Maika Monroe On Being a Badass, ‘The Guest’
In Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett’s The Guest, their genre-blending follow-up to 2013’s You’re Next, Dan Stevens plays an ex-soldier who ingratiates himself into the family of one of his fallen comrades. With his good looks and Southern charm, he’s got everyone under his spell; when he begins to intervene in the family’s personal affairs–sometimes with fatal results–daughter Anna (Maika Monroe) begins to suspect the new family friend has darker motives than he’s letting on.
In a quick conversation with Monroe, we talk about working with Stevens, Wingard, and Barrett; how Stevens’ performance inspired her to be a badass herself; choosing the right roles in her young career; defining Anna’s strength; and more. The Guest is out in theaters now. Check out our review, here.
Dan has such an icy stare in the movie. What’s it like to be on the other side of it?
Maika: I know who Dan really is–he’s not anything like his character. It was fun acting with him and trying to take him seriously, but I knew that once they called “cut” he’d go back to being goofy Dan. It really wasn’t as scary as it is for the audience [laughs]
Adam and Simon have a lot of fun playing with genre tropes, like the scene where you catch Dan coming out of the shower. We’ve seen this stuff a million times, but the way it’s done in this film stands out.
Maika: I think Adam has a specific style that’s so different from your typical horror movie. It’s such a mix of scariness, thrills, ’80s throwbacks, and comedy. An actor like Dan, who [you wouldn’t think would] necessarily fit into the role, blows everyone away, and it all creates something different than everyone expects.
There’s a very particular kind of humor to Adam and Simon’s movies that I can’t really put my finger on. Can you define what their brand of comedy is?
Maika: Oh my gosh, I have no idea! [laughs] Have you talked to both of them?
Maika: They have their own sense of humor. They’re hysterical, but I really don’t know what it is! It’s really nice on set because Adam’s very hands-on. He’s right there. I really like that in a director.
Much like Dan, you career is still very young. Your track record is great so far. Talk about choosing these projects and defining your legacy as you go.
Maika: I love my job. I don’t ever want to be doing something for no reason. As far as reading scripts goes, I really look at the character and make sure it’s something I want to do. You’re Next was amazing. Really different. I like pushing myself and exploring new ground, and I’d really never done anything like [The Guest] before. After meeting Adam and Simon I thought, “I definitely have to do this.”
Sharni Vinson’s character in You’re Next was such a strong female protagonist, and Anna is strong too, but in a different way. How would you describe Anna’s strength?
Maika: She kind of gets stronger and stronger throughout the film. By the end, she’s going against her family, going against everyone, as people are telling her she’s crazy. She sticks with her gut. You see her grow, and it’s cool to see an arc in a character like that.
You’ve worked with Dan on The Guest, and now you’re working on The Fifth Wave, in which you play a badass yourself. Do you find yourself looking at his performance as inspiration?
Maika: Oh, definitely. He just absolutely killed it. Coming from Downton Abbey, he couldn’t be more opposite from his character. How he carries himself in the film, his presence…yeah, I totally [take inspiration] from that. He’s incredible.
When you watch the film with different crowds, do you find each audience reacts differently to the film? Laugh here, gasp there…do you notice that stuff?
Maika: I don’t really notice. I’ve seen the film with a crowd about three times. Adam and Simon probably notice that. I have a really hard time watching myself. It’s hard to watch the film as a whole. I learn a lot from watching myself, but I can only watch it so many times before I start totally tearing myself apart. [laughs] I try to keep it to a minimum.
That’s interesting! You don’t get any enjoyment from watching yourself?
Maika: Oh god no! [laughs] It’s so hard! The first time I saw The Guest I saw it with an audience, and Dan and I were scared shitless.
The film’s marketing campaign is really cool. I love the poster of you standing behind Dan.
Maika: It’s so weird! Seeing double-decker buses go by with Dan and I on it is pretty cool, pretty badass.
And the poster’s pink!
Maika: I know! It’s really cool. Perfect for the film, too.
Absolutely. The part in the film where we see the most color is in the finale, in that haunted maze.
Maika: Part of the maze was built for the movie, but most of it was a real maze. This family in New Mexico makes this haunted maze every year, and it’s scary. They told us not to go off on our own because it’s massive. There were clowns, and I hate, hate hate clowns! The room with clowns was actually really scary.