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Marisol Nichols Takes Us Behind The Scenes Of Spiral: From The Book Of Saw And Riverdale - Exclusive Interview

What's your favorite Jigsaw trap of the "Saw" franchise? Could it be the infamous reverse bear trap strapped to Amanda Young's cranium in the original that started it all? Or maybe it was the trypanophobic pit of syringes that Amanda was tossed into in "Saw II"? (Poor Amanda, again!) Or perhaps it was "The Rack" from "Saw III," a metallic crucifix-like gizmo with a gear system designed to twist and snap your body like a rag doll. The list of Jigsaw's twisted instruments of death is endless, and each one is designed to exploit your worst phobias.

A new memorable addition to the rogues' gallery of "Saw" snares might be the searing wax trap from "Spiral: From the Book of Saw," the ninth entry of the franchise. But this death machine wasn't from the mind of Jigsaw either — it was crudely designed by the all-new copycat killer from "Spiral" who definitely modeled his work after the late mastermind. In the scene, police captain Angie Garza is abducted and awakens bound to a table with a pipe aimed at her concealed face. What does this diabolical trap do? Well, it douses her face with smoldering wax, and her only key to survival is to sever her own spine with the blade conveniently attached to her neck. Piece of cake, right? Well, no. It's a grueling, drawn-out death scene and it taps into some of the most traumatic human fears possible: drowning, smothering, burning, severing — yeah, it has it all.

The actor who lived through it (and had a blast doing so) is Marisol Nichols, who you might also recognize as Hermione Lodge from "Riverdale," a character she's portrayed for the last five years. Nichols' career spans for a total of 25 years and counting, going back to a very small role you'll now recognize her in if you go back and rewatch "Scream 2." She played Dawnie, the Omega Beta Zeta sorority sister who answers a call from Ghostface and then hands it off to the ill-fated Cici played by Sarah Michelle Gellar. Since then, Nichols has remained consistently busy. Take a glance at her IMDb page, and you'll see she went on to land dozens roles in notable titles such as "24," "Criminal Minds," and "Teen Wolf," to name a few.

During a recent exclusive interview with Looper, she talked about her return to horror and shared her on-set experiences with Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson. She also took a look back on "Scream 2," shared her wish list of storylines for Hermione in "Riverdale," and opened up about a praiseworthy second job that she takes very seriously. When she's not busy portraying law enforcement characters onscreen, it seems she's aiding them in real life. In her spare time, Nichols helps crack down on child traffickers, and her real-life heroics could be the subject of an upcoming project she's currently producing.

Behind the Scenes on Spiral was 'like a front row seat to a Chris Rock concert'

Before landing your role in "Spiral," how familiar were you with the "Saw" franchise?

I had actually seen the first "Saw" in theaters when it came out. I love horror. So I was freaking out to be a part of a horror film, but I hadn't seen the other ones yet. I'd seen bits and parts, but I hadn't seen the other ones as much.

I think everyone was surprised to learn that Chris Rock got the ball rolling on this project. He's known for his comedic roles, so the idea of him being in a horror movie was a big surprise. What was your reaction to learning he would be your co-star?

Yeah. My manager told me that Chris Rock was executive producing the next movie in "Saw" franchise, that he was a huge fan, and that he was taking over this new installment. I was like, "That's the coolest thing ever. What a great idea." So I was already just intrigued by that alone. Then I heard that he was bringing Sam Jackson along for the ride, which is insane. So I was in — I was like, this is great.

Do you have any favorite on-set moments with Chris? Can you share any funny behind-the-scenes stories that you have?

I think there was one moment that was my favorite. My first day shooting, I think it was when I'm screaming at him and calling him out. We did that scene for hours and hours, and I didn't really know him that well. It was really fun, kind of getting to know him behind the scenes because we'd cut and then he'd tell some joke or he just kind of thinks funny, which I love, admire and respect, but it was also a front row seat to a Chris Rock concert. It was fantastic.

It sounds like there might be lot of bloopers and alternate takes. Are there any you can tell us about?

There's one for sure that I know, I think it was either me or Chris forgot to move his chair back to run to look at the package or something and we didn't move it. So I went behind him and just grabbed it and pulled it. And I knew it was never going to work, but it was funny on camera. There's other things where you mess up or Chris was doing a whole riff at me. If you remember in the movie he says, "Do I look like a Jamaican nanny?" Where there were like ten different versions of him talking back to me. And we filmed all of them, so I'm assuming on the blooper reel we'll show all of those because they were hilarious.

We recently interviewed director Darren Lynn Bousman, and we talked about Samuel L. Jackson. He was pinching himself the entire time because he was in disbelief that someone of that caliber was joining a "Saw"movie. So that alone was surprising, but he described him as "larger than life" and intimidating. Do you agree?

Larger than life? Yes. Intimidating? No, but I don't have to direct him, I just get to work with him. And he was lovely. He was fantastic. I loved him. He's larger than life just because that's who he is even if he was walking down the street and ordering a sandwich. He's like a king. But working with him was actually a joy. He was great. He was light and easy and fun and just kind of enjoying the process, and that's all you can ask for as an actor. It was fantastic.

Angie Garza was originally written as a male character

I read that your character was originally written as male, then switched for you. Can you tell us about how that came to be?

My manager at the time called me up and said, "Listen, there's a role in this new 'Saw' movie. And it was written for a man, but I think that I can have you do it." And I said, "What is it?" He said, "It's the captain of the police." I was like, "Oh God, yes, absolutely have me do it." So he did his magic behind the scenes and to their credit, they were like "Great, this works," and hired me.

You've dabbled with law enforcement roles before. You've had role roles in "24" and "Law & Order," to name a few. Did those help prepare you for this part?

First of all, those were ages ago. "24" was 2007. It was a long time ago. I've been doing Hermione Lodge for the last five years which is completely different. It's different playing a cop or an agent or whatever, than a captain. A lot's changed in my life since I played those roles, I have way more experience doing certain things with law enforcement. I have way more friends in law enforcement that are lieutenants and deputies and captains and chiefs and agents and all of it. So I have a different viewpoint on it now, if that makes sense. That's more real.

Your character's death, in my opinion, is one of the most traumatic deaths in the movie. I mean, I could see it messing with people who have a fear of drowning, burning, or smothering, because it's such a long, drawn-out death scene. What was it like shooting that? Was it traumatic for you to be underneath that fabric, doused by all that liquid?

No. It was so cool, so fun. At one point I scream "f*** you" as loud as I could because I wanted her pissed. I actually screamed a lot of expletives and I didn't know what they were going to keep in, but I'm glad they kept it in because I wanted her pissed off and mad that she was caught by this guy, so mad, rather than victim-y. I just didn't think she was that kind of a character. The only thing that was traumatic was realizing that my kid is never going to be able to see this movie — that will mess her up. My boyfriend at the time saw it with me and he's just like, "I can't watch you die." I'm like, "Oh, okay." I didn't even think it would be a thing, but I'm like, "Yeah, I guess it's a thing."

Do you have an all-time favorite "Saw" trap? Or maybe one from this movie?

In this movie, the finger trap to me is the most like, "Oh God, that's awful." Just because it's your fingers and all your nerve endings are in there and it's just horrific. I would say for the franchise overall — because I've now seen more [of the movies] — I know it's not as bloody or as gory, but I hate being cold. I'm from Chicago, I feel like I earned the right to bitch about being cold. So the frozen one [from "Saw III"] where the girl's naked and it's just freezing and they're putting water on her? That sounds like hell to me, absolutely.

Marisol Nichols helps track down child predators in real life

I read a couple of articles about you, and in real life, they say you help law enforcement track down child traffickers. And I also read that you plan to produce and maybe write a story about your experiences that will translate to film. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

I'm executive producing with Sony and we're doing it for TV. I'm not writing it myself. I have a showrunner and writer who's amazing. I've been working with him over the last year, giving him all behind-the-scenes footage and pictures and downloading everything I've done that hasn't gone public yet. But yeah, I'm hoping to God we can roll camera by the end of the year on this. So it'll come out either by the end of the year or early next year. I'm excited, though. I'm really excited.

So in a way, it sort of sounds like an as-told-to project, where you're sharing your experiences and this person's going to translate it into a story for the screen.

A hundred percent. I mean, it's based on my life. This is kind of what I do as my second job, which is somewhat unbelievable for people, but it is what I do. And it works really well. And I can get into places where other people might have a harder time — [that] kind of thing. And obviously I wear disguises and I have a different voice and I have a different mock-up and I have extremely well-trained partners who've trained me with an inch of my life and that's sort of what the story is based on — my life as an actress and also doing this.

I want to go way back in time. You had a small part as Dawnie in "Scream 2."

Oh yeah. A tiny part.

I remember you were one of Sarah Michelle Gellar's housemates in the sorority. What pops into your mind when you look back on that film? I know it was a small part for you, but it's approaching its 25-year anniversary.

I know, I think Skeet Ulrich is doing something with it. I think my ["Riverdale"] costar is doing something with "Scream" again, which is really exciting.

I wanted to ask that because he costars with you in "Riverdale." When you first started working with him, did you trade "Scream" stories? Did you connect over that right away?

I just told him that I was in "Scream 2" and that I worked with Sarah and he's like, "Oh, she's great." I'm like, "Yes, she's wonderful." We talked about that, but that was kind of about it. When I was doing it, though, I will tell you I was so excited to be on the phone and to hear the guy's voice. Because at the time that guy's voice was iconic. So just shooting that was really fun just because I got to be able to do that.

The future of Hermione Lodge

Can you tease us about what's in store for Hermione in the next half of "Riverdale" Season Five or the following season?

I wish I could. I don't know. I don't always know. I only know what I've done and she's still a housewife, a real housewife of New York, which I still think is hilarious. And she's so close with Veronica. At least we get to see them together, but I don't know. I have no idea if I'll be back more, you never know. I get a call and like, "Can you come?" And I either can or can't. So we'll see.

So, what's your wildest or your favorite behind-the-scenes story that you could share?

It was the first season, and I was filming the scene with Luke in Pop's Diner. I had just filmed the scene where I get a package with a snake in it. Remember with the live snake? And there was actually a live snake in there. It was a little freaky and this thing's rattling and there's a snake wrangler on set with one leg, which is not comforting at all. And I'd filmed that scene first and then I had to do this intimate scene with Luke where I'm telling him that Hiram is stalking me from jail and my life is in danger and it's a very serious scene. And Luke throws a rubber snake at me, middle of the scene. I think I screamed like a little girl. That's one of my favorite moments because it was a really good practical joke and I love and miss him.

If you did have some creative control, what do you imagine as Hermione's ending or what storyline would you like to see explored more?

I would have liked to seen Hermione as the actual boss. I would have liked to see Hermione pulling all the strings. I would've liked to see that she was actually in charge the whole time and she's still in charge and she just couldn't tell anybody. That's what I would have liked. I still want that. So we'll see.

"Spiral: From the Book of Saw" is now playing in theaters.