Edward Burns plays a cop investigating a couple of weird deaths in the thriller One Missed Call, directed by Eric Valette. This is the fourth time Burns has played a police officer – and he comes from a family of law enforcement officers – so it didn’t take much extra work to get into this particular role. “In this kind of film, the investigative work that Detective Andrews is doing isn't very sophisticated,” said Burns.
“He's basically, ‘How do you get up for investigating the cellular pulse killer?’”
Shannyn Sossamon co-stars as Beth Raymond, a woman who lost two friends shortly after they each received eerie messages on their cell phones. The messages are recordings of the last few minutes of the recipient’s life, but Sossamon has a hard time convincing the police there is a connection and that she’s not crazy. Burns’ Detective Andrews is the only officer who doesn’t think she’s lost it.
Burns says he’s not at all like Detective Andrews when it comes to buying into things. “[I’m] definitely much more cynical. But I like the fact that he was [a believer]. In these films, whether it's a horror film or not, even if it's sort of an old-school investigative piece, there's always the one believer who will then sort of help out the damsel in distress. And that's who I think Jack Andrews is.”
Although he hasn’t watched that many horror films lately, Burns was a fan of the genre growing up. “As a kid, I mean, I loved all of that stuff.
I mean, like when I was junior-high age it was sort of the height of Freddie Krueger and Halloween and Friday the 13th and all that stuff. Stuff that you go over to somebody's house on a Friday night and, ‘What do we rent?’ We'd rent something that could scare the hell out of you.”
One horror film Burns was actually asked to avoid prior to working on this film was the original version of One Missed Call. “[Valette] asked me not to look at the original until after I'd seen his version of the film, and I don't know why. I mean, I guess he didn't want us comparing notes or questioning maybe some of the changes that he had made. I know my character really doesn't play a big part in the original. So I respected that. Then I left the DVD in my hotel room in Atlanta, so I still haven't seen it.”
As for things that go bump in the night, Burns admits to being sort of a believer. “A little bit, yeah. I've had friends who've had kind of weird, ghost-like experiences in old hotels and things,” said Burns. “I had one weird one once. I was on the LIE coming into Manhattan in traffic. There's a part on the LIE where there's sort of a rise up the highway before you dip down into the midtown tunnel. We're coming up, it's just me in the car, and there's an old couple on the side of the road. The woman is sitting in the car, the old guy's looking under the hood of his stalled car. I'm listening to the radio. I just kind of glance and I see them. And then I come up over the rise, and as I'm coming down, that same car - with the same two people - is there. And I'm like, 'All right. That's f--ked up. Could they have possibly got the car started and stalled again while I wasn't paying attention?’ So I don't know if it was just a weird déjà vu... That's been my only kind of weird occurrence.”
And unlike some horror movies, Burns says nothing weird happened while they were filming One Missed Call. Shooting in an actual school just wasn’t that spooky, according to Burns. “No, usually sets, they do such a good job with them that a lot of times what's weird is when you're working on a soundstage and you've spent two hours working on a set and then you step off of it and you realize, ‘Oh, wait, I've been in here.’ That's kind of odd. But no, shooting on location is, depending on the location, like Atlanta was a lot of fun. It's fun to just kind of get to go to a new city and kind of discover a new part of the country, or part of the world.”
Burns felt the atmosphere on the set of this thriller wasn’t really any different than a standard drama. “No. You have so many technicians around. There might be moments that are a little different, when you really step into that hospital, or a creepier environment, and you're lit for the scene, there is that moment where you're like, 'Okay...' Like a perfect example is Private Ryan. At no point did you think you were at war, until suddenly, like, everything was set up and it was time to go and you call action and the minute you're in it, there are moments when you kind of forget that you're in a movie. It mostly happens with movies where your adrenaline starts pumping.”
Burns did try his best to keep the mood light on the set by making Sossamon laugh whenever possible. “Shannyn and I, we had a lot of fun. I discovered early on that it's very easy to get her to laugh so it was just kind of fun to toy with her when she would have to do a little bit of, like, real tough screaming work and have to really be terrified. I don't know that Eric always appreciated it,” said Burns.