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At Death’s Door: “Final Destination 3” Star Mary Elizabeth Winstead

Does fate really exist, or do we control our own destiny? Is there some kind of a ‘master plan’ that organizes life, death, and everything in between, or do we have free will and make things happen for ourselves? Are we nothing more than figures in a grand scheme, operating on autopilot, traveling along the roads and alleys predetermined by fate, or are we in command of our own future?

How the hell should I know?

Final Destination 3 now available on DVD – might invite audiences to consider the possibilities of life, death, fate, and destiny, but it doesn’t take any of them seriously, so I won’t either. Still, when I had the opportunity to meet with Mary Elizabeth Winstead – FD3‘s lead actress – I was dying to ask her what she thinks about it all.

Mary Elizabeth, 21, is one of those young actresses whose face looks familiar because you’ve seen her in supporting roles, but you don’t know where you know her from. If you have a photographic memory, you’ll remember her from Sky High and The Ring 2, most recently. With FD3, however, she’s broken out of the supporting actress mold and will probably become a star. Hopefully, I’ll catch up with Mary Elizabeth next year after her career blossoms to the next level.

Unfortunately, Mary Elizabeth didn’t have much to say regarding her experiences with death and destiny. I guess the fact that she hasn’t had many encounters with death is a good thing… but it would have made for one hell of an interview!

filmcritic.com: In this Final Destination, the roller coaster crashes. Do you ride roller coasters, and will you ever ride one again?

Mary Elizabeth Winstead: Yeah. I’m a pretty big roller coaster person. I might stay away from them for a little while, though, not so much because I’m afraid of them. More so because I rode one 30 times in a row while making this movie. I felt like my head was going to pop off.

I was going to ask about that. I bet you had to ride that coaster for hours on end during the shoot?

Hours and hours! We would alternate between acting happy and smiling, and then dying and screaming. I felt like I could have a brain hemorrhage. We thought someone would get sick. We were taking bets. Nobody won any money, though.

This is Final Destination, so I have to ask you, have you ever had a near death experience?

I’m a really cautious person, so I don’t let myself get into near death experiences. I’m not into the idea of skydiving or anything. But I definitely get into situations where I could have died on the freeway. I just started driving in Los Angeles. I avoided it for as long as I could. I freak out – all the time – on a daily basis.

How about premonitions… like in the movie? Have you had a premonition that came true?

I don’t have any premonitions. I don’t have any supernatural powers. I just have a typical woman’s intuition, and I go with that.

How about fate? Do you believe in a fateful plan? Like, when it’s your time, it’s your time. No escaping.

I go back and forth. I don’t claim to believe any one thing. I don’t think anybody knows, really. Obviously, we’re all going to die at some point. Whether or not we are fated to die in some way I think is debatable. I just don’t know which side to debate.

So, you’re not sure about fate. What about fear? What scares you more than anything?

I don’t have phobias. I’m pretty laid back. Nothing really bothers me. I can handle things pretty well.

In the movie, the actor who plays your boyfriend says that people fear what they can’t control. What do you think of that?

I think that’s a very true statement. People are afraid of roller coasters and planes because they’re putting their lives in something else’s control.

Let’s relate that statement back to fate. In your career, things are really starting to take off. But you’re in an industry where you have very little control over your own success. Are you nervous about your future at all?

Not really. I’m just so happy to be working. I don’t have a master plan, like being a director in five years. I just want to keep working, and as long as I can do that, I will be happy. I’m trying to keep the ball rolling.

I read that you are related to Ava Gardner.

Yeah. I never knew her, though. She was my grandfather’s cousin.

Did that contact help you along in your acting career?

No. I just found out that I have that connection. Everyone thought it was cool because she was an actress, and so am I. I got this on my own.

Good for you! I’m going to guess by your complete lack of worries that you are not a control freak?

I’m not a control freak. I’m laid back and go with the flow.

Your boyfriend is probably eternally grateful for that.

Yeah.

With such an easy going attitude, I’m also going to guess that you’re not from L.A. either.

I lived in North Carolina until I was five, right outside Raleigh, but I spent most of my childhood in Salt Lake City.

Were you a fan of Final Destination before you got the role?

Definitely. I was a fan of both films. I auditioned for the second one, but didn’t make it. I was happy to get a shot here.

The film has scenes in weight rooms, home improvement stores, subway trains, and on roller coasters. With everything going on, there has to have been accidents or injuries on set.

There were. One was during the drive-through scene.

Don’t give anything away!

OK. The cars were all connected by a hydraulic pump so each car would crumble – it was like a big press. Some ungodly amount of pressure happened, and the big pump – which was as big as a table – released from the blocks and took out two cameras and some lights. If someone would have been standing there, it would have killed them easily.

Close one. Anything else?

During the fireworks scene, a firecracker exploded in a camera guy’s face. They put too small of a charge on a heavy firework, so it burned and just plopped out of the tube, and it blew up.

No one died though, right?

Nope.

I guess death wasn’t involved in the making of this movie. Well… last question. Is this the final Final Destination. No pun intended.

I don’t know. I thought it would be. But if it does well, who knows?

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