Horror-film buffs know him best as the Saw films' John "Jigsaw" Cramer, but Tobin Bell is the one facing a nightmare this time around in The Kill Point, an eight-hour miniseries premiering Sunday at 9 pm/ET on Spike TV. TVGuide.com spoke with the actor about his role in this bank-heist thriller and raised a big question about Saw IV, due out just before Halloween. (Sorry, Michael Myers.)
TVGuide.com: The Kill Point has John Leguizamo as the mastermind behind a bank heist gone awry, Donnie Wahlberg as the chief police negotiator.... Where do you fit in?
Tobin Bell: My daughter [played by Christine Evangelista] is in the bank. I play Alan Beck, a powerful, rich, Donald Trump-type character, but based out of Pittsburgh. He owns a lot of property, and he's probably on the board of directors at the bank.
TVGuide.com: Does he pull out all the stops to get his daughter out of there?
Bell: He does, yeah. He's not waving anything out in the open, but he's definitely using everything he has learned through 40 years of wheeling and dealing to get her set free, unharmed.
TVGuide.com: Did you welcome the opportunity to work with Donnie Wahlberg, whom you tormented in Saw II, under more pleasant circumstances?
Bell: I like working with Donnie. He has a very strong sense of truth, and I appreciate that in an actor. I very much enjoyed working with him in Saw II, and we enjoyed getting together again for this. And Leguizamo, I thought he was fabulous. I've seen his work on stage in New York, doing one-man shows, but I had not really seen his work as a drama actor. I was very impressed with what he did with the character.
TVGuide.com: What sets The Kill Point apart from similar stories, such as Inside Man?
Bell: I think anytime the viewer begins to identify with the "antagonist" in any drama, that's an accomplishment. Look at Dog Day Afternoon. The conventional way of approaching this kind of thing is that the cops are the good guys and the bad guys are in the bank. But these guys in the bank are Iraq War veterans....
TVGuide.com: Yeah, I understand that Leguizamo's character is a bit haunted by his war experiences.
Bell: Yeah. I've seen the first two episodes, and my kids were fascinated by it. We all were. Unlike a lot of television that you see, the characters and relationships are really rich. The fact that these guys come back from the war and get involved in this thing... there are two moments in the first two episodes that fascinate me. One is a speech that Leguizamo gives out on the street, to the people standing out there. That speech totally turns your head around. They are the people outside, behind the police lines, so he is sort of talking to John Q. Public. It's an amazing speech.
The other moment, and this won't steal anything from it, is when Wahlberg turns out the lights in the bank. [The robbers] say, "Turn on the goddamn lights, otherwise we're going to execute somebody in an hour!" Donnie struggles with that decision, and his assistant keeps coming to him, saying, "What are you going to do?" It comes down to a minute left and he's rubbing his forehead.... They've taken over this restaurant called Marco's, and he turns around and looks at a sign inside — which is misspelled Marcos' — and says, "F--k! That apostrophe does not f--king belong there! There is no Marcos family!" And he gets up and rubs out the apostrophe and puts one between the O and the S. So instead of answering his assistant's question, he does this whole other thing, which from a character point of view is so interesting. Then they cut away, so you don't know what he has decided, but you find out soon enough. It was a cool moment.
TVGuide.com: What does the title, The Kill Point, refer to?
Bell: At the time they started shooting it, it was The Kill Pit, and they changed it. As the story progresses, it comes up in the dialogue, about what the "kill point" is. It's a reference to Iraq. To be honest with you, personally I don't watch a lot of episodic TV, but I was enormously impressed with this. I've done a lot of TV, from 24 to The Sopranos, and I was like, "Wow!" It's a testament to Steve Shill, the director.
TVGuide.com: Do you ever get wooed for series-regular work on TV?
Bell: Oh, yeah. I did, believe it or not, a couple of half-hour pilots.... I'm in the midst of developing two TV shows in Los Angeles. One is called Shock Treatment, and we're developing some 10-minute webisodes for that. Webisodes seem to be "the future." And I'm working on something with Lions Gate called Dia de Los Muertos, which means "the day of the dead." It's based on a novel we have the rights to. I'm busy, doing a little of this and a little of that.
TVGuide.com: Turning to the Saw franchise, considering how Saw III ended, how is it that you're in Saw IV?
Bell: Well... Saw... Saw plays with time a lot. They fill in pieces. Saw is like a big jigsaw puzzle. When you put a jigsaw puzzle together, you put the bottom left corner together first, and then you find yourself working on the upper right corner.... That's the way Saw plays out. Just because you know how I died does not mean that you know the whole story. That's my explanation. It's a puzzle with different parts. In Saw III they have a scene just before I lay down on the floor in Saw I. It's a scene from just before that moment. We play with time all the time in Saw. As I said, just because you know how I died doesn't mean you know the whole story.
Look for the rest of my interview with Tobin Bell — including a sneak peek at one of Jigsaw's never-seen contraptions, and the actor's take on the "torture porn" trend — when Saw IV's Oct. 26 release date nears.
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