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Maika Monroe talks to Live for Films about The Guest

Maika Monroe co-stars with Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens in The Guest. Directed by You’re Next and A Horrible Way to Die’s Adam Wingard, it’s an ultra-cool, 80’s vibing thriller that’s released in the UK on the 5th of September.

Maika plays Anna, a waitress whose life is turned upside down by the arrival of David (Dan Stevens). David claims to be an Army buddy of her deceased older brother, and, while her parents and younger brother are instantly taken in, Anna is not completely convinced.

Anna starts to poke into David’s past at about the same time a shadowy government agency realise that David is back on the grid. Knowing he’s been caught out, David’s demeanour changes and he goes from loveable fantasy fulfiller to dangerous avenging angel.

Anna must now protect herself, her family and her friends from a human Terminator as intelligent and emotionless as he is lethal.

The Guest opened this year’s FrightFest and absolutely smashed it. Everyone else will get to see it from the 5th of September, and to promote the release, I bagged some time with Maika Monroe and Dan Stevens.

Dan’ll be next week, but first up was Maika, looking impossibly flawless for a grey Thursday morning and a total charmer. With a cool red dress, leather jacket and tattooed middle finger, she looked ready to kick ass, and, after taking the time to introduce herself to each of us individually, answered all of our questions with gusto.


What was your first reaction when you read the script?

It was interesting, because I read it knowing that Dan was attached. I was like “OK, this is interesting”, throwing Dan into this after Downton Abbey – which is obviously a period role. Then I watched You’re Next and kind of fell in love with the style – it was something kinda unique. Then putting those pieces together, Adam and Dan, I thought “OK, this is going to be something cool”.


Live for Films: Was your performance inspired by any particular horror heroines?

Not realllly… Adam had such a specific idea of what he wanted, which I love, y’know, having that complete faith in a director. So he and I really worked off each other, creating this character that would work well off what Dan was bringing – this dry sense of humour. So it was quite fun creating this girl with him.


With The Guest and It Follows, you’re in two films at the moment where the phrase Scream Queen is being used. Is horror something you like and want to do, or is it just a coincidence?

It is a coincidence that they kinda happened back to back. I grew up loving horror though. The Shining is one of my all-time favourites , that my Dad showed me when I was quite young! I remember, in Middle School, me and my friends would rent five movies and watch them all back to back at night. Nightmare on Elm Street was one that I loved. It was absolutely terrifying and I didn’t wanna go to sleep!


I hadn’t really done any horror up until then, so exploring it in those two films has been fun. It’s intense, the shoots are always really intense, but quite exciting.


How did you meet Adam (Wingard, the director) and Simon (Barrett, the writer), and what 80’s films influenced your character?

I met them just through the audition process. I went in and I read for them and then met them again and… I don’t know if you guys have met them? But they’re very bizarre! Very unique human beings! That’s the best way to describe them, I think! Anyway, we all got along so well. The whole crew worked together with Adam to create this story, right down to the jewellery, the wardrobe, the colours… it’s fascinating to watch someone work to that level of detail.


The film has quite a comedic tone, did you ever get asked to redo a take “funnier”?

Yeah. Yeah! I mean, they (Adam and Simon) are hysterical.It was very important to them for this to not be some super serious thing, to have the comedic timing but for it to have to be played serious. I was working off Dan – I’m crying, he’s making some joke – it was hysterical. So it was like funny, but real, and we played off each other.


Live for Films: Your on-screen relationship with Dan Stevens’ character changes drastically two thirds of the way through…

Yes! [laughs]


Live for Films: …was that difficult for you? Did it change the way the two of you interacted off camera?

Noooooo! Not at all, not at all! I mean, he’s literally… he’s… they’ll call “CUT!” and he’ll be back to playing Dan. He didn’t have to stay in character, he’d snap into it [clicks fingers] so easily, I was blown away by this transformation that he would have so quickly. No. He… we… were so close, all of us. It was such a special group, we had so much fun, but as soon as they’d shout “ACTION!” we’d be back into it. So it (our relationship) didn’t change, it was so fun to play on screen because we were so close and then like [mutters] now we hate each other! It was fun to play around with that.


Live for Films: We were saying before you came in, that, to people that are familiar with him from Downton Abbey, it’s a shocking change. Were you a fan of the show, did you get that shock?

I actually hadn’t watched it until I found out that I was going to be working with him. Then I started watching the series and obviously became addicted and watched all of them! I was like “WOW! How does Adam and Simon watch that show and go “Yep! We want him for David!” OK… Alright! And he’s brilliant in it – he blew everyone away! He didn’t even do anything in-between, it was just BOOM! from that to this, and I really respect that. I’m like “OK! Yeah! I like that!”


Do you think horror offers women better roles?

Very true. I think that in horror movies you get characters that start in one place and end in another. I think that’s the coolest, when you have an arc from the start and become something different because you’ve been through hell and back. To push yourself to those places is quite interesting as an actor. It’s good to do that.


I read a lot of scripts and a lot of the time it’s just like, no interest. To want to do it you have to fall in love with some aspect of that character – even if they’re evil – or you can’t do it, I think. There’s a lot of plain female roles that make me think “I don’t wanna do that. I like my job and don’t wanna be on set like EURGH! Bored. Horror has been interesting, but I think I’ll take a break from it now – it’s been pretty intense! I have some very different things coming up…


The Fifth Wave?

Yeah. It’s like a Hunger Games-y trilogy book, and the role that I play is very cool, so I’m really excited about that. I start training in a couple of weeks.

Live for Films: The Guest is opening FrightFest tonight, are you excited? Are you sticking around to watch any of the other films?

Yeah! I’m incredibly excited! I’m excited to see the… I’ve heard that the audience is quite interesting to watch! It’s all horror fans watching it, so it’s going to be fun! I’m sticking around for a couple of days, so maybe I’ll see some films, that would be cool. What is there to see?


Live for Films: There’s The Green Inferno…

Oh, OK. Yeah! Fuck yeahhh! Oh yeah! That’d be really fun!


[we are told to wrap up there]


Live for Films: Thank you very much, it was lovely to meet you.

You too, thanks guys, bye!


Anyone that excited about Eli Roth’s cannibal movie is fucking awesome in my book, my book called “Maika Monroe is Fucking Awesome”. It’s an e-book.


A delight to chat to and terrific in The Guest, massive thanks to Maika Monroe for chatting to me, and also thank you very much to Cat at Abundant for sorting it all out.


The Guest is on general release in the UK on the 5th of September.


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