Actor Israel Broussard is back in full-swing, reliving and adding new complexity to his role as Carter in “Happy Death Day 2U” over, and over, and over again.
Most of us may recognize the charming, Mississippi-native from his role as Josh Sanderson in the Netflix hit, To All The Boy’s I’ve Loved Before. But before his days as the doe-eyed, boy-next-door character, Broussard emerged as Tree Gelbmans’ (Jessica Rothe) love interest in the 2017 comedic slasher film, Happy Death Day.
Sorority gal and one of campus’s more unfriendly faces, mean queen Tree finds herself stuck in a time loop on her birthday, which just so happens to be the same day a mysterious murderer hiding behind an eerie baby mask intends to kill her. Repeatedly.
Waking up in Carter’s (Israel Broussard) bed at the start of every loop, Tree embarks on a transformative journey of growth in an effort to survive, and to stop her own death. And after 11 days of anguished murder and revival, Tree finally lives to see a different day. Until the source of the time loop sends her back to that fateful morning in Happy Death Day 2U. Needless to say, Tree is not happy to suddenly wake up in Carter’s bed to the ringtone echoing “Heeeyyy, it’s my birthday, and I don’t gotta pick up the phone!” for a 12th time. And even worse, in an alternate dimension where Carter is dating someone else.
Caught in an unprecedented love triangle, with the help of Carter, his roommate Ryan, and his science partners-in-crime, Samar and Dre, Tree is faced with finding her parallel-universe killer, finally putting an end to the time loop, and deciding if she wants to live in world where she can be with Carter or remain in this new dimension where she reunites with something she otherwise lost in her original life.
In this “whacky” thriller-comedy fusion, Broussard hopes audiences “walk away understanding the underlying message to it. Things happen for a reason, and it’s okay to make the best of whatever situation you find yourself in.”
“I think Tree goes through that a lot, and obviously she’s given the opportunity to try and change things over and over, but ultimately, […] that’s what I want people to take away from this: bad things happen. You’re going to have loss in life, and it’s definitely going to shape you, but it doesn’t have to define you,” added Broussard.
Adjacent with plot of the film, Broussard lost his dad at the age of 4. But similar to Tree’s realization, Broussard doesn’t let the hardship of losing a parent or having his Mississippi home destroyed in Hurricane Katrina stop him from embracing life and new opportunities as they come.
“It was tough to go through while we were going through them, but looking back, had those two things not happened, I wouldn’t be in LA,” said Broussard. “You can always look back and ask, ‘what if?’ But ultimately, I feel it was best we got homeschooling after Katrina, because it was really easy to just pick up and come to LA. So that’s what I like about the movie. It showed that. I feel like I have that understanding of making the best out of what you got. You play the cards you’re dealt, and keep a good attitude, and a faithful heart.”
When it came down buckling in on Carter’s character in the sequel, Broussard wanted to play on the subtlety and the complexity of Carter’s tumultuous situation.
“I think people have grown to love Carter for who he is. […] He’s always optimistic, and he’s always willing to question your motives if he feels it doesn’t align with what’s right and wrong. He doesn’t shove it down your throat either. I really wanted to keep the integrity of Carter and keeping him in that mold,” said Broussard.
“But his heart’s being pulled in two different directions, and that was fun to play around with. And I think his change was being able to let go of somebody he felt his heart wanted in one life, so that they could be together in the next life. […] I think we’ve all been there, where our head is telling us one thing, and our hearts are telling us another, and we’ve got to kind of battle them and make that choice wisely. I don’t think we all do every time, but it was nice getting there with Carter.”
Broussard didn’t expect there to be a second film just 18 months after wrapping up the original Happy Death Day, but is “really happy that one came about.”
According to Broussard, it took a little bit of time for him to get back into the world of the film, on top of the addition of new characters, so “finding [Carter’s] rhythm again took a day or two, but once we got it, it clicked and going back to the dorm room scenes I thought, you know, those things could be so repetitive, but man, I had so much fun in those dorm rooms scenes and just bringing something different to each take. The takes that didn’t make it into the movie are just as funny. It was a ball. We had a great time, so it was nice to bring everybody back together. And we had most of the crew, not all, unfortunately, but I’m happy we got as many people back as we did.”
When asked how it was to work with director Christopher Landon again, Broussard’s voice immediately perked up. “Chris is just f****ng awesome. The dude is so creative. He’s a little evil genius, I’m telling you. But he’s always got a smile on-set. He’s very considerate of everybody and every department, and we just had a lot of faith in him,” Broussard added.
“He’s really the show-runner of everything. I have to credit the success to him. He made this movie what it is, and he made the second one what it is, and I don’t know where he gets it from. I think he had a great life growing up and he had a lot of struggles, but his family was really loving; they are really close, and they would prank each other, and I think that’s where a lot of this energy of not taking things so seriously comes from. And he really brings that to set, so he’s a lot of fun to be around.”
But before getting to set, Broussard admitted he wasn’t really sure how the sequel was going to play out. According to Broussard, he had an idea of what it would look like based off of this first film, but reading the new script took a few tries to really sink in.
“I was so confused,” Broussard laughed. “I had to read it a couple times to fully understand what day was what, and what dimension was what. I was a little like ‘is this going to play on camera? Is this going to make sense?’ And I don’t know what I was thinking because Chris just went in there and made sense of it. It was interesting reading the second one. We put all our faith in it. And my gosh, I’m happy it’s as whacky as it is, because Chris just, I don’t know what he does, but he does something good.”
In terms of the possibility of a third Happy Death Day, Broussard noted “anything’s possible.”
He revealed that Chris Landon has an idea for a third one, but “there’s no script. I think we’d want to see how this one pans out before we made a decision on a third one,” he added. “Look, when we finished the first one, and they started thinking about a sequel, I was like, ‘how are you going to make a sequel out of this? You’re just going to make the same movie!’ And Chris made sure that that didn’t happen. Now it’s like this multi-dimensional genre horror film. So the third one would be bigger.”
Broussard continued, stating that he and star Jessica Rothe have speculated that in the first film, Tree saves herself, “the second one she saves her friends, the third one she saves the world, so that’s what we’ve been going off. I don’t know what’s going to happen. We’ll see,” Broussard added. “I’d be excited to do a third one because Chris would cook up something weird and kooky.”
Following the multi-dimensional realms of the film, assuming such alternate universes really do exist, Broussard hopes the other version of himself would find his way into the music industry or perhaps would even be a young father in his hometown back in Mississippi.
“I really like music, so I want to say I’d be doing something in music, but I don’t know. Maybe I’m still in Mississippi, raising a family or something. I’d be 24, so I’d say yeah. You’d have a kid in Mississippi around 20 to 24, so I’d probably have a baby on the way if I wasn’t out here,” he chuckled. “There’s not much to do in Mississippi. I’d be a musician or a family man, one of them.”
Regarding his involvement on upcoming projects, Broussard couldn’t speak much on the status of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before’s sequel. But was eager to note how fun it was to film with the cast again.
“Working with Noah was a blast; working with Lana was awesome. And then being on-set with Jen Han and Susan, their creative collaboration was impeccable, so it was nice having them on-set,” he said.
Bashfully, Broussard continued and added that “I want to see a little more of an arc in Josh on this one. I want to see a little more fire between Peter Kavinsky and Josh Sanderson and hopefully that’s portrayed in the sequel here.”
Additionally, Broussard is shaking things up with his nice-boy image from these two films in an upcoming movie coming out on Hulu as a part of their Into The Dark series. In the movie, another Blumhouse project titled All That We Destroy, Broussard plays a strangler and is excited to see it and for the film to come out.
“I went a little dark on that, and Chelsea Stardust directed it, and Sean Keller and Jim Agnew, they wrote this awesome, kind of creepy, Black Mirror concept, where this geneticist clones these girls that his son is killing, trying to put him through this rehabilitation of not being a serial killer, so it’s kind of set in the future. It’s dark.”
Although he does really enjoy movies similar to To All The Boys and Happy Death Day, Broussard is excited to shake things up and add to his range on various characters.
“I like movies that send a good message, and make you feel good and positive and loving at the end. I like that. But I’d love to do, and I’ve been thinking about this a lot, I’d love to do a Hardy Boys,” Broussard admitted. “I want to be Frank or Joe, so I’d love to make it happen. I’m even down for Blumhouse to hop on board and make it a little dark, like Hardy Boys / Get Out. I don’t know… do something weird. Something suspenseful.”
But in the meantime, Broussard is “just really excited to see how people feel about Happy Death Day 2U. This is going to be fun, and I hope people resonate to it, and people pick up on the message.”
Catch Israel Broussard as Carter in Happy Death Day 2U, now available in theaters. Check out a trailer for the film below!