|Vampires are very "in" right now.
Now you have TWILIGHT coming. You have LET THE RIGHT ONE IN being
remade for American audiences, and people are dying to see that.
There’s TRUE BLOOD. Why is the vampire craze starting up again?
You know, that’s really strange because I started working
with this 3 years ago and nobody was talking about vampires! So
it’s some kind of synchronicity as they call it. I really
don’t know. Maybe, vampirism has something to do with the
“animal” inside of us, and maybe something that’s
suppressed. Held down inside of us that has come up every 20 years.
I don’t know really?
||What was the inspiration for LET THE RIGHT
Well… to start with, I was very stuck by the very
unsentimentally told story about the bullied boy. Because I had
some periods when I was a teenager being bullied. So, that was the
first thing that struck me the hardest. And then it was this very
original blend with this supernatural thing. I didn’t have
any specific interest in vampires or vampirism before, so that was
totally new to me. And that was the biggest, hardest thing for me.
To find the solutions, how to stage those things.
What made you decide to choose the main character, having it
be the story of Oskar a 12 year old boy? It’s rare that in a vampire
film the kids are the main characters.
Before we started shooting, dramatists asked me “who is the main
character, the boy or the girl?” And I would say they are both
the same character. The boy and the girl, they are the same person.
The light and the dark side of the same person. But what was your question?
|Why’d you make children the main characters?
Well, that’s the main story from the book. From the
beginning. That was not a choice for me.
because it’s based on the novel.
Yeah, it’s based on a novel.
So, being based on a novel – What were the wrinkles in
adapting this novel, making these decisions in terms of making it into
a film for you?
Well, we had to make some big choices of things we had to cut out. The
biggest thing that we left out that the character Håkan, the older
“blood” supplier for Eli, he was an outspoken pedophile
in the novel. So that really gave another tone to the whole thing. That’s
too often used as say… an emotional special effect, without taking
responsibility for what that really is. It’s a really complicated
thing to debate on screen, I think. So that would’ve disturbed
the story a lot to have that.
Did you envision in your
mind when you developed Eli as a character that she was always
looking for a replacement for him? Or was that an accident?
No, that’s up to you to decide, really. There are a lot
of things in the film that are up to you to decide. And that’s
the sort of style of it. My point of view is that it’s a
happy ending. They leave this country and live their own lives
as they want to, but it’s suggested as Oskar being the new
blood provider, if you want to think that.
Robg.: I love the movie, I think
it’s very beautiful. And when I tell people about it, obviously
it’s a vampire movie, but you can take the vampire element out
and I see it as a movie about two 12 year old kids falling in love with
each other, which is why it’s so beautiful. So, how difficult
was it finding the right child actors to play these “adult”
themes? They were both fantastic and its rare that you see kids acting
at that caliber, so how hard was it to find Eli and Oskar?
It took almost a year to find them.
It was very hard. And my ambition was to have as I said, the same
character. Two sides of the same character. So they were not only
required to be a good boy and a good girl, but they were to be
the perfect match as well as a couple, and as well as being two
sides of the same coin. That was really complicated. These are
two extremely strange and intelligent children. They’re
very quiet. A lot of integrity.
Robg.: And this was their
first ever film experience?
What was particularly “Swedish” about this film?
Because what I was thinking, if you see 30 DAYS OF NIGHT, it of course
exploits that seasonal setting. And in this film, you get that feeling
of the dark season and the darkness there and the personalities of the
people. I think there’s something uniquely Swedish about this
film that perhaps another vampire film wouldn’t be like or another
film wouldn’t be like. Can you speak a little bit about that?
Maybe it could be the amount of silence and talking through silence.
Swed’s are very quiet, sometimes. And not answering a question
is also a way of answering a question. Or turning your back to somebody
is also a form of communication. So that is something quite special
and Swedish, I would think. The idea of silence, and the things that
you suddenly hear in a silent community.
talking about the recently announced remake of LET THE RIGHT ONE
IN from CLOVERFIELD director Matt Reeves. I wanted to know how
involved you will be and if they’re going to try to “Americanize”
it and make a lot of changes?
I’m not involved at all.
At all? I read it’s something you’re not happy
Well… It’s sort of… It gives you some sort
of feelings of jealousy, of course. I have been dancing with this
material for 3 years, and now somebody else is doing it. But,
you have to put that aside and just wait and see what they come
up with. And maybe they’ll find other things in that book
that could be interesting. It would be very sad if they made a
copy of this.
Well, I imagine it won’t be as violent and perhaps
they’ll make it PG-13.
Robg.: I’m petrified
they’ll make the kids 18 instead of 12.
Excuse me – Why 3 years? Why did you have to wait
Well, it was very tough to finance. Yeah.
Getting back to this discussion on the remake, what do you
hope they will do? Go more his direction or her direction?
I don’t know. I would be very happy if I was surprised.
Robg.: Would you be receptive if
they reached out to you and asked for your advice on the remake?
What about a sequel? That almost should motivate you!
Is he going to stay with her until he’s old?
(Laughs) I think they go out in Europe, eating people, having
Did you have any people in mind that you were glad they were
Were one of those boys that got killed a model for someone that
(Pause) No. (Laughs)
Nobody was cast with that in mind?
Robg.: This is more of an observation
and a question about how you feel about this. For me, I didn’t
think the horror came from the vampire girl. I was more terrified of
what kids will do to other kids when adults aren’t looking. Those
were the scenes that affected me. How much of that came from the book?
And how’d you balance making those scenes just as suspenseful
as say… the vampire attacks?
I really can not tell, but I think it comes from the book and my own
experiences from childhood. But yeah, that’s very hard to tell.
That’s a common commentary. That people are as terrified of the
“horror” parts as they are of what people do to each other.
Did you pretty much stay
close to the book when doing the film?
Yeah, we picked out this love track out of the book,
and I think it was very true to that.
And how did you discover the book? Was it something that
was popular in Sweden?
No, a friend gave it to me. One of the producers-to-be. And usually
I hate when people give me books or films, because I really like
to discover that for myself, but I read it. I don’t think
you should do films from good books either, but there are exceptions.
You’ve done a lot
of other films. How alike or different is this from your other
films which people here are not as familiar with as they will
be with this one? Can you tell me what was the difference in your
process with this film as opposed to your earlier ones?
Well, the process is the same. I’m mostly famous for doing
comedy. Black comedy. And drama television. But for me, the process
is the same. It’s all about telling stories. It’s
not funny making comedy. And it’s not scary making horror.
It’s all about taking it seriously and telling stories.
And showing your heart (in the material).
Well, you said you weren’t a horror fan. Have you become
a horror fan? Are you looking to read more or watch more horror?
Yeah, maybe. It’s very interesting to explore what scares us,
I think. I don’t get so much scared these days anymore. The things
that make me scared are thinking of my children being hurt or murdered
or something, but I’m not scared when I go down in the basement
or I’m not scared when I’m sleepless. These are feelings
that come from childhood mostly. And fear appears before the scary things
happen. So, it’s all about finding what those fantasies contain.
So, when I was studying before this film, I was watching a lot of Renaissance
painters and looking at what they do for the eyes when portraiting people.
There is a lot to learn from the old masters with how they treat eyes.
For instance, there is a very kind, artist called Hans Holbein, who
made fantastic portraits of people in the mid-1500’s and there
is a very famous portrait of a young British prince. It’s a close-up
and he has a red robe and a crown on his head and he is looking underneath
the spectator, which is really, really spooky. I have worked very actively
with eyes in this film. With eyes not seeing each other. With eyes out
of the eyeline. So it’s a lot about eyes that makes a scary, creepy
I was curious about sound design and how important that was
for you, because it was so vivid and strong with each sound. Did you
have a sound designer you generally work with?
Well, we had worked together once before but I had this very clear vision.
It’s like with framing, visual framing – it’s very
much about what you have in the frame, but also what you do not have
in the frame. What do you take out from reality or from this specific
world? And it’s the same with sound. It’s not so often that
sound editors work with this so much with framing out sounds. Because
if you put out specific sounds surrounded by silence, they really mean
something. They really do something with your mind. You really have
to be picky with what you pick out to make those specific sounds. You
really put them into close up, but it’s very interesting how that
works. I really wanted to tell this as close as possible to the boy
Oskar. To hear his own breathing, his own tongue moving in his mouth.
We even had a microphone put very, very close to his eyes to hear his
eyelids open and close. It really gives you a lot of contact with the
character when you hear that. Especially if you remember in the scene
when they’re lying together in the bed. There are a lot of human
sounds that are extremely subtle. But they bring a lot of life to it.
What particular audience were you looking at when you made this
Oh no, no. Never. That’s not my work. That’s work
for publicity people.
What kind of decisions did
you make in how much you wanted the vampires to feel vampiric
or not? It’s interesting how much violence you put in and
didn’t put in, weather we were going to get a sense if there
were fangs or not. Things with the skin – When she was lacking
the blood, she started to look more decaying. What was involved
with your art direction? Your thoughts on that?
Well, there is a lot of CGI in this film. I think over 50 CGI shots.
And it’s a fantastic tool box to use, but it seems like almost
everyone is using it too much. If there’s a car explosion, it
seems like the car has to explode for 3 minutes, and has to be the biggest
car explosion you’ve ever seen. And it’s not good for the
material or the reality to it. So, we tried to hold back on that as
much as possible. You can do so much with those effects in a subtle
way. For instance, changing the size of the eyes by 10 percent. Just
make them 10 percent smaller, and nobody could tell what you have done,
but it’s really spooky when someone suddenly has little, smaller
eyes. In one scene, they were bigger and so on. People can not really
pinpoint it. If you make a car explosion for 4 minutes, everyone will
know it’s fake and why.
Would you be interested in taking on a Hollywood project? Have
any Hollywood studios approached you to make an American film?
Yes, I’ve got a lot of calls from the studios and from agents
and from people trying to hire me for projects, but that’s a very
big thing to do to change work space, and to change your life around
you and your language. It would be very interesting to do, but it’d
really have to be the right project with the right timing.
Would it necessarily be horror?
It could be anything that’s good! Or anything that I
could feel I could come up with something. It could be any sort of genre.
Are you working on anything at the moment?
Yeah, I’m working on Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm
with a comedy group. Yep. It hasn’t got a name yet but it’s
opening in August. We’re 7 people writing it together. And 3 weeks
ago, I opened with MY FAIR LADY in Stockholm, so I do different things.
I assume it’s in Swedish?
Yes! In Swedish!
Going back to the film,
do you feel it’s for a specific audience? Do you feel it’s
for teens, do you feel it’s for adults, is it for everybody?
Also, in terms of the R rating, do you think it’s going
to limit anybody? Do you feel like violence is over judged in
Ok the first one was who the film is for? I really don’t
know. These are questions for marketing people…
Well, your personal opinion. Would you let a kid who is 13
see your film?
I have a son that’s 13 and I let him see this because
obviously this takes a lot of space in my home. I had explained to him
a lot about how it’s made and so on, so I let him see it.
Was he scared?
Yeah, but he was mostly scared of the tormenting (bullying)
parts rather then the horror parts. But maybe, I wouldn’t let
someone younger see it.
I thought this was violent but not like HOSTEL. Have you ever
seen HOSTEL or any of these “torture-porn” movies?
No? Are they popular?
Yes, the SAW films are.
Ah, yeah. I just read about it. It never interested me.
So, what’s the rating system like in Stockholm?
I think it’s rated for 15.
What would you do if you
met a vampire? Have you ever thought about meeting a vampire?
(Long pause) Uhh, yes I did. I tried on the internet before we
started shooting, I tried to get in contact with vampiristic people.
And… nobody answered. (Laughs) But there is some sort of
interesting thing with the obsession of blood that must come from
the animal side of ourselves. If I met a vampire? I would pick
up my garlic hot dog, because I wouldn’t want to be a vampire
Robg.: In terms of the shoot
itself, were there any scenes or specific moments that were difficult
or challenging? Or was this a smooth film to make?
No, it wasn’t smooth in any way. It was really tough because
of the temperature mostly. And working in the dark with children.
That was really tough. It was like minus 30 Celsius, I don’t
know what that is in Fahrenheit?
(Laughs) It’s like having somebody shouting in
your ear, and I destroyed 2 fingers.
And you didn’t shoot this in Stockholm, right?
No, it’s set in a suburb to Stockholm that most Stockholmers
know of, but most of the exteriors were in Luleå, the very North
You said you tried to meet
vampires. What do you think of those people that worship vampires
and want to be them? There are people who get fangs and really
want to be like this. This film made it so realistic that it made
it feel like a possibility.
Well, I can say that I love people who make their own choices
and who can be whatever they want to be without hurting anybody.
So, as long as they’re not biting people, I really like
people when they do what they want. (Laughs)
Are you going to stay away from horror for a while now?
No, I’m going to bite any project that’s
interesting, so it could be horror or a comedy… or something
very boring! (Laughs)
Would you do another vampire film though?
Why not? As long as it’s good and interesting.