Matthew Lillard had his first interview post-strike in The Hollywood Reporter about Five Nights at Freddy’s, and he has revealed how he gradually realized how big a deal it was in the lead-up to the film’s release.
Matthew Lillard – Horror King?
Lillard, has franchise horror experience in regular and family-friendly form with Scream and Scooby-Doo, respectively, but he was sure he wasn’t going to end up in that spot again.
”When I got the offer to do the movie, it was an incoming call. Basically, the proposition was ‘Go sit with [director] Emma Tammi, and if you guys get along, and you want to do the movie, you’ll get the offer,”’ said Lillard in the interview, ”Every time that happens in my life, it usually means the movie’s pretty bad. At this point in my career, it’s not like I’m out there just getting Academy Award opportunities. I have to fight for those great roles. We met, and she explained the character, and he’s the Voldemort in the Five Nights at Freddy’s Universe”
Gradually, Lillard realized he might have signed on for something massive, and the first convincing marker was his children’s reaction.
”I came home, and I was talking to my wife about it, and my middle child was sitting there, and they heard me say Five Nights of Freddy’s and were like, “Wait, who are you playing?” I said, ‘William Afton and some rabbit.’ And they were like, ‘Dad. That is going to be huge!’ Then, my son came in, and he affirmed the exact same thing. The fact that the two of them agreed on something was crazy.
Despite that and assurances from Emma Tammi and Five Nights at Freddy’s creator Scott Cawthon that this role could be life-changing, Lillard felt it was probably hyperbole. That was until he noticed a big change at conventions once his role in the movie was announced.
”At conventions I immediately I saw my line triple in size. Every third kid would come up saying, ‘I cannot wait for you to be a part of this movie and this franchise. We’ve been waiting eight years for the film.’ They were so excited. You start seeing projections coming out for the movie — and, in the back of my mind, I was like, ‘I think it’s going to be way bigger.’ I’m in the trenches at these conventions. Kids come up to me all the time. Cut to early projections being $40 million and then doing $80 million on the first weekend. It was remarkable and super exciting.”
Now, of course, Five Nights at Freddy’s has gone beyond that, and has set all sorts of records despite a dual release in theaters and on Peacock.
Directed and co-written by Tammi, Five Nights at Freddy’s stars Josh Hutcherson, Piper Rubio, Elizabeth Lail, and Matthew Lillard. With a budget of only $20 million, Five Nights at Freddy’s has already made approximately $220 million at the worldwide box office.