‘Cabin in the Woods’ Star Fran Kranz Talks Broadway, Horror Movies, and Joss Whedon

ALTWhatever your plans for Friday are, you might want to go ahead and cancel them right now. Actor Fran Kranz has a a bit of itinerary change for you. “Nothing gets me happier than the idea of someone seeing The Cabin in the Woods in the afternoon and going to see Death of a Salesman at night,” Kranz recently told Hollywood.com.

And with good reason: The 28-year-old actor – best known in the Joss Whedon-verse as Topher from Dollhouse – is currently appearing in both Mike Nichols‘ hot ticket Broadway revival of Death of a Salesman as Bernard and, starting tomorrow, in Drew Goddard‘s wildly anticipated horror comedy film, Cabin in the Woods, as stoner/underdog hero Marty (or, as Kranz described him, “That meta-aware character”).  “I couldn’t ask for two more different, but equally fulfilling projects,” the actor told us.

Of course, Kranz, like the rest of the cast and crew of the long-delayed The Cabin in the Woods, could have never predicted that the starkly different projects would come together at the same time. “I filmed Cabin in the Woods before I think Death of a Salesman was even an idea in Mike Nichols or Philip Seymour Hoffman‘s heads.”

Shot back in 2009, the film was in limbo until Lionsgate picked it up for distribution and gave it its fateful April 13, 2012 release date. Still, this particular horror movie-friendly Friday the 13th just so happens to coincide with the ongoing limited-engagement run of Death of a Salesman. “It’s kind of crazy, in a great way,” Franz said of his current double-duty schedule of performing on Broadway seven times a week and promoting Cabin in the Woods.

“I have a supporting part [in Death of a Salesman] but I still feel it. I don’t know Philip Seymour Hoffman does it because he goes there every night and it’s a powerful performance,” said Franz, who joked that he has “a couple of clones” helping with the work load. “But I actually do have a little bit of time, thankfully, to promote the movie and I want to do as much as I possibly can for it because I love it so much….Its not even a job [to promote it], its just fun.”

And much like his Cabin co-stars and its filmmakers, Kranz, who already knows a thing or two about being part of a Whedon passion project, has pulled off the delicate balancing act of talking about the film without revealing too much of the film’s buzzed-about third act. But even in the age of the spoiler-friendly Internet, Kranz hasn’t worried too much about giving it all away. “The movie has so many secrets and twists, it’s not just one thing. I couldn’t just tell you that Kevin Spacey was Keyser Söze or that Bruce Willis was dead and then ruin the movie. I’d have to sit a person down and explain the movie for a while to exhaust every possible turn,” Kranz explained, “I don’t think it’s such an easy reveal, I think it just escalates and reveals itself at its own pace and it’s wonderful that way.”

ALTSo while Kranz stayed mum on any possible spoilers, he did give something of a surprising statement: Despite having already worked with the masterful Whedon before, the self-described “Whedon fan”  said he still had high expectations for him with Cabin in the Woods. “[When I read the script] I was like, ‘Joss, I didn’t know you had this in you’!”, Kranz said with a laugh, adding, “The movie escalates in such a way that, early on I kind of smiled knowingly at the Whedon-esque dialogue and twists and turns….I kinda ‘got it’ quickly but then my jaw dropped and I was blown away by the end, truly.”

Surprisingly, it wasn’t just the infusion of Whedon’s style of storytelling (“The funny guy [like Marty] in Joss’ world often has Joss’ voice. Joss often speaks through his funny, sardonic characters”) or the film’s many twists and turns that impressed Kranz, but how Cabin incorporated classic horror movies, all while turning them on their head. And while Kranz can see why people will be making those inevitable Scream comparisons, he thinks Cabin puts even another twist on what those films did to the genre.

“The wonderful thing about these characters is that they don’t know they’re in a horror film and I think Scream was a little more tongue-in-cheek than we are, whereas our tongue-in-cheek is outside of us. It’s in the setting of the film and not so much in the characters’ dialogue. I like that because it’s kind of a classic horror film in the sense that, even though it’s subversive and turns conventions on their head and has fun with stereotypes, it’s sort of an homage to the glory days of horror like Friday the 13th and Evil Dead.”

Franz continued, “The humor that I’ve seen in recent horror films is not the same kind of humor of the older movies. It’s young teen humor that’s kind of raunchy and not actual, good comedy. I think there’s a lot of the violence is violence for violence sake. But there’s a sense of nostalgia with The Cabin in the Woods.” A good old fashioned scare at the movies on a Friday night? Might as well clear your schedule now.

The Cabin in the Woods opens nationwide in theaters tomorrow and Death of a Salesman runs on Broadway at the Barrymore Theater until June 2.

[Photo © 2012- Lions Gate Entertainment- All Rights Reserved]

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