Jesse Williams talks ‘Cabin in the Woods’
Jesse Williams talks ‘Cabin in the Woods’
By Wilson Morales
April 10, 2012
Coming out this week is the latest horror film, The Cabin in the Woods, which stars Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, Brian White, and Kristen Connolly.
Co-written by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, ‘The Cabin in the Woods stars Chris Hemsworth as Curt, a young college athlete who visits a quaint cabin in the woods with a group of friends and ends up scratching the surface of something so massive and horrific that they can only begin to fathom it as time quickly runs out.
For Williams, who plays Curt’s friend Holden, it gives him a chance to work outside the TV world where he’s seen weekly playing Dr. Jackson Avery on the ABC series Grey’s Anatomy. His previous film credits include The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, and Antoine Fuqua’s Brooklyn’s Finest.
In speaking with Blackfilm.com, Williams talks about his character, working in a horror film, and his upcoming lead role in Snake and Mongoose.
How would you describe your character?
Jesse Williams: Holden is an uptight and square college student, but he’s a also good athlete. He’s a wide receiver on the football team but you can tell from early on that he’s been in the house. He’s not very experienced in the social arena. One of the things that’s unique for Holden is that he doesn’t know most of the other travelers on the trip he goes on. His friend Curt asks him to come along on a weekend trip to a cabin in the woods, and things get hectic once they arrive.
Have you ever been set up on a blind date?
JW: Not really. I played wingman to a buddy of mine once in college, but there was no pressure in terms of a blind date and it didn’t go anywhere. Holden is set up on a blind date and it’s awkward because there’s expectations and added pressure.
What was the attraction to doing this film?
JW: There are several. I really enjoyed the script. I enjoyed the imaginative angle on this genre. What really was the kicker for me besides the material, which is hilarious, is that it has a spectacular cast. We have an Oscar nominee Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, Chris Hemsworth, , Anna Hutchison, Kristen Connolly, and Fran Kranz. After we met, we sat and talked about the project and played around with some scenes and some comedy. We were all excited about the project.
When you’re the only black actor in the film and with this being a horror genre, did you ask yourself, mentally, at what point will I get killed when reading the script?
JW: I absolutely looked. I know it’s a running joke and I actually get some horror scripts around my way as a young actor. I’m reading 5-6 scripts a week still looking for work. As we know in tradition the black person dies first and it almost becomes a tongue-in-cheek trend. With this film, it’s about the characters and not their race. When reading the script, race is not a factor at all. I did read the script and saw that my character made it pass a certain stage of the film and I was happy.
How interesting is it that the film was shot before you appeared on Grey’s Anatomy and now folks know who you are as they come see the film?
JW: It’s wild how timing has been layed out. It was a bit of a trip for the film not be out for a while and it’s supposed to be your calling card into the business. You hoped that this film will beget more work and be relevant. You also have to realize that it’s not in my control so it made no sense to stress over it. The material was so unique and different from other films so I knew it was not going to sit on the shelf for long. I knew it was a matter of time and maybe it’s better that it comes out now when I’m developing a little bit of a fan base with the show. On Grey’s, we work ten months of the year so it’s very hard to do other projects. It’s nice to have something in the can. Brooklyn’s Finest came out right when I started on Grey’s and this is coming out a couple of years later, so sometimes it’s a matter of good timing.
JW: It’s nice because there’s not a lot of pressure to do heavy lifting when you have people to support you. Over time on the show, my character is developing new relationships and laying down roots and firming an opinion. The same goes for Holden in the film. He starts off not knowing most of the people but then starts to developing relationships and that’s a fun part to play as a performer. By comparison, I’m about to go into production on a movie where I’m one of the leads. I’m doing a biopic on a drag racer Don Prudomme, who looks like me. His parents are Creole and he ended up being one of the best racers of the sport and revolutionized the marketing of it. He was the winningest team owner of the sport. The biopic is about him and his rival so it’s not such a big ensemble; just these two solo guys from the 70s. That’s a different turn for me. Overall, it’s all playing out pretty well.
Regarding Snake and Mongoose, are you ready to be in a lead role?
JW: I’m definitely ready to be in a lead role and I’m really getting into the sport. I’m enjoying the competitive nature of the sport. The film is not about the sport but on these guys on this journey and their competitive drive. I can relate to that because I’ve been an athlete my all life and I’m competitive and I take whatever sport I’m playing very seriously. I’m prepared for the film and not taking it for granted by any means.
The Cabin in the Woods opens nationwide on April 13th.