Interview: Drew Powell (Straw Dogs)

How did you get into acting?

I’ve been performing in some way my whole life. After graduating from college I packed up my car and drove from Indiana to LA. Later that year I got my first job on a then unknown show called Malcolm in the Middle. The rest is history. That, of course, is the very short version of a very long story! You’re welcome….

You play Bic in Straw Dogs, which hits theaters on September 16. Tell us about the film and what the production was like.

The original movie was based on a novel  by Gordon Williams and was shot in 1971 by Sam Peckinpah. Dustin Hoffman starred in the film and it quickly became infamous for it’s violence. Our film is an updated and, in many ways, very different take on the original. The same basic plot is there, but I think Rod Lurie, the writer/director, has given this version much more of a complete story. There are more emotional levels and the treatment of women in our film is vastly different to the original. It’s a psychological thriller that is at times violent but not in a gratuitous way. It takes you in and doesn’t let go until the credits roll!

What was it like working with such an accomplished cast, including Alexander SkarsgĂĄrd, James Marsden, Kate Bosworth, James Woods and more?

I know that actors always say this, but I really enjoyed working with everyone on this film. We “Straw Dogs” – Skarsgard, Coiro, Lush and myself – particularly got along well, which was very helpful since we were playing life long pals.

Were you familiar with the original film? If not, did you go back and watch it to prepare for the part?

I had heard of the film but hadn’t seen it until I got to location. I felt like I wanted to see the original before we started so I knew the significance of the project we were about to undertake. My character isn’t in the original, so I didn’t have to worry about the possibility of copying a performance. Our film is different enough from the original that it probably wouldn’t have mattered anyway.

With this being a remake and having also appeared in the Stephen King adaptation 1408, do you feel that there is an added pressure on a film when it is adapted from another source with a pre-existing fanbase?

I do think there’s some added pressure. I first experienced that when I played Hoss Cartwright in a prequel to Bonanza called Ponderosa. There was a big and very passionate fan base there already. They were very interested in who might take over their beloved characters. There’s a fine line between honoring the original material and creating your own performance.

Speaking of which, what was it like to work on 1408?

I had a lot of fun on that movie. We shot in London, which was great, and I really enjoyed working with Mikael Hofstrom, the director. It was a psychological thriller just like Straw Dogs, and I find those kind of movies fun to make and to watch.

Another genre picture of yours, Camp Hell, was recently released. Tell us a bit about that. Did you get to work with Jesse Eisenberg?

That movie was shot so long ago it’s hard to remember! I didn’t work with Jesse, but we did meet. We ran into each other again in Grand Rapids last summer. I was shooting Touchback, which comes out the beginning of next year, and he was doing 30 Minutes or Less.

I’d like to hear about your experiences with Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation. Director Phil Tippett has done visual effects on so many iconic films.

That movie took a lot of heat, but we had a great time shooting it. It was a real ensemble cast and it was Phil’s directing debut. He is a great guy and a huge talent. I was up in Northern California and Phil gave me a tour of Tippett Studios. It was amazing watching those folks do what they do.

In addition to films, you have also appeared in a number of popular television shows. Do you have a preference?

I like to work. There are pros and cons to both TV and film, but ultimately, when you’re doing what you love, work is a great thing no matter the medium!

Do you have any upcoming projects we should be on the look out for?

I mentioned Touchback earlier, which is a nice family film about a football star in a small town in Ohio who has a career-ending injury which changes the course of his life. He gets a chance to go back and re-live that week before his injury and has some interesting choices to make as to what he would do over again and what he would change. After the intensity of Straw Dogs, this movie will be a nice change… especially for my squeemish family and friends!

Do you have any closing remarks?

Been a pleasure. Thanks.

Interview: Drew Powell (Straw Dogs)

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