The Barrens was a devilish shoot but Stephen Moyer kicked ass

If you own The Barrens DVD and listened to the commentary of director Darren Lynn Bousman, you already know about the setbacks the crew experienced on set. In an interview with Dread Central Bousman tells about the difficult conditions on set in Ontario and how Stephen Moyer was totally down for anything.

Stephen was great; the whole movie rests on his shoulders and he just kicks ass. I have tremendous respect for this guy; he always wanted to be on set as much as humanely possible and it wasn’t necessarily an ‘easy’ set to be on considering our location. But I think that that to me is what makes for a great actor- someone who was going to be there not only for the job, but as a team player in this whole process.

The range of emotions that he has to go through in 90 minutes is astounding and I think his work here really showed his acting chops off. He was totally down for anything and he took a big risk with his movie. I think that he saw it as a chance to do more than he gets to do on “True Blood”- being a reserved vampire- and show off that he does have this extreme emotional range when he’s got the right material.

This movie was made for a very small amount and we shot it in what turned out to be 16 days; it was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever made. It was a really, really rough shoot; we were plagued with weather issues and forced to shut down shooting numerous times- it was a nightmare, literally. Plus, this was the first film that I have done which was shot entirely on location. Before, I had sound stages and controlled environments but with The Barrens, we were in the forest the entire time and you forget to take into consideration things like having to move cables and lighting through the forest. You could spend half a day just moving cable- it was awful.

The Barrens
Stephen and Darren on the set of The Barrens

To prove that The Barrens really isn’t a monster film, the actual Jersey Devil can only be seen for about a minute in the whole film. But Bousman explains that this was not his original plan.

I did not want to do a CG monster movie at all; that was never my intention at any point on this movie so I always intended to have a practical monster in The Barrens. That being said, one of the problems that we ran into is that we were very limited to what we could actually afford and get away with for our Jersey Devil and given our time constraint with production moving so quickly, I never saw the Jersey Devil until the day it showed up on our set.

So when it actually showed up on set, the thing weighed hundreds of pounds and the actor that was in it couldn’t move at all inside the costume. Originally, we were supposed to see the monster more in the movie but it got to a point that he couldn’t move in the suit and after all was said and done, it actually took five or six guys to operate it. So the Jersey Devil ends up being in less than a minute in the entire movie.

Photo credit: Darren Lynn Bousman


  1. Fascinating commentary.  I knew filming conditions were difficult because of the weather.  This gives additional insight into the problems encountered.  Kudos to Stephen for his terrific work, and to Mr. Bousman and the rest of the cast and crew.  Quite an achievement to shoot this film in 16 days with the location and weather difficulties described.

  2. Love that Darren appreciates Stephen so much but he must not have seen the last few episodes of TB…no longer the reserved vampire. :-)

  3. After watching the film I can well imagine the location made for an arduous shoot however it  lent  authenticity to the story.   Stephen’s ability to emote an impressive range of emotions so flawlessly is in part what makes him so believable on screen. We have seen a range of emotions with Bill. Stephen conveys volumes of what Bill is feeling but in a more economical way. He is vampire after all.

  4. I am so in agreement about Stephen’s performance, he made the film.  DLB is wise to recognize that fact. I am glad that Stephen can now add this to his resume as something to be proud of.

  5. I am dying to play my dvd, which is sitting here untouched.  If I cannot get down to Cherry Hill on Thursday I will be watching it at home.  The comments by Mr. Bousman are wonderful to read, but no surprise.  The director of “Restraint” gave similar praise.   Stephen is a true professional, with a dedication to the whole project, not just his part, and this is recognized by all who work with him.
    This was a difficult 2+ weeks for all, I’m sure.  Mr. Bousman was lucky to have Stephen’s indomitable spirit and unfaltering sense of humor to help him succeeed – as well as his fantastic performance!

  6. Woo Hoo!   I made it down to Cherry HIll, NJ yesterday and saw the screening of “The Barrens” along with quite a nice bunch of fans.
    I really enjoyed it.  Stephen was remarkable, and he did just what Mr. Bousman said, he carried that film from the first frame to the last!  His character’s vacillation between moments of clear lucidity interspersed with insidious madness was completely convincing, and riveting.
    I am so glad I went, and I can’t wait to see Stephen in another movie on the big screen – he’s hot, hot, hot – even when going crazy – LOL!

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