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William Mapother

William: "I like the Japanese
psychological horror".

Conducted by Phil Davies Brown
November 04th, 2004

As if managing to see The Grudge a week before it's release wasn't good enough, I also had the pleasure of chatting to actor William Mapother about his role in the film.

William plays Matthew, a businessman who gets caught up in the terrifying goings on at a cursed house in Japan.

Read on to see how William coped during his time in Japan filming the scariest movie of the year!

As an actor who has appeared in many recent box-office hits, and big budget blockbusters, what attracted you to star in a modestly budgeted remake of a Japanese horror film?
As always, the director, the script, and the character. The budget, frankly, is irrelevant. I’ve become best-known for my role in In the Bedroom, which was made for much less than The Grudge.

Stephen Susco did a great job adapting Ju-On for American audiences while maintaining the spirit of the film, which wasn’t easy.

Had you seen Ju:on before you got the script?
No, I received the script for the remake, and then I watched the original.

Are you a fan of the genre and if so, what are some of your favourite horror movies?
Yes, I’m a big fan and love being scared. Some of my favorites are The Shining, The Exorcist, The Ring, and old James Whale films.

What are your thoughts on American horror vs. Japanese horror?
I’m not a big fan of gory films, so I like the Japanese psychological horror, and I also prefer the lack of morality in Japanese horror, in which even the innocent become victims. Finally, Japanese horror doesn’t offer as much clarity and explanation as American horror, and I find that ambiguity scarier.

William: "Actors in Japan are treated as simply another member of the crew".

Was it your first time in Japan?
Yes, unfortunately. I’d wanted to visit for a long time. I didn’t get a chance to get outside Tokyo, but I really liked it.

Was it truly a big culture shock?
I’ve traveled a good bit for work and fun, so I’m familiar with foreign cultures, but the difference in language and mores did require some adjustment.

How easy did you find communicating with Takashi Shimizu who has limited English?
Much easier than you’d imagine. We had a fantastic interpreter, and Shimizu-san is clear, direct, and brief in his direction. It also focused my communication with him, helping to curb any tendency I might have had to run off at the mouth with questions...

Did you find that the filmmaking process in Japan was radically different to that of the US?
Actors in Japan are treated as simply another member of the crew. While we’d rehearse or block the next scene, grips and electricians were working around us laying cables, etc. It created a collegial atmosphere.

How did you enjoy working with Clea and KaDee?
We had a ball together, and our natural dynamics suited the casting. KaDee and I immediately began teasing one another as brother and sister, while Clea and I had a more quiet, relaxed relationship. They’re both very warm and professional.

You didn’t have any scenes with Sarah, but did you get to meet her and if so, what was she like?
We all spent time together away from shooting and would often go out as a group. Sarah is very funny. She enjoyed being our tour guide, as she’d quickly surveyed the neighborhood and picked up a number of phrases. She organized a number of outings.

Were you pleased with the finished film?

William: "I enjoy the specificity of purpose".

Are you surprised that the film did as well at the box-office this weekend as it did?
I think we all were. It just finished the second weekend #1 as well. It was a combination of smart marketing by Sam Raimi and Sony, as well as Sarah’s fan base, good timing, and a good movie.

Would you like to do another horror movie?
I’d love to. I enjoy the specificity of purpose. Horrors are like comedies that way, in that they’re both after a very specific reaction, a fright or a laugh. As a result, everything in the film has to work just so to achieve that goal, including the performances. It was a welcome change from the more varied measures of success for a drama.

What projects will you be working on next?
I’m in a movie called ‘Lords of Dogtown’, about the birth of the modern skateboard culture in Venice, California in 1975, which is due out next summer. Otherwise, like most actors I’m waiting to hear back about several things.

"Thank you ever so much for taking part in this interview William.
And we wish you the very best of luck in the future."

The Grudge is released nationwide in the UK on the 5th November,
and is currently on general release in the US. You can read a review here.

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