Spiral Filmmakers Reveal How Tobin Bell's John Kramer Almost Returned

Tobin Bell's John Kramer might have died in Saw III, but flashbacks have allowed the figure to appear in subsequent installments, with Spiral: From the Book of Saw only featuring a quick photo of Kramer, but director Darren Lynn Bousman and writer Josh Stolberg recently confirmed that, up until the end of production, they had planned to bring back the character for a cameo. The pair also noted that they had toyed with using a song recorded by Bell in the film's finale, allowing him to technically be part of the experience, but that it ultimately didn't convey the right tone. Spiral: From the Book of Saw is in theaters now and hits PVOD on June 1st.

"We were talking about putting Tobin in up until the last day of filming," Bousman confirmed with ComicBook.com. "There was a constant struggle with us and I think we all went back and forth on it. It was a hard thing because the minute you put Tobin Bell in the movie, it becomes 'Saw 9.' If you think about Jigsaw or some of these other films, he had like two minutes of screen time and that was it. I killed him in Saw III, I killed him 16 years ago, so to keep finding clever ways to bring him back in, I didn't want to do a disservice to this film. No one can compete with Tobin Bell, you can't, he is Jigsaw and there's no way to live up to what he brings on-screen, so I didn't want to f-ck with it, I didn't want to do it. It was, I felt, a disservice to this film and previous films to try to do that."

He continued, "I did have a really cool idea that I was really bummed didn't go through and it was a way to put the feeling of Tobin Bell in the film. Tobin Bell is a singer and he's got a great voice. I found a song of his that he recorded, which was a Johnny Cash cover, and it was this amazing, very haunting song. I had an idea that, the end of the movie, the finale and the big gunfight, was all overdubbed to that song. So basically all the sound goes away and it becomes Tobin's voice in it. But, again, it felt gimmicky when we tried it. It sounded awesome, I loved it, but it was too wink-wink, nudge-nudge to the audience, so we ended up losing it. It was a struggle."

While the film was clearly close to including the actor, Stolberg confirmed it hadn't gotten to the point of actually enlisting Bell, so audiences shouldn't expect to see the cameo on a home video release.

"You don't go to the person before you're actually ready to pull the trigger, because that's just not fair. He's been a part of the world and we all have conversations with him often to touch in, but no, he was never officially on board for Spiral," the writer admitted.

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Spiral: From the Book of Saw is in theaters now and hits PVOD on June 1st.

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