“I interviewed a thousand people, and then I’m living in the cabin, then the cave, and then we’re making a movie.”
Yes, you read that right — living in a cave. Just a few tactics actor Scott Haze used to prepare for his role as Lester Ballad in "Child of God." Haze lost 45 pounds for his role as a deranged man in the Appalachian Mountains in Tennessee during the 1960s. His character was ultimately shunned by his community, and enters a dark world of loneliness, violence and murder.
“I felt like it was necessary to do something very different than what I know,” Haze stated. “At the time, I weighed a lot and was very muscular and had a shaved head. I knew nothing about Tennessee or what it would be like to live in a cave or be alone for that long.” In further preparation for his role, Haze even went as far as to isolate himself for three months, his only creature comfort an iPod filled with music from Eminem.
Directed by James Franco, "Child of God" is an adaptation from novelist Cormac McCarthy, who also wrote "No Country for Old Men." “I put a lot of pressure on myself," said Franco of adapting the McCarthy's material. "I love his writing and his books so much. In the end, you can’t control results — to a certain extent — but you can only be as good as you are.”
Franco is no stranger to feeling pressure, however, as he’s been in this position before when playing James Dean on-screen. “I knew there would be a lot of scrutiny and a lot of pressure but I really couldn’t control anybody’s perception of it," he recalled of his Golden Globe-winning performance. "All I could control was how hard I worked on it and then let the results go, and it’s sort of how we worked here.”
So far, Haze’s performance, too, has been receiving positive reviews from critics. “Not everyone has to live in a cave before they start acting,” he laughed.
Franco adds, “This movie is in the realm of art. This is an examination and a portrait of what it is to be human seen through the lens and behavior of a crazy person.”
And anything written by Cormac McCarthy is sure to be a treat.
See a few stills from the production below, and be sure to check out "Child of God," in theaters August 1.