Interview: Eli Roth (director/actor)
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Date Stamp: December 18, 2009

Thick: So, how is Canada treating you?
Eli Roth:
Canadian audiences have always been very receptive to me, been very cool. Toronto Film Festival, they were awesome. That's where I first launched Cabin Fever. And Fantasia Festival in Montreal was really receptive to Cabin Fever and they screened Inglorious Basterds there. So, I have quite an affinity for Canadians...and for Canadian music. Gordon Lightfoot in particular. Any excuse to come to Canada.

T: How did you and Quentin become friends and how did this role in Inglorious Basterds come about?
We became friends six years ago at the Los Angeles Film Festival. He came to a screening of Cabin Fever and he loved it. It was June of 2003. He invited me to his house to watch movies. I went over there and we watched War of the Gargantuan. He showed me some scenes from Kill Bill and I found him to be such a nice, cool, honest, open, friendly guy. He soon became one of the few guys I could turn to for advice. He's the one who encouraged me to write Hostel. I wrote it in ten days and went back to his house, this is December of 2004 now, and we went through the whole script, he loved it, and then he said, do you want to hear a scene from Inglorious Basterds? And I'm like, yeah, dude. I thought it would be five pages, and he pulls out fifty pages! It's all of Chapter Two with Hitler and Aldo and the Bear Jew, and he acted out every part. It was like Quentin Tarantino theater live in front of me. And that's where I first heard about the project.

T: Talk about your roles prior to this.
In Cabin Fever I had cast Michael Rosenbaum and he called me and he was like, dude, I can't get out of Vancouver. I'm on this show Smallville as Lex Luthor. It's blowing up, I can't leave. So, I had to play the part 'cause it was in the woods in North Carolina. So, I couldn't afford anyone else. Quentin thought I was the best actor in the film. That's why he put me in Death Proof. I was prepping Hostel II and I was like, dude, I don't have time. He was like, come on, come on, you gotta do it. I did the shot one week in this bar scene and his direction to me then was, literally, okay, we have two minutes until lunch, don't fuck it up. That was it. I wanted a second take for my close-up at the bar, and he's like, oooh, mister actor wants a take two. Alright, we hit a meal penalty in thirty seconds, go...if we hit, you're paying for it. That was pretty much my acting experience. With Basterds it just worked out. There was another actor that he had originally had written it for eight years ago and by the time it came around to do it, he wanted me to do it. He's like, you're the guy for it but it's got to be a real 360 degree character. You gotta know this like you know your best friend. I like acting and I certainly know how to act, and I've directed actors. And as a director you have to understand and know acting. I feel like I've been able to direct very natural performances out of my actors. They don't real like they're acting. They feel like real kids. But I always wanted to throw myself into a part like Robert DeNiro or Peter Sellers. Just drop everything and fully dive into it, and that's what I did. I put on forty pounds of muscle, and I went back to Boston, which is where I'm from, in character. By the time I came to Berlin I was ready to kill Nazis.

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