LOS ANGELES — At “The Grudge” premiere on Tuesday night, the members of the cast had more than just the usual case of opening-night jitters. It wasn’t the audience’s reaction or the paparazzi that they feared, it was the actual movie.
The film is based on the Japanese horror movie “Ju-on” and revolves around an American nurse (Sarah Michelle Gellar) who, while working in Tokyo, is exposed to a mysterious and deadly curse. Gellar said that after watching the original, she had trouble sleeping. “I was scared out of my mind. I just could not stop thinking about it,” she said. “I couldn’t go to bed.”
“Spider-Man” director Sam Raimi produced the film, and said he too was freaked out when he saw the original and knew immediately that he wanted to do a remake. “I first saw ’The Grudge’ when I was shooting ’Spider-Man 2’ and it just blew me away,” he said. “It was terrifying. I was screaming and wanted to crawl into the seat that I was sitting on.”
Raimi also knew that in order to stay true to the original version, the best plan of action would be to use the same director and move the entire cast to Japan (see “Sarah Michelle Gellar Lives Her Own ’Lost In Translation’ On Tokyo ’Grudge’ Set” ). “The strength of this movie is rooted in Japanese folklore,” he said. “I didn’t really want to translate it. I wanted to present the audience with the same beautiful thing I had seen.”
This presented a challenge for Gellar, who had to work with non-English-speaking director Takashi Shimizu. But Shimizu said Gellar was able to pick up the language rather quickly even though not all the words she learned were printable. “I think it is the same for anyone learning a language,” he said via a translator, “they usually pick up the bad words first and that is what happened to her.”
Co-star Clea DuVall said once things got under way the language barrier really wasn’t a problem. “It actually wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be,” she said. “Making movies is so universal, emotion is so universal. So the language really wasn’t much of an issue.” Duvall added that the chance to work in Japan was one of the things that drew her to the film. “It was always a place that I really wanted to go to,” she said. “When I was there, I would literally walk around by myself for five hours and just explore.”
While making the movie, co-stars KaDee Strickland and Jason Behr also took time to discover the city. “I saw a samurai sword being made and I went to all these shrines,” Behr said. “I lived out one of my dreams by trying on a kimono and was dressed traditionally,” said Strickland. “Sarah and I also did a lot of shopping, karaoke and of course, ate a lot of sushi.”
For Gellar, it was a trip she says she will always treasure. “I never got to be a student abroad and for me this was that experience,” she said. “It was a learning experience both professionally and personally.”
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