Let’s start off with the obvious: Your character, Ethan, is a bit of a misogynistic tool.
Considering the intensity of the role and how topical it is, especially within the Hollywood sphere, how were you offered it and why did you agree to take it on?
I got the offer and I had a very long conversation with [director] Shana [Feste] and the casting director, because you want to do a good job. As an actor, you want to defend your character. No matter how bad a person is, it’s your job to make it as nuanced as possible.
One of my favorite films is called “Der Untergang.” It’s a very humane portray of Hitler and his last days in a bunker. But I don’t see it as a story about Hitler. I also see a story about a man trying to fight for what he believes in, and I see an actor (Bruno Ganz) creating a character that we all hate and we all know, and humanizing it. That might be weird, it might be wrong, it might be whatever, but as an actor, you admire the work that that person did because it was very good. It was very deep. So you’re trying to do the same, even though this is much more part of the pop culture, horror genre film in America, and the audience is completely different.
Your first job is, no matter what kind of tool you are, to defend your character, and it’s to make it as nuanced as possible. So for me, what I was drawn to was, that I had done a lot of villains at the time: “Game of Thrones,” an action film with Jackie Chan in China which hasn’t been released yet because of Covid, and some other works.
I got the chance to do 15 minutes of good guy and then 75 minutes of bad guy. But those 15 minutes, I needed it, because I thought it was so wonderful that the more charming, the more fun, the more seductive, and the more me who I am — sometimes, if I want to show that side of me — the more evil and terrifying and demon-ish I could be for the rest of the film. And the iconic villains that I love, they always want to get world domination, or money, or something.
He just wants to have a feast. He just wants to eat. So I thought that was funny, and I thought I had never done a villain like this. I was intrigued, and Ella was on board. This is a good cast. It’s a good crew. We were shooting in L.A., and I’ve never shot a film in L.A.