Emile Hirsch’s latest adventure is playing a coroner on ‘The Autopsy of Jane Doe’

Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch play a father/son coroner team in 'The Autopsy of Jane Doe.'

Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch play a father/son coroner team in ‘The Autopsy of Jane Doe.’

In The Autopsy of Jane Doe, it’s just another night at the morgue for a father (Brian Cox) and son (Emile Hirsch) team of coroners, until an unidentified, highly unusual corpse comes in. Discovered buried in the basement of the home of a brutally murdered family, the young Jane Doe — eerily well preserved and with no visible signs of trauma — is shrouded in mystery. As they work into the night to piece together the cause of her death, the two men begin to uncover the disturbing secrets of her life. Soon, a series of terrifying events make it clear: this Jane Doe may not be dead.

I recently talked with Hirsch about everything from Home Alone and The Exorcist to his charity work and his latest film.

Before we start off – well I guess I’m starting off – but Alpha Dog is one of my favorite movies. It’s so underrated.

Hirsch: Nick Cassavetes is a very talented director. He’s done a bunch of different genres too. Have you seen his movie, Yellow?

I haven’t, but I’ll have to check it out. Anyways, I saw that your parents were creative people. Did you know early on that you wanted to be an entertainer?

I had such a love and fascination for movies since the first time I saw Home Alone. I don’t know if I wanted to be in the creative realm when I was a kid. [Movies] just seemed like such a fun world. With Home Alone, he’s going around setting booby traps and it just seemed like the most fun thing ever.

Have any of the movies you made lived up to your Home Alone expectations?

I think Lords of Dogtown and Into the Wild. Dogtown was just hanging out with a bunch of cool people skateboarding and having the time of our lives in a Los Angeles summer. It was just so much fun. Into the Wild was different since I was more solitary in a way though I was with a crew the whole time. But there was beautiful scenery. It was a cool experience to have. It got me outdoors in a way I had never been before. That’s for sure.

I liked Into the Wild as well. One of my friends, Paul Haasch, was in it. He had one line I think.


He was the guy climbing the rocks as you go by on the raft.

[His line was] helmet! [laughing] Nice!

Speaking of outdoors, you were in Africa and wrote the Congo Diary. Could you tell me a little about that?

I had gotten to know a few people at Oxfam because of my role as Chris McCandless [from Into the Wild] who had donated his money to Oxfam. After the movie came out, they asked me if I wanted to go with a few people to the Congo. They wanted an actor to go with them to help raise awareness so people in other parts of the world would know about what they’re doing to raise money and bring NGOs into the public consciousness more. It’s an important part of NGO work. I found out that this was the first time they had ever done a Congo trip and it was right before this civil war broke out.

It was a great experience and I met a lot of great people. It was definitely an unforgettable time so I kept a journal the whole time. I didn’t know if I was actually going to do something with it – like a blog or something. I turned it into them afterwards. Then my publicist called me and said I was going to be on the cover of Men’s Journal. My journal was the article with all these pictures that we took. It was pretty wild. I was stoked that Oxfam was able to be exposed to that audience in that way. Then we did a Zimbabwe trip less than a year later.

The last time I was in Africa was with this musician Kenna for a charity event called Summit on the Summit to raise awareness for clean water. We [including Jessica Biel, Isabel Lucas and Lupe Fiasco] all climbed up Kilimanjaro with an MTV crew filming us. Climbing Kilimanjaro was an incredible experience. It’s not Mount Everest, but it’s not Runyon Canyon in Hollywood either.

It sounds amazing. Let’s switch gears. Your next movie is The Autopsy of Jane Joe. It’s a horror movie. Are you a horror fan?

I am a horror fan. I might be more of a fan than a lot of my contemporaries. I loved going to horror movies with my friends or on a date. Later on, I got to work with William Friedkin [on Killer Joe, which co-starred Matthew McConaughey] who did The Exorcist. We talked about The Exorcist and other horror movies he likes. The Exorcist is such a classic and to hear Friedkin talk about it is just such an amazing experience. When The Autopsy of Jane Doe script came around, I was responsive to it. I didn’t dismiss it as just another horror film.

What did you like about the script?

I liked the mystery element – like a Sherlock Holmes and Watson looking for clues. I liked the way it played with the mortality theme. It makes viewers confront their own mortality. That’s another reason this film is unsettling. It’s not just a scary environment, but it’s a scary idea that we all wrestle with all the time. The director, André Øvredal, made a movie called Trollhunter which most people have never heard of. It’s a well-received mockumentary about these college-aged troll hunters in Norway. It’s really funny and it’s really well done. The special effects for that type of movie are incredible. There’s a sense when you watch the movie that you’re watching someone really talented.

The Autopsy of Jane Doe is now playing in select theaters and I available on Video on Demand.

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