Who Eats The Big Toe In ‘Scary Stories to Tell In The Dark’?

One of the famous stories from Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books is The Big Toe. In it, a boy finds a severed toe in his garden, and the owner of that toe comes to reclaim it. The toe’s owner happens to be long dead. The movie puts a twist on The Big Toe. The toe now appears in a bowl of stew, and Auggie Hildebrand (Gabriel Rush) doesn’t discover it until it’s already in his mouth! That story is neck and neck for gross-outs with The Red Spot.

Gabriel Rush
Gabriel Rush on the mic | Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images for CBS Films

The Big Toe is only one of the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. The film incorporates several of Schwartz’s stories, each one coming to life for a different kid. As The Big Toe continues, the monster (Javier Botet) stumbles after Auggie until he corners Auggie in his bedroom. 

You’ll see The Big Toe play out when Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark opens in theaters August 9. For now, meet the boy who almost swallowed the big toe when he starred in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.

Gabriel Rush plays a skeptic of ‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’

When Stella (Zoe Colletti) uncovers the book Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, she witnesses the book writing its own stories, and those stories coming to life. Auggie is a rational man so he doesn’t believe her until it’s too late.

“I think I resonate with the character in that way,” Rush said. “I’m very easily scared, but because of that, I’m always trying to rationalize things. I feel like Auggie’s the same in that way. The fear comes from an area of disbelief and I think that’s what I tap into for that whole sequence. Once you can no longer deny what you’re experiencing, then it takes over. So definitely a skeptic [who] tries to rationalize things.”

Gabriel Rush is now working for the man who terrified him.

Andre Ovredal directed Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Almost a decade ago, Ovredal’s breakthrough film Trollhunter terrified Rush.

“I actually feel like the first film I saw of Andre’s was Trollhunter years and years ago, 1 a.m. at a sleepover at my friend’s house,” Rush said. “I feel like that movie kind of ruined horror for me because I thought it was real, the way it was filmed. It was an introduction to horror and that subgenre that Andre was going for, the documentary style. That just terrified me so much.”

Kids will test their bravery with Scary ‘Stories to Tell in the Dark’

Like Trollhunter, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is rated PG-13. Kids will be allowed to buy tickets and watch the movie without their parents. It will be a rite of passage, and maybe some of them will graduate to the gorier R-rated horror films.

“I agree,” Rush said. “It’s nice for me being able to work on it and I have such a greater appreciation for all the thought that goes into the effects and cinematography of horror specifically, trying to get someone to feel fear is such a unique emotion as opposed to joy or sadness. It was really interesting to be on the other side of that for once.”

‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’ is Gabriel Rush’s first horror movie

Rush had never appeared in a horror movie before. Most of his acting work has been in episodes of television series like Better Sall Saul and Blue Bloods. Movie-wise, he appeared in Wes Anderson’s whimsical Moonrise Kingdom and Grand Budapest Hotel.

“I wasn’t opposed to doing it,” Rush said of the horror genre. “In general, I don’t go to many horror films, again because I’m easily frightened. I find it very hard to sit still the whole time and then come out with my heart racing as I did for this as well.”

Gabriel Rush has more ambitions on top of acting

As Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was wrapping up, Rush was also wrapping up his last year at NYU. He wasn’t in NYU’s film school though.

“I’m actually studying game design,” Rush said. “It’s been a passion of mine as well. For me, studying that was a good way to further myself.”

Gabriel Rush
Gabriel Rush still has the mic | Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images for CBS Films

Rush plans to continue acting but feels he can combine both of his passions in a career.

“I’ll see where things go but I love acting,” Rush said. “It’s my passion and I want to keep doing it as much as I can. There are opportunities in game design specifically for you to do things at your own pace. It’s not like a company job. There are indie development options.”