Jess Weixler, the star of controversial new horror Teeth, talks to Latest 7 about taking on such a unique role
You can’t exactly go out and meet other women who suffer from vagina dentata. How the hell do you go about researching this kind of role?
Well that’s why I liked the part. Because there were no rules for how to play the game. Look at this girl Dawn, realise she came from this place of total innocence – she’s very human, someone who doesn’t know their body and hasn’t opened up yet. And then she gets to learn about life as it sort of attacks her. So she has a very dangerous sexual experience, then instinct kicks in and her body essentially protects her until she learns how to use the teeth. And that’s something I had to come to.
In Teeth, you play a woman who has problems communicating with men. Do you find this a common trait in your own dealings with the opposite sex?
I wouldn’t say personally that I have problems communicating with men – though I’m not sure what the men would say, (laughs). I haven’t actually thought about how they’re similar. To me, Dawn comes from such a pure place and is so shocked to find this stuff inside of her – figuratively and literally – and then sort of grows into a woman who really owns it.
What’s so great about Teeth is that it’s a different kind of horror. It’s not gratuitous, like Saw or Hostel, it’s a much more personal horror film. Yeah, I think it has humour because it has heart. She’s not a monster, she’s not malicious – she’s not seeking anyone out to try to hurt them. She’s only protecting herself.
How was it working with Mitchell Lichtenstein, the writer-director?
It’s funny – when I first read the script, I was like I gotta go meet this guy because he could just be a freak. And I don’t know if I want to work with him. But Mitchell’s the sweetest, most shy, genuine person that I knew there was something to it.
Is there a message that this film is sending to today’s youth?
I don’t think there’s an intentional message with this movie. I think it’s more of a ‘what if’ this were to happen to a woman.
How do you think the audience are going to react to Teeth?
Conceptually, I think it’s going to turn a lot of people off. But, in the same way, conceptually it’s going to turn a lot of people on. I think people are going to see it because they’re curious.
Where are you going from here with your career?
Eventually, I’d love to be known as a character actor. I’d do just about anything that really catches my eye. Whether it be a Hollywood movie or an independent film that just connects to me. But I feel good about making choices slowly right now.