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Chilling to the Core

29 Aug, 2013 By: Chris Tribbey

‘Frozen Ground’ Team Had a Difficult Shoot

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Scott Walker is a lucky man. And he knows it.

The director (and writer) landed Nicolas Cage, John Cusack and Vanessa Hudgens for his very first film, Lionsgate’s The Frozen Ground, out on DVD and Blu-ray Disc Oct. 1 after a run in theaters.

“I had such a phenomenal cast who were phenomenally committed to this film, even with grueling conditions and a grueling schedule,” Walker said. “Amazing on all levels. They all wanted this story to be told.”

The Frozen Ground is based on the true story of Alaskan serial killer Robert Hansen (played by Cusack), who for more than a dozen years abducted more than two dozen women, flew them into the wilderness and hunted them. The movie follows Alaskan State Trooper Jack Halcombe (Cage) as he tries to make a case against Hansen, with the help of the only surviving victim (Hudgens).

“I didn’t want to make a serial killer film, but instead a very intense drama,” Walker said. “This case still affects so many people today because of what he did. It changed the Anchorage community forever. I came at this with a sense of responsibility, since there likely won’t be another film about this case made.”

Both Cage and Hudgens spent time with the real-life people they were portraying, and both said they took their jobs extremely seriously.

“I did not take the job lightly,” Cage said. “I knew this man was a hero, a real one, and it was important to me to make him look good, the state troopers look good. And by good I mean treated responsibly. No showing off, no self-aggrandizing, just tell the facts the way they are.”

Cage asked Halcombe if the things Hansen did got in his head at all, whether it got in the way of his job performance or made it harder to sleep.

“‘No, he didn’t get in my head,’ and the way he said it was so direct, I had no doubt he was as scary as Hansen was, but on the side of justice,” Cage said. “He just was not going to stop. He was going to get him behind bars. It was almost like a game of chess. Hansen was almost like a lawyer. He knew the law and what he could and couldn’t get away with. It was two forces on different sides of the law.” 

Hudgens said she was struck by “how brave” Cindy Paulson — the girl who managed to escape Hansen while he was trying to load her on his plane — was, and still is.

“She opened up to me and told me things she hadn’t told anyone else before. It was a bit of an emotional roller coaster,” Hudgens said.

Walker and the actors discussed how difficult the shoot was, with freezing temperatures and constant wildlife. Making the film in Alaska required three large trucks full of equipment to be driven from Los Angeles to Seattle and then put on a barge for four days to get to the location in Anchorage.

“It was intense,” Hudgens said of the weather. “It put on that extra edge that you could actually use in the scene. It worked out, but I remember one time filming and I only had these leather-bound soles, and at the end of the take I was genuinely concerned I was getting frostbite.”

Lionsgate — which gave the film a day-and-date VOD release when it hit theaters — packed the discs with bonus features, including a commentary with Walker and producers Mark Ordesky and Jane Fleming, deleted scenes with optional commentary, interviews with the cast and crew, and several featurettes.

“There’s terrific stuff on the DVD,” Walker said pointing to the making-of featurette and deleted scenes.

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