Tuesday morning, I spoke with actress Shawnee Smith, who played Amanda Young in the Saw franchise. I had the opportunity to talk about her experience with the Saw films. Check out our interview below.
Chris “the Scoop” Salce: When you first found out that you were going to be in ‘Saw’, did you have any idea that it would be as big as it is?
Shawnee Smith: Oh no…nobody did. I mean I suppose like Gregg [Hoffman], Mark [Burg] and Oren [Koules], who put their money into it, had a big hope (laughs) but um…we didn’t know. You couldn’t know. You never really know but they saw the genius in the script but still, it’s up to the audience eventually.
Chris: In the first film, you had somewhat of a minor role. You did have the ‘jaw trap’ on but not much screen time. How happy were you when they decided to bring your character back for the other films and become a huge part of the franchise?
Shawnee Smith: It was great, what a surprise. I remember when they first decided on the poster, it was the jaw trap, and I just kind of chuckled to myself you know and like after a half a day’s worth of work (laughs), turns into a poster and just one line, ‘he helped me,’ it was kind of a germ of an idea, like a seed for subsequent films and the relationship between John and Amanda. It was super cool.
Chris: How was it putting on that jaw trap?
Shawnee Smith: It was a lot more painful the first time than the reenactment (laughs). Then they had some money to use more expensive, lightweight material. The first one was pretty rude and heavy but made it all the easier to act those things.
Chris: Were you a fan of horror films before you started doing the ‘Saw’ films?
Shawnee Smith: A fan in the sense of great respect but um…I was the youngest of four siblings and so ‘Exorcist’, ‘Amityville Horror’, ‘Halloween’, ‘Friday the 13th’ (laughs), you know…I was like subjected to these films at a very young age and was terrorized by them. And so when I could control what was on the screen…literally I would sit through the screenings of the ‘Saw’ movies with the small tv over my eyes, like when you take your fingers and crisscross them and you can make the tiniest screen (laughs). Like when I’m at home, I’d rent James’ [Wan] other horror movies from Netflix, like literally I’ll rent it and I’ll put it in and after like five minutes, I can’t do it. I have to turn it off, it terrifies me, especially when you get to the spiritual realm. I just can’t do it.
Chris: Yeah i’m the same way when it comes to horror. I don’t like horror films other than Rob Zombie’s films, though I liked ‘Saw’ because of the idea of it but other than that, I won’t bother with them.
Shawnee Smith: Yeah especially like with all the ghost stuff and I can’t take that at all (laughs). I won’t sleep.
Chris: How was it working with James Wan?
Shawnee Smith: Oh Jimmy…you know, it’s like he’s one of those director geniuses. He has the gift. When you work with creative visionaries like that, it’s like you get on a rollercoaster and you just ride, and that’s really fun because they know exactly what they want, and it’s really fun and cute to watch them especially on his first movie where he’s the underdog and doesn’t have a lot of money but he’s got that same vision that he still has today. So to watch him fighting for the shots that he wanted that day and at times it’s hard to accept defeat cause he couldn’t get this but he did get that, to see him struggle through it like a mad scientist, was just a beautiful thing as an artist to watch. I just love to see all of his subsequent success. He keeps on doing it, it’s awesome.
Chris: A lot of franchises these days get rebooted after just a couple of years, do you think Saw would ever get a reboot?
Shawnee Smith: I don’t know…I think the few times that I’ve…it seems to me the feeling is like if a worthy idea came, they are open to scoring it but they just haven’t found that worthy idea. They’re not in any rush to downgrade it.
Chris: In your opinion, which movie in the franchise was the scariest?
Shawnee Smith: The most horrifying is ‘Saw 3’. Where she [Amanda] dies thinking that it was all a lie. That’s the greatest horror, is to die out of love and loss.
Saw: Unrated and Saw: The Collection are available now on iTunes. The iTunes digital release of Saw: Unrated and Saw: The Complete Collection now includes a brand-new 3-part, 77-minute retrospective, Game Changer: The Legacy of Saw.