Tremors: Interview: Jamie Kennedy

Kennedy 4Scream star Jamie Kennedy has a pivotal role in the new Tremors movie as Travis, who insists on accompanying Michael Gross’ Burt Gummer on his creature-hunt in Africa. Shortly before Tremors 5 was released on Blu-ray and DVD, Kennedy spoke with Paul Simpson…



There’s some new blood in this fifth Tremors movie – quite literally in some cases

It’s been 14 years since the last movie. We tried to be true to the tone of it and keep the energy to It.

There was a lot of action, and the monsters were really good. There’s definitely some plot twists in the air that people will find out. I think it’s setting things up for more adventures.

How did you get involved with it?

My agent sent me the script, and I read it. I took a meeting at Universal, and we got along. It was really collaborative with the whole process with the director, with Michael. It was a very physical shoot, quite an experience.

Kennedy 2Had you watched the movies before?

I only watched the first two. I didn’t want to cloud my interpretation of what it is. The first one was the most legendary one with Michael, Kevin Bacon and everybody. I knew I was stepping into something that was very beloved.

How much did the script change?

There’s a huge action sequence that got cut out – a whole underwater sequence, with cool stunts that isn’t part of the movie. It was pretty similar, but we improv’d a lot, freestyled the dialogue a lot. There’s something about shooting in South Africa, you have to change as you go: it’s a wild place so you have to adjust on the fly, but I would say 70% of what we planned on shooting.

Was the improv what came naturally as you shot or did you work it out?

A lot of it was as we shot. There were so many unpredictable things – there were wild animals, ostriches walking around, wildebeest, and I would try to incorporate things that were happening into my character off the cuff. I would think of stuff and we would go for it – sometimes we were running and gunning.

All the actors are very different: you’ve got Michael who’s a very good American professional actor, and me who’s off the cuff and likes to change up things, and then all these South Africans who were really good actors. They were a mix.

The crew were half English; the actors were South African and American; the director was American. We had some Russians – we were pretty multinational.

Kennedy 1Had you worked in South Africa before?

I was there on a stand-up comedy show in Durban and Cape Town, which reminds me of San Francisco. Jo’burg is pretty good – it has parts now which remind me of Sydney. But we shot outside of Jo’burg in Pretoria, and that’s really in the bush. We were pretty much experiencing Africa – with huge bugs, and wild monkeys which would come to set a lot and steal apples.

Did you have any major interaction with the wildlife as Michael did?

There were three elephants, and I remember the baby elephant coming near me, and being told not to mess with the baby because the mother gets jealous, and the mother’s trunk would come near my arm. An elephant can just snatch you and pull you – we didn’t have a ton of elephant training; we just had a guy there with a stick! I thought if the elephant gets me, it can throw me in the bush, or stomp me, so I hope there’s enough people here to stop it. They never did anything, but we had to walk among these elephants, and the trunks came round us a lot. That was a little precarious!



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