Hereditary is a truly terrifying supernatural horror.
Of course, a lot of its success is down to the writing and directing of Ari Aster. But just as important is the performances. Each of the leading foursome are truly incredible in the film, so much so that Toni Collette and Gabriel Byrne are already being touted as Oscar contenders.
Alex Wolff and Milly Shapiro are just as impressive in “Hereditary” as Collette and Byrne’s traumatized kids. In fact, during my recent conversation with Ari Aster, “Hereditary’s” writer and director broke down what the actors brought to the film, and revealed how they helped to shape and illuminate each of their characters to him even more.
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“Mille talked about finding what Charlie’s inner animals were. That for me was a huge revelation when she came in and said that Charlie’s exterior animal was a turtle. And that Charlie would keep retreating into their shell. And that her inner animal was a snake.”
“Somehow it illuminated a character that I had written. Suddenly that character made more sense to me than ever before. More than anything it gave me a deeper understanding of the character.”
That had a huge impact on how Aster approached the rest of the film, too.
“The less you understand the more you try to really underscore the things you do know. If something really makes sense to you you can really let go and let that person exist, instead of wanting to hit beats really hard and really make sure that these things connect.”
“If anything it just lets you let go a little bit and give it to the actor.”
Then there was Alex Wolff, who decided to go all in for his role as Peter, with Aster revealing that he stayed in character throughout the production.
“Alex Wolff was very method. So he essentially was Peter for 2 months. What he brought was wherever he was that day. And you can’t argue with that because he was really there.”
“I loved working with that. It sets a mood. But the mood is there anyway, too. Because if you’re doing a heavy scene the actors are coming in, even if they’re like Toni, who is really disciplined, and can go in and out of character, they come in in the appropriate mood.”
Aster was more than happy for the assistance, too. In fact, as a director, Aster allowed the actors to slightly adjust the words he had written on the page during production, as long as they were still able to get the intention of the scene across.
“They all brought their talents, their ideas, their history. Once I had written the script and I am directing the film I am not sacrosanct about what I have written.”
“I try to encourage the actors to throw it away when appropriate. Especially in dialogue heavy scenes, because at that point it doesn’t matter if a word is fumbled, I just want the feeling and the emotion.”
You can see the leading actors, as well as Aster, working their magic in “Hereditary” now, as it has finally been released in cinemas across the country.