On Tuesday, May 21, the cast of the new Netflix thriller, The Perfection, joined the red carpet premiere and screening event at Metrograph in NYC.
Director Richard Shepard and co-stars Allison Williams (Get Out) and Logan Browning (Dear White People) shared their experience of working on the film along with the dark humor, unexpected plot twists, and terrifying sequences that audiences can anticipate.
The Knockturnal: What can people expect from this film?
Richard Shepard: “This is a huge thrill. I love this movie and I love watching with audiences because audiences go bananas. It’s a bonkers movie and they don’t know what’s going to happen. The movie hasn’t even come out yet and so I think there’s no spoilers out there, and people are going to be able to watch it purely and enjoy it. And the movie has a lot of twists and turns and so that’s super fun.”
The Knockturnal: How are you feeling about the release of The Perfection?
Allison Williams: “I am feeling really excited. It is not a movie that I took on thinking this would be a good time for the family. It’s really an intense movie and it covers a lot of ground and I don’t expect it to come and go quietly. But I am very curious to hear what people are thinking. With Get Out, I feel like I learned so much about the movie from reading what other people we’re saying about it. I just hope people get into it and pick it apart and talk about things that are tough to talk about.”
Logan Browning: “I am stoked because I love the script. I love Richard, I love Allison and that was all for me before going into it and now having worked with them and collaborated in prep and during shooting the film and post, I’m just, even more, their biggest fans and champions and hope to always work with them. I think that they are brilliant minds and have the audacity to be daring in this industry which is something that I definitely feel they generously continue to impart on me. And I think as a black woman, and this is a weird extra label for me to place on myself, but as a smaller black woman, people think I’m a little girl sometimes and they don’t listen to me and they say oh you’re cute, you’re so cute, and it’s like no, I’m a grown woman, listen to me, I have a voice. So that idea, I feel like they grant me with generosity to own my space and to continue to speak up in the room.”
The Knockturnal: Can you talk about your experience with instruments prior to this film? Did you already have experience with the cello?
Logan Browning: “I played the piano growing up and I played the guitar. This cello is nothing like either of those. But I really enjoyed the process because I love a challenge and one of the things that was really important to me was in Atlanta and in LA, I was training and wanted to find a woman of color to be my personal teacher because I felt like in my mind, I don’t see cellos on my day to day life and I definitely don’t see cellists of color. Are they like unicorns? Can we find them? Do they exist? And they did exist and so the way we found them was in looking for doubles, just in case for different scenes. So that was a pleasant surprise for me. Even though Richard went into this film casting color blind, I’m grateful that I get to be a part of it. Even though this film is not entirely about the cello, I am excited because I feel like women everywhere will get to see someone that looks like me occupy that space and say, oh that does exist. I can do it.”
Allison Williams: “Piano when I was younger. No cello. I played guitar in one episode of Girls, other than that, no string instruments. It is so hard to even just hold a cello successfully is challenging. I have so much more respect. Not that I disrespected cellos, I just didn’t spend much time thinking about how hard it was. Especially because they make it look effortless. It’s like Ballet in that way. It’s supposed to be easy, beautiful and sensual, and it is difficult. Oh my God. They are sweating, their fingers hurt, everything hurts. So I have a lot of respect for that and of course, the other part of the preparation was learning the script and getting to know that like the back of my hand because I was filming two things at the same time. I was filming Series of Unfortunate Events and The Perfection. I was on Lemony Snicket’s Monday and Tuesday and The Perfection Wednesday through Sunday so I had to know this like the back of my hand. And we shot it in 24 days. It was really fast. And then actually the biggest part is preparing for the emotional and intellectual part. Like, who is this person? That was the biggest question I had for the script and getting in there and building her up from the inside out. That was very relevant in this movie, very crucial, and a process that I took very seriously and I hope that it shows.”
The Knockturnal: Was there anything that changed or shifted throughout the development of the film?
Richard Shepard: “Every movie has different areas of its birth. You write a script, but then you hire actors, you hire crew, you find locations, and things change. Originally this movie was set in Mexico, not China. And Allison Williams said she wanted to do the movie, which is who I wanted, but she’s like, ‘I’m shooting a TV show in Vancouver. Can you shoot the movie in Vancouver?’ And I’m like, I can’t do Mexico and Vancouver, but I can shoot China in Vancouver. So we actually did go to Shanghai for a little bit, but most of it was shot in Vancouver. So that was something that completely changed.”
The Knockturnal: What was the top reason for casting Allison Williams as “Charlotte”?
Richard Shepard: “I had worked with Allison on the TV show Girls. And I had directed on that show for six years, so I knew her and she’s my friend. And when I was writing the script, one of the things that’s the most interesting about Allison is that you don’t always know what she’s thinking and that’s very interesting. She holds her cards close to her back. And then Get Out came out and now people think she’s a bad guy, which is actually really good for a story where you don’t know if you should trust her or not.”
The Knockturnal: What do you look forward to when you go to see a thriller movie?
Pooch Hall: “I like first and foremost the diversity in the cast. But like The Escape Room, my boy Jay Ellis played a great role and he wasn’t one of the first ones to die. Good stuff Jay [laughter]. But yeah, just having characters that really have a purpose/serve a purpose and are done smartly and written well, and that add something to the plot. That gets people guessing and thinking and set up for a sequel. Because if I’m not in the first one and there’s a sequel, that means Pooch Hall has a shot. I’m just saying.”
The Knockturnal: On thriller films…
Pooch Hall: “I think right now it’s about putting out good content and I think Netflix is doing a great job presenting all types of different content that people can choose from. And horror and thriller has always had a huge fanbase so we just gotta keep pushing the envelope. Speaking of horror, I want to give a major shoutout to my man Jordan Peele and all the great work that he’s doing. [We’re] finally getting an opportunity to see something different because we didn’t really get a lot of those chances before and now that we’re getting those opportunities, I’m excited to see what’s coming with Netflix giving us a shot.”
The Knockturnal: What did you learn about yourself after filming both Get Out and The Perfection?
Allison Williams: “Good question. Well since Get Out, I’ve learned how powerful this genre can be for changing the way people have a conversation. In the case of Get Out, Jordan was so worried that our conversations about race were stuck and also a lot of people felt like, oh, we elected Obama, we’re done right? This is post-racial America. We fixed everything. And so he thought, alright, I’m going to make something that proves that that’s not true and hopefully get people talking. So that made me think about this whole genre in a completely different way. So when a script like The Perfection came in, I was like, yes! We can do this again. I also learned, I guess after Get Out–because Jordan used people’s understanding of me with Peter Pan and Girls to trick the audience–I started thinking about my career in sort of a meta way. And it was such a helpful way to get me out of Marnie (Girls). They got me into someone that people move over from when they sit next to you. There’s this instinct [where you think] oh, I can’t trust her. And I knew that the next thing I did, people would go into it thinking, she fooled me once, not again. And so I wanted to do something that would use that. And when I read the script, it felt perfect.”
The Perfection is available now on Netflix: