Credo: Actor and horror-film director Eli Roth on phobias, nightmares - and romcom tears


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The Independent Online

I love to terrify people As things get worse in this world, and people feel a loss of control over things, they need an outlet, a place they are allowed to be really scared. Where better than horror movies?

My movies are popular with soldiers Take Hostel. That was really popular on military bases – soldiers who are used to seeing people with their faces blown off watching my movie with their hands clamped over their eyes and squealing like girls!

Keep your eye on the doughnut not the hole David Lynch taught me that. In other words, focus on what is in front of you, not the thing you can't see. For a director, the doughnut's the thing.

I prefer directing to acting Actors are, by their very nature, dramatic. Within 24 hours of arriving on set, there is all this drama, everyone politicking for attention. But a director gets to tune all that out. Or at least tries to.

The scariest people are usually the sweetest A guy came up to me outside a club once, 6ft 5in, 350lb, spikes through his nose. He said, "Hey, did you make Hostel?" I told him yes, and he said, "Aw, can I give you a hug? You understand me!" It's the ones that show up outside your house unannounced you've got to be worried about.

Physical fitness is paramount The average age of a director in the Directors Guild is 57. I'm 41, and I still want to be making movies into my nineties. But directors are unhealthy, they sit at the monitor all day, eating. I'm not criticising anyone, I'm not judging, but I find that I function best, at my most creative, when I have energy, when I can run up and down the hill with no problem.

People are so quick to judge They make assumptions of me simply because I make horror movies. Though the assumptions are probably right. I'm all about the horror. I've just opened the world's scariest haunted house. It's called the Goretorium, in Vegas. It's got a horror bar, with sexy zombie waitresses and everything. You can even get married there – an undead wedding. Cool, huh?

I cry easily Romcoms, mostly. Freaky Friday, that Justin Timberlake/Mila Kunis film Friends With Benefits. Oh, I cried my eyes out at that one. The girl I was with couldn't believe it…

My phobias worsen as I get older I'm scared of flying, driving. I'm terrified of sharks. I'm a germaphobe. But I try to face my fears; I do. Well, most of them. I'm terrified of drugs – cocaine – so I'll never do that. I have these allergies, see, and I'm sure I'll be the guy who dies the first time he tries it.

I'm a workaholic and I can't switch off A couple of nights ago I had a zombie nightmare, and right in the middle of it all I find myself thinking it would make for a great movie. So what happens next in the nightmare is that I start looking for a pen so I can write it all down!

I have control issues For sure, no question. But, you know, I'm a writer, director, producer. I'm used to being in control. When I'm in a situation I have no control over, I go crazy.

My father is an analyst He thinks my career choice is healthy. As a kid, I was the neighbourhood baby-sitter – very responsible, always in charge. He's convinced my making horror movies is my way of misbehaving, but in a controlled way. He approves.

Eli Roth, 41, is an American actor, writer and director, helming horror films such as 'Hostel' and appearing in movies including 'Inglourious Basterds'. 'The Last Exorcism Part 2' (15), which Roth has produced, is released in cinemas on 7 June