Tobin Bell’s ‘Saw IV’ Jigsaw Journal #6

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: Preparing to film the script he’d just received for “Saw III,” Tobin Bell saw one of his greatest challenges as a scene where Jigsaw suffered a violent seizure. For help, he turned to his friend Dr. M. David Lewis – and with these notes found stuffed in the pages of Bell’s “Saw III” journal, we get a rare glimpse at an actor’s research.

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

Thanks to –

BP [blood pressure] goes Sky-High

Check his “vital signs”

Pulse, respiration, BP

If a person’s not stable [a doctor will] use carotid artery pulse.

[Note to self to get “Saw” credits to include] Thanks to M. David Lewis, M.D.

Small movements; nothing big

(page 2)

It’s likely another [seizure] could come right away – so they could prepare for [it]

(page 3)

Light- shine in eye

Move finger from one side to another

(page 4)

[A doctor should check to see] are pupils equal (in size) & reactive

If pressure is great on optic nerve, pupil will be large, unequal sizes

Size = reactivity to on/off of light

[Doctors] want the equal and reactive

(page 5)

Post “insult” ictal phase

Eye exams = not very responsive

Bite tongue, pee self, did you remember

Spacey, compressed time, then relaxed

People are scared, because they know something’s happened but don’t know what

Ask Amanda … What happened?

In between technical notes on the post-ictal phase (Ictal means “insult”, which is what the patient’s system has suffered), the actor jotted down the ways a doctor would check for eye-pupil response following an incident. Bell focuses his performance to the point where he takes into consideration that Jigsaw may have bitten his tongue during the seizure. He explains: “My medical advisor for these situations is Dr. Dave Lewis. We coach little league baseball together; I saw him one day on the field and said ’Dave, I need your help,’ and he said ’Come on over!’ I laid down on the floor in his playroom, next to his pool table, and he showed me how convulsions occur … When you have a convulsion, a doctor or nurse will try to restrain the patient’s hands immediately. Not only was I learning for myself, but if the actor playing the doctor didn’t know quite what to do, I’d be able to help by saying, ’You want to keep me on this gurney, otherwise I might fall off’. You have to be careful after a seizure, because, like an earthquake, there are sometimes aftershocks. Afterward, patients know something has happened; but they’re not sure what. [Shawnee Smith and I] talked about the possibility of my asking her after the seizure, ‘What happened?’. Ultimately, [director] Darren Bousman decided not to go down that road. Medically, the question was correct, but dramatically it had little value.”