VENICE, Italy – Scott Haze says he spent three cold months living in the mountains of Tennessee, subsisting on one piece of fish and one apple a day, and sleeping in caves to prepare for the role of serial killer Lester Ballard in the film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel “Child of God.”

“I knew that this was a role that I had to go to crazy extreme lengths,” Haze said in an interview Saturday ahead of the film’s world premiere in competition at the Venice Film Festival.

Haze’s Lester Ballard descends into violence after being kicked off his family’s land and losing his parents, moving outside the social order into caves where he abandons himself to extreme degradation.

McCarthy’s character was inspired by real-life killer and body snatcher Ed Gein, who also was the basis for the Norman Bates character in “Psycho,” and Leatherface of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”

To prepare for the Ballard role, Haze said he dropped from 195 pounds to 150 pounds on the apple-and-fish diet while living in a cabin in the Tennessee mountains. He said he slept at times in caves, often without a sleeping bag and “with bats all around,” until the December temperatures dropped too low.

The only thing he took with him “from society”: an iPod loaded with Eminem music.

Nyad gets farther than past Cuba-to-Florida swim tries

KEY WEST, Fla. – U.S. endurance swimmer Diana Nyad’s representatives say she’s making good progress on the second day of her Cuba to Florida swim. Her team posted on Facebook Sunday that she had “swum farther north than the farthest end point of any of her previous attempts.”

She made it through her first night in the Straits of Florida with almost no sightings of jellyfish. The 64-year-old is trying to become the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. It’s her fourth attempt in the last three years. If she’s successful this time, she expects to take about 80 hours to reach the Florida Keys.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.