Contributed by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor for
December 18, 2012

Iconic horror villain Leatherface revs up his famed weapon of choice for a return in Texas Chainsaw 3D, a direct sequel that picks up after the events of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and even integrates footage from the 1974 slasher classic. The modernized 2013 installment stars Alexandra Daddario (Percy Jackson, Hall Pass, TV's White Collar) as the heir to the estate of the franchise's cannibalistic Sawyer clan who digs up monstrous revelations about her family's murderously infamous past. The carnage-soaked thriller from director John Luessenhop (Takers) also features Tania Raymonde, Scott Eastwood, Shaun Sipos, Dan Yeager, genre favorite Bill Moseley in a stage-setting cameo, and R&B singer Trey Songz in his acting debut.

In this interview, Alexandra and Trey share their experiences of working on the film, from the gruesome and gory moments of the action sequences to the more lighthearted off-camera adventure of scavenging for decent Chinese food. Additionally, Trey credits his castmates and director for easing him into the acting world ensemble-style, and Alexandra gives a shout out to one of our favorite sitcoms, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, on which she recently guest starred.

MEDIA: Did either of you re-visit the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre as a reference?

TREY: We both actually watched it before we filmed, but after we had gotten the roles. I watched the film three times during the shooting of the movie. We didn't watch it all together, but I watched one time with Shaun, and it was amazing--you know, it just brought a different value to what we were a part of, and it made me more honored to be a part of the film knowing that there was so much homage paid to the original within this one. And it was the first new version of the film that was actually integrating the original in such a clever way, as well. And there's so many mysteries and twists throughout it, I thought it was brilliant.

Did you get the opportunity to pick the brains of any of the original cast?

ALEXANDRA: I did. I got to talk to Marilyn Burns for a little bit, and she was incredibly sweet and amazing. And I talked to her about making the film, and you could tell (I mean, I'm sure she gets asked it all the time, for years and years and years) it was definitely a rough shoot. And there's some, like, famous story about them really cutting her finger at the end scene. Something wasn't working, so they just really cut it, because they just wanted to get out of there. Crazy stories. I think the making of that film is as interesting as the film itself in some ways.

Wow...Do you think you could ever go that method if the filmmakers were just like, [shrugs] "You know what? We're just going to have to cut you..."?

ALEXANDRA: I think SAG would get involved very quickly. Like SAG and AFTRA would be right there. There'd be lawyers. [laughs] I think it was a totally different situation making [the original].

With all of the action and horror you've done between Texas Chainsaw 3D, Bereavement, and Percy Jackson, what has been one of your most badass moments that made you feel really tough?

ALEXANDRA: Well, during Percy Jackson, I have a sword fight with Percy, and that was like the first time that I got to really do a full fight, and it was the first time I ever got to do stunts for a film, and do sword fighting and that kind of thing. And I felt like the biggest badass in the whole world, that I was, like, kicking this guy's ass. [laughs] And it was really empowering and fun, and that was a really cool moment for me. And I love playing these tough, strong characters. I find that it's something I don't get to be in real life--you know, I'm a little bit softer spoken in real life--and you get to access a totally different part of yourself, and that's really cool.

Did any of your previous fight choreography and stunt training carry over into Texas Chainsaw 3D?

ALEXANDRA: On Percy, I learned about harnesses and wire work and that kind of thing, and there was a little bit of that on this film. And definitely how to land...I mean, there's stuff that I'll never be able to do that the stunt people always have to do. But just [knowing] how it sort of works, I'm less trepidatious now.

What did you think of the scene in which Leatherface is attacking you and Tania in the van?

ALEXANDRA: That was very intense. That's one of the most frightening scenes to film, I think, for me. There were a bunch, but that one...I mean, we were in close quarters, it was claustrophobic, and we're both screaming. And she's such an amazing actress, and person, and your energy's feeding off of each other--you're just getting more and more scared, and there's a chainsaw coming in at you, and you're getting sprayed with blood. It was definitely very intense. But definitely, the energies working off of each other...I think that's why that sequence is so terrifying.

TREY: There was a lot of glass, too.

ALEXANDRA: Yeah. I've been refraining from mentioning that, but yeah...There was "some glass." [laughs]

How did you feel about seeing the "kill room" for the first time?

ALEXANDRA: [laughs] Very scary. I mean, the special effects artists and the prosthetics guys were absolutely incredible, and they're old pros, and the stuff that they managed to do was incredible...And seeing that [finished] sequence was the goriest [and] one of the most terrifying moments of the film for me. Yeah, definitely very creepy.

Growing up, what were some of your favorite horror movies?

TREY: Friday the 13th.

ALEXANDRA: My mom showed me...We used to go out to the country, and there's like nothing there, and we'd watch The Birds, Alfred Hitchcock. Or Psycho. And then go to bed. And it's like completely silent, and I had nightmares. It was completely terrifying. I couldn't sleep! [laughs]

What gets to you more: suspense or gore?

ALEXANDRA: Well, I'm a scaredy-cat. And I think I was very young when I saw that movie... [laughs] But I think suspense is scarier. I think gore...It's a different kind of fear.

TREY: Saw is one of my favorites, [and] that's all about suspense and gore. So I think they play a good role equally.

What attracted you to this project?

ALEXANDRA: I think I was really just excited to be part of such an iconic franchise, and I really liked the role and the strength of the character. And I thought that doing a horror film...It was the right time for me.

TREY: Well, for me, it was John, the director. He definitely went out of his way to make sure that I understood how interested he was in having me in the film. Not to say that I was totally uninterested, but I was in the middle of recording my album, and I had like a four week break coming up--I had just come off tour and I was recording an album. And every other movie I've turned down, it's been because the role wasn't right or I didn't have time, or I had to do this, that, and the other. And this movie just happened to be shooting within my four week vacation. [And] John's a sweetheart. Like he came and he told me his life story, and he's in the studio with me till four in the morning. And I'm like, "What are you still doing here talking to me about this movie?" Like, "I don't expect you to go this hard for me to be in this film." And after reading it and having some conversations with him about things I would like to happen, and my protected interests...As a business decision, this movie isn't based solely upon me--the failure or the success will not be upon me. I think a lot of artists, when they transition into films, allow that to happen. No matter how talented they are, no matter how much devotion they have towards it, they put themselves in a situation where they take on the weight of the whole movie--they have to carry it. And I had a cast that actually carried it with me.

Given that this is your acting debut, how did you feel about taking the plunge?

TREY: It was definitely a memorable experience. It's something I'll never forget. It was a blessing to be a part of such a huge franchise, and more so a blessing [that] there was such a supportive, young, fresh cast that I could learn from, with a director that was willing to be very patient with me. And to have a role that didn't weigh a lot on me as a person...Like I feel as though Alex had the job of a character [where] she had to really go into a different mind space. [My character] Ryan isn't really that deep of a person. He's just there for her. [jokes] Sometimes he's there for the other girl, too.

Has social media afforded you the chance to get the word out about this movie in a lot of interactive ways?

TREY: Oh, most definitely. There are so many. I'm very much involved in social media from Google Hangouts to Ustreaming. I streamed a live version of my show here in LA at the Nokia Theatre [in which] I actually play a two minute trailer of the movie. And I have my own social network entitled The Angel Network. It's free on iPhones and Androids, and I talk about the movie all the time.

We often hear that there's a lot of humor on the set of horror flicks. Any goofy moments to lighten the mood on this one?

ALEXANDRA: I don't know... [laughs] One time Trey was making faces at me during my close-up.

TREY: [laughs] I forgot about that...

ALEXANDRA: But I think the nice thing was we knew when we were supposed to be serious, and when it was okay to joke around. It was really hot, and we had worked long hours, and it was nice to have some light moments.

TREY: I was always there for her, is what she's trying to say.

ALEXANDRA: That's what I'm trying to say. [laughs] You know, Trey has a great sense of humor, and we all knew when it was okay to joke around and keep things light. And that's how you deal with a tough situation, is with humor. And we were having fun and making a movie...But nothing, like, crazy that I can think of in particular.

What was the thing to do during your downtime?

ALEXANDRA: [laughs] The best food we could find was at the casino which was across the railroad tracks, so we'd, like, crawl under this hole in the fence and jump over the railroad tracks...And we'd go to the casino just to eat the Chinese food there, and then we'd, like, crawl back and jump over the train tracks. Coming from New York City, that was like the coolest thing for me, ever.

TREY: [laughs] I'm so glad I wasn't invited.

ALEXANDRA: You were probably invited...You probably found a better restaurant! [laughs]

Now that you have this movie under your belts, what's the secret to being a character in a horror movie and surviving?

TREY: [jokes] Well, you can't be black.

ALEXANDRA: I think you need to be the protagonist. [laughs]

Well, what do you think are the fatal flaws a lot of horror movie characters fall into?

ALEXANDRA: Well, I think a lot of characters...Like, you wouldn't expect Leatherface to come out of the basement and attack you with a chainsaw. So [as a viewer], you'd be like, "No, don't go in there!" But as a character, you wouldn't be scared.

TREY: But you definitely don't go in the basement, though.


And if you do go into the basement and there's a hidden room there, you certainly don't go into the hidden room...

ALEXANDRA: "Don't go anywhere alone!" Not that that works.

TREY: "Don't scream out at people." Like Tania has a scene [where she calls out to Leatherface]. No. John wanted me to say that. "I'm not doing that!" [laughs] So there are a couple steps--minor things that'll get you through, I think. At least give you a couple more seconds of breath.

ALEXANDRA: "If you feel nervous at all, don't keep going. Just turn around." [laughs]

Alexandra, I was pleasantly surprised to see you pop up on one of my favorite sitcoms recently, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Is there more comedy in your future?

ALEXANDRA: I hope so!

TREY: She's hilarious. She is.

ALEXANDRA: [laughs] Thank you! I enjoy doing comedy. I really do. And my mom has always told me I have good comedic timing. But I don't know what that means, because it's coming from my mom. [laughs] But It's Always Sunny is one of my favorite shows, and I was really excited to be on it and see that whole process, and how the actors basically run the show. I've never seen anything like that before: they're the creators and the producers. But yeah, I want to do all different kinds of roles, and I hope to do more comedy, and all different kinds of things.

Has there been any talk about you returning to White Collar?

ALEXANDRA: No, unfortunately. I mean, I loved that show and I love Matt [Bomer] and Tim [DeKay], and I think the show's great. I just don't think that, creatively, they found how to navigate my character...But hopefully...Who knows? [laughs]

Thank you both for your time!

TREY: Guys, good night!


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