Wednesday, September 17, 2003
From an interview with Cabin Fever director Eli Roth:
Back to "Cabin Fever," what's the story behind the kid who plays Dennis?
Well Dennis likes pancakes, and when he sees Bert [James DeBello], he's hungry for some pancakes. I was auditioning kids in North Carolina, and they were just going, "Pancakes, pancakes…" That's all that they would say. I wanted a weird kid and so this kid shows up. From his photo, I thought he was a girl. He has long, white/blonde hair.
That wasn't a wig?
Oh no. Oh no. He shows up and I'm like, "Oh my God." The guy is like, “Hello, sir. My name's Matthew Helms, sir, and I'd like to audition for Dennis, sir.” I was like, “Well…” He said, “And I'm a black belt in karate.” I was like, “Okay, can I see?” He goes into this crazy “Matrix” routine, scissor-kicking over his head, running across the room, flipping… Literally none of which is in the script and all of which is in the movie. I sat there re-writing the scene as I watched him; I was rewriting the scene in my head. I'm like, “This is f**king weirdest thing I've ever seen.” And he's got this crazy hair. We gave him that Betty Page mullet. He still has that hair cut. It's awesome. He was so great. I was like, “How long have you been doing karate.” He said, “I've been doing karate every day since I was two years old. I practice for five hours a day.” I'm like, “Don't you go to school?” “No sir, I'm homeschooled. My mom teaches me.” I'm like, “So essentially you spent your entire life preparing to be Dennis.” He said, “Yes.” He was great. He was really cool. He totally got it.
I remember showing the casting tapes to Jordan Ladd. I asked, “Should I cast this kid? Is this too weird?” Jordan's like, “Eli, there's no such thing as too weird in this movie.” So yeah, so there it was. It's like in real life, you try to think up a weird kid and then someone comes in… This kid could kick anyone's ass, you can't f**k with him. But he's a really, really nice kid.
The whole karate thing comes out of nowhere.
It was real. This kid shows up and that's what he does. That's literally what he does all day. And that's his hair. This kid really exists.
UPDATE: Matt Helms points us to a great feature story:
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, September 18, 2003 8:20 AM
Subject: Re: Brilliant.
Thanks for the kudos. Check out www.westword.com for an article, cover photo...
I saw CABIN FEVER and your work as Dennis was fantastic. I hope to see you yelling about breakfast foods and doing spin kicks in other films in the future.
Keep up the good work,
---------- posted by Linus | 8:13 AM