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Sara Paxton on The Last House on the Left

Published March 16, 2009 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Images property of Rogue Pictures
The Last House on the Left The Last House on the Left

Sara Paxton has a tough role in The Last House on the Left. As the victim of a gang of escaped convicts, she has to perform an extended kidnapping, attack and rape scene that fuels the second half of the movie.

Sara Paxton Talks The Last House on the Left


"[Director] Dennis [Iliadis] was really great because he really cared about the actors," Paxton said. "We had this lengthy rehearsal process for two weeks before actually stepping foot on the set for the first time and that was just mainly to sit around as a team and go over the script, figure out your character, and go scene by scene. We played out the physicality of the scene so that on the day I didn’t need to think about it. I already knew what I was going to be doing. All I had to worry about was my head space and the emotional aspect that day."

The actor playing her attacker, Garrett Dillahunt, was also a friend. "I just feel to really get the full performance and for me to really let go, I needed to trust the people I was working with and feel protected and that’s what happened. I think I ended up being able to open up more and do things I hadn’t even planned on being able to do because I had really bonded with the cast so much. I think it definitely became harder for the bad guys because I think they started to feel bad about what they were doing because we were all really good friends. I know that they felt protective of me and I totally respected them."


Paxton embraced the dramatic scene, however, so she could show her stuff to folks who may only know her from teen comedies. "It was definitely a challenge but when I read the script, I was looking for a challenge at that time. I’d just finished doing Aquamarine and Sydney White and those were really fluffy, light-hearted comedies and so I really wanted to challenge myself and show people that I can do different things. I never wanted to be put in any kind of box because that’s really depressing to me to always be playing the same thing. I was definitely ready. It was crazy really. As much as I had imagined in my head reading the script, I had no idea it was going to be that much more in real life actually doing it."

Her Last House character is also a gifted swimmer, which plays a major factor when the gang corners her by a river. "In the audition, Dennis was like, 'So how’s your swimming ability?' And I was like, 'I played a mermaid. I’m an amazing swimmer. You have no idea. I’m great.' And they were like, 'Oh wow, she’s a great… Hey, she’s a good swimmer.' Then I actually got on set and I just remember submerging under water and hearing, 'Cut! Oh my God, she is drowning! She is drowning right now. Somebody get her some floaties, something!' I guess I wasn’t that good. I was more talk."

Natural water was also less comfortable than the heated studio water tanks of Aquamarine. "Freezing. We had a medic on set 24/7. Of course, you have to have a medic on set but Dennis wanted all of the actors’ injuries to be as realistic as possible so we had the medic on set to constantly be telling us, 'Oh, that doesn’t look real. That would never happen in real life.' We actually had the hypothermia truck because it was so cold. He would test how long the body could be in the cold without reaching hypothermia and once it hit that minute, he was like, 'She’s out. She needs to come out.' And he would drag me out of the water and I’d be like [chattering] and be shaking and he’d put space blankets on me and heaters and check my temperature."

The Last House on the Left is out in theaters now.

For the trailer, poster, stills, review and more movie info, go to the The Last House on the Left Movie Page.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Images property of Rogue Pictures
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