'Child of God' star slept in caves preparing role

VENICE, Italy (AP) - Scott Haze says
he spent three cold months living
in the mountains of Tennessee,
subsisting on one piece of fish and
one apple a day, and sleeping in
caves to prepare for the role of
serial killer Lester Ballard in the
film adaptation of Cormac
McCarthy's novel "Child of God."
"I knew that this was a role that I
had to go to crazy extreme lengths,"
Haze said in an interview Saturday
ahead of the film's world premiere
in competition at the Venice Film
Festival.
Haze's Lester Ballard descends into
violence after being kicked off his
family's land and losing his parents,
moving outside the social order into
caves where he abandons himself to
extreme degradation. McCarthy's
character was inspired by real-life
killer and body snatcher Ed Gein,
who also was the basis for the
Norman Bates character in "Psycho,"
and Leatherface of "The Texas
Chainsaw Massacre."
To prepare for the Ballard role,
Haze said he dropped from 195
pounds to 150 pounds (88 kilograms
to 68 kilograms) on the apple-and-
fish diet while living in a cabin in
the Tennessee mountains, sleeping
at times in caves often without a
sleeping bag until the December
temperatures dropped too low.
"I slept in caves many nights with
bats all around. It was crazy," Haze
said. "I let everything go, just hung
out with the hillbillies and stayed
as isolated as possible."
The only thing he took with him
"from society": an i-Pod loaded with
Eminem music.
Director James Franco said Haze
took off for the hills without
consulting the director and showed
up to shoot not only looking the
part - undernourished, ratty beard
and disheveled - but acting it. Haze
"didn't really talk to anyone, stayed
to himself, and was like that for the
whole shoot," Franco told reporters.
The director said audiences may
think he "found some maniac in the
woods and shot him. But it is Scott
giving the performance of a
lifetime."
Haze said he managed to stay "in
the mind-state" while filming,
conceding he was "not in this
world." He didn't check his phone,
text messages or even how his
beloved Lakers were doing.
"I thought, at the end of the day,
we'd have a great movie and James
and I would hug each other and say
we did it." Haze said. He hopes
people will look back on "Child of
God" as film as pivotal as "Taxi
Driver," ''which was really shocking
back in the day. And we get to say,
'Hey, we did something special, and
I think we did.'"
Haze and Franco, longtime
collaborators, are part of a clutch of
young artists in Los Angeles who
are not just acting, but writing and
directing films and theater.
Haze said he detoxed from the
Ballard role by directing a
documentary about wrestler Lee
Kemp, who missed his shot at the
Olympics due to the U.S. boycott of
the 1980 Moscow Games, and
recently built a theater in Los
Angeles and started a film festival
to help young actors and directors
get a start.
Franco, a prolific actor, director and
writer, also is appearing in Venice
in "Palo Alto," based on a book he
wrote about teens in his home
town, directed by Gia Coppola.
Though Haze has had film writing
and directing credits and appeared
in about dozen films, he isn't sure
if he's had his breakthrough.
"Maybe James Franco. Maybe," he
said. "It was big. You asked me,
what is my big moment in acting.
It's this. It's this movie."