Bruce Altman and Elizabeth Mitchell as Dez and Edele were also cast fairly late in the process. The initial idea was to re-team Kyle MacLachlan and Laura Dern from Blue Velvet and have them play Dez and Edele. Kyle was open to it, but Laura wasn’t, so Kyle didn’t want to do it without her.
I still think it would have been a fun approach, but I couldn’t be happier with what Bruce and Elizabeth brought to these fucked-up characters.
I have such enormous respect for both of them taking on the roles, because nobody—and I mean nobody—in Hollywood wants to play pedophiles. They were both amazing and creepy and very thoughtful in their approach.
Elizabeth told me that she wanted to play Edele by never actually touching any of the children on-screen (which was actually creepier) and I was okay with that.
I told them they were essentially playing alien beings inside human bodies and they should appear stiff and awkward as if they were being controlled by these aliens from inside.
Elizabeth even had little plastic surgery scars applied to the back of her ears (which you can’t see on-screen), because she felt that Edele had had a facelift, which would also account for the stiffness of her facial movements. Bruce had never been squibbed before and was having anxiety over being shot on-screen. When he cries out, that is real panic on his part from having the squibs explode.
They were both a pleasure to work with and I’ll always be grateful for their courage as actors in taking on the roles.
After the “read more button” you can read the part about the scene with Edele.
ON DEZ & EDELE SEQUENCE
I saw the film as a Grimm’s Fairy Tale nightmare and around each corner was always some escalating evil lurking. Oleg (Cameron Bright) was a version of Pinocchio and he’s on a journey to find his way back home to a real family where he can be treated like a real boy (unlike in the abusive household of his stepfather, Anzor).
Along the way, he encounters iconic fairy tale-like characters representing both good and evil. We meet Divina the hooker who is a representation of the Blue Fairy (from Pinocchio) and a force for good. He also encounters the psychopathic pimp Lester, who represents the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland. To me, Joey (Walker) was always the Big Bad Wolf who turns out to a sheep in wolf’s clothing and Oleg’s real protector.
And then there’s Dez and Edele, who together represent the evil witch from Hansel & Gretel.
In the case of Dez and Edele (who inhabit a modern-day version of the Gingerbread House?—?only instead of a house made from candy, it’s videogames and toys), I wanted to give Teresa (Farmiga) a reference point for absolute evil in a world where her husband was involved with mobbed-up bad guys?—?but even these bad guys operated with some kind of code and didn’t just commit evil for evil’s sake.
They were more about business and protecting their interests, whereas Dez and Edele are the purest form of evil: child predators and murderers.
Teresa (who herself is a version of the protective Blue Fairy) fears that Joey has intentions to hurt Oleg, possibly even to kill him to silence him (playing into the theme of “nobody knows nobody” as Tommy says in the junkyard before shooting Sal).
Discovering the atrocities committed by Dez and Edele and coming face to face with the purest form of evil, it puts things into perspective for Teresa.
She knows in her gut and from having lived with Joey for so many years that he’s not “evil” and could never really hurt a kid. She wants to believe this in the beginning, but it’s reinforced by her encounter with the pedophile couple. It also gives her the strength to call Joey out on his behavior that night (in the dialogue outside the ice cream store).
As for the playroom floor in Dez and Edele’s apartment, it has always puzzled me why viewers think there is something buried under the floor or that they don’t understand the point of the construction plastic. They live in an apartment, so there wouldn’t be much space to hide any bodies under the floor.
The plastic is so that they can protect the carpet from blood stains when they murder the kids and then they can wrap the bodies up in the construction plastic and dispose of them.
The plastic is taped down to the carpet, so it’s easily removable; I think I discuss this on the DVD commentary. But a lot of people do indeed think that they’re burying the bodies under the floor. As for the texture of the carpet, that’s just the material. There isn’t anything diabolical about it?—?other than the child-like puzzle design to the floor itself.
Everything in the playroom was conceived to be super-creepy with an emphasis on bondage and entrapment. Also, inside the closet is rolls of tape and cleaning products?—?and body bags and weird little dress-up costumes. There are also hanging devices and ropes around the room.
Basically, everything is intended to get under your skin and leave you feeling absolutely creeped-out by what goes on in that room. Which is exactly what Teresa vibes when she barges her way in there.
The apartment was built as a set and we made sure it had no corners, so like trapped mice the children couldn’t hide anywhere. There are also very few-to-no shadows in the apartment (other than in the children’s bedroom)?—?and the Nosferatu-like shadows of the couple through the bathroom window, suggesting Oleg’s impression of their inner evil.
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