Several movies over the years have tackled the myth of the Mothman, a creature seen by residents of the Charleston and Point Pleasant areas of West Virginia in the late 1960s. SyFy Channel’s latest creature feature, “Mothman,” brings a new perspective on this mythical winged monster on Saturday night, airing at 9 p.m. ET.
The stars of the movie are Connor Fox and Jewel Staite (of “Firefly” fame). The following is an edited version of the press conference call in which they took questions from Web journalists, including me.
(Editor’s Note: Normally I think of it as lazy journalism to simply print a transcript of an interview in which most of the questions weren’t even asked by me. But, in the interest of getting this information out before the movie premieres, and because I received the transcript somewhat later than my fellow questioners due to a minor error on SyFy’s part, I’m throwing that policy out the window for this one article.)
Question: Can you talk about the tone of the movie? Where you think the cutoff age is for kids to watch this, especially given the opening scene of the bashing of the head?:
Jewel Staite: Bashing of the head. My God, when you put it that way. No, you’re right, it is a little rough. It’s definitely for a more mature audience than I think most of the Syfy Creature Features are geared towards, but I think it still has a fun tone to it. Definitely the beginning is darker than what Syfy viewers are used to. But it’s still a lot of fun. It’s a bit campy and there’s lots of great characters like Frank and that kind of thing to kind of lighten up the movie a little bit, so I wouldn’t say that it’s entirely dark.
Connor Fox: And you can’t really tell. I had my nephew over here and my sister--and my sister is 34 and my nephew is 12; my nephew loved it, and my sister had her eyes closed throughout it. She was literally shaking, she got so scared at some points, which I thought was awesome because my 12-year-old is over here jumping around the couch excited, and she’s all scared, huddled in the corner.
Question: What is it about this material that attracted both of you?
Jewel Staite: I really like fun adventure movies, and this is definitely geared towards that. And also I knew it was shooting in Baton Rouge and I love Louisiana, and I had such a great time there. So I just wanted to do something for fun. And it definitely lived up to that, it was a lot of fun.
Connor Fox: Yes, I’m pretty much up for fighting any type of monster.
Jewel Staite: Totally, yes, and they gave me a shotgun. That did it...
Question: Yesterday [in another interview], Connor was talking about how he was teasing you in waters full of alligators…
Jewel Staite: Oh my God.
Question: I guess that was fun for him, probably not for you.
Jewel Staite: That was intense. That was the last night of shooting, and we were in this murky swamp-type water. It just kind of looks like the type of place that some crazy creature would come out and bite your head off. And they were like, “No, no, everything’s safe; we’re going to have a diver in there with you.” And they had the stunt coordinator with a snorkel mask standing beside me looking under this murky water that you can’t even see through anyway, making sure that nothing was going to come up and bite me, but it was so terrifying. That was the worst.
Connor Fox: Yes, and you had to look back like you saw something and Jewel would be screaming.
Jewel Staite: I was never faster at that moment getting out of the water.
Question: How familiar were both of you with the original story or the Richard Gere film before you joined this production?
Jewel Staite: I actually love the Richard Gere film.
Connor Fox: Me too.
Jewel Staite: I’ve seen it a few times. It is really, really scary. It’s more of an intense thriller type of movie than our movie. But I think our Mothman is a little more fun and just a silly, fun-type scare than in the actual legend of the Mothman.
Connor Fox: Yes, he’s a little less like a possibility in the prophecies as he is in ours.
Question: And Connor, I read that you did all your own stunts; what was that like?
Connor Fox: Well, it was actually a lot of fun. A lot of fun. It’s funny because you don’t realize how scary doing your own stunts is until they’re driving a car at you. Here’s the thing--35 miles an hour coming at you is actually pretty fast when they hit the brakes a second before the car hits you.
Jewel Staite: Yes. It’s even faster when you’re the passenger, trust me.
Connor Fox: So at times it could be a little bit scary. But you know what? It was a challenge that I actually really enjoyed.
Question: What was the best thing in your mind about doing this movie for both of you?
Jewel Staite: Well, my favorite part was being in Louisiana.
Connor Fox: Yes.
Jewel Staite: I absolutely adored our crew and the whole place just has this soulful, amazing, Southern vibe. And I just totally fell in love with it. Actually, when I left, I came home and I found a new house that reminded me of New Orleans. And we moved in because I just adored it. I love the architecture down there and that whole vibe. So that for me was the best--and working with Connor, of course.
Question: Okay, Connor, what was the best thing for you?
Connor Fox: Well, we’ll start with working with Jewel.
Jewel Staite: Good man, good man.
Connor Fox: But I just really enjoyed the action in the film, doing the action scenes. Every day you didn’t know whether you were going to be running or leaping or diving or being thrown or using weapons on set, which was awesome. That was something I really enjoyed. It’s fun in the sun.
Question: Jewel, you’re not in space for once. How was the experience in a monster/slasher movie? Did you have fun changing up?
Jewel Staite: I did. It was a lot of fun. And, you know, the best part is I didn’t have a lot of technobabble to spew out and memorize. Usually I have these speeches talking about spaceship mechanics and all that kind of stuff. So this was a lot easier for me. Yes, it was great; it was a lot of fun. I had a really good time. It was very physical and I got to do a little bit of stunt work and weapons training. So it was really, really cool.
Question: When you were in the water, was that stunt water or were you in some real,
nasty Louisiana ickiness?
Jewel Staite: That was nasty Louisiana ickiness.
Connor Fox: Oh, yes. There was a kid who was on set who’s a local hire, the boy in the movie. He was talking to his mom and talking to us about the gators in the waters.
Jewel Staite: What got me was the water snakes. Somebody started talking about the water snakes. So I’m like, “What are you talking about?” And they’re like, “Oh, you know, they’re usually scared and they’ll stay near the banks. They won’t bother you.” And I’m like, “Usually?” I don’t like that word. What does that mean?
Connor Fox: Well, like I said, they put some divers in the water. They put our stunt coordinator and the producer was in the water and--what were they wearing, Jewel?
Jewel Staite: They were wearing snorkel masks; I kid you not. I’m like, “Come on.”
Connor Fox: Snorkel masks to look for the gators.
Question: Do you get to ask for more money when you read a script and you realize that you’re going to have to do scenes like this?
Jewel Staite: Oh, no, no. See, people are usually really smart about that. When you read that kind of stuff, I never put two and two together. I’m never like, ooh, that’s going to be really tough to shoot. I never think about it until I’m there on the day.
Connor Fox: I imagined in my head it would be shot during the day in the lake.
Jewel Staite: Totally.
Connor Fox: You know, with a pier and maybe a guy on the far end, fishing. I didn’t imagine swampy at night with gators...
Jewel Staite: Well, and also they changed it to a night shoot later on. It was never supposed to be a night shoot. It was supposed to be during the day and then the director decided that it would be a lot creepier if it were at night. In this swamp in the pitch black.
Connor Fox: I was looking for the red eyes. They say look for the red eyes on the water.
Question: Now that you've successfully felled the Mothman, what monsters of myth and legend would you like to fight next?
Connor Fox: Ooh.
Jewel Staite: Any and all. Yes, I'm game for whatever.
Connor Fox: I'll take on Bigfoot. I think I could take him.
Jewel Staite: Abominable snowmen maybe.
Connor Fox: Yes, oh my God, yes. Abominable snowman is obvious. I could do that.
Jewel Staite: No, but you know what? That would mean shooting in the snow.
Question: Jewel, can you talk about “The X-Files” and “Firefly“?
Jewel Staite: Well, “X-Files” I shot when I was 13, so I was just a baby, but I remember having a great time. It was a really, really tough episode to shoot, in that we were in a river in Vancouver in October and it was absolutely freezing. But they had this Jacuzzi that was just off the set--that's what you get for big budget shows--and so whenever we got too cold, we would just go and sit in the Jacuzzi. So there I was sitting there in this nightgown for my character with David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson sitting in the Jacuzzi. It was just bizarre, very surreal.
And “Firefly” was just one of the best experiences of my life. I met a whole bunch of my best friends that are still my best friends today. I can't say enough about that show, it was a really, really special time in my life, so I'm very, very grateful for that experience.
Question: Jewel, you’ve done a lot of scifi and drama. How do you pick your projects? Are you just enjoying being in the scifi realm?
Jewel Staite: I look for great characters. That's my number one. I look for strong female-type characters and in scifi there are a lot of those…So it's not necessarily me looking to stay in scifi, it's just me looking for great characters and they always happen to be in scifi. So if that trend keeps up, then I'll definitely be doing it more.
Connor Fox: Jewel could definitely crush a straight comedy though.
Jewel Staite: Aw.
Connor Fox: Take it from me, this girl is hilarious.
Jewel Staite: Well, not everybody gets my humor, but luckily Connor does.
Question: What will draw the viewers into “Mothman”?
Jewel Staite: Well, hopefully, we'll draw the type of viewer that loves to have fun when they're watching something. This isn't the type of movie that's super-serious. It's a good time at the movies.
Connor Fox: And I'm hoping also the people who actually enjoy the stories of the Mothman. Our film is basically a modern-day version of it. The whole Mothman prophecies is [from] the 60s, so if you basically skipped time and came to the present day, you’d have the Mothman reoccurring. So anybody who actually enjoyed the previous stories of the Mothman can live in this next chapter.
Question: Jewel, can you talk a little bit about what you'll be doing in “Warehouse 13“?
Jewel Staite: Well, in “Warehouse 13” I'll actually be acting opposite Sean Maher from “Firefly” and it's great. I'm kind of the Mary Jane to his Peter Parker in the episode and he gets to pine for me this time. He's in love with me this time. So yes, we had a lot of fun doing it, so I'm looking forward to it. And it should be airing some point in early July, I believe.
Question: So it was a good little reunion for you?
Jewel Staite: Oh, definitely. Yes. As soon as they said Sean Maher, I was like, “I'm in.”
Question: Is there anything that you filmed for the movie that was cut that you wish they had left in? Or maybe something that they filmed that you wish had been cut?
Jewel Staite: Oh, let me think.
Connor Fox: Yes, there's a scene where she comes out of the bar and she sees my truck for the first time and she’s making fun of the truck. I'm still driving it, and we have this kind of cute little moment. And then as I was actually driving the truck away, the truck stalled out. And she was saying what a crappy truck it was and I was saying it works great and it stalls out and I couldn't back up and then it stalled again. And this happened for real; it was like a blooper. But it would have been perfect for the film.
Question: What do you think it is about creature features and monsters and kind of the other-worldly that speaks to people in general?
Jewel Staite: Well, I think it's all about escapism. It's fun to get lost in a fictional world. And I think that's why scifi fans are so large in number. It's fun to let go of your regular life and get lost in somebody else's world.
Connor Fox: Yes, and I think that when you're a kid, you have such a wild imagination that anything is possible, and so when you get older, you slowly through life are taught that those things you believed as a kid are not good to think. You’ve got to stop being a kid, you’ve got to grow up. And when you get to watch these movies, you get to take in that time you're watching it. A part of you gets to let go of that idea. You get to be young again. You get to be imaginative again, and I think people connect to their youth.