Timothy Olyphant is used to playing crazy. In films like Go, The Girl Next Door, Live Free or Die Hard, and A Perfect Getaway, we’ve seen the charismatic Hawaiian-born actor come unhinged time and time again as a diabolical criminal or a sleazy porn producer. So it’s safe to assume that when Olyphant was sent the script for Breck Eisner’s remake of George A. Romero’s epidemic thriller The Crazies, he braced himself for another trip to the dark side.

But in an unexpected twist — perhaps one born from his celebrated turn as Sheriff Seth Bullock on HBO’s Deadwood — Olyphant wears the badge once more, this time as The Crazies’ Sheriff David Dutton. Faced with the task of protecting his family from friends and neighbors gone stark, raving mad, Olyphant must shoot, run and bludgeon his way to the finish line. Based on our recent interview with the actor, this one ain’t for the squeamish.

Q1: : What were your favorite scary movies growing up?
Timothy Olyphant : Oh man, there are so many! I remember being really scared of The Thing.

Q2: AM : Why is that?
TO : Because it was f*cking scary! But then you get into Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Oh my god, what a fantastic movie. And anything Jamie Lee Curtis was in. I saw a dozen Jamie Lee Curtis movies that scared the crap out of me.

Q3: AM : Because of her acting?
TO : Oh, come on now!

Q4: AM : Just kidding. The Crazies was originally a film made by George Romero, whose movies are horror movies first, and social commentaries second. Do you think this remake follows in that tradition?
TO : I don’t think it does; I know it does. I think the original film was a comment on the Vietnam War, and I think there’s without question an undercurrent of that here. Sadly a lot of those issues are alive and well today, and I think you can feel them without question in the film; distrust of the government, concerns about pandemics and so on and so forth.

Q5: AM : Is that added layer initially what attracted you to the film?
TO : Well, what’s attractive about Romero movies is that even if you’re unaware of those things, the movie is still really fun, scary and enjoyable, and we had an opportunity to do that as well — just make a movie, tell a really good story, make it scary, and try to make these characters really meaningful. If in there you have some sense that we’re taking the genre seriously and not condescending the audience, then what an opportunity to be part of something like that.

Q6: AM : These days, it’s really difficult to make a film that is truly scary. What makes The Crazies so terrifying?
TO : Well, I think there are a couple of things going on. First of all, sh*t happens that makes you jump. And those are just these little tricks that if you don’t have, you blew it. And I think we’ve got them. And then you have the stuff that just makes you nauseous and uncomfortable. You know when you’re shooting this sequence, and there’s something disturbing about it. You want something more than just blood splashing around. You want something that even if you describe it, it just makes you cringe. That’s really fun, creatively, to just look for those moments and say: “How do we make the audience really uncomfortable?” And then there’s something about this movie that makes you think: “You know what? This whole f*cking idea scares the sh*t out of me.”

Q7: AM : I haven’t seen the movie yet, but there are certain moments in the trailer that definitely scare the sh*t out of me.
TO : I felt like we had an opportunity to really go for it, to hit each note. We didn’t want to short change the audience on anything, because it’s what makes these movies worthwhile and fun to go home and talk about.

Q8: AM : What went through your head when you picked up a script called The Crazies?
TO : I think the first thing I said was: “I love that title.” I just can’t get enough of it. I’m guilty — although I’ve refrained from it here — of abusing the word all the time. How good was the script itself? It was crazy good. It’s the old cliche. It was just an easy read. I flipped through it so quickly. There was just this domino effect of something small building into something else, building into something else. Thirty minutes into it you’re like: “Oh my God!” The horror of the whole thing is like a giant snowball.

Q9: AM : You’ve played a villain in many films, so how was it playing the hero?
TO : Well, the fun part of playing this role, was being in the skin of a guy who looks at his job as a cakewalk, and then he watches this thing barrel down the mountain at him.

Q10: AM : What was it like hanging out on set with all these actors decked out in such elaborate makeup?
TO : They just didn’t look comfortable. I should feel guilty about this, but I just thought to myself “better them than me.” Then I went back to my trailer and took a nap.


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