Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz married in a quiet New York ceremony in June, an idyllic union that presents a stark contrast to their onscreen marriage in “Dream House.”
A genre mash-up with thriller and horror elements directed by Jim Sheridan, the film begins with a familiar setup: Craig, Weisz and their daughters move to a new home, only to discover their quarters are nothing like what they expected. From there, though, “Dream House” takes a twist, one that makes viewers reconsider everything they’ve previously seen and which was revealed in a surprisingly spoiler-filled trailer this summer.
But as producer Ehren Kruger told MTV News recently, that twist is just one in a flick filled with them. If you think you know everything “Dream House” has in store, he made clear that you’re missing all the clues — just as Kruger and the rest of the cast and crew seemingly missed the signs on set that Craig and Weisz’s heated on-camera coupling was the beginning of a trip down the aisle.
As part of our Fall Movie Preview, we not only have a chat with Kruger, but the first clip from the film, in which Weisz confesses that she’s certain something is wrong with their new home and Craig promises to hire a priest or “feng shui the place.” Hit play on the video above and then read on for Kruger’s interview.
MTV: You’ve got some impressive talent in front of and behind the camera. How did all those pieces of the puzzle come together?
Ehren Kruger: It started with the original script by David Loucka, which blended genres in a very interesting way. That caught the eye of Jim Sheridan, and he’s not a director who is known for doing straightforward genre pieces. So he responded to some of the deeper character ideas in the script, and once he became interested, we started developing the script with him and very quickly there were actors like Daniel and Rachel and Naomi [Watts] that were interested in being a part of it, because his reputation is so wonderful with performance. You don’t always get that in genres that are perceived as just a mystery or just a scary movie or just a thriller, so getting involved in this allowed the actors to bring their A-game and challenge themselves performance-wise.
MTV: As you said, this is not the type of film that Jim Sheridan normally takes on. Why was he the right guy for the job?
Kruger: He’s often dealing with families in an emotional crisis. He really responds to that sort of environment, so while this story has a lot of the scary genre trappings and mystery trappings, at its core it’s really a family that’s in intense crisis.
MTV: In terms of developing the script, what are the influences you drew on?
Kruger: It shares some genre DNA with movies like “The Others” or “The Sixth Sense” or “Rosemary’s Baby” and movies that really try to cast a spell in terms of mood. In the world of scary thriller mysteries, there are the vampires and the zombies and the mask killers. They are very upfront with what is scary about them. And then there are the more traditional ghost-story antagonists, where their secrets can play something even more sinister. You don’t quite know who is pulling the strings and what to be afraid of. We talked about some of those classic ghost-story influences like “The Haunting” or “The Innocence” or “The Shining,” movies where you are dealing with something you initially think you can fight or combat but then aren’t sure if you can at all.
MTV: Tell us about what Daniel brought to the table, how he approached the material and how he made the character his own.
Kruger: He’s a very intense person, and it comes across in his roles and on the screen. This is a character who, on the outside, seems like an everyman, a family man, but you come to find out he has a number of demons of his own. Daniel was really able to dig into those and pull off a very intense portrayal of a man trying to protect his family in nearly an impossible situation. It’s a very valiant performance from him. And the chemistry between him and Rachel, which is kind of the core of the film, is really great.
MTV: Was their relationship off camera apparent to you on the set?
Kruger: They are both very focused actors, so you just figured they were really committed to their performance of this married couple. There is method acting and I guess there is matrimonial method acting. But I wouldn’t say it was apparent during shooting. They were playing the roles as professional, and it went from there.
MTV: You show a big twist in the trailer about the murders that took place in the house. How do you make the decision of how much to reveal and how early?
Kruger: It’s always a trick with movies that start off seeming like one thing and then turn into something else. In the case of this movie, it turns into something else again. You just have to make the decision of what is the best way to tell the audience that they are going to be getting more than what they think they are getting. You could have a trailer that doesn’t reveal any of the revelations that they will come to find out about — the house where he lives and the family — and then there’s just not quite enough juicy material to sell the movie. You have to provide a little and assure the audience there’s going to be more revelations.
MTV: When do you find out who the murderer is in the movie?
Kruger: It will be in the first half of the movie that you are getting the revelations that are in the trailer, so there is still half of the movie of mystery to tell.
From “Abduction” to “Muppets, “Moneyball” to “Breaking Dawn,” the MTV Movies team is delving into the hottest upcoming flicks in our 2011 Fall Movie Preview. Check back daily for exclusive clips, photos and interviews with the films’ biggest stars.
Check out everything we’ve got on “Dream House.”
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