EXCLUSIVE: 'Rings' Star Matilda Lutz on Befriending Samara and Answering the "7 Days" Call
By John Boone
"First you watch it. Then you die." It may be 15 years since Samara Morgan -- the orphan girl who was thrown down a well and now haunts a creepy, homemade movie -- spooked Naomi Watts in The Ring, but her fondness for VHS tapes remains intact in the franchise's latest installment, Rings.
This time, Italian actress Matilda Lutz is the one who watches the tape, though. Which may be the biggest difference between Lutz and the character she plays. "It's really hard for me to watch horror movies, because I'm really scared," the 25-year-old actress admitted to ET with a giggle, before quickly adding, "I did watch The Ring, though!"
ET: Do you remember the first time you saw The Ring?
Lutz: Yes, I was very little, and I remember, like, covering my eyes the whole time. Then I watched it a second time before I shot the movie. I was in L.A. and the sun was out, and I was so scared that I couldn't watch it. I called my brother and asked him to come and watch it with me.
Have you watched your own movie yet?
I did a week ago, for the first time. I saw a lot of things coming, because I knew what was going to happen, obviously, but I gotta say, on some parts I did not expect to get scared and I did. And then yesterday, I flew from France to L.A. and they released the first part [of the movie], the airplane scene, and I was sleeping in the airplane and I had a nightmare about a plane crash. So, maybe I shouldn't watch it again... [Laughs]
Everyone claims there aren't actually any spooky or scary moments when you are filming a horror movie. True or false?
Well, they pranked me once, so I can't say that. I got scared on set, as well! Once, we shot in a very creepy location -- like a basement with no windows and no air and [it was] very dusty, and the set designers put these cages with dead birds inside. It was pretty creepy. But [as an actress] you try to work with whatever happens to you. I'm scared of everything, so that worked.
Tell me about this prank.
There's a scene where I'm locked in a bathroom and Samara is killing a girl and then I walk out of the bathroom. The girl is dead on the chair and her hair is covering her face and I have to get the keys from her jacket. While we were doing rehearsal, the mannequin that was sitting on the chair started moving-- like, the head -- and I was so freaked out. Then they said, "OK, go back to position one," so I'm back to position one and we're starting rehearsal again and I see the face moving again. I just stopped and started freaking out like, Oh my god! The mannequin is moving! I can't do this! I'm starting to see things! They told me a bit later that it was motorized. Yeah. They were moving it.
What was it like seeing Samara (played by Bonnie Morgan) on set for the first time?
It was creepy! And she stays in character on set, so it was really creepy. She would come from, like, the back and just grab me. But then I saw the process in the special effects makeup trailer and that was really fascinating, to see how they build Samara with the wig and the prosthetics and the contact lenses. That was really cool.
Bonnie would stay method as Samara between takes?!
The first day for sure! Then we met each other, and we started talking and sharing childhood memories about the movie and the fact that she shot the second movie. Then I met her dad, because he came on set, and she became a friend. [Laughs] We have some funny pictures on my phone where she's, like, strangling me.
That "seven days" phone call is iconic. What was it like shooting that scene?
That was the most pressure I felt, because I was like, "This is, like, the scene," you know? I remember being with my best friend after I was done shooting, in Italy, and we were doing Dubsmash, you know that app? In Italian, they had the call and the girl would say [whispers] "seeeven days" but in Italian. I thought it was really funny.
I was glad to see that Samara isn't sending a text or a Snapchat nowadays...
For me, it was a lot of fun, in the sense that I know what's going on and I know the trick behind it. It was very technical, and I really just went for it and played with it. But I remember the camera operator just turning his head [away] because he couldn't even watch.
All in all, what would you say is the hardest part of shooting a horror movie?
I think the long hours and the screaming. At some point, you just lose your voice... There was [also] one day that we shot in the woods and it was fake raining and we were in the mud and there were so many insects crawling all over me. That I will not forget.