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'Bug' Thrills on DVD

19 Jul, 2007 By: Kyra Kudick

Bug, from Lionsgate

Nothing is quite what it seems in William Friedkin's latest movie, Bug, a psychological thriller based on the play of the same name by Tracy Letts.

The movie has been hailed by The Boston Herald as “one of the most disturbing horror movies imaginable,” and Michael Shannon, who plays Peter in the film, agrees that is a possibility.

“The power of imagination can be horrifying,” Shannon said. “The most effective way to scare somebody is to get inside their imagination.”

Shannon has had a relationship with the material for more than a decade. He performed the play first in London, then in Chicago and finally in New York, where Friedkin (of The Exorcist fame) saw the performance and was inspired to make the movie.

The story is about Agnes (Ashley Judd), a lonely waitress who lives in a run-down motel, living in fear of her abusive, recently paroled ex-husband (Harry Connick Jr.). Agnes meets Peter and begins a romance with the eccentric drifter.

Everything is lovely ... until they start seeing bugs.

Shannon says in the beginning he was drawn to the part because it seemed like it would be exciting to play someone a little bit crazy.

“Nothing is as frightening as not being sure if something is real or not,” Shannon said. “Losing touch with reality — when the monster is inside of your own mind.”

But as time went on and he matured, so did his relationship with the story.

“Now I understand it more as a love story about the intimacy between people — how much can you give and how much can you take before you disappear?” he said. “I am drawn to the idea of people absorbing others' disillusions as their own and why someone would choose to do that.”

Shannon said it was his intense familiarity with the role of Peter that made Friedkin want him for the film. Although Shannon had a long list of movie credits, none were as a leading man. He said Friedkin was really supportive from the beginning, ensuring that Shannon would be a part of the project.

“I had the good fortune to work with one of the singular directors of the 20th century,” he said. “He has a lot of integrity and is very wise.”

Shannon admitted working with Friedkin was a bit intimidating at first, but he really seemed to trust Shannon and his instincts. “He said, ‘Just do it the way you did in the play, and it will all work out.’

Shannon said he doesn't expect that everyone will be horrified by the movie. “It is a very unique film — like a Rorschach test,” he said. “Some people will be frightened, some will find it amusing, others touching. Just be open to what it is about.”

Lionsgate will release the special-edition DVD of Bug Sept. 25 (prebook Aug. 29) at $28.98. It includes an audio commentary with director William Friedkin and two featurettes, “Bug: An Introduction” and “A Discussion With William Friedkin.”

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