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

"Don't Breathe" screening during the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas on Friday, March 11, 2016. (Photo by Jack Plunkett)

WGTC: So there’s a greyish night vision scene in Lang’s basement, where you supposedly can’t see anything. Could you see when filming, and how did Fede pull off the shot?

Dylan Minnette: It’s like a steady camera, and it is in the dark. There’s a light around the lens. It’s a ring made of light. That’s all they have. It’s just this light on you, creating the illuminated effect. Then when it’s off, that basement really was pitch-black. Fede didn’t want us to see anything. There’d be a little sliver of sunlight coming through a window, and I’d point it out.

Before that, in a random studio where we were shooting, we did a test with an infrared camera. Fede did it for Jane and I. He spun me around really fast and he filmed me with a camera that was green, or infrared. Then he was like, “Find your way.”

There were obstacles, like shelves, and I really was trying to find my way in this pitch-black room while everyone was being quiet. He filmed me doing it, and I looked like a fool. But he filmed what I look like in the dark, so when we got to that scene, I had already memorized what I’d do with my hands. You don’t move your eyes in the dark, you move your head. I was nervous. How was I going to sell not being able to see? With Fede, we had practice…

Daniel Zovatto: I love the shots when you’re leaning into the camera like you don’t know it’s there. And when you yell out “Rocky!” – Jane’s character name.

Dylan Minnette: What’s funny is that in that scene, on paper, I don’t say Rocky. I just knock something over with my foot. While watching, even I wasn’t ready for that moment. I was like, “Why did I yell that?”

WGTC: So do you see yourselves as heroes, villains, or a little bit of both?

Dylan Minnette: I view us as the hero characters. I’m rooting for them. Anybody can argue that you can root for the blind man, I guess? I don’t. But I also don’t view them as heroes. I don’t think they’re good guys. Definitely not good guys.

Daniel Zovatto: More like guys with great ideas…[laughs].

Dylan Minnette: We actually filmed quite a bit more that explained our character’s motives, and how they justify what they’re doing – at least for me. It doesn’t quite show in the movie, but Alex found a way to convince himself that what he’s doing is fine, and that’s the only way he’s able to do it. He’s a good person. He has the right intentions.

WGTC: While I really enjoyed the film, I’ll admit that I walked away wondering why Alex was risking his life, besides his crush on Rocky. Was there more of a backstory there?

Dylan Minnette: Yes, there absolutely was. There are quite a few scenes that, after talking with Fede, you will see, and there’s definitely a bigger explanation. I read that some people felt similarly, but Fede is still ahead of it. It’s there. It’s written. But they do imply it – you can see Alex cares for, and likes Rocky. And given the situation, I think that’s all you need to know. The scenes we did, you feel like you want them, but knowing what they comprise, I don’t think they need to be there.

WGTC: I mean, I completely forgot about it when you all get locked in…

Dylan Minnette: Absolutely. There’s definitely more backstory filmed, but it doesn’t need to be there.

WGTC: What drew you to the film initially?

Daniel Zovatto: My character attracted me. He’s someone I never played, or brought to life, so that excited me a lot. Also, just getting to work with Fede, since I’m a fan of Evil Dead, made this a huge “Yes.” No debate.

Dylan Minnette: That’s my answer exactly.

WGTC: How was it working with Jane Levy? She’s delivers another tremendous role as your parter. She’s able to balance strength and fear with ease. How easy did this make her to work with?

Dylan Minnette: She’s very passionate about believing in her part, and this pays off on screen. She’s so amazing in the movie, and her method, it works.

Daniel Zovatto: Jane killed it – well, everyone did. But Jane carries the weight of the story, and I think she is a great actress. She’s very specific, and as an actor, that’s a good quality to have.

WGTC: So what’s on the docket next? Dylan, any talk of a Goosebumps sequel?

Dylan Minnette: It’s funny, because I just finished press for Goosebumps, and every time press would ask what I have coming next, I’d say Don’t Breathe – but now I don’t have anything.

Daniel Zovatto: He’s got a sick band, that’s what he’s going to do.

Dylan Minnette: We’ve been called The Narwhals, but I think we’re going to change it. We’ll have newer shit this year that’s even better than what’s out there now.

Daniel Zovatto: I’ve got Fear The Walking Dead going on, and I’m shooting an indie called Los Valientes, which will be my first Spanish-speaking role.

That concludes our interview, but I’d like to thank both Dylan and Daniel for chatting with us. Be sure to catch Don’t Breathe when it opens August 26th, 2016!