At just 21, Maika Monroe is already one of the most exciting up-and-coming actors in Hollywood. Currently thrilling audiences in It Follows, she speaks to Benita Adesuyan about headlining a new horror classic.
Just when you thought quality horror was dead, shot in the brain by the endless fads of found-footage larkabouts and the gruesome excesses of the torture sub-genre, along shuffles one so relentless and unstoppable (much like its titular demon) it restores your faith in scares. That film is It Follows. Directed and written by David Robert Mitchell, the film has exploded in the US, drawing a cult following already baying for a sequel. Quite right, too. Out now in UAE cinemas, the movie is a five-star, must-see experience, and its star is 21-year-old Maika Monroe. She previously starred in last year’s edgy and knowing thriller The Guest (which would also suggest she has a fine eye for a script), but it’s this month’s knockout shocker that’s put her name on the lips of casting directors all over Hollywood. As if to prove it, last week she landed a role in next summer’s epic blockbuster Independence Day 2, alongside one of her all-time heroes, Jeff Goldblum. So we thought we’d call her up at her home in LA, to talk monsters, movies and more.
You’re being called ‘The Next Scream Queen’. How do you feel about that?
I think it’s very cool that people are calling me a Scream Queen, and responding to The Guest and It Follows. If another script comes along that’s intriguing and different and challenges the genre then I would love to be a part of it.
What were your initial thoughts about the script for It Follows?
To be honest, I didn’t know how it was going to translate into a movie. I didn’t know how an audience would take it. And I wasn’t sure until I saw David Robert Mitchell’s, first film, The Myth of the American Sleepover. It was incredible, weird and different, and I kind of got his style. I knew then that he could create something special with the subject matter and I just really wanted to work with him.
In It Follows, your character has been infected with a demon that only she can see. Were there any scenes that spooked you out? It’s a seriously spooky movie...
The pool scenes were really difficult. Three days in a swimming pool was not fun! The pool was cold and you get all pruny and it’s really not fun. The other difficult one was the wheelchair scene [in which she is strapped into one]. We shot that on the last day of the shoot. We were five weeks in, and it was the coldest day of the year, and I’m not wearing much, so I was absolutely freezing. But everytime when they called action I had to stop shaking and disconnect from the cold.
Your character in the movie is really unique. Are you anything like her?
I don’t know, but she is coming of age and exploring relationships and that sort of stuff. And almost all of us go through that at some point or another. What I loved about her, and I don’t know if it necessarily relates to me, is that I don’t think she looks at herself as being a hero or being someone strong enough to overcome something, and then she is thrown into an insane situation and she comes out the other side with a strength that I don’t even think she knew she had in her. For me, that’s the coolest part about her and what I liked to bring to life in her.
What was the biggest challenge?
I had no idea that horror was so difficult! Most horror movies, when you’re looking at them, are fun and crazy, but there were parts of It Follows where it really was not fun! It was very intense. Making the movie was probably the most intense five weeks of my life and every day there was a new challenge. I had to stay in that darker mind-set all the time, which was not easy or enjoyable. It was a challenging experience but a good one, and I hope I came out a better actor at the end of it.
The ending feels very deliberately open-ended. Is there going to be a sequel and will you be a part of it?
I have no idea! If David came to me and said he wanted to do a second one I’d be like, ‘All right, let’s do this’, because to me David is just brilliant. But I have no idea if we’re going to make a second one. We’ll have to see.
The thing with me is that I can’t make plans. I have no idea where I’m going to be six months from now, let alone a year away. The actresses I look up to are people like Jessica Chastain, who are incredible and versatile and dabble in different genres. That’s my dream too. I have no idea where life is going to take me, and I’m okay with that.
Congratulations on landing the part in Independence Day 2. How big a deal is that for you?
It’s huge. There were a lot of auditions and I really fought for the role. I remember my dad showing me the first Independence Day and I was obsessed with Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum, and I thought it would be a dream to be part of this movie. So I really fought for it and I can’t believe I’m going to be a part of it.
How do you feel about the fact Will Smith isn’t going to be in it?
I was so sad when I heard that! But I am very excited about the Jeff Goldbum thing, though – I’m not going to lie about that!
It Follows is out now in cinemas across Dubai.