Jennifer Lawrence speaks about her latest film, the horror-thriller The House at the End of the Street.
Can you talk about some of the themes of the movie?
Jennifer Lawrence: Yeah, what really drew me to it was we are constantly telling each other, listen to your gut, listen to your instincts. And that's kind of how we go through life, with this kind of gut instinct in us. And there's such a huge fear in what if that instinct is wrong. What if you go out on a limb listening to your gut, and you think that you can trust somebody, and then you end up being wrong.
Were the twists and turns in the story what attracted you to it? What did you think when you first read the script?
When I was reading the script there was so many twists with the characters, you didn't know who you could trust because you knew that you couldn’t trust this guy. But then if she trusts him, then you kind of start trusting him. But then you start wondering if you can trust her because she shouldn't have trusted him in the first place. And it's just kind of like as you're reading it, I just kept going like who is right here? And that's such a cool part of the script is that nobody's really right. You spend the entire movie wondering.
Can you explain what is going on in the story?
Elissa has just moved with her mom from Chicago, and they've moved to this small town, and there's a neighbour next door who Elissa sympathizes with, and her mom wants her to stay away from him. Everybody kind of tells her to stay away from him but she feels sorry for him, and thinks that everyone's wrong- and kind of takes a chance with him.
Why is everyone creeped out by Ryan?
Everyone is creeped out by Ryan because his sister, and parents, were all murdered. He was the only one left. So I think he lives in this house where these murders took place, and I think everybody thinks that's a little bit odd. And so they're all curious about him.
Making the characters relatable and real, was that something Mark brought to it?
Yeah, that's what I loved about Mark, and what I loved about the script was that it wasn't about gore, and scaring people with blood. It's all just very well developed characters, and you find yourself getting scared for these people from a personal place. It was a very sophisticated way to scare an audience.
Can you talk about the psychological approach?
Yeah, there are a lot of elements in this film. There are these characters that you're curious about, and you dislike and like them at the same time. They take so many different twists and turns, and then you become invested in this story. And then at the same time you kind of become afraid of this story. The film takes you on this whirlwind of confusion about what you feel about who, and it just plays on everybody's fear of whether or not you can trust yourself to make the right decision; or whether or not you can trust your instincts about
Can you describe a day on the set? Was it physically demanding at all?
Yeah, at times. But that was fun. I had to get my scream worked up so I didn't tear my voice apart.
Did you enjoy shooting this?
Yeah, it was something completely different than I had ever done, and we had an amazing crew, and it was just really fun because I had never done that genre before. It was an amazing
experience. That’s why you do movies, to kind of do something that throws you so completely out of your comfort zone, and to do something different, and to kind of learn about every single genre.
Are you a fan of horror movies?
It's tricky because I love horror movies. I love scary shows, like I love Celebrity Ghost Story, which is not supposed to be scary but scares me to death. I should not watch scary movies because my imagination is out of control, and then I'm scared for months, and like screaming, and like running back and forth from the bathroom to bed, like I'm being chased by somebody. But I love scary movies but I have to force myself not to watch them because it just affects me forever, and turns me into an insane person.
What did this opportunity mean for you?
It was experience. Any movie is an experience, and also working with a director that you believe in, like I did with Mark. I always think that that's like one of the most important parts of our jobs is diving in with somebody that you have faith in like I did with Mark. I just thought he was a great director, and I wanted to work with him. I was just like ‘I'm ready to just go do something completely different than anything I've ever done because I trust you.’
What was Mark's vision? How did he sell you on this?
He saw it as kind of a character piece. It was going to be real. No cheap scares, nothing cheap. Just something that's in us as humans, being frightened, not being able to trust ourselves.
What did Elisabeth Shue bring to the project?
She was unbelievable. She brought fun. It had only been like me, Mark, and Max, so it was great to have another girl around. She's hilarious, and she's so talented, and she asks real questions that really get you thinking. She would actually stop and be like ‘Well wait, why would we say that?’ Well why would we and then it's like oh, right, that's a good point, let's think about that. But she was fun, and she's incredibly talented, and just a really smart, smart woman.
Were you in the middle of the woods?
Yeah, we were in like this random house in the middle of the woods. It was kind of creepy.
Is that fun for you to get that audience curiosity?
Yeah, that's really fun. That's fun with any movie, especially in something like this where there's so much more mystery, and kind of twists and turns to it.
Do you think about the audience reaction when you're on set?
Sometimes it helps to think about the audience reaction. You're making a movie for an audience so it's important to think about them. But then there's also a fine line because then it turns into you're doing things for them, and you're catering to them, and you're not giving them any credit. So I think it's an equal balance of, you know, we would do certain things thinking, okay, we can fix that later. That'll get the audience here and then we can take them here.
What do you hope audiences will experience with this movie?
I hope they get scared and excited. Hopefully the next time they're just going with their gut on something they'll second-guess it. There's so many things that movies can do to you. I hope this one gets people excited and that they like our characters, and they like our story, and they get scared.
What was it like seeing Max snap into Ryan?
Max is a really great actor, and he can just turn on and off, and it's very strange to watch the light in his eyes just kind of get dark the instant Mark calls action. And then all of a sudden he's just like this different person. It doesn't feel like acting with Max. It's very strange, and scary.
What advice would you give Elissa?
Elissa, I know that the neighbourhood boy seems exciting, and mysterious, and cool, and different, and misunderstood and you're gonna be the one that understands him. But just don't go over to his house. Just stay at home and don't go down in his basement.