Casting Psycho was as dangerous a process as any in the production
Casting Psycho was as dangerous a process as any in the
production. The filmmakers wanted to avoid direct comparisons
between the new cast and their iconic counterparts in the original;
but at the same time, there was a sense of needing a group of
actors who would be just as fresh and extraordinary in the roles.
Anne Heche was faced with taking on one of the most famous female
roles in motion pictures-the evocative Marion Crane, who checks
into a motel on her way to freedom and finds herself on a journey
for which she didn't bargain. Originally played with a bold sensuality
by Janet Leigh, Heche took on the role knowing she would have
to take it somewhere different.
"Marion is a woman who is very close to her dream but she
gets stuck," says Heche. "I think she's a woman who
wants out of the life that she's created for herself to some capacity,
even though I don't think she's conscious of it. But Psycho
plays on so many different levels that the conscious and unconscious,
the subliminal and the real are equally important."
"I would say the behavior of Marion is still the same in
the re-creation but her inner workings are what's different,"
she explains. "I obviously had to modernize her because she
was very risqué for her day in the 60s but what was risqué
back then is not so risqué now."
She adds: "I don't think this version is about taking something
away from the original or trying to make it better. It was more
about trying to expand on the way Hitchcock wanted it only more
so and in a more modern way. Part of the fun and challenge of
doing it was to make those same words in the original Psycho
seem like they were said today and it just kind of creates a different
tweak of energy, a different time and space for the characters."
Nevertheless, Heche found constant inspiration in Leigh's performance.
"I think she's a brilliant actress," comments Heche.
"I looked closely at her every scene before we shot."
Finding a new Norman Bates also gave the filmmakers pause. In
the original, the wiry, stammering Anthony Perkins brought his
own frightening, edgy energy to the role, an energy that Van Sant
felt was so strong it couldn't be replicated. "At first it
was hard to imagine the part without envisioning Anthony Perkins,"
he admits. "What helped was looking back at the novel and
seeing what the original character was like-he was nothing like
Perkins. It helped me to focus on finding someone new, someone
conceivable as this character, yet who didn't play into the way
Perkins did it so much."
Vince Vaughn, an actor with his own unique intensity, suited Van
Sant's new vision. Explains Brian Grazer: "What Vince has
is a sort of charming, sweet quality that hooks you in. He's funny
and he's found a way to organically integrate that into the character.
But he also has this sort of weird, freaky side and Gus is really
good at getting to that."
Vaughn realized that the role would come with a certain baggage
of controversy, but that didn't deter him. "Although I was
a big fan of Psycho, I figured just because something like
this recreation has never been done before doesn't mean you shouldn't
attempt it. I was open to it. I think art is meant to be interpreted
and played with. It happens in music all the time, where one singer
does a version of another's song years later in a different style
that moves you in a different way. How do you compare Ray Charles'
version of 'Unchain My He
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