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Home arrow Entertainment arrow Dark Gallery arrow 'JEEPERS CREEPERS' -- AN INTERVIEW WITH JUSTIN LONG
Written by Mitch Persons   
Oct 30, 2004 at 07:00 PM
Most people remember lanky, good-looking Justin Long as Brandon, the brainy teenager who saved the lives of Tim Allen and Sigourney Weaver at the end of GALAXY QUEST. Now, Long himself is in a position of danger as Darry Jenner, who, along with his sister Trish (Gina Philips) gets pursued through central Florida by a flesh-eating monster called The Creeper (Jonathan Breck) in MGM/UA’s JEEPERS CREEPERS.

"The challenge that was presented to us," says the Connecticut-born Long, "because we had all seen these type of movies, and we knew what the stereotype had been like, was to make Darry more realistic. You know how it is, you’re being chased by a monster, or a Freddy Kreuger or something like that, and there are always those scenes, always those conventions with the character being totally idiotic, but it is necessary to drive the movie forward, and we just tried to make those moments -- which were necessary, because you can’t get around them, really -- we just tried to make them very real and make Trish and Darry’s fear real."

Long’s co-star backs him up. Says Philips, "I loved that Darry and Trish were not boyfriend/girlfriend. I was cast in the movie before the Darry character, so I had to read with a lot of guys. When Justin walked in the room, it was the strangest thing. It was like, immediately he was my younger brother, within one minute of talking. Immediately we had that chemistry, that connection, and I think for some reason for me, that made the movie more special, like we really did have that sibling kind of relationship."

"It’s a good thing, too," continues Long, "because I think Darry has his moments where he just loses his shit, which I haven’t seen too often in horror movies. Trish is the older, sensible sister who brings him crashing back down to Earth. And there are moments when Darry really needs to be brought down that way."

"At times I was afraid that I was going to let the emotions overwhelm me and be too big", explains Long. "I remember talking to Sam Rockwell, who played Guy Fleegman in GALAXY QUEST, and who is a good friend of mine, about that fear of being too big. He said to me, ‘Well, Justin, you know if you’re faced with an unknown terror, if you’re fearing for your life, if you’re being chased by a thing that wants to kill you, you’re gonna be huge. You’re gonna be big. That’s just natural.’ So that’s what I tried to do."

An example of Long’s "emotional bigness" comes early on. Darry invades the underground lair of The Creeper and finds the walls and ceilings "decorated" with the corpses of people that the creature has killed. Darry is so traumatized by the sight that he is literally struck mute. He runs outside to tell Trish, but cannot utter a word. "That’s the reality I was talking about earlier. That scene was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever shot, because I had dialogue that was cut out, and I didn’t know how I was going to do there. I just knew that I had to be in absolute chaos emotionally, and so I sat in a car in that Florida heat for an hour before we shot, just thought about the worst things you could think about, about my family, or about death, about just terrible, terrible things. I let my mind just go, and I was crying for a good forty-five minutes. I mean, full on, like sobbing, and I had given myself a headache, it was so intense. When I got out of the car and started shooting, and then it started raining, I remember, so we couldn’t roll right away, and the whole crew was kind of freaking out, because I was freaking out."

Jeepers Creepers hits theaters late August 2001.

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