In fact, he once gave me that note. I hear he gave it to Jonathan, and maybe Nikki [Amuka-Bird]. It’s a very interesting note, and very powerful. What he kept repeating to me and Jonathan – probably more to me – was “play love”. It’s the love between Andrew and Eric, and their love for Wen [Choi]. Andrew fiercely defends his family and the truth of what he sees while trying to negotiate with these people, so there’s a way to play everything with extreme anger. When Ben played Andrew, I felt that extreme stress and anger. So this love letter really helps make sure his anger and his resourcefulness are justified. It really felt an emotional call to both Jonathan and I, and I would look at him and Kristen before the shoot and think, “I love you.” It really built into the scene.
Night often says to Kristen, “Think about these thoughts,” referring to the characters’ thoughts. He’s been directing her, and for Jonathan and I, it’s been a bit like relearning acting. We were like, “We should take some advice.” As an actor, sometimes you can take shortcuts, but Night really doesn’t allow that. He sees it all, and he really wants you to connect with the moment and the characters. I’m someone who prepares with music a lot, and I really thought I’d use music in this scene to get to that level all the way. So I made this playlist called “Anxiety-Inducing Music.” It’s weird stuff, but it also has some strong classical music to it.
So I was on set listening to music, and right after I was done with Rupert [Grint], Night came up to me quietly and said, “I understand you Why would you want to use music now, but I really just want you to use scripts. Using Andrew gets you there.” He said, “Relying on other people’s art to inspire your own art isn’t always the way forward,” which is This is the first time I’ve heard such words. So I don’t know where I stand on it, since it has really helped me in the past, but he’s asking me to jump in every day at level ten. So I respect that’s what he wants and I bow to his process and dig deeper. I had no choice, so it was an interesting conversation between us.
This movie covers all the ground most of us deal with day in and day out about truth and how we Questions of people who can be trusted to convey the truth. Similar to Andrew, if we hear something we don’t want to hear, we usually try to discredit the story or the messenger in any way possible. So what are your thoughts on this very relevant topic?
Yes, the truth is harder to come by now than ever and people are skeptical of what is being reported . We live in an age where it is possible to completely deny the basic facts of election results. Now any evidence is rejected: “No, that didn’t actually happen.” The fact that it happened to people who were supposed to uphold the truth and take care of us is a horrible thing. So I don’t know where to find the truth or who to trust for answers, but I think our intuition as humans is a very powerful thing. It might be worth listening to.
Paul Tremblay, who wrote the book shortly after Trump was first voted into office, plays on these collective fears. What is the truth? What are our social responsibilities to each other? Would you make such a choice? Surviving the pandemic, and with the climate crisis looming and real, Knight, as always, asks some thought-provoking questions in this entertaining package. I love that he creates these huge commercial beasts, but you don’t walk out of his movies like, “That was a joyride.” Instead, he gives you something to think about.
Flashbacks are filled with intolerance, hatred and bigotry. Was it a difficult place to live for those who spent many days on set?
As a gay man, these are things I’m well aware of, even though they’re not the most enjoyable Partly in our narrative, they are very related.All gay men go through something like this at some point, it’s a common denominator, and this is especially true now its common. But beyond making them uncomfortable, they also have a cathartic element. Telling these stories also makes me proud. What I love about this movie is that it puts this strange family at the center of the story, and while it respects some of the dilemmas and challenges in their lives, it doesn’t make the movie.
It is above all love for family, which is universally related and possibly progressive. If people do come to see this movie in droves, you may run into people who haven’t seen a loving single-sex parent family before and don’t understand it. They might even object, but this movie might change their minds, too.
I got stuffed in the back of my head on my first day on set and it was super stressful because that kind of thing happens to people because of who they are and who I am . In the book and movie, Andrew owns a gun, even though he may be very much against it. He owns a gun because he’s terrified of homophobia and he’s been attacked. So these are very serious things to deal with, but I find it affects me. I’m also glad we lighted up some of the darkness.
The characters are urged to make some very big sacrifices, so does this movie make you think for the greater good Smaller sacrifices you can make right now?
Yes, it sure makes you think about your collective conscience and responsibility. I’m reading a book called
Lighter by Yung Pueblo and he talks about how the only way we can get out of some situations is if we start with love Treat each other and start caring for each other. This starts with taking care of yourself and healing yourself first. So it’s a really fun endeavor, and this movie definitely makes you think about the little things you can do. The world would be a better place if we did small acts of kindness for each other every day and out of caring for others rather than just individualism.
(from left) Andrew (Ben Aldridge) , Wen (Kristen Cui), Eric (Jonathan Groff) and Leonard (Dave Bautista) at the Cabin , directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Provided by Universal Pictures