyone involved with the franchise, he didn’t reveal much, he did share his thoughts on the series, the 3-D and the Jigsaw’s many followers finally getting their way.
FANGORIA: Returning to the SAW milieu after seven or eight years—is it exciting?
CARY ELWES: Yeah, I’d never really planned on coming back and reprising my role, but when I read the script and met the director, I understood how they were going to do the last chapter. I thought it fitting, since the fans were really putting a lot of pressure on me and the studio to have Dr. Gordon return. If felt I owed it to them, but I wanted to make sure I did it in a way that was done right and made the fans happy. The fact that it was directed by Kevin and it ties up all the loose ends and answers all the questions the fans may have, I thought it was a good way to bookend the series.
FANG: The series has evolved so much since the first; had you been watching that progression, or were you forced to do a crash course to catch up?
ELWES: I did a crash course. I didn’t watch them all in a row—I don’t recommend that. But I did [watch the other movies] so I could be up to date and have an idea of where the story was going, and how it would complete itself.
FANG: You’ve had such a varied career, and now you have another iconic role that fans really clamor for. Is that elating, to have done something that excites people and had them calling for your return?
ELWES: Obviously, any actor is excited when there’s a fan response. I think any actor would be excited and privileged by that. You’re lucky to be remembered for anything as an actor, and the fact that I now am part of a franchise that’s made, really, history by being the most successful horror series of all time, that’s really a thrill for me. It’s like a whole new rebirth of my career, in a way.
FANG: Was there anyone familiar to you when you came back, or a whole new enviornment?
ELWES: After the first, the whole production relocated to Toronto and they’ve set up their own studio there—Twisted Pictures, they have their own place. They really built the studios specifically to make these movies to meet the deadlines they had each year, and they were terrific up there; a really great crew of people. There’s a reason why they kept a lot of them around: They’re all very hard-working and passionate about the project and involved, and [they all] read the script, which is rare for crewmembers. They’re really into it, which is great.
FANG: Have you compared and contrasted this shooting experience to the first?
ELWES: All experiences are good to me; I don’t try to compare any. There was the luxury of having a bigger budget on this one, so I got to sit down a little bit more; I mainly had to stand on my feet for the first one [laughs].
FANG: Are you an overall fan of horror?
ELWES: I like all genres of film. I’m kind of a film buff in a way. I’ve studied film, it was my major in college. So yeah, I love horror films, I love thrillers, I love comedies, I love dramas—I love them all, especially if they’re done well. And I felt that this series was not your average slasher movie, but a thinking person’s franchise. The fans are intelligent people. They follow the plot and characters very carefully, they blog about it. We live in a time now, which is very interesing, where audience feedback is unprecedented with the Internet, the blogosphere, what have you.
FANG: So they can have a voice in the development.
ELWES: They can have a voice, they really do, and the producers listen to them. When you’re dealing with the intricate plots and character developments this series has, they’ve been very, very attentive and precise about the way they want this series to flow.
FANG: Can you tease us as to the fashion in which you come back?
ELWES: I can’t, I can’t. I had to sign a waiver, and I think in a way it’s a good thing. It would be unfair to the fans if we do anything where we give away the plot. That way, it will be much more exciting and fun for them when they show up on the first day.
FANG: Did the 3-D cameras and setup affect your performance in any way?
ELWES: Not much. There were certain things that we came up with that we knew would be fun in terms of exploiting that, but for the most part, really very little. One doesn’t want to do stuff like the early 3-D movies where somebody’s handing you something, and it’s just ridiculous. We just tried to make it suspenseful, [using] a long depth of field. There’s a lot of room to play with in terms of shadows and people in the background and foreground and things like that. Kevin did a fabulous job. I saw the film, it’s really… I needed to lie down afterward. I definitely had to go watch something else to clear my head. It’s not for the faint-hearted. If you’re squeamish in any way, this is not the film for you; it makes the other ones seem very tame in comparison.
FANG: You said SAW was a sort of thinking man’s franchise…
ELWES: Thinking person’s, I don’t want to discriminate [laughs].
FANG: There’s a lot of moral grey area that comes along with Jigsaw and his code. Where do you fall on the side of Jigsaw and his beliefs?
ELWES: Me personally, or Dr. Gordon?
ELWES: I like the idea of a morality tale. That’s what attracted me to James Wan and Leigh Whannell’s concept in the first place, the idea that there was a morality tale subtly pushed in there where you had someone who obviously took punishment to a new level, and he really believed he was teaching these people a lesson in allowing them to have a real life after their punishment—if they could survive it. And I thought that was intelligent. It’s new, it’s fresh and I think that’s the reason the series has had its longevity.
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