Has the Saw franchise's Tobin Bell joined the ranks of Bela Lugosi and Robert Englund by becoming the newest famous face in frightdom? Judging by his MTV Movie Award in the best-villain category, it would seem so. (For good measure, Bell also had the likes of Frank Spotnitz, who worked with the actor on both The X-Files and Harsh Realm, raving to us just last week, "I love him. He's such a good actor. So scary.") With MTV's kudos-cast set to air June 8 at which time we'll learn if Jigsaw was able to slay the competition (Darth Vader, Lord Voldemort, Batman Begins' Scarecrow and the Narnia witch) Bell called TVGuide.com from the set of Saw III, which, he warns/avows, will be another bloody-good time.
TVGuide.com: Congratulations on your MTV Movie Award nomination!
Tobin Bell: Thank you. It's always nice to have people think you did a good job.
TVGuide.com: What do you think of the category you're in?
Bell: Well, when you play a guy like Jigsaw, you have to expect that you're not going to fit into the best-kiss category!
TVGuide.com: Were you a horror-movie fan growing up?
Bell: To be honest, I wasn't. Horror films are not the genre that I'm generally drawn to.
TVGuide.com: Still, you must have an appreciation for the special something the Saw films bring to the table.
Bell: Oh, no question about it. It doesn't matter what the genre is if something is well written, makes the audience think and is entertaining at the same time, that's what's important. The thriller or horror category has taken a second seat because the scripts generally haven't been terribly good. The assumption is the audience is only interested in the gore, when in fact they're finding out that whatever can be done in a wonderful period piece or love story or comedy can also be done in the horror genre.
TVGuide.com: Was the allure of Saw II the chance to get inside Jigsaw/John Kramer's head and offer some perspective on the horrific things he does?
Bell: You always try to do that no matter what character you play. But one of the things about playing villains is that often their thought processes are intricate and extreme.
TVGuide.com: You're shooting Saw III right now. What exactly have I caught you in the middle of?
Bell: All I can really tell you is that this one, I think, is going to be better than the other two. That's what we're reaching for. It's going to have a lot of great surprises and great moments. The viewers and the fans will enjoy it.
TVGuide.com: Will you be featured a lot, not much, or somewhere in between? John is dying after all, and Saw II hinted at an "heir to the throne."
Bell: Well, because of the fact that we're in the middle of shooting, that's not anything that I can talk to you about. There are a lot of things going on.... All I can say is that there will be a lot of surprises.
TVGuide.com: Are they giving you a main adversary, like Donnie Wahlberg's cop in II?
Bell: I can't really talk to you about the plot. For one thing, they're in the midst of making a lot of decisions about a lot of different things, so any information I am able to give you could change tomorrow.
TVGuide.com: Whatever the case, the Saw films have breathed new life into the genre.
Bell: I think that's true. As I said, it's a genre that has enormous potential, and with talented people writing and directing there are no limits to what can be achieved. Horror can be just as exciting and layered as the things that generally get recognized in formats like the Academy Awards. It's just that for many, many years, the scripts have not been as good as they might have been.
TVGuide.com: I almost forgot that you played a creepy baddie on 24, during its second season.
Bell: Yeah! It's wonderful to have an opportunity to contribute to a successful show like that. And to work with guys like Kiefer Sutherland... it was just great.
TVGuide.com: You've found a fun acting niche here, playing unsettling, nefarious people with questionable agendas.
Bell: [Laughs] I like that description! Generally speaking, I don't think you're ever going to find me as "the guy next door." But whether you're nefarious or not often depends on which side of the law you're on, whether you're wearing a badge or not. In one of the first films I did, Mississippi Burning, I was a very tough guy with a lot of edge... but I happened to be wearing an FBI badge. If you look at some of the roles I've played, be it a police officer or lawyer or some other "respectable" position, you still view them as strong, powerful and edgy. They're just not going to spend 40 years in prison!