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Actress Alex Daddario on Crazy Auditions, the Texas Chainsaw Legacy, and the Thrill of Improv

In person, Alex Daddario is disarmingly sweet: quick to laugh, with a pair of cornflower blue eyes you'd notice from fifty feet. An actress since her teens, Daddario paid her dues in TV shows like All My Children, Law & Order, White Collar, and Parenthood, as well as in several movies—most notably as Athena's spunky daughter in the first installment of YA hit Percy Jackson & the Olympians.

Not exactly the type to appear onscreen covered with blood and sweat, eh? And yet that's exactly what she does as the star of Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D, the latest installment in the franchise (opening January 4). The film picks up about 20 years after the 1974 original ended, as Heather Miller (Daddario) travels deep into Texas to collect a mysterious inheritance. What starts out as a formulaic slasher (four comely kids, a backwoods town, an empty old house) quickly careens into something much more sinister, with Daddario as the driving force behind that shift.

Turns out, she's a girl you don't want to cross. We sat down with the actress in our office to learn what it's like to be the new face of one of horror's biggest franchises.

DETAILS: You've done comedy, drama, action-adventure. What attracted you to a slasher film like Texas Chainsaw?

ALEX DADDARIO: I'm not good at watching horror films—I watch between my fingers—but there are some that I love and think are amazing. The Shining and Silence of the Lambs scared me to death. Texas Chainsaw is just iconic; it's exciting to be a part of it.

DETAILS: When did you first see Chainsaw?

ALEX DADDARIO: I first watched it right before making this film. I hadn't seen it prior to getting the role because I'm a total scaredy-cat. I had to stop the film every 30 seconds to get my anxiety levels back down to normal. It was a terrifying 24-hour experience watching the film in its entirety.

DETAILS: How does an actress audition for a horror movie? Is there a lot of running and screaming on cue?

ALEX DADDARIO: This is my second horror film [after 2011's Bereavement], and there's something wild about the level of emotion required of you. I've had auditions that call for crawling, hysterical crying, all kinds of crazy stuff. From what I remember, the audition for Chainsaw wasn't anything too extreme, but I got one scene that was a bit more intense; there was screaming, but not, like, screaming.

DETAILS: Any memorable bonding moments with the cast while filming in Louisiana?

ALEX DADDARIO: We had a really good time; it got so hot, and the days and nights were so long that you start to get loopy after a certain point. In Bossier City, where we were staying, there weren't a ton of great restaurants, just a lot of fast food. There was a casino, The Horseshoe, right across the train tracks from our hotel. We loved the Chinese food there and ended up heading over all the time. When the choices are decent Chinese and fast food, I'll choose the chicken lo mein every time.

DETAILS: The original Chainsaw starred Marilyn Burns as the 'final girl'—the one who got away. After that she became a scream queen and even makes a cameo in the new film. Did you learn anything from her?

ALEX DADDARIO: I probably peppered her with a million questions. I think all of us were completely in awe that she was there. There's a famous story about them actually cutting her finger for the scene at the end of the original movie when she's tied up. She confirmed that was true. I think if that happened to any of us now, SAG would be on set in about five seconds. The 70s sounded like the Wild West of filmmaking.

DETAILS: What was it like stepping into her shoes?

ALEX DADDARIO: With something as well-known as Texas Chainsaw, there are a lot of expectations. It can be nerve-wracking. It's a crazy, crazy world to inhabit, and I found that it's great as an actress because you really stretch yourself and you can go to places that you usually don't touch.

DETAILS: So you don't think horror heroines are just damsels in distress?

ALEX DADDARIO: I think there's definitely a sexuality to all the girls that play these roles—running in a tank top, screaming, that sort of thing. But in this movie, and in a lot of horror films, there are some incredibly strong women. I get to play a tough character in this movie, and there's something great about that.

DETAILS: In between playing a demi-goddess you found time to be an on-screen love interest for both Matt Bomer and Charlie Day. Can you pick favorites?

ALEX DADDARIO: They're both great people and great actors. Obviously Charlie Day is hysterical and Always Sunny has much more comedy than White Collar. I just had the best experience on Sunny and couldn't stop laughing. It was a little bit like being on SNL.

DETAILS: How so?

ALEX DADDARIO: There's a lot of improv, so you never know what's going to happen. And the interesting thing is that they control the show; they're producers on it, they're creators, and they're also the actors. I've never worked on a show where that was the case. It was great to see their process—to actually have the actors control the creative aspect of the show.

DETAILS: Who do you want to play next?

ALEX DADDARIO: I really would love to get involved in a period piece. Anything that Keira Knightley has done, really. Like Pride & Prejudice. I love that movie.

TheTexas Chainsaw Massacre 3D opens January 4.

—Jon Roth (@jonmroth), editorial assistant at Details

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Also on Details.com:
Ethan Hawke on Horror Films and His Role in Sinister
The Women of Details
Hollywood Mavericks

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