Coming to Bluray next week from writer/director M. Night Shyamalan and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment is the thriller SPLIT.
This film tells the story of three young women who are being held captive by Kevin (James McAvoy) and his 23 different personalities. Trying to find a way to escape alive is Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy), Claire (Haley Lu Richardson) and Marcia played by Jessica Sula
I had the opportunity to speak with Jessica about SPLIT, working with M. Night Shyamalan, close quarter acting and playing opposite James McAvoy.
Jeri Jacquin: Hi Jessica, thanks for taking the time to talk with us today, it’s a real pleasure.
Jessica Sula: Thank you Jeri, I’m so glad you wanted to talk about the film with me.
JJ: My daughter who writes with me and I absolutely are in love with this movie.
JS: That’s so great, really?
JJ: We think it is the freakiest, twisted, messed up, original films we’ve seen in a long time.
JS: That’s really amazing, that’s so cool, and it is actually. When you are in it you don’t think of it like that but it’s true. When I saw it all put together I thought ‘oh man!’
JJ: It’s like – what have we done!
JS: Absolutely, it’s not something I’ve seen before either so I do agree with you on that.
JJ: When you first saw the script what was your impression of it. I’m sure reading it is different than seeing it done.
JS: It was after I got the part is when I got the script because it was all really very top secret. When I was reading it tried to imagine the scenes because I wanted to know what was going to happen on the next page. I read it in a really short space of time. I’ve never been involved in this genre and it’s M. Night Shyamalan! It was exciting although I didn’t realize how he was going to shoot it which made it even more exciting to see it in a theatre.
JJ: Tell me a little bit about your thoughts when you read what your role was going to be.
JS: I thought oh man….her fate! I was a little bit nervous about how Marcia was going to come across in a survival situation. She is with these two girls who seem very proactive in how we get out. I was worried because I wanted Marcia to have a voice but when we started shooting and talking with Night, it was very much apparent that it was going to be a serious journey for all of them. I thought I was going to be one of those girls who disaster was going to happen to at the hands of James McAvoy. It was kind of funny; I think I laughed a little about it.
JJ: It’s interesting when you said, ‘I was talking with Night’ about your role. Do you know how many people will never say that in their life – ever?
JS: I know! It’s actually quite surreal. You become close especially in the close quarters for the entire shoot and when you leave and start refer to it later I don’t even think about it. He is somebody that always thinks through every shot because what he wants is very particular. It was cool to collaborate with him.
JJ: When Shyamalan does a film he is so in depth about the story and the characters. Did you feel like he has everyone’s role down pat?
JS: A little bit yes because he has it mapped out in his mind already. He is so specific in what he wants. He also will break things down for you if you have a question about a scene or something a character is doing. That is quite nice, especially when you are in a high emotional state and your character is going through trauma.
JJ: Speaking of severe trauma, how long did it take you to get over all this?
JS: It’s more like the energy that goes into it and understanding that the circumstances are frightening, beyond frightening. Just kidnappings in general pop up on the news and it’s strange to be aware of it. When you are in that emotional state everyday and heightened, it was a matter of being tired once it was finished. I went back home after we were done and I just slept.
JJ: You were probably really hyper sensitive to it all because, as you said, the close quarters and the energy.
JS: We talked about scenes and what the characters were going through and no comparison to real life but you do start thinking about it all. There is the thought of not getting out of a real situation like this and that did scare me a bit.
JJ: After seeing SPLIT I didn’t want to be around anywhere dark, forests, and weird areas so I hear you.
JS: We would all talk about that too!
JJ: You are basically in a film, the three of you, with one guy that is many people. Working with James McAvoy in a role like I’ve never seen before, how was that for you?
JS: There were moments where we were watching him and couldn’t believe we were on the same set. He would go through all these changes was amazing. He is a fantastic actor and a lovely person, to get through a subject like this and to work with someone who is going through emotional extremes; he was so kind and made us laugh all the time. He was also really generous, charming and a pure joy to work with. On film when you see it all cut together and he scared me because he was someone I didn’t recognize.
JJ: The first glimpse I had of hearing about the film and I thought ‘no way that is him!’
JS: He is brilliant.
JJ: When you were talking about working in close quarters, the only way I can describe how I felt watching it was that your character was confined in a confined space. Was as difficult to shoot as it was to watch?
JS: It had its technical challenges with moving around and figuring things out. When we were all in one room it was very cramped and it worked. I think it helped drive the scene I think. It was intensely shot with everyone feeling it because of the confined space. I mean your sweating and wanting to get out of there and so I think it adds to the intensity quite nicely.
JJ: That intensity is almost another character in the film.
JS: Very much so, I think Night proves that very well.
JJ: All of you also created that very well and what this cast put together truly does work wonderfully.
JS: That is so lovely for you to say Jeri, thank you. You don’t think about those things when you are working.
JJ: I think Night has his own genre because his films aren’t horror yet they are, they are not gory yet they are – what ever goes on in that mind of his is some serious business.
JS: We are lucky he is the director.
JJ: When people watch the film on Bluray, what would you like them to know about the film that they wouldn’t otherwise know?
JS: That’s a really good question. I would have to say that I really love everything about the way it was shot, every frame is amazing. I think what was done was really smart.
JJ: Do get more into it and be aware of the surroundings just like the characters had to for the entire film.
JS: Yes, that’s a good way of putting it. I think it’s something that I love from watching thrillers like Hitchcock. Focus on James and everything that he does.
JJ: I don’t think that will be a problem – my daughter has a thing for James, even if his 23 characters are seriously unhinged.
JS: Everyone does, everyone loves James.
JJ: Thank you so much Jessica for your time and for talking about the film and your experience with SPLIT.
I have a horror genre in my own home theatre library and SPLIT will have a special spot on the shelf. Turing our own fears inside out, this film will have you talking long after it is over. James McAvoy leads Sula, Richardson and Taylor-Joy in a cast that gives our spines a reason to shiver and stay out of dark places.
On Bluray this Tuesday from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment is a thriller that will leave you breathless – just like a good thriller should! Director M. Night Shyamalan is back in the business of giving us all the shivers with SPLIT.