Actor Scott Haze almost drove himself crazy spending three long months sleeping in caves in the chilly mountains of Tennessee in preparation for his role as a violent killer in James Franco's new movie Child Of God. The film, an adaptation of author Cormac McCarthy's 1973 novel of the same name, revolves around Haze's character Lester Ballard, a troubled man who retreats into the caves and descends into madness and murder, killing women and having sex with their bodies.
Haze reveals he became a real-life caveman himself, surviving on only one piece of fish and an apple each day, in an effort to fully understand Ballard's mindset - and he only quit the exercise when the weather became too cold for him to continue.
He tells the Associated Press, "I knew that this was a role that I had to go to crazy extreme lengths... I slept in caves many nights with bats all around. It was crazy. I let everything go, just hung out with the hillbillies and stayed as isolated as possible."
The fish and fruit diet caused his weight to plummet from 195 pounds (88 kilograms) to 150 pounds (68 kilograms) and his dedication to the role surprised Franco, who had no idea his leading man had literally become a caveman until Haze turned up for the first day of filming, looking and acting completely in character.
Speaking at a press conference for Child of God at the Venice Film Festival in Italy on Saturday (31Aug13), Franco said, "(Haze) didn't really talk to anyone, stayed to himself, and was like that for the whole shoot."
Franco also hailed 25-year-old Haze's acting in the movie as "the performance of a lifetime".
Writer McCarthy based the character of Ballard on real-life Wisconsin murderer and body snatcher Ed Gein, the notorious 1950s criminal who also served as the inspiration for Psycho's Norman Bates and Leatherface in the horror hit The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Last year director Garry Marshall hit upon a devilishly canny approach to the romantic comedy. A more polished refinement of Hal Needham’s experimental Cannonball Run method it called for assembling a gaggle of famous faces from across the demographic spectrum and pairing them with a shallow day-in-the-life narrative packed with gobs of gooey sentiment. A cynical strategy to be sure but one that paid handsome dividends: Valentine’s Day earned over $56 million in its opening weekend surpassing even the rosiest of forecasts. Buoyed by the success Marshall and his screenwriter Katherine Fugate hastily retreated to the bowels of Hades to apply their lucrative formula to another holiday historically steeped in romantic significance and New Year’s Eve was born.
Set in Manhattan on the last day of the year New Year’s Eve crams together a dozen or so canned scenarios into one bloated barely coherent mass of cliches. As before Marshall’s recruited an impressive ensemble of minions to do his unholy bidding including Oscar winners Hilary Swank Halle Berry and Robert De Niro the latter luxuriating in a role that didn’t require him to get out of bed. High School Musical’s Zac Efron is paired up with ‘80s icon Michelle Pfeiffer – giving teenage girls and their fathers something to bond over – while Glee’s Lea Michele meets cute with a pajama-clad Ashton Kutcher. There’s Katherine Heigl in a familiar jilted-fiance role Sarah Jessica Parker as a fretful single mom and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges as the most laid-back cop in New York. Sofia Vergara and Hector Elizondo mine for cheap laughs with thick accents – his fake and hers real – and Jessica Biel and Josh Duhamel deftly mix beauty with blandness. Fans of awful music will delight in the sounds of Jon Bon Jovi straining against type to play a relevant pop musician.
The task of interweaving the various storylines is too great for Marshall and New Year’s Eve bears the distinct scent and stain of an editing-room bloodbath with plot holes so gaping that not even the brightest of celebrity smiles can obscure them. But that’s not the point – it never was. You should know better than to expect logic from a film that portrays 24-year-old Efron and 46-year-old Parker as brother-and-sister without bothering to explain how such an apparent scientific miracle might have come to pass. Marshall wagers that by the time the ball drops and the film’s last melodramatic sequence has ended prior transgressions will be absolved and moviegoers will be content to bask in New Year's Eve's artificial glow. The gambit worked for Valentine's Day; this time he may not be so fortunate.