As the mastermind behind an seemingly endless stream of traps and torture devices known as Jigsaw, Tobin Bell has cemented his legacy as the new milennium’s first standout horror icon. Bell’s yearly participation as pharisaical serial killer John Kramer (aka Jigsaw) comes to an end with Saw 3D, the final installment of the Saw series and thus reaching a conclusion seven years in the making. We subject Bell to a battery of questions to uncover his Five Favorite Films.
Let’s start with Rudy. It’s a football film. It?s about a kid who wants to go to Notre Dame, and he overcomes all obstacles to make that happen. You know, he wants to go to Notre Dame, he wants to play on the Notre Dame football team, but he hasn’t got the beef. He overcomes all obstacles and endures, achieves his dream.
It’s just really well crafted. I do like films that make you feel something for the characters, and that’s unquestionably one. Sean Astin does an amazing job playing Rudy, and there’s some other great actors in it, too. So I have appreciated that film and watched it on a number of occasions.
There is a film called Jeremiah Johnson that was directed by Sydney Pollack with Robert Redford. It’s about 1830s mountain men, and I’ve always been fascinated by those guys who, in the 1830s, when the West was still totally wild ? there were no homesteaders, no settlers ? guys who would go out there and live in the mountains amidst the Indians and carve out a living, catching beaver and muskrat and whatever else they were catching, skinning them and bringing the hides back, so they could be turned into hats for fashionable people in London. There’s some really great music in it. I loved the nature and the Rocky Mountains; I think it actually was shot in the early days of the Sundance institute out in the Salt Lake area, although the story has it happening in the Rocky Mountains, probably a little east of there. Montana, Wyoming, that area. So, love that film.
The Firm, which was a film that I got a chance to be in, and got a chance to work with Sydney [Pollack] and really rub shoulders with Gene Hackman for the first time. Well, actually, I had been with Gene in Mississippi Burning. But I got to work with Gene Hackman and Tom Cruise and Holly Hunter and Gary Busey and Wilford Brimley. But Sydney Pollack had a great career as a director and I always admired his approach to things. Jeanne Tripplehorn was in The Firm also, did a great job as Tom’s wife. I love the music in The Firm. Dave Grusin wrote the music. I thought the film was very well put together, and when you take a novel, sometimes the film doesn’t match up, and I thought The Firm did match up.
I read the novel and was very impressed with the scary Nordic guy who was sort of shadowing Tom Cruise’s character throughout the novel. He was just scary. And then, I’d say it was a year or two years later that my agents got a call from Pollack. I think he knew my work from the Actor’s Studio in New York, because Sydney was always very involved with the studio, and I think he was also a fan of Mississippi Burning and had seen that film. That took its own wings, and he just offered the role of the Nordic, and I thought, “Wow, that’d be great.” So I got to go to Memphis, Tennessee, the home of rock ‘n’ roll.
How about a comedy? The Devil Wears Prada. I love that film. I love Meryl Streep, along with the rest of the world. She’s the bad guy in this film, so to watch Meryl play a bad guy with all of the layering and the subtlety, still you love her in the end. It’s just wonderful. I love the couple of speeches in there ? Stanley Tucci has a couple of speeches in there, one of which is to Anne Hathaway. Anne comes in to him and tells him, couldn’t she be given credit for trying? And he goes off on her about the value of trying and whether, in fact, she does deserve credit for trying. Great, great speech. Then the other speech I love is the one about the blue sweater, where Anne Hathaway thinks she’s underplaying her fashion sense by wearing sort of nondescript, underplayed, like she?s not going to be one of these fashionistas, and Meryl Streep goes off on her about how many hours were put in by designers crafting the kind of underplayed, nondescript look that often people are… they try to represent themselves by looking like they don’t care about how they look, and they just kind of throw something together. She goes off about this blue sweater that Anne Hathaway’s wearing, and I just thought that was brilliant, and in the mouth of Meryl Streep, it was even more on the mark.
Let’s do horror. I would say The Descent, which was a film that was, I don’t know, maybe a few years old now. What I like about the first 45 minutes of the film is they develop the characters and the relationships between these women who are going to descend into this cave in the latter part of the film, and that’s where the horror and the mayhem starts to happen. But they give the time to draw you into the lives of these women, and so as a result, you care about them by the end of the film. I thought that was an accomplishment for a horror film. It also has one of the scariest scenes I’ve seen in a long time. They have these monsters down in the cave that are done with special effects ? green screen or however the hell they do it, CGI ? but there’s a scene where one of the girls, who now you care about, crawls through a tunnel and gets trapped in this space that’s too small, and she can’t move forward and she can’t move back. Talk about simple, but horrifying if you’re claustrophobic in any way. Really, really well shot and really well played.