The Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise has a habit of casting actors on the cusp of fame, be they Matthew McConaughey and Renée Zellweger in 1994’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, Jessica Biel in the 2003 remake of Tobe Hooper’s original classic shocker, or Matt Bomer in 2006’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning. The latest thespian hoping to benefit from what we’re going to call “the Chainsaw bump” is Alexandra Daddario (Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief) who plays the heroine in Texas Chainsaw 3D, which arrives in cinemas this Friday.
Below, the actress talks about facing off against the iconic Leatherface, the forthcoming Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, and why the cast members of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia aren’t as drunk as you might think.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When I visited the set of Texas Chainsaw 3D in Louisiana you were shooting outdoors at night and it was still brain-fryingly hot. To be honest, I couldn’t get out of there quickly enough.
ALEXANDRA DADDARIO: I completely sympathize with that.
The film’s producer, Carl Mazzocone, told me it was like that for the entire shoot.
It was. And it never rained. I guess you start to get used to it after a certain period of time. But, yeah, it was intense. I knew it was coming. I prepared for it. I did a lot of hot yoga before I went down there. But it was definitely a physical challenge and I’m not quite sure how I did it.
Can you set your character up for us?
I play Heather, who is a girl who finds out she’s inherited this house and thus finds out that she actually was adopted and has a different family and finds out that she is Leatherface’s cousin. Which is obviously quite a shock.
How familiar were you with the Texas Chainsaw movies before you took the role?
I was familiar with them just from pop culture. I knew the name, I knew who Leatherface was. But I hadn’t seen any of the films, mostly because I’m a scaredy-cat. I get really frightened easily. I watched the original and the Jessica Biel version before I went in to do this film. I was blown away by how amazing the original was. You see why this franchise has lasted 30-plus years and why it’s done so well and why people are so terrified of Leatherface.
Oh, come on. He’s just a confused kid, really!
[Laughs] Well, the interesting thing is there’s something sort of human about him in [the original film]. There’s this close-up shot of him and he’s licking his lips and you see his eyes and you see that this is not just a character lurking in the background in the darkness. Even though he’s wearing a mask you see that he’s human and there’s something terrifying about that.
“Your” Leatherface is played by newcomer Dan Yeager, who seemed like a big teddy bear when we talked on the set. What was it like working with him?
It was great. The first couple of weeks I didn’t really get to know him that well, which actually helped being terrified of him. We hung out in L.A. a couple of times and I got to know him better and he’s just a really sweet guy. He had it way worse than me, but he’s so hardworking and he never complained the entire time.
TC3D features a number of cameos from actors who appeared in the first movie, including Marilyn Burns. Did you get to meet her?
I did. She was so sweet and it was really such an honor to have her and Gunnar Hansen (who played Leatherface in the first Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and the other people come and do cameos in the film. We talked a little bit about what it was like to make the first Texas Chainsaw. She mentioned that it was [made in] difficult circumstances. I brought up this story about this really long day — 20-plus hours — and they were trying to cut her finger and so she was like, “Just cut my finger!” And they did. As hard as our shoot was, that shoot sounds maybe even a little bit crazier.
Was there ever a point on the TC3D shoot when you were like, “Just hit me with the real sledgehammer”?
[Laughs] “Just cut me with the chainsaw!” No, fortunately not.
As a self-confessed scaredy-cat what was it like watching the finished movie?
That was a really interesting experience for me because I saw it with the cast and even though we were in the film, we knew what was coming and all that stuff, we still were jumping out of our seats and screaming. I did get scared.
You recently appeared on It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. What was that it like working with those folks?
Oh, it was amazing. It’s the first show I’ve worked on where the actors are creatively in charge. That was just really really cool.
I appreciate this can’t be true, but I always assume they are actually always drunk.
[Laughs] I know! You see them on the show and they seem like they’d be just gross and drunk and, like, idiots. And then when you’re working with them they are so creatively involved and they are totally running the show. They’re the bosses and it’s super cool to see that.
You also recently filmed the second Percy Jackson movie. What can you tell us about that?
Well, it’s the sequel to the Lightning Thief.
What else can you tell us about it?
It’s, I think, a really amazing family film. It’s a little bit different from the first film. We have a different director this time, Tor Freudenthal, so this film has a different style to it. I think it’s a little bit closer to the books than the original. I went blond for this movie because the character’s blond in the books, and I wasn’t in the first movie.
And I believe they have more fun.
That’s what I’ve been told but I was working too much to have fun. [Laughs]
Your name is one that has been circulating with regards to the Fifty Shades of Grey movie adaptation. Any truth to those rumors?
I’ve heard that. I don’t believe they’ve started casting. I haven’t heard anything about it. But I’m honored that people are throwing my name out for it.
Have you read the books?
I have not.
Maybe you should.
I know — I mean, I’m honored that people would think of me for any big role that is talked about a lot. But, yes, I should read the books. I’ve heard that they are rather risqué…
For much more on Texas Chainsaw 3D check out the new issue of EW.