Like Laurie Strode before her, “Texas Chainsaw 3D” heroine Heather Miller has the unfortunate distinction of being related to one of cinema’s most heinous villains.
In the new sequel to Tobe Hooper’s 1974 classic “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre,” Heather (played by 26-year-old starlet Alexandra Daddario) travels to rural Newt, Texas to collect a surprise inheritance. Unbeknownst to her, Heather is one of two living members of the town’s disgraced Sawyer family. And the other living relative, a cousin, is the notorious chainsaw wielding murderer known as Leatherface.
“Texas Chainsaw 3D” co-stars Tania Raymonde and singer Trey Songz as Heather’s unfortunate road trip companions, Scott Eastwood (Clint’s son) and Thom Barry as local law enforcement and Dan Yeager as Leatherface.
I recently caught up with Daddario to talk about the “Chainsaw” legacy, a real on-set ghost encounter, her irrational fear of amoebas and our mutual love for adorable bunny rabbits (yep, that happened).
David Onda: Did you see the original “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” before filming, and what did you take away from that that helped your performance?
Alexandra Daddario: I watched it after I booked the role, before I started shooting, and I think watching Marilyn Burns’ performance – all the actors, really – and also getting a sense of Leatherface’s character [helped]. I knew who Leatherface was before I had booked the role, but I didn’t know the story or the history or any of that. This film is a continuation of the story from the original, so it really helped me understand who these people were, what the story was, and the more research I did about it, the more I understood what this franchise was and what the intentions of the original film were, and just made me really excited to be part of it.
Onda: For people who have seen the original and the 2003 remake and the various sequels, how will this film satisfy them?
Daddario: The story takes place after the first one, a few years after the first one. And there are so many throwbacks to the original story, and it focuses a lot on the Sawyer family and on who Leatherface is. And we have cameos from some of the original actors – Marilyn Burns and Gunnar Hansen – and I think that’s really cool and I was honored that they wanted to be a part of the film.
Onda: Are “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” girls contractually obligated to wear half-shirts and/or be very sweaty the entire film?
Daddario: No. [laughs] I think that’s one of the fun things about a film like this, that there are these horror clichés and things that – I think this movie deviates from the cliché structure – but, yeah, I think that’s part of the fun of it. Plus, we shot in Shreveport in July and August, so you wouldn’t wanna be wearing too many clothes.
Onda: Natural sweat, then.
Daddario: Oh, yeah. It was.
Onda: What makes Leatherface such a terrifying villain?
Daddario: I think that he’s not this character that just lurks in the darkness and is sort of faceless. Even though he wears a mask, there’s a very human quality to him. There’s that close-up shot in the first movie where you see him lick his lips and see his eyes and you’re like, “Oh my god, this is actually a human being. How can a human being be capable of these kinds of things?” So I think that humanizing the villain actually makes it more terrifying. It’s scary to think that a human being could do this kind of thing.
Onda: Do you have any odd or irrational fears?
Daddario: [Laughs] I think we all have – brain amoebas from swimming in a lake? That’s a sort of irrational fear that could happen, right? No, I don’t know. I try to live pretty realistically. I have a slight fear of flying and that kind of thing, but nothing too crazy.
Onda: Even though you were on a movie set, there must have been something during filming that was legitimately unnerving or frightening.
Daddario: There was. We were shooting in this town outside of Shreveport, and we were shooting in this big house and my stand in – the girl who stands in for me when they’re lighting, a very sweet girl – she all of a sudden started crying and saying that she couldn’t be in the room that we were in. And she said that there was a woman in the corner crying and freaking out – like a ghost. And we were like, “Oh my god.” This girl was a totally wonderful, normal girl. She was legitimately scared. We later found out that the owner’s wife had died in that room. And we didn’t know it ahead of time. And that was really creepy.
Onda: Would you say that Trey Songz hit the jackpot by getting to play your boyfriend in his very first movie?
Daddario: [laughs] I don’t know. I mean, um. [laughs] Hit the jackpot… I think I was pretty lucky to be able to work with him. We all got along so well. He has no ego. I think he was really excited to be a part of this franchise. I know he’s been saying he picked this very carefully. He didn’t want to do something that was taking on too much. He wants to keep time for his music, but he really wanted to give as much respect and time to this role as he could. He just really impressed me. I had a great time working with him.
Onda: Have you gotten to see yourself in 3D and were you concerned at all about the experience?
Daddario: There were no worries. I mean, it’s weird watching yourself in 2D. It’s weird watching yourself at all. I feel like I’m still at a point where I have a lot to learn from watching myself, so I find that it helps. But it’s always weird.
Onda: More importantly, will your bunny get to see you in 3D?
Daddario: [laughs] You read my Twitter?
Onda: Well, my bunny follows you on Twitter because of your bunny.
Daddario: No way! I should follow back [Editor’s note: She did]. I love my rabbit, my family rabbit. I mean, what’s the good of Twitter if you can’t tweet cute… Twitter’s so silly. I tweet about my rabbit a lot. No, I can’t show my rabbit the movie, because rabbits get scared – can’t rabbits get frightened and die of a heart attack?
Onda: They can. What’s his name?
Daddario: Oh, his name. [laughs] He was named by my brother at college. His name is F.U.B.A.R.
Onda: What a sensitive and adorable name!
Daddario: We don’t call him F.U.B.A.R. My mom calls him Fubie. That’s sort of what we call him. Or Bunny Fu-Fu. Because we don’t like his real name. Or her real name. It’s a girl.
Onda: We’ve actually named you one of our Stars to Watch in 2013…
Daddario: Oh, no way! Thank you so much!
Onda: So, what else are you looking forward to in the coming year?
Daddario: I’m really excited about the “Percy Jackson” sequel – that comes out in August. And I think it’s going to be really, really fantastic. There’s nothing I can talk about right now, but I’m just excited. I’m hoping it’ll be a great year. It’s a crazy business and you never know what’s gonna happen and that’s part of the fun of it.
Catch Alexandra Daddario in “Texas Chainsaw 3D,” which is now available with XFINITY On Demand.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.