For the actors appearing in the first six Saw films, the phrase ‘No one gets out alive’ may not be quite as accurate as ‘No one gets out without a fight! But what is certain is that the life expectancy for anyone falling victim to the villainous Jigsaw and his diabolical traps is going to be limited at best.
One of the notable exceptions to that rule is Mark Hoffman, the dedicated detective who initially sets out to solve the bloody puzzle of Jigsaw and his victims only to find himself seemingly becoming the last person left alive to carry on Jigsaw’s legacy. In Saw 3D, that legacy is called into question when survivors of previous episodes gather together to seek the support of self-help guru and fellow survivor Bobby Dagen, whose own dark secrets unleash a brand new wave of terror.
As Detective Hoffman, actor Costas Mandylor has not only survived, his character has become an integral part of the Saw franchise. As Saw 3D director Kevin Greutert recently joked, “We have more control over Costas by not letting his character die so we can hold that over his head every year.
Born in Melbourne, Australia of Greek ancestry, Mandylor actually began his career as a soccer player before injuries sparked a career change to acting. After gaining attention from early roles in The Triumph of the Spirit, The Doors and Mobsters, he eventually became a familiar face on the small screen with roles in Picket Fences and Players. But it was his role as Detective Hoffman in the Saw franchise that brought him a whole new level of attention.
During a recent visit to New York Comic Con, the actor sat down with the press for a chat about his involvement with the franchise, including the current (and by all accounts, the final) Saw film in the series
You’ve been involved with several Saw films, including the current installment. What is it that keeps bringing you back to this franchise?
In a way, it’s luck and the fact that the character seems to have worked. And when you collaborate with people like Kevin [Greutert] and a couple of the other guys before him and you know what you’re doing together, it’s a comfortable situation where you don’t have to get rid of the actor.
Some guys in life are a real pain in the ass and they die, and Saw does that really easily. I committed to it as best I could, and I think spending time with Tobin Bell [who plays Jigsaw] and seeing how committed he was to keeping a certain standard and not letting the fans down was really important to him. I wasn’t just going in to a gig, doing my thing and leaving. I actually paid attention.
There’s a great example from when I first started, I think it was in Saw IV. Tobin had a great idea for a scene and he called me at 11:30 at night and says, [imitating Bell’s distinctive Jigsaw voice] ‘Hey Costas, are you awake?’ I thought, ‘Jigsaw is calling me at midnight; I’m in big trouble here!’
So I went to see him- reluctantly- and we spent some time together and that was a really long scene that we did with the gun, but it just worked beautifully because he put the effort into it and forced me to be okay with putting in my ideas as well, so [the role] is sustained and I’m still here, up until the end of… well, we don’t ever know the endings.
This is the first of the Saw films to be shot in 3D. As an actor, did that make the process any different for you?
I made the mistake of using this one term loosely, saying it was a ‘tedious process.’ Somebody made that sound really bad, but the bottom line is that while it took a little longer, the one who suffered more than anyone was Kevin and the camera guy, because they had to get it right with the calibration and being specific with lights and all that stuff.
For me, it was a good excuse to go and play with the crew that wasn’t on set and crack a couple of jokes, so I got to socialize a bit more. The only frustrating thing was, sometimes you were ready to do a scene and they needed another 40 minutes to set it up, so you would go off again and do something else. But we got used to that, and the payoff is big. The thing is, while it took a little longer, the world is changing and it’s nice to be part of that change.
So it didn’t affect your performance, in terms of the more complicated camera equipment and so forth?
Some actors are really conscious of the camera, because it has to be your buddy and you have to stand in front of it. But if you’re doing your job I think the camera can actually help you.
The Saw films have built up a very strong and loyal fan following over the years. How much attention do you pay to their feedback?
They’re not afraid to not afraid to ask us about anything. We went to a big convention once and this little skinny kid gets up and he asked us something that nobody ever asked us, and I looked at him and said, ‘You little smartass! That’s a Kevin question!’ and I passed it over to him. These guys pay attention to detail and I think they want to put the clues together and follow everything and they really pay attention. I think everybody is trying to be responsible to them and to not let them down.
Saw 3D is released October 29, 2010