Dinner and a movie
The Green Inferno’s Daryl Sabara
and Kirby Bliss Blanton
By Jerry Eberts
By now most horror fans are familiar with the plot of director Eli Roth’s much-anticipated movie The Green Inferno, opening September 25. Briefly, a planeload of young, naive idealists crashes in the Amazon jungle on their way to aid a tribe of indigenous people. Survivors of the crash are carted back to that same jungle village where they are subjected to an insane amount of torture and cannibalism.
“What I am most proud of is it looks and feels authentic,” says Roth of his film.
In the story “It Was Terrifying” (published August 14, 2015, by Yahoo! Movies), Meriah Doty quotes Roth on the background to his project.
“I used to think Cannibal Holocaust was real,” says the director. “That’s what I wanted in The Green Inferno. The village had to look and feel like a real, functioning society.
“The positive side is the actors didn’t have to stretch very far to act. [In one] scene, we chained them to trees that were covered in izula ants. Then you’d be sitting on the ground and poisonous tarantulas would crawl on you.
“It was relentless. You always had to be on your toes. Thank God no one got killed, but we had many close calls — like when [actress and Roth’s spouse] Lorenza Izzo almost drowned in the river during a take — and yes, we used it in the film.”
The Horror Movie Show’s Jerry Eberts hunted down two of the stars of The Green Inferno — Daryl Sabara and Kirby Bliss Blanton — to hold their delicious feet to the fire and grill them about their experiences making this satisfyingly bloody movie.
HMPod: Everyone involved has had to wait an entire extra year for release of The Green Inferno due to distribution problems. How are you feeling about the release September 25th?
Daryl: Obviously, it’s really exciting. We’ve seen it a couple times. We survived the jungle and now we get to see what it looks like on screen, so I’m just excited for everyone else to see it.
Kirby: Yeah, we’ve been waiting a long time. I tell my friends stories about it all the time. Now they can finally see it.
Daryl: They’ll believe us.
Kirby: Yeah, it seems like lies, but it’s all true.
HMPod: What was the casting process for The Green Inferno?
Daryl: I am very close friends with Aaron Burns who plays Jonah in the film. When I filmed Spy Kids I met him. He moved down to Santiago, Chile, where he met our producer Nicolás López and started working with Eli on Aftershock. And every time Aaron would come back to the U.S. he would stay with me.
So in the summer of 2012 we were at a Sports Authority and he’s buying equipment to go to the Amazon. I was like, “Dude, why are you going to the Amazon?” He told me the premise of the movie and I said I would do anything to go with him — just for the experience. I never imagined I would get a part in the movie.
A couple months later he e-mailed me. He had talked to Eli about me. I went to breakfast with Eli — and if you’re a Cabin Fever buff, you’ll know we only ordered pancakes — and we sat for a couple of hours and talked about movies. At the end of breakfast he asked if I wanted to go on that crazy adventure with him to the Amazon. And I said, “Yeah.” That’s how it happened for me.
Kirby: Mine was kind of more dry-cut. I went to an audition. But I thought I was going to be one of the roommates. Basically, I got a callback from Eli and he asked, “Are you willing to do this guerrilla-style?” And I said, “Yeah, sure.” He said, “No — really.” And I still said yes. He was like, “There isn’t going to be any trailers or anything.” And I was like, “All right, cool.”
But even after that conversation we were not prepared for what we got ourselves into once we were there. It was intense.
Daryl: Well, also, Eli’s prerequisite for everyone in the cast — and I helped Kirby out with this — was to watch Cannibal Holocaust so we had an idea of what we were getting ourselves into. I had seen it already and I had Kirby come over and we watched it together. Every time she went like this [puts hands over eyes], I had to peel her hands away and say, “You have to watch.”
Kirby: I still can’t think about it.
HMPod: The Green Inferno is being called one of the most brutal films ever made. Did any particular scenes get to you?
Daryl: I don’t want to give anything away.
Kirby: Yeah, it’s hard to do.
Daryl: That’s a tough question to answer. But I have to say we did all practical effects, which was the coolest part.
Kirby: Edible even!
Kirby: Everything was edible. We could actually eat it. The blood, the food and everything. It was gross.
Daryl: Oh, yeah. Yeah. But the practical effects were awesome for me. I came from Spy Kids, which is all green screen and in this we have a plane crash where the plane was rigged on this thing, I don’t even know what it’s called but—
Kirby: Yeah, it spins around 360 degrees. It was crazy.
Daryl: That’s why I feel the performances seem pretty real because—
Kirby: It was real.
Daryl: Yeah, it was pretty real, what we did. Even everything in the Amazon, too. We were there, in the thick of it, in the mud.
HMPod: What about the many gross-out elements of the movie?
Kirby: I don’t think you can get grossed out anymore once you’ve seen that much blood. You kind of get used to it. You’re like, “Who’s dying today? Who’s eating what today?” You just go to work and you’re used to it at that point. It was almost comical and not gross, because it just became a daily thing.
Daryl: It’s surreal to imagine. We would be there and think, “We’re at work right now.”
Kirby: Yeah, exactly.
Daryl: It was so much fun.
HMPod: You were all stuck together in pretty close circumstances during filming. Did either of you look forward to a fellow cast member being butchered?
Daryl: See, we can’t give that away.
Kirby: Can’t we? It was all fun to watch because everything was different. Eli has so many crazy ideas.
Daryl: I’ll just say so you know — the first one. I was really looking forward to that.
Kirby: Yeah, I think that was [the favourite of] all of ours. It kind of broke the ice because we shot that first, too.
Daryl: Yeah, we did.
HMPod: Did you ever feel afraid of the native people, the people playing the cannibals so well?
Daryl: I was never afraid of the tribe’s people, but we stayed in a place that was an hour car-ride from our boats, and then it was an hour boat-ride from the Amazon to the village that we shot in. By the time we arrived at the village all of our really amazing actors — and also the people who lived in the village — were already in hair and makeup. So we never saw how they actually looked. Every time we got to the village they were already all red and had their wigs on so that was kind of… not scary, but—
Daryl: Yeah, I just wanted to know how they really looked. It dawned on me one day that they don’t actually look like this.
Kirby: They don’t paint themselves red.
Kirby: Honestly, they were really sweet. Obviously there was a language barrier, but we all communicated the best we could and they were really helpful. They were all really excited to be a part of it and super-willing to learn all they learned.
Daryl: They didn’t know what a movie was. We had to explain to them what a movie was and they jumped right in.
Kirby: The little kids were all about it. They would run around saying, “Action!” And we bathed in the same river they did. So, you know, we became pretty close.
Even when we were in Chile, I felt super out of place because I can’t speak Spanish very well. I think being in Chile and Peru was the time I felt most out of place. And also as a blonde, white girl I got some attention. It was super-fun just to be there and experience the different places. To make a movie on top of that was just great.
HMPod: Obviously, this is a pretty rough situation for these characters. Was there ever a moment when your part felt too awful to bear?
Kirby: It was exhausting. At some point you just get so tired from crying and screaming. I think being away from home I got emotional a couple of times, that’s for sure.
Daryl: They’ve released the clips of this, but the scene where we all arrive to the jungle was really emotional and also startling, too.
Daryl: Yeah, very intense. That was one of our first days. It was also just kind of scary because in the Amazon river, there is no current. So we’re in these canoes—
Kirby: Literally just two pieces of wood cut together, not even a canoe really.
Daryl: We had villagers with us, so we were safe. But getting out of those canoes and having the whole tribe come at you and pull your hair — even though we knew it was going to happen — to actually have it happen to you is sort of a startling experience and very real.
Kirby: The first time is very memorable. You do it again and you’re like, “Yeah, okay.” But that first time when we looked up and they’re all coming out of the woods — there’s just so many.
Daryl: And the production design on the film is incredible, just the way that they transformed their home with the tribal stuff in the movie. It made it feel real. There wasn’t a lot of acting going on, more reacting.
Kirby: Yeah, for sure.
HMPod: Did being immersed in a world of cannibalism affect your mealtimes during filming?
Kirby: Not due to the cannibalism, just due to being in a foreign place, really.
Daryl: I have to say I gravitated towards fish while I was there because eating meat was a little strange. So, yeah, a little bit. It was a little weird on the days that we would film, but then I just had a lot of plantains.
Kirby: Yeah, the plantains were good.
HMPod: What did you find was the single biggest difficulty during this very challenging location shoot?
Daryl: My biggest challenge would have to be getting over my spider fear, because there’s no way out. There are tarantulas everywhere in the Amazon and we shot so fast, but even the tiny seconds we had before they said, “Ready? Set,” I would look down and there would be a tarantula crawling on my leg. And on “Action” I would hit it off and we would do the scene. But it was kind of like letting go of that fear.
Also, where we stayed I had bats everywhere. I had to tell myself, “Okay, bats are good. They are killing the bugs.” But getting over my arachnophobia was my biggest challenge.
Kirby: I think my biggest challenge was getting eaten alive by bugs. It was really bad. [The bites] would get all swollen and be all over my face and it looked like I had leprosy. It was really bad. I had to get shots for them. They would always itch and we couldn’t find a cure for them. There is no cure. They made this thing with mothballs and acetone — I don’t even know what it was really — but it would make them feel better for maybe five minutes and that was it. They were really, really annoying.
HMPod: How was it technically to work in such remote conditions?
Daryl: We had very compact days, especially when we were shooting at the village. We got there as soon as the sun came up and we had to leave before the sun went down.
Kirby: There’s no electricity.
Daryl: We would have to charge our stuff and if things weren’t charged, then things weren’t charged and that was it. But I have to say, a lot of other sets are stop‐and‐go and a lot of waiting around, so I was really grateful to be on something like this with Eli who makes a set so welcoming and easy and fun. That’s so helpful, especially for the content. There was no stopping; almost always go, go, go.
Obviously, by the end of the day you are pretty exhausted and ready to just relax. And do it all over again the next day.
Kirby: I think having each other was really helpful, too. No one else could understand what we were going through. Between takes, even though we’re doing these ridiculous scenes, we would just be silly with each other and it really helped. I think at the end of the day it became like a family atmosphere. So even though we were moving really quickly and doing all this intense stuff, we were having a good time.
HMPod: No doubt many will find this movie politically incorrect, sort of a throwback to the cartoons about cannibals and gigantic cooking pots. What are your thoughts?
Daryl: I’m curious to hear everyone else’s opinion on that. I mean, I know who certain characters are loosely based on. I’m still trying to wrap my brain around it. But history repeats itself. I think back to hearing stories about the radio, you know, Orson Welles and the stories he would tell on the radio and people would believe it. And now with social media, we believe everything we read and everything other people tell us. So that’s one of the messages of the movie: don’t believe everything people tell you.
Kirby: We play activists who think they can change the world by just participating via social media and once they get there it’s like, “Holy shit! It’s a little more complicated than that!” But also, it’s just a movie. We’re not promoting cannibalism.
Daryl: Yeah, it’s just a movie.
Kirby: We just want to put that out there. It’s a real thing and it happens, but we’re not pro‐cannibalism.
Daryl: Well, I’m pro‐cannibalism.
Kirby: Fair. Totally fair.