Don’t Breathe 2 with Stephen Lang: “Playing blind sharpens your other senses”

Don't breathe 2 with stephen lang: "playing blind sharpens your other senses"

Between playing a blind man and the moral question posed by the fact of following the villain of the previous opus in this way, Stephen Lang, Fede Alvarez and Rodolfo Sayagues come back with us on “Don’t Breathe 2”.

Released in 2016, Don’t Breathe made a strong impression. Three years after the remake of Evil Dead, Fede Alvarez confirmed the hopes placed in him with this horrific thriller in which a bunch of young people discover that the blind man they robbed was far more dangerous than they thought.

Five years and $ 158 million in worldwide revenue (for a budget of less than 10) later, the team of the first opus is back. And in particular Stephen Lang, interpreter of the villain, who evolves this time in front of the camera of Rodolfo Sayagues. Co-screenwriter of the previous episode, he remains co-author of the screenplay with Fede Alvarez, who left him directing and officiates as a producer.

The three men come back with us on this Don’t Breathe 2, and in particular the moral question it poses by focusing on the one who was the bad guy in 2016.

AlloCiné: There has long been talk of a sequel but when and how did you decide that it would adopt this form and follow the point of view of the villain of the first opus?
Fede alvarez : When we made the first movie, we didn’t think there would be a sequel. Because it was a bizarre and dark tale, and we didn’t think the world viewers were going to buy into it like that. But it happened and then we thought of telling another chapter.

Since the first movie showed this villain getting away with the horrific crimes he committed, it made sense that the second should answer the questions people have about him. And especially if he was going to pay for what he had done. Especially since he presents himself as a good guy and not a bad guy, always in the first movie, to justify his actions, so one can wonder if he is going to stop being morally blind, and finally see its true nature. So we had to write a story that would lead him to that.

And then we knew what he was capable of when someone tried to steal his money. So we wanted to explore what would happen when someone tried to take their child away from him. Still.

“Don’t Breathe 2” poses the moral question of knowing if we can be on the side of this man we saw kill in the first part. How did you approach it?
Rodolfo Sayagues : It was never our intention to get you to love, to morally encourage this character. We wanted the audience to focus on the little girl, Phoenix. Because it is she who must conquer your heart. She is the real heroine of this film.

As for Norman, we just wanted to follow him on his journey and reveal how, at the end of the day, he’s going to have to face who he really is. We are curious to see how the spectators will react to this, and to hear what they will have to say. But we approached this sequel as an experience, to observe the transformation of the character.

Stephen lang : For my part, I did not have to ask myself this question. My job is to play it with integrity and honesty, not to analyze or judge it. I’m not asking you to have sympathy or empathy for this guy. He is what he is, and we have to accept him as such. And so much the better if it appears controversial: it makes it more interesting to me.

It was never our intention to push you to love, to morally encourage this character.

Have you been involved in the development of the character Stephen?
Stephen Lang: My only implication is what I gave him in the first film, and which Fede and Rodolfo were able to use for the sequel. I was part of it, one way or another, but I didn’t consult them on the story because that was not my role on the team. But we obviously had long conversations after I read the script, and I really liked what was on the paper. The challenge was then to manage to transpose it on the big screen.

And for this film, my preparation wasn’t so much about playing a blind man. But on the fact of embodying it in an environment that he had not determined himself. I played it outside of his hunting ground. I had to learn orientation and mobility skills. It is part of having to learn to be blind.

Did playing blind amplify your other senses?
Stephen Lang: I do not think so. But it forces you to be mindful of the senses that you wouldn’t be as focused on the rest of the time. We gather a lot of visual information: if we see someone playing the trumpet, we don’t need to hear them to know they are playing it. And a lot of things work that way.

Take away the notion of sight, and you will find that you are very, very dependent on all of your other senses. Maybe not to the point of amplifying them. But playing blind sharpens your other senses. You learn to use them better, even if it doesn’t turn you into a Daredevil or a superhero.

Interview by Emmanuel Itier in Los Angeles on July 29, 2021

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