Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of sitting down with ‘The Cabin in the Woods’ star Fran Kranz as he came through Philly for a press tour to promote the movie. Read on to find out his thoughts on his character, Marty, Joss Whedon, and how he felt about using a bong as a weapon of mass destruction.
Can you tell me a bit about your character in Cabin in the Woods? How similar are you to your character Marty?
I play Marty and he is sort of the slacker/stoner/pothead. He fills that archetype, but he doesn’t meet all the stereotypes that you’d imagine. There’s more to him than meets the eye. He has the paranoia and all the conspiracy theories that you’d expect from your pothead, but he’s a loyal, loving friend. He’s sort of Shaggy meets Scooby.
I definitely thought about previous stoner performances like Brad Pitt in ‘True Romance’. I love James Franco in ‘Pineapple Express’. I thought about Corey Feldman in ‘The Burbs’. I don’t think that he was explicitly a stoner in that movie, but it was Corey Feldman, so of course he was. I thought a lot about an ex-girlfriend of mine. Not that she was a huge stoner, but she was among some of the inspirations I had [for the role].
How much I’m like the guy? You know, Marty smokes more pot that anyone I’ve ever met, so I’m not in that league, but he’s a very loving guy. Drew Goddard, the director/co-writer, always felt that it was important for us to play [our characters] as real friends who loved each other, so I had to find those characteristics, and I really held on to the loyalty that he had. The almost dog-like loyalty. I love the guy. I sort of miss him.
A lot of people have been saying that the less you know about this movie before seeing it, the better off you’ll be. Has it been difficult discussing the film without giving away too many details or possible spoilers?
It is tough. It’s a weird thing. I’ve learned how well I can keep a secret, you know what I mean? In addition, it’s taken a while to come out. It’s such a cool movie and I really do believe that is the case, so I really do believe that it’s best that you go in kind of blind and not knowing. In that sense, it’s been easier to keep the secret because I love the movie and I want people to love the movie. If someone is squeamish of horror films, I like to tell them that it’s funny, whereas with the hardcore horror film fans, I tell them that it’s bloody. I think we used the most amount of blood of any movie ever made, with the exception of ‘The Shining’. I do think more people die in ‘The Cabin in the Woods’ than any other movie ever made.
What were your initial reactions to the film the first time you read through the script?
Honestly, I thought it was one of the best scripts that I’ve ever read. Period. Obviously, I’m a horror film fan. I’m into the genre. There was a way that it escalated and there wasn’t just one twist. I knew Drew’s work and I knew Joss Whedon’s work, the other co-writer and producer, because I was working with him on ‘Dollhouse’, so I already what these guys were capable of, but this blew my mind. Even with the high expectations, it blew my mind. It’s not just one twist. There are these bizarre twists and turns that form this wild, creative, entertaining knot that you really can’t ruin. I can’t just tell you, for instance, that Bruce Willis is dead or who Keyser Soze is, you know what I mean? I don’t think that there’s just one thing to expose the movie and ruin it. I think it’s all over the place and wonderful that way. The way it escalated, I just couldn’t believe it as I kept going. And then it ends with just a wonderful climax. I just had a smile on my face for a long time after reading it.
One of the things that put a smile on my face was Marty’s weapon of choice. What was your reaction to that initially?
(Laughing) That was pretty awesome. I have a bong! I was just reading in Rolling Stone that you haven’t lived until you see me using a bong as a weapon of mass destruction, which is pretty awesome. It’s too much. It’s insane. The movie is just so much fun. The bong is something that a lot of people are talking about these days. It’s great. It’s functioning. I mean, it worked.
Dude, I went to pot school. That’s where I went to school. Chris Hemsworth learned how to ride a motorcycle, some of the guys were doing scuba diving training, but I would literally spend hours a day rolling joints and smoking different kinds of fake pot to sort of figure out what I liked, and they were figuring out the bong because it was a real, functioning thing. And that was important. We couldn’t sit around fiddling with something or figure it out in editing. We wanted it to work. Supposedly, the prototype cost like $5,000. It was no joke. I hope—we’re all hoping that it goes into mass production.
A lot of people would appreciate it.
Yeah! Because it’s two birds with one stone. You get your coffee and you get your (mimes smoking a joint). And then you kinda level out. Once you’re not so high, you have your coffee and you figure it out. It’s pretty good.
You were previously on Joss Whedon’s TV show ‘Dollhouse’, and Whedon is a guy who likes to reuse the same actors. What was it like to get invited back for another Whedon production?
It’s embarrassing all that he’s done for me. It’s kinda silly. I was actually still filming the first season of ‘Dollhouse’ when I had my audition for ‘Cabin in the Woods’. I didn’t even realize he wanted me to read for it. I knew that he was making a movie though. Drew Goddard even came to set to talk about locations, and I was working that day, and I remember that they were looking at possible lakes, thinking that it was really cool. Then I got the audition, and for me it was like the elephant in the room because I’d go to the ‘Dollhouse’ set and there’s Joss and I’m auditioning for his movie. Does he even know, you know? It was very strange for me.
At that time, I hadn’t read the script. There were fake sides about the Clickity Clack Man chopping my friend’s head off. Very strange, very brutal, very excruciating monologue that I had to do. Then Joss came up to me and said, “Hey you did a really great job in the read. I want you to come read for Drew.” Eventually, it all worked out. Later on, I even found out that Joss had Drew come to set because he said that he had been working with Marty, which is just a huge compliment.
It’s amazing that Joss took a liking to me the way that he did. I just did a movie, ‘Much Ado About Nothing’, with him, and we had the second season of ‘Dollhouse’ after ‘Cabin in the Woods’. I love the guy, and he’s so loyal to his employees and the people that he works for. His fans are loyal to him. Something about him is inspiring and it gets the best out of people. I’d like to work with him as many times as I can. He’s the best.
I know that you’re currently performing on Broadway with Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Spider-Man himself, Andrew Garfield, in ‘Death of a Salesman’. What have you got lined up next?
Uhhhh… Nothing? (Laughs). I got ‘Cabin in the Woods’ this Friday, which is the best movie of the year. You should all see that. Then, ‘Much Ado About Nothing’, I believe, will be going around to some festivals.
I love doing theater. I did my first play professionally about a couple of years, maybe a year and a half ago, and I want to do a lot more of it. I’d like to get back on stage somewhere as soon as I can. Other than that, I’m gonna start waiting tables. (Smiles) Nah, we’ll figure it out. This (pointing to the ‘Cabin in the Woods’ poster) is gonna be great.
‘The Cabin in the Woods’ opens everywhere today, Friday the 13th. I highly encourage everyone to go see it, and to keep an eye out for my review of the movie this weekend as well.