All this week we’ve had interviews from SXSW with the cast and directors of The Cabin in the Woods and we finish off our coverage with an interview with Fran Kranz who plays ‘stoner with a brain of gold’ Marty in Drew Goddard’s film.

No stranger to the sets of co-writer Joss Whedon, Kranz was appearing in the short-lived but much-loved series Dollhouse when he landed the role in this film, he will also be seen as Claudio in Whedon’s ‘secret’ Much Ado about Nothing due out later in the year, a film which we talk about below.

Here the actor talks about overturning conventions, the secrets of The Cabin in the Woods and moments when the film goes over the edge. There are SPOILERS but all are clearly marked.

My spoiler-free review of the film is here, short version – it’s aces, a must-see.

Here’s the interview,

 The film was shot in 2009 – were you still doing Dollhouse at the time?

Yeah, I auditioned for this film in 2008 when I was in the middle of shooting the first season of Dollhouse and it was early enough that I had a great relationship with Joss, everything was still very new but we had a great professional relationship. Auditioning for The Cabin in the Woods was like auditioning for any other movie, I was very nervous on the set [of Dollhouse] it was sort of the elephant in the room because I wanted to ask Joss about it but it didn’t seem appropriate. I’d audition and see him at work the next day and it was very strange. He wasn’t in the room the first couple of times I auditioned but when I got the part he told me that he had been thinking about me for the role for a long time and given how much I love the film it’s the best compliment I’ve ever gotten.

The character you play is typical Whedonesque twist on the expectations…

It’s a gift you know? And because it’s been a while I’ve carried this film and the role around with me for so long and I still think about the character and the film. It’s a genre which isn’t given the respect it deserves, they are considered B-movies or cult films and my role of Marty is so layered and it goes to so many wonderful places. When I read the script I wanted to play the character with every passing line and yet it wasn’t until the end when I realised what a profoundly amazing character I was dealing with. You get a real allowance when you play things stoned and your choices are never really wrong when you’re inebriated… But the character is really intelligent too, he’s brave and loyal so there’s a real human dimension to him as well as having fun with the comedy and the coffee thermos bong.

Were you encouraged to study the conventions you were dealing with?

That’s interesting, when I read the script it was so perfectly written that the picture was so clear to me that my instincts when reading the script painted the character so vividly that I ‘saw’ Marty. Even through the readthroughs I felt the same and when I was on set I was worried about going too cartoonish, or going too big but Joss and Drew seemed excited about that. I was told to hold back a bit and through the movie Marty sobers up but for the most part they allowed me to go big. It was the same for all five of us we were all told to focus on being friends, to play on the reality of the situation. Drew and Joss kept saying that all the subversive work would be done for us, so turning over the horror film conventions and tropes was their job. Our job was to be these five friends who are thrown into the terrible situation and are truly afraid and have to make these terrifying, courageous decisions. For us it was – play it for real.

Was there much left on the cutting room floor, anything that we can look forward to on the DVD?

This film was so faithful to the script, very little was cut from the film as you’ll see it in theatres. But it’s got great repeat value, especially in the last act there’s a lot of detail in the cellar and also in the other storyline with Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford. It’s a great film to be able to pause and look at. The prop guys and the art directors had so much fun creating stories behind all these props and costumes and monsters. It’s such a fully realised world that it rewards going back and going through on a microscopic way. I’m on my fifth and sixth time seeing the film and every though I was there on set I still catch myself finding new things on screen.

[SPOILERS] The one big reveal shot is one I’m looking forward to revisiting.

[SPOILERS] Yes! I can remember that day as I was walking on the set and there was a long line of these terrifying things waiting to go on set, but that’s Joss and Drew – they had a storyline for every little subplot and detail of that movie. There could be some great DVD extras where you could sit them down and ask them about all those things.

[SPOILERS] The final scene is very brave, do you think it took the film over the edge?

[SPOILERS] I don’t know, the movie escalates in such a way, and it out does itself constantly and it ends with a bang and I can understand if it leaves some people behind because the movie is crazy. It moves and moves to the point that I didn’t think there was any other way for it to go, as I was reading the script I was constantly being surprised and I love that about the movie. It goes all in, it’s really ballsy – there is really only one way to end it. I really hope audiences stick with it. There’s such a beautiful scene just before it all concludes, Drew gave us Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid to watch just for that last scene. That was a really nice call. He’s making this wild movie and there’s this really intimate moment which is equally important in amongst the wild, crazy horror and comedy to have this quiet moment between friends is very cool.

I know that you’re in Joss Whedon’s Much Ado about Nothing and I wondered if you feel that the smaller, more personal projects are finally getting the credit and audience which they deserve?

A hundred percent. I can’t even imagine what the entertainment industry will be like in a decade from now, the playing field is completely levelled. There’s a real democratisation in terms of content, more than there ever has been. People can produce stuff online, in their homes and get it out there and it can be so rewarding. It’s very humbling that actors have fancy agents and live out in LA, New York or London  and now it’s becoming something else, the world is full of so many amazing talents and creative people that these little projects can take people very far. I’m friends with Lena Dunham who made Tiny Furniture at her home with her family with an affordable camera and now she’s got her own HBO show, that’s just one example. What Joss did was use his friends, we were all working actors but two of the guys in the movie, Nick Kocher and Brian McElhaney, had a website called Britanick which is a comedy show online and Joss saw them, loved them and asked them to be in the movie. There have got to be people out there with no connection to the industry except their internet connection and now that’s all you need. It’s exciting.

The Cabin in the Woods is (finally) out today.