For the past three Halloweens, Tobin Bell has been frightening audiences as Jigsaw in the popular “Saw” series, the latest installment of which will be released in theaters nationwide tomorrow.
Though moviegoers may be most familiar with Bell in this horror role, his career is extensive, including small parts on shows like “The Sopranos” and “The West Wing.” Even with these other roles under his belt, he’s only discovered the true limelight beneath the eerie glow of the “Saw” horror series.
Bell is very happy with his own success and enjoys working on the “Saw” projects. This most recent installment, however, will be his last. He spoke extensively and explicitly about how he created the Jigsaw character, the series’ maniacal and conniving sociopath.
Bell described the process of creating Jigsaw as difficult. Portraying a realistic role allows the actor to draw on previous knowledge and background information. For Jigsaw, however, Bell began with a simple question: Where is the motivation?
“You open with movements, and then you give some light airs to build excitement and close with a daring finish,” Bell said.
Jigsaw requires the correct underlying rhythm, Bell said. But that shouldn’t discount the primary melodies produced. For Jigsaw to truly become the eerie character that “Saw” fans love, Bell said that he must question himself as the character. This method alone makes Jigsaw more human.
“It would be very simple for me to make Jigsaw a one-dimensional character,” Bell said. “The fact that he can be seen as human is what makes him truly frightening.”
However terrifying Jigsaw appears to the audience, Bell asserts that he is not a villain. The films are laced with irksomely life-affirming messages, presented through the torture devices Jigsaw uses on his victims.
“[It’s like if you were in class and the teacher said], ‘Today class, we’re going to discuss how you’d live your life if you knew when you were going to die,’” Bell said.
The message gained in that classroom, he continued, would leave very little impact. However, if a filmmaker were to, say, utilize this theme in a horror flick, it becomes haunting, even perplexing.
Bell admits that he’s no Dustin Hoffman. Though much of his experience lies in other genres, he enjoyed working on the “Saw” projects because of the large amount of collaboration involved in the production. He and the rest of the cast worked closely with Darren Lynn Bousman, the director of the second and third “Saw” films, to create the final chapter in the series.
Bell said the last “Saw” story will tie up all the loose ends and function as “the last pieces of the puzzle.” Bell was reluctant to give away any significant plot points, but he assured fans that he is very pleased with how the film turned out. The filmmakers anticipate that “Saw IV” will be received as one of the best in the series.