After seven movies, Tobin Bell is inextricably connected to the 'Saw' film franchise. Sure, he wasn't always the guy (literally) lifting the heavy machinery, but as Jigsaw, the madman who first elected to teach lessons with a series of intricate traps rather than, say, a stern talking-to, he will forever be associated with the series – and, most likely, remain extraordinarily intimidating, even if his next role is playing a mild-mannered librarian.
Cinematical caught up with Bell earlier this week via telephone to discuss 'Saw 3D,' the final installment in the series. Before we got into the gory details of his ongoing development of the character, we asked him to take a look back at the films and give us a shortlist of the scenes and sequences he remembers most fondly. And while few of them emphasize the actual traps, those Rube Goldberg-by-way-of-Rob Zombie contraptions that have made the movies a cultural icon, Bell's favorite moments perhaps appropriately focus on the type of work that an actor might prefer, not to mention, that not only entertains audiences, but truly engages them, and of course keeps them coming back for more.
1. The battle of wills in 'Saw II.' "I really liked the scenes with Donnie Wahlberg at the table in 'Saw II'," Bell reveals. "I thought those scenes were well-crafted and very cat-and-mouse, filled with tension. I thought Donnie was really terrific in those sequences when he kept going back and forth to the monitor room. I particularly liked working with Donnie, and working those scenes with him. I thought the result was all that we could have wanted."
2. The surgery scenes - on himself, no less - in 'Saw III.' "In 'Saw III,' I thought the surgery scenes on my head were really well-shot," he beams. "They were really incredibly done. The special effects guys in these films, there's a guy named Francois Degenais, a Canadian guy who is an absolute master at prosthetics, and I loved working with him. He has been at the core of some of the visual success that some of the traps have been, and he's one of the behind-the-scenes guys who are so critical to getting things done and done well."
3 and 4. The original 'Saw' film's big last-scene revelation, and its 'Saw III' set-up. "There's the moment in 'Saw' where I get up off of the floor at the end. That was shocking, because no one expects it," he correctly observes. "I thought they did that really, really well. And then in 'Saw III,' you see the moments before he lies down on the floor, because there's a flashback to those moments, in the bathroom when he's spreading the blood around and injecting himself with material that will slow his heart rate and his pulse and relax him so that he can lie there almost unconscious for the entire time."
"I love stuff like that, and I think the fans like it too," he says. "They want to see, 'how did that happen?'"
5. Revealing the destiny of the 'Saw' series' first victim. "In 'Saw 3D,' there's a fabulous moment because fans have wondered for a long time what happened to Dr. Gordon, who escaped from the bathroom in Number One. And in 'Saw 3D,' we're going to find out!"