I spoke with Kim Bubbs about The Thing. Kim plays Juliette in the prequel to John Carpenter’s, The Thing. It’s was an absolute pleasure to speak with Kim and find out more about the movie and about her character. She was very nice and well-spoken and her film On the Road with Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst, Viggo Mortensen, Amy Adams, Tom Sturridge and Steve Buscemi is coming out next year. The Thing opens tomorrow. Are you going to check it out?
Lena: The Thing is one of my all-time favorite movies, so I’m happy they decided to do a prequel and not remake the original.
Kim Bubbs: Yes, absolutely, that was something that was really important. They didn’t want to mess with John Carpenter’s version because he did such a phenomenal job with it. Carpenter’s film really lends itself well to doing a prequel because we really get to see what happens at the Norwegian base. In Carpenter’s version we just see all the destruction and there are unanswered questions, so the great thing about this prequel is that we answer those questions.
Lena: Were you a fan of the original film?
Kim Bubbs: I had not seen the original until I started working on the project. When I saw it I was really impressed by all of the special effects that were done by hand back then. They did a phenomenal job and another thing that I loved about it was the paranoia, the psychological element of it, the cabin fever and the isolation. Also the paranoia of not knowing who was infected added so much tension to the situation.
Lena: The movie was so creepy and the special effects were sensational for that time.
Kim Bubbs: They were unbelievable. That is one thing too that we really wanted to respect in the prequel. We wanted to have that element of puppetry, to pay homage to Carpenter’s version. We do have a mix of puppetry and CGI. When we were on set we were actually interacting with a lot of physical props that were created and they were really impressive. It’s like a blend with the old and more modern technology.
Lena: I love it when they blend it in but I hope they didn’t kill it with too much CGI.
Kim Bubbs: No, I think fans are going to be really pleased because there was so much care taken and a lot of attention to detail and because it was a prequel, they really wanted it to blend in continuously. It works so well with Carpenter’s and it also stands alone as its own film.
Lena: The original film was filmed so perfectly because it would show you just enough to build suspense but not put everything out there and that is something that is barely used today.
Kim Bubbs: Yes, absolutely and that is what helped them build the paranoia.
Lena: Sometimes, in today’s films, they show too much where it would be best to keep things hidden.
Kim Bubbs: I agree and I think that what they don’t show our imaginations often take over and make us think of even more horrific things and that makes it scarier.
Lena: How amazing was the cast of the original, Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley and Charles Hallahan from my favorite TV show, Hunter.
Kim Bubbs: (Laughing) Yes and they are not in the sequel but we have a phenomenal cast, too.
Lena: Yes you do. You play Juliette in the prequel, so how would you describe her?
Kim Bubbs: She is a French geologist. She is the lone woman working on the Norwegian base with all of the Norwegian men, the scientists. She’s a cerebral person and a loveable character but she quickly finds herself overwhelmed and not equipped to deal with something of this magnitude. It’s overwhelming and things get tense pretty quickly.
Lena: Where was it shot and is there an exact year as to when it would have taken place?
Kim Bubbs: It was shot in Toronto and it takes place concurrent with John Carpenter’s, so it takes place in 1982. The action in the prequel is taking place concurrently in that area.
Lena: What is it about Juliette that you can relate to the most?
Kim Bubbs: She’s a noble character and she wants to help. She’s terrified but she wants to help. Juliette teams up with Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and they try to control the situation the best that they can. They do start to crack.
Lena: Is she like any other characters that you’ve played?
Kim Bubbs: No, she’s different. I think she’s more reserved. She’s more of a sweet and quiet character. I’ve played a lot of characters in the past that have been tougher. Maybe they are sensitive but they have a tough armor that you have to penetrate. They never let anybody in. I’m drawn to a strong female role. Juliette has a quiet strength about her.
Lena: It’s always good to change things up.
Kim Bubbs: Absolutely, that’s what I love about my job is the variety.
Lena: As an actor, are there any major differences that you notice when you are filming in different countries?
Kim Bubbs: When it’s an American production it’s the same regardless of where you are but the one thing that was really interesting was that most of the Norwegians in the movie were actual Norwegians and so that was really interesting to bring them into the mix and get that European sensibility and that flavor. We were actually a really international cast Joel (Edgerton) is Australian, Mary and Eric (Christian Olsen) are American and Adewale (Akinnuoye-Agbaje) is English. It was really interesting to have such a blend on the set. The Norwegians guys were just hilarious and they were such a kick to be around, we had a lot of fun.
Lena: I love Norwegian accents.
Kim Bubbs: Yeah and they are real and so authentic. That was another thing that was really important in the film that all of the accents be authentic and to have that feeling of like an international group in Antarctica. That’s the reality, people and scientists come from all over the world to work together. It makes it really interesting.
Lena: Did you notice that the Norwegian accent gets stronger when they drink?
Kim Bubbs: Absolutely (laughing)!
Lena: I’ve been around a lot of Norwegians and their accent will be light and then when they start drinking…wow, their accent becomes so strong (laughing).
Kim Bubbs: That is so true and I think that happens with a lot of different people (laughing).
Lena: Can you talk a bit about the film and what the viewers can expect?
Kim Bubbs: Well, I can tell you when I saw it I was actually tense. I knew what was happening but I jumped a few times in my seat (laughing), so that’s a good sign. I think there was so much attention to detail and so much respect for Carpenter’s version because we know that there are a lot of die-hard fans that have a lot of expectations and we really wanted to do things right and we really wanted to make it a blend of the old and the new and respect Carpenter’s film. It’s a great ride. It’s very intense and the paranoia is very present and people will be very stressed out watching it, in a good way (laughing). It’s disturbing.
Lena: Well, that is good.
Kim Bubbs: Yes, this crazy discovery is out of control and it’s bigger than anything that anyone has ever discovered and they have to try to keep it from branching out and infecting the entire world. That is a lot of pressure on these scientists. Fans will be pleased.
Lena: What was it like filming it and working with the cast?
Kim Bubbs: It was a blast and it felt like summer camp. When we went back for reshoots in January it felt like we were back in camp. It was actually really hot out. We started at the end of March and went until the end of June and we were wearing Antarctic gear and we had ice packs that we put on our necks between takes because we didn’t want to pass out. That was funny because we were supposed to be freezing our butts off and we were actually wiping the sweat off of our faces (laughing).
Lena: Well, I guess when you get cold you can kind of sweat a little (nervous sweat)?
Kim Bubbs: I would rather be too hot than too cold.
Lena: Can you share any funny stories from the set?
Kim Bubbs: When you see us in our party scenes together, all of the laughter is authentic. We were having such a good time and the songs that they played were just kind of an impromptu thing and the guys just got together and they had a ukulele and they started singing this song in Norwegian, two songs actually, and it’s a very simple song and they all started going off and having a blast and we could not get these songs out of our heads for four months. Maybe that will happen to you after you see the movie. You are going to have that song stuck in your head.
Lena: Any The Thing inspired nightmares that you would like to share?
Kim Bubbs: I think seeing some of the props and the special effects stuff is nightmare inducing. It’s pretty terrifying and disturbing, a lot of the stuff that we saw. There are some pretty interesting creatures and things that you will see in this film. Some of them are revolting but in the best possible way.
Lena: Eric Heisserer wrote the screenplay, so hopefully it will be more fun than A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010). I couldn’t even make it through that movie.
Kim Bubbs: This is a great script. There are so many details because it is leading into Carpenter’s film, so there was a lot of attention to detail. He made our jobs easy because he was very precise and very thorough in writing the script. It was very well done and with a lot of tension.
Lena: What was it like working with the director, Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.?
Kim Bubbs: Fabulous, Matthijs is phenomenal. He’s very generous and great on set. He’s very focused but very laid back.
Lena: I know you can’t ruin it but I hope you are not the first one to die because that has to suck for an actor.
Kim Bubbs: (Laughing) I can not reveal anything.
Lena: That just has to be awful being an actor and getting that script and going, “come on really, the first one?” That just has to stink.
Kim Bubbs: Yeah, if you see the original it gives you a sense that things are not very rosy for the people at the Norwegian base but other than that you have to go and see the film and see exactly how all the puzzle pieces fall into place.
Lena: The Thing has really stood up to the test of time, so do you thing the prequel will have that lasting effect as well?
Kim Bubbs: Absolutely. So much care was put into it from the get go and they said we don’t want to do a remake, we don’t want to touch it. It would be like putting a moustache on the Mona Lisa. The intention has been to make this a classic as well and something that could stand on its own.
Lena: Is there a lot of blood and gore?
Kim Bubbs: When you look at Carpenter’s it’s not a gory film. Of course, there are some elements of terror and (laughing) you are putting me in a tough position, but it’s not a slasher film by any means.
Lena: So they are keeping it classy and true to the original (laughing). That’s good to hear. I know when they do a lot of movies now they always throw in more blood and more gore and you don’t always need that.
Kim Bubbs: I totally agree. I think sometimes less is more.
Lena: Very good and if they use the CGI tastefully then this will be a fantastic movie.
Kim Bubbs: Absolutely. In this day and age, I don’t know if you could do a film with one hundred percent handmade effects and just puppetry. You do have to have that element that a lot of people are expecting, too. Younger generations expect a certain amount of CGI and it was done tastefully and it was an ingredient that was added into the mix just like a spice. It wasn’t saturated with CGI. It’s really a lovely blend of both.
Lena: It’s always the best when they mix it.
Kim Bubbs: Yeah, I think so too.
Lena: Your fans wanted me to ask you if you have any strange or interesting hobbies.
Kim Bubbs: I don’t know if this is a hobby but I plan to do it again, my biggest fear is of Great White sharks because I saw Jaws at a young age. A few years ago I went to South Africa and I went Great White shark cage diving to face my fear and I did and now I’ve become a defender of sharks and that is something that I would like to do around the world. I would love to experience sharks in different oceans and ecosystems.
Lena: What was your experience like with the sharks?
Kim Bubbs: It was terrifying and at the time I lost control of my limbs and I was shaking all over. I had all of this fear that had been built up inside of me from everything that I had seen on film and on television and I was almost expecting to hear the soundtrack from Jaws but they are very timid creatures. They were very shy and they don’t want to eat us and it’s almost always an accident when it does happen. I gained a healthy respect for them. A healthy respect, meaning I’m not going to go along side of them and try to pet them and snuggle with them but a healthy respect. They are an essential part of our ecosystem and we have to take care of them and protect them.
Lena: Yes and it’s a shame that everything is being killed off.
Kim Bubbs: It is, it is really horrible but what is great is that California just voted on a ban of shark fin and shark products. That is a step in the right direction. Shark finning is the most cruel and horrible thing in the world.
Lena: There is no excuse for that.
Kim Bubbs: No, it was an aha moment for me. You know how when you face your fears and you come out the other side and your perspective changes.
Lena: Well, you want to do it again so that is good.
Kim Bubbs: I do.
Lena: I wouldn’t be that brave.
Kim Bubbs: Oh, you would be surprised. I was terrified. When you do something that you are terrified of sometimes you come out the other side and go, “cool, that wasn’t so bad.”
Lena: Yeah, I’m not really a swimmer, either so…it would be difficult (laughing).
Kim Bubbs: Oh, yeah (laughing).
Lena: Besides the premiere of The Thing, what else are you working on?
Kim Bubbs: I have a film called On the Road that is coming out next year directed by Walter Salles. He directed The Motorcycle Diaries. It is based on the book by Jack Kerouac. It’s got a phenomenal cast Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst, Viggo Mortensen, Amy Adams, (Tom Sturridge, Steve Buscemi) and it was so much fun to work on. It’s like a 1950s road trip movie.
Lena: Viggo is awesome. Did you get to film any scenes with him?
Kim Bubbs: I did not unfortunately. It’s a road trip and Sam Riley, who plays Sal, is the lead is on a road trip and he meets all of these different characters. I play his one true love. I got to be pretty and wear a 1950s dress, although the 1950s girdle wasn’t fun to wear. That was fun and I played a New Yorker. It’s so much fun to keep up the variety.
Lena: Are you going to be attending any The Thing premiere parties?
Kim Bubbs: I’m sure and I’m going to be doing something with Entertainment Tonight. I am going to be going through The Thing maze. They have a Halloween maze at Universal Studios, so I will be going through that. I’m a bit of a chicken so if someone reaches out and grabs me, I might be squealing.
Lena: Oh, I hate that and your instinct is to kick or punch them or whatever.
Kim Bubbs: That’s right or scream.
Lena: Hey, you can’t be held liable for that.
Kim Bubbs: No.
Lena: Good luck and I am looking forward to The Thing on October 14th.
Kim Bubbs: Thank you.
Kim Bubbs Interview
Juliette in The Thing
The Thing Opens October 14th and Stars Kim Bubbs, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen & Eric Christian Olsen
October 13, 2011
By Lena Lamoray