In Let Me In, a bullied, young boy named Owen (played by Kodi Smit-McPhee) gets a new neighbor and a new friend in Abby (played by Chloe Moretz) who underneath her girlish exterior secretly is a vampire. She is able to keep her secret so well because of the help of her guardian or “Father.” Richard Jenkins has been in films such as The Visitor, Burn After Reading, Eat Pray Love and now adds Let Me In to his credits as The Father.
FilmMonthly: What’s your process for getting into character and preparing for a role such as ‘The Father’ in Let Me In?
Richard Jenkins: Well, you just look at the script and see what’s there. You try to get all your clues from you know, what’s there on the page and take it from there, you know. One thing leads to the next. It’s a process. It’s kind of gradual, but it all starts with what’s written.
FM: What interested you in the role of ‘The Father’?
RJ: Oh I liked the fact that he didn’t talk a lot. I liked it that you had to learn about him from looking at him. And the way he dresses, what he does, the way he responds to things and I like that. I like that. That’s what film can do so well and Matt Reeves is just great with the camera. Letting it be very still and telling a story you know, through the actors. That was a challenge, but it was fun. Really fun.
FM: What was the audition like?
RJ: I didn’t audition.
FM: So how did you get the role? Did they call you?
RJ: I met Matt at a party once during press for The Visitor and he talked about the movie. And then they offered it to me.
FM: What was it like working with the child actors on this film? What’s it like working with child actors in general?
RJ: Well, there’s a reason they’re starring in movies. They’re exceptional kids. You know, it’s. For their age, they’re pretty amazing. It’s a big responsibility to carry a film. These two kids are incredible kids. But I find most young actors are pretty, really smart, a lot of fun, very good. Not like I was when I was their age.
FM: What’s your favorite scene from Let Me In?
RJ: Oh gosh, I don’t think of it that way. Let me see, my favorite scene. I like the scene in the kitchen. When I’m packing to go out. Do it. Get some blood for her. I like that scene. That was nice.
FM: What was the biggest challenge working on this film?
RJ: Physically, it was a lot of running around in the snow at 12,000 feet. So it was a challenge physically, but it was fun. It was interesting you know, being the oldest person on the set. But it was fun. But I knew it was going to be and I wanted to do my own stuff, I didn’t want anybody else doing it for me.
FM: Do you find that horror films are easier to do or are they more difficult?
RJ: I don’t think it’s. I didn’t have to, wearing the makeup for the burn, that took forever. That was difficult. But no, I don’t think so, I don’t think that they’re any more difficult than any other film from my perspective. But I haven’t done a lot of it, so, I’m not really sure.
FM: Do you scare easy? Would you get nightmares from working on the set at all?
RJ: No, it doesn’t bother me. I don’t see a lot of horror films but as a kid I used to see them all the time. It scared me a few times when I was watching it, but I don’t mind being scared.
FM: How did you get into acting?
RJ: I went to college and I saw a production of Hamlet and thought I’d like to do that. Started in school. I’ve always, as soon as I began, I knew this is what I wanted to do.
FM: What did you want to be when you were a little kid? Did you want to be an actor?
RJ: I did. I did. I didn’t quite know. I grew up in a fairly small town and there really wasn’t any theater there. And we used to go to the movies all the time. I’d go to movies. I loved movies, but I didn’t think it was possible that you could do that. I didn’t, you know. So, but I always wanted to be in some kind of performing life. When I went to college, I saw this whole theater world in college and became a part of it. But I always wanted to do movies. That was always in the back of my head.
FM: How did your parents feel about you wanting to be an actor?
RJ: My parents are very supportive. They really were. They were never. If they ever disapproved, I never knew about it. It’s helpful. Very helpful. One less thing to worry about.
FM: What are you looking for role-wise in the future?
RJ: I don’t have any criteria except I just have to be interested in it when I read it and think I can bring something to it if I played it. That’s about it.
Let Me In is now available on DVD at a store near YOU.
Jessica Machen is a writer and filmmaker currently living in Chicago.
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