She got her start courting geeks on "Attack of the Show" and lampooning politics on "The Daily Show," but Olivia Munn's career is taking a decidedly darker turn with "Deliver Us From Evil," in which she stars as the wife of NYPD detective Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana) during his battle with some supernatural-tinged crimes. According to Munn, all the disparate steps in her career lead from one to another, which makes us wonder where she'll go next.
Would you say this movie is something of a departure for you?
There's more drama in this, yes, for sure. But it's always nice to be able to do other things. I'm very lucky. Jon Stewart saw something in me when I was on "Attack of the Show," and then Aaron Sorkin saw something in me to bring onto "The Newsroom." At that same time, [Steven] Soderbergh saw something in me to give me an opportunity on "Magic Mike" and to do a different kind of character all together than I'd ever done. And then with this, thankfully [Jerry] Bruckheimer saw something with my "Newsroom" stuff and "Magic Mike" that he was like, "I think that she can do this." I've kind of just been swinging on a wish and a prayer, hoping that somebody else might give me another chance. That's all it is. Work begets work, and I'm very thankful that certain people have taken the risk on me and given me these chances to do things I haven't normally done.
As that goes on, how much do you worry about what the next step is?
I do think about it. I think when you're ever in any place where you get even a little success, then opportunities come your way and it's just about being discerning so that you can try to keep going and not make the wrong moves. I feel like I've done drama, comedy, horror — everything except action. Although in "Mordecai," the movie I just did with Johnny Depp, I do a lot of action. I had to learn to ride a horse, to be racing up in a horse and then look like an expert, jumping out of windows. I'd come to set in the morning and they'd be like, "Yeah, you're jumping out of that window way up there, and you're doing a roll." And I was like, "I'm doing that?" But I'm the actor who's like, "What, you want me to fly a plane? Get on board, I'll fly a plane! I don't know, I'll figure it out, push some buttons."
I've heard horseback riding is that thing an actor puts on their resume but they don't actually know how to do usually.
Yes, horseback riding — everybody can horseback-ride! [Laughs] I remember when I first came out and people ask you to make your résumé and put everything on there. I was like, "I can … multiply." "Put that on there, too!" "I can do long division by hand?" "Put that on!"
In this film, you're one of the only actors who got to work mostly during daylight hours, it looks like.
Yeah, which was nice. Eric would just show me pictures of food that he would be eating at diners at like 2 a.m. But they had those schedules, and that made it hard to socialize. It would be like, "Hey, anyone want to hang out?" And they'd be like, "They're sleeping." But I was happy to be a part of a movie where I got to be a part of it and hang out with everyone but I didn't have to be there for the blood, the guts and the nighttime hours.
Or the exorcism scene.
You know, it's based on the actual footage of the exorcism that they have. That's extreme.
Did you watch any of it?
I did. Eric had seen it, and he had said that he hadn't slept for three weeks after, so immediately I said that I have to see this, and he said, "No, she can't see it." I was like, "What are you talking about? Of course I can see it," but he was like, "No, you can't! Because you won't be able to sleep." He made a deal with me that if I waited until the end of production to watch it then he would give his blessing on me watching it. And he was right. It was the most horrifying thing. It was a 30-minute collage of different things starting with the exorcism scene in the movie, and it is exactly as you see in the movie, yet you're watching it in real life. Like, I'm watching the actual footage. This isn't stuff you find on YouTube or anything. This is just this footage, and it's horrifying. I literally stopped after four minutes and emailed him and said, "You were right." He said, "I know."
Did it make you question any of your beliefs?
Well, I was raised Christian and then along the way — I think as it happens for some people — I stopped believing in certain things. I went into this movie as a non-believer, but after watching that, it opened the door for me to think that maybe there is more to this after life. And then I ended up meeting a medium that same week as my watching that footage who said things that no one else in the world would know, and that completely changed me. So I started the movie as a non-believer and I ended today as a believer.
Follow Ned Ehrbar on Twitter @nedrick