When Nicolas Cage calls you an “ass-fuck” during a scene, you know that you’ve officially made it as an actor. In the new thriller Trespass, Cam Gigandet has the enviable honor of receiving the always explosive Cage’s craziest verbal darts.
The home invasion movie, directed by Joel Schumacher (The Lost Boys, Phone Booth), finds Cage and Nicole Kidman playing a married couple battling through domestic woes; he works too much, and she’s feeling neglected. Their teenage daughter (Liana Liberato) isn’t helping matters either, defiantly heading off to drug-filled house parties against her mother’s wishes. The dysfunction amplifies, however, when four ski-masked criminals force their way into the family’s house, hold them at gunpoint, and demand that Cage antes up with diamonds locked away in a safe.
Typical to the home invasion subgenre, Trespass erupts into a series of twists, mysterious character reveals, and tragic violence, with plenty of Nicolas Cage lunacy sprinkled throughout. It’s an interesting, psychologically multifaceted change of pace for Gigandet, the 29-year-old teenage-girl-magnet known for Never Back Down, wholesome love interest roles in The Roommate and Burlesque, and for playing the villain in 2008’s franchise-starter Twilight.
Complex recently spoke to Gigandet about Trespass, falling in love with Nicole Kidman, and withstanding Nicolas Cage’s unpredictable in-scene moments.
Interview by Matt Barone (@MBarone)
Complex: Trespass is a home invasion movie, a subgenre that always seems to work because it taps into a universally relatable fear: People breaking into your house and putting your life in immediate danger. Movies like Funny Games and The Strangers are great examples; prior to working on Trespass, were you a fan of home invasion style movies?
Cam Gigandet: Yeah, definitely, and what was surprising to me during the first couple weeks of shooting…. I’ve never had anything like this happen to me, but so many people have, and it’s surprisingly a frequent occurrence. You’d be talking to someone and either they’d know someone or they’d be someone who had had any type of home invasion happen to them. So it’s a credible threat—it happens. And that definitely plays into what makes Trespass an intense movie.
Did any of the stories you heard match the degree of violence that takes place in Trespass?
No, I don’t think anything has gotten to that level. [Laughs.] Actually, Nic [Cage] actually had an odd one where I think someone had ended up in his bedroom, and they were naked or something, and with a popsicle or a sucker or some weird thing. But I don’t think they were after anything other than Nicolas Cage. [Laughs.] Nothing that I've heard about has gotten to the level of what the characters in the movie go through, though.
Trespass falls in line with the darker films you’ve done in the past, like The Unborn, The Roommate, and Priest. Are you naturally drawn to dark material?
I do enjoy the dark stuff, yeah. I think it’s a part of my perverse nature; I’ve always been a bit more drawn to darker things. And, of course, I’ll take whatever jobs I can get. [Laughs.] But these darker movies, there’s just something about them. To play characters who are a little off-kilter, and having to justify what they do, there seems to be, at least for me, more creativity and imagination involved with justifying the things they do.
Whereas with the good guys and/or heroes I’ve played, they have to abide by a very strict set of standards and rules that, for me at least, I haven’t been able to figure out how to have creativity and imagination and still stay by those rules. Hopefully one day I’ll figure out how to have the best of both worlds.
[Nicolas Cage] is quirky, and he is funky and different, but that lends itself to so much creativity. Once you see someone like that trying new things, taking risks, and having no judgment...you kind of get the confidence to follow in his footsteps.
With that in mind, is a role like yours in Trespass more fulfilling than your past ones, since there are several layers to the character?
Yeah, absolutely. There was a lot more involved, and the emotions were much more heightened and on a deeper level. And then you add this behavior of obsessive, compulsive, narcissistic, god-like “I’m gonna be the savior of this person”—that belief is definitely more in-depth than movies I’ve done like Twilight or Never Back Down. [Laughs.] There’s just more to hang onto, which is fun.
Your character starts off as the intruder group’s “good guy,” the one who has a special fondness for Nicole Kidman’s character, but as the movies goes on he turns out to be far less stable than was previously thought. When you’re playing a character like that, is the approach for you as an actor to think he’s stable or unstable?
It was an interesting thing to play with. For me, I tried to play him as if he was a follower, like he’s as dumb as a fox. He’s always playing the game, and he’s always doing what needs to be done. In the back of his mind, he knew what his end-goal was, and it just comes out later that there are certain things going on that stop him from getting what he wants. So, that’s where the things he can’t control come out. When he’s under control, he can probably maintain a normal life; it’s when he doesn’t get what he wants that something else really dark takes over him.
It’s the most challenging role I’ve played in my career so far. It’s a boost in my confidence to have someone like Joel Schumacher having faith in me and trusting that I can deliver what his vision is. I loved the opportunity.