Exclusive Interview: Daniel Zovatto And Dylan Minnette Talk Don’t Breathe

"Don't Breathe" screening during the South by

This year’s South By Southwest Film festival brought with it Fede Alvarez’s return, the man responsible for successfully rebooting Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead franchise. It’s been three years since his debut, and now he’s back with a pitch-black thriller about a blind veteran (played by Stephen Lang), and three young criminals who attempt to rob him blind…er. Its title? Don’t Breathe. And if your experience is anything like my screening, I don’t think you’ll be doing much of that anyway.

Oh look! Some shameless self-promotion as I plug my SXSW review!

The film co-stars Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto, and Jane Levy as the three intruders, two of which were on hand to chat about their new film. Both Minnette and Zovatto were nice enough to share a couple minutes with me at SXSW to discuss their experiences on Don’t Breathe.

It’s no surprise to hear about their physically intense, crazy experience, especially when Minnette was forced to walk around a dark basement with almost zero visibility. Read on to learn about Fede’s direction, Jane’s intensity, and how much giddy fun these two had filming Don’t Breathe.

We Got This Covered: Don’t Breathe has gone through a few different titles – first is was A Man In The Dark, then it was Untitled, and now, finally, Fede landed on Don’t Breathe. Do you think this title captures the essence of the film?

Daniel Zovatto: Oh yeah. After finally seeing the film, they nailed it.

Dylan Minnette: When we filmed it, we got attached to A Man In The Dark. Then when you hear a title after making the movie, you’re a little skeptical to begin with, but having seen the full movie now, it makes so much sense.

But the title doesn’t even matter. The movie is great, and it’s exactly what it should be.

WGTC: So this is the first time you’ve both seen the finished product?

Dylan Minnette: Yes – it was everything I hoped.

Daniel Zovatto: It was even better than I hoped. Honestly, I really got lost in the film. I wasn’t watching Dylan – I was watching these kids in this house. I knew the story. I read the script. But I was still into what’s coming next, and genuinely reacting. It’s crazy.

Dylan Minnette: I feel like this is the only time I’ve watch a movie where I saw myself as a character. Most the time I watch myself as an actor, and I judge everything I’m doing, but I wasn’t even thinking during Don’t Breathe. There’s actually a moment where I thought, “Oh, I like Alex – wait, I AM Alex! That’s me!” It was the only time I’ve watched something AS a character.

WGTC: So you both get thrown around a bit by Stephen Lang. Were you prepared for the physicality of your roles, and how did you work up to the task?

Daniel Zovatto: Well my parents beat me growing up [laughs] – my Mom is going to hate me for joking like that.

No, I love physical shit. I really do. I love to get thrown around, and the reality about it. I hate watching a movie, knowing the actors are faking it. That it’s all bullshit. I don’t appreciate that. It’s like when you see a pianist movie, and they cut the camera right above the hands. I want to see the real musician.

With Stephen Lang, you have to commit 100%, because there’s no one better at doing that. You saw it with me, you saw it with Dylan, and you saw it with Jane Levy. It was fun. I didn’t prepare. I was just ready to be beaten up [laughs].

Dylan Minnette: [Points to chest region] What is this, your sternum? This thing was popping for months after Don’t Breathe. I’d move my chest and it would pop. I’m like, “There’s something really wrong with my chest from the scene in the laundry room.”

WGTC: Or falling into the skylight window?

Dylan Minnette: Oh yeah! I forgot that was a thing where a whole rig was set up, and they actually dropped me at full-speed, not through the window, but from the window down, and I’d land right above the floor. It was fun getting dropped that fast.

Daniel Zovatto: I’ll testify – Dylan came really pumped. He was really into it.

WGTC: Was it hard playing against a bind character even though the actor, Stephen Lang, could see?

Daniel Zovatto: He’s so good at whatever he was doing. When you’re acting against him, you’re in the moment of whatever is going on. But then when reviewing the tape, he’s so animalistic in his movements and sound, his voice.