Tobin Bell’s ‘Saw IV’ Jigsaw Journal #4

During a career portraying some 75 film and TV characters, actor Tobin Bell has kept extensive journals detailing the on and off-camera minutiae in every one of his characters’ lives. While some might see this as obsessive; to Bell, it’s simply the proper way to do his job. Now, on the eve of this month’s “Saw IV” release, the star of the highest-grossing horror franchise of all time is revealing his Jigsaw journals for the first time, exclusively to MTV.

TODAY’S ENTRY: From Bell’s “Saw III” journal, his preparations for being bed-ridden in most of the film.

Click here to see the actual entry, hand-written by “Jigsaw.” Translation and commentary from Bell follow.

* He’s a conductor, but an inquiring one!

* We’re all looking for connection – to be seen, heard, understood.

* He’s a voyeur. Fascinated by people facing death, real situations, survival of fittest – appreciate life, hates Cold Docs. Wants Lynn to appreciate her life – not be a wimp or whiner! Gave up on me, her husband, Corbett, herself.

(TAXIDERMY!! Animals in sick room. FRAMED/Stuffed?)

Area he’s in – Habitat – It’s one thing to be interested in species, it’s another to put them in context – HABITAT – moss, wood, etc.

(passage linked with semi-circle) Morphine: Nodded off, reading to [NOTE: The name of Bell’s real-life child has been omitted. This was a note for him to remember his own experience with bed-time story reading]. Sleep overtakes you as you’re reading (drop away + wake up). Can’t make sense anymore, can’t fight the sleep.

* Don’t play so sick / play forward / Body is sick – Let body convince Amanda, but mind is sharp. Play strong, meditative. Nods off, then suddenly gets sick, seizure, like you’re in a zone. An Animal. Snake? Wolf.

In between all the notes on what his sick room should look like (and flirtations with thoughts of taxidermy on the walls), you can sense the actor’s uphill battle conveying Jigsaw’s cancer-ridden condition. Ultimately, it was an unexpected moment with a co-star that helped him find the right note. Bell explains: “I had decided that, when Amanda comes in with Dr. Denlon [Bahar Soomekh], for that scene when he’s in bed and his health is deteriorating, that I wanted John to be in a certain condition. Then he has this seizure, and he has the surgery, covering him in blood and he’s getting weaker and weaker. I wanted to express a breakdown in my nervous system, and a physical expression of my illness. At one point, I went in a back room between takes and said something to Shawnee [Smith], I was trying to help her regarding her energy, but I hurt her feelings instead. I had crossed a line. I felt terrible about what had happened, so much so that I just let in how I felt about it – and my hands began to shake during the scene. It was exactly what Jigsaw – and myself – needed to come apart. I’ve never told Shawnee about this. She still doesn’t know how much she helped me in that moment.”