Who starred in the film Hereditary
Toni Collette on Hereditary: "I had to make this film"
Toni Collette (45) doesn't actually like horror films. Nevertheless, the Australian actress ("The Sitxth Sense", "Little Miss Sunshine") was now in front of the camera for one: "Hereditary - Das Vermächtnis" (starting June 14) is about the Graham family, who died after the death of grandmother Ellen all sorts of supernatural things suddenly happen. There seems to be a curse on the family that is gradually overtaking everyone.
The directorial debut of the young American Ari Aster is rightly considered one of the most nerve-wracking horror films of recent years. In an interview, Golden Globe and Emmy Award winner Toni Collette reveals what attracted her to the role - and whether she herself believes in supernatural things.
prisma: Ms. Collette, Annie in "Hereditary" is undoubtedly one of your best roles to date, but also one of the toughest roles. What was it like to slip into the role of mother in this nerve-wracking thriller?
Toni Collette: It was very exhausting, but I would say that it was a challenge in the best sense of the word. Every actor wants a chance or a chance to give everything, but you can only ever be as good as the words in the script. That script was amazing, it's such a complicated, dense, original story - and it was a pleasure to be in this film, even if the filming was very grueling.
prisma: What did you think when director Ari Aster came up to you and said he had a horror film for you?
Collette: It was a little different. I had told my agent that I didn't want to do anything difficult at first, just light comedies for a while. I had done some really heavy films before. Especially after "In Heaven you wear high heels" I found it difficult to let go because I had never played someone who dies before. A year later, I was still thinking about it. After that, I didn't want to be so emotional at work anymore and made a few lighter films. "Fun Mom Dinner" was a lot of fun and was perfect for me. But then my agent called and said: "You have to read this script!" I still remember exactly: I was in bed in Paris, the window was open and it was very noisy outside. I thought either I would fall asleep right away or I couldn't concentrate because of the noise. But when I started reading, the story immediately grabbed me.
Collette: Because it's surprising and original, but also because "Hereditary" isn't just a horror film. It's a beautiful, painful consideration of what grief means and how it can affect family dynamics. Any terrifying element makes sense, it's not just about shocking. I didn't have a choice, I had to make this film.
prisma: How did you manage to empathize with the endless grief of your character Annie?
Collette: Grief is part of life, something inevitable that hits each of us at some point. I never had to exert myself to reach this state. Do you know it when you try not to think about something and ignore it makes it even bigger? It was like that with this film. I pushed it far from me until it was called "Action" and then let it all out of me. That was strange, but also great.
prisma: Let's be honest: Your character Annie is not really sympathetic, is it?
Collette: She doesn't have a warm character. She turns the idea of motherhood on its head and is not really personable, that's true. But she has an excuse because she is dealing with something unknown. You feel for her and understand why she acts that way. When you grieve as much as she does, you can no longer take care of other people. You're just trying to get through the day.
prisma: Family dynamics are also a big topic in the film. How did you manage to really look like family in front of the camera?
Collette: We sat together maybe three or four hours before we started filming and that was that. At "Little Miss Sunshine" we went bowling and experienced a few other things together. But this time the script was so good and everyone was so professional that everyone knew exactly what to do. That being said, I'm not a fan of rethinking things. It is important to maintain a certain spontaneity and a fresh, genuine quality. It's every actor's job to get his role across as real as possible, but if you try too hard, it feels self-conscious. Especially with such an emotional role, you shouldn't overdo it.
prisma: "Hereditary" is Ari Aster's directorial debut. What was it like working with him?
Collette: It was great and I think he has a great career ahead of him! Ari is so careful and downright pedantic. He had volumes of backstories and research. Everything you see on screen was intentional, nothing by accident. He is a real auteur filmmaker, has such a brave, original vision and voice. That has to be celebrated at a time when all movies are being neutralized to please the crowd - although ironically, it's a real statement that people crave.
prisma: Especially genre films seem to have been geared more towards a deeper message lately, right?
Collette: There are theories like that every now and then - but I don't know whether it's because of the freedom in the genre or whether it's the filmmaker who has something to say. I think it's hard to generalize. But when it comes to horror movies, I have no idea. I don't watch any other.
Collette: I've never really liked horror films, they're just too scary. I don't want these thoughts and images in my head.
prisma: When you shoot a film like "Hereditary", do you hear or see strange things yourself at some point?
Collette: Unfortunately not. A boring answer, I'm sorry (laughs). But I do believe that there is a lot more than our physical world. That's why this movie is so terrifying. This time I actually didn't experience anything, but when I was filming "The Sixth Sense" I had a strange experience: I always woke up at night and every time I looked at the clock it showed the same time. As if that was a strange message, just that I didn't understand it.
prisma: In fact, there are some people who compare "The Sixth Sense" to "Hereditary" ...
Collette: The two films really have some things in common. The director was at the beginning of his career for both. They are classic family dramas, but with a twist. And with both films you could feel that something special was happening. There was some excitement.
prisma: Do you sometimes look at your own films and get nostalgic?
Collette: It's inevitable - although it's definitely healthier to live in the moment. I was lucky enough to be able to make films with incredibly talented and great colleagues. The films where I had a personal connection with people are the most important to me. I don't watch it regularly, but now that we talk about it, I think of all of the people who have been involved. It's like everything in life: if you suddenly get stuck with a memory, you think about it for a while.
prisma: Would it be an option for you to direct one yourself in the future? We need more women behind the camera!
Collette: Yeah, we really need it! I've always advocated working with female directors more often - but only four percent are women. Incredible! So yes, I would like to direct. I've started my own production company and I think I've already found a film that I will direct and act in within the next year. That's very exciting!
Source: teleschau - the media service
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