Sarah Michelle Gellar returns to the screen this week in Takashi Shimizu's monumentally frightening horror remake, The Grudge. Empire caught up with Gellar in her suite at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Knightsbridge - which, it turns out, is surprisingly hard to find - with a mind to probing the depths of this oriental frightfest and discovering the actress's insights into the horror genre, people's atavistic reaction to the supernatural and the psychology of fear itself.
That was the intention. But you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men. What follows is a slight digression covering topics as varied as current literature and the veracity of certain claims regarding Britney Spears' chest.
Empire: Hi. Sorry I'm late, I took a wrong turn and ended up at Buckingham Palace.
Sarah: Really? Did you go in and say hello?
Empire: I would have but the Queen's a bit of a talker - you just can't get away.
Sarah: Well you're on time. I'd never have known. You don't look flummoxed at all.
Empire:Thank you. So, are you having a good time in London?
Sarah: I am, you know. When you have the junkets in LA it's so crazy, as you can imagine. Everyone flies in from all over, people are tired from the flight and you know, you have all the crazy press. But out here everything's just a little calmer - It's been a little more peaceful today.
Empire Will you be going to Madame Tussauds to fondle your waxwork model?
Sarah: I already did! Back in March. I went with my friend Seth Green and he did lots of inappropriate things to my waxwork version. It was really cool though. What's really fun is that we got to go at night when everything was closed. When you go at night you get to touch the wax figures and sit on their laps - It's genius. We have some of the funniest pictures.
Empire: You weren't tempted to go during the day and just stand really still?
Sarah: Where's the fun in that? What's fun is going and sitting on Madonna's lap, that's fun.
Sarah: What's fun is grabbing Hugh Grant's butt.
Empire: Not so appealing.
Sarah: You could grab Jennifer Lopez's butt, she has one of those squeezable butts. And she blushes too.
Sarah: If you whisper in her ear she blushes.
Empire: Are you making this up?
Sarah: Go. Go to Madame Tussauds and see. Britney Spears' chest heaves.
Empire: You have to be making that up.
Sarah: I swear on my life! I tell you what, on your way out go and ask Nicole, my publicist. she was with me.
Empire: If I go and ask your publicist about Britney Spears' breasts, I'm going to be arrested.
Sarah: Actually you probably shouldn't cause she's Britney Spears' publicist too. Yeah, that might be a really bad thing to do. Okay. Well just go to the wax museum and check it out for yourself.
Empire: I will. So, The Grudge: that's a pretty scary film.
Sarah: It is a scary-ass film. People who had seen it before said 'oh my god I watched the whole movie like this' [covers her face with her hands]. I'm like 'nobody watches a movie like that. ' But one of my girlfriends was sitting next to me at the premiere and I kid you not [covers face once again]. I'm like, 'can you see the movie? ' She's like 'I don't want to!' I tell people it's a great date movie. Forget going to pick-up bars, go see The Grudge! Women will jump all over you.
Empire: It's the kid. There's something inherently frightening about creepy children.
Sarah: Oh yes. That's one scary kid. You know the one thing I didn't get to do was communicate with him all that much. The only person the language barrier was difficult on was him. You know, when you're a child you have a hard enough time communicating with adults. But when you're communicating with adults in another language it's very difficult. But, you know, there were things I wanted to know. Like, what do the other kids in school say to him? Have they seen the movie? Do they not see it 'cause they're too young? I have questions! Do other parents not let their kids play with him because he sits in closets with cats? I don't know! I never got to ask him.
Empire: He's probably 43, RADA trained and simply slight of build.
Sarah: He is older than he looks. It's the fifth time he's made this film, so. .
Empire: Remakes of Japanese horror films seem to be all the rage at the moment. Do you think that's because they're just more frightening than Western horrors?
Sarah: Yeah, and on a different level too. But Japanese films in general� look at the success of Shall We Dance. People need to realise that Japanese filmmakers really have something.
Empire: And of course, Takashi Shimizu had literally only just made the Japanese version of The Grudge, Ju-On.
Sarah: Yeah. Wouldn't it be funny if Sam Raimi said 'Spider-Man 2 worked really well. Fuck Spider-Man 3, let's do 2 again.
Empire: Or even made it in Japanese.
Sarah: 'Ah, Konichiwa Spider-Man. '.
Empire: How is your Japanese?
Sarah: It's not bad.
Empire: Surely you must have picked quite a bit up during all those years of martial arts.
Sarah: No, I do Tae Kwon Do, that's Korean. I can count to ten in Korean though.
Empire: And you've studied kick boxing and street fighting too?
Sarah: I sort of studied everything.
Empire: Should I be worried?
Sarah: Well, don't ask a question I don't like and don't write a bad article.
Empire: Point taken. Have you ever kicked anyone's arse for real?
Sarah: No, just on set.
Empire: Being a celebrity, presumably people only mug you for your autograph.
Sarah: I got mugged when I was younger though. In New York they just tell you to give them your money if it happens.
Empire: But it's not so bad there anymore, is it?
Sarah: The mugging?
Empire: Well, the crime rate. Not the muggings themselves.
Sarah: [She laughs, then, in an inexplicably British-sounding accent] 'Sorry to bother, would you be so kind as to give me your money? '.
Empire: So you've been mugged in England then? We do have a better class of criminal.
Sarah: Yeah, cause your cops don’t even carry guns.
Empire: They do have big sticks though. And whistles.
Sarah: It explains why Jack the Ripper's never been caught.
Empire: Didn't they decide he was a freemason? That's what Michael Caine said.
Sarah: There was a book that Patricia Cornwell wrote about Jack The Ripper. She had a theory about who Jack the ripper was and she spent, like, five million dollars of her own money researching it and wrote this book about it. But the freemasons are coming back with The Da Vinci Code. Have you read that?
Empire: Finished it on the tube this morning, actually.
Sarah: Have you read Angels & Demons?
Sarah: I liked Angels & Demons better, though I thought The Da Vinci Code was great. Have you ever read his earlier work? Deception Point and Digital Fortress?
Empire: I haven't, no.
Sarah: I have them and it's interesting. You'll see Dan Brown was just working it out, like it's not quite there with those two yet. They're still great books, but they're not as completely thought out as the others. He's writing another one now with the Robert Langdon character.
A knock at the door indicates that we've wasted enough of Gellar's time and Empire packs up to leave. .
Sarah: And where are you going right now?
Empire: I'm going to investigate Britney Spears' heaving breasts.
Sarah: Yes you are.