For Zoe Kazan, forgoing a few creature comforts is worth it to work on more interesting films, like her latest indie horror project, “The Monster” -- or at least that’s what she keeps telling her agents when it comes time to negotiating contracts for her, insisting that she doesn’t want a trailer.
They don’t listen, though, and Kazan admitted to CBS News that she’s usually glad they didn’t. In “The Monster,” Kazan stars as a single mother at her wits end, traveling by night with her young daughter (Ella Ballentine) along a remote country road before their car breaks down and they find themselves under siege by a terrifying beast.
First of all, this seemed like a very laid-back, stress-free movie set.
Yeah, real laid-back, real stress-free, you’re right, just a walk in the park. Every day I felt like I was in my pajamas. [Laughs]
How do you psych yourself up for a shoot like this, where your character is pretty much in a heightened, stressful state the entire time?
I am not a person who works out -- and I’m not an actress who’s like, “I don’t work out, I just run after my kids.” Like, I don’t work out. I’m very lazy, and I live in New York so I walk everywhere and that’s my form of exercise. But leading up to this film, I went and worked out four times a week because I was like, “My stamina is too low to be able to do what this film calls for.” And I’m really glad I did because it was definitely unbelievably physically challenging. Just to like, be soaking wet every single day, to be shooting nights for weeks on end, to keep your body in a state of fear for that long -- my back was in such bad shape after this, and I got like a hundred different viruses. Both Ella and I got so sick from being so wet and so cold every single day. It was tough.
How long were you sick for after this?
Like forever! Like for like two and a half months, I had a cough that would not go away. Like, I’ve never had asthma and my doctor’s like, “I think you need an inhaler.” And Ella had the same thing, some crazy bronchial infection that they were like, “Well, I guess this will go away eventually.”
Do you prefer this type of tight schedule over other film shoots where you might have more downtime?
On set? I definitely prefer to be working all the time. No one ever listens to me when I say this, but I almost always tell them I don’t need a trailer, I’d much rather be on set and talking to people and staying in the vibe of making a film than be sequestered off in my trailer alone. That said, I much prefer having a tiny bit more of a budget than we did on this because it really does mean you don’t compromise in terms of your performance. Having only one take per shot -- which we did sometimes on this -- is really difficult, and it sucks to have worked so hard for so long preparing something and be like, “No, you only get one shot and then we have to move on.”
How much have you tried to impress upon your agents that you really don’t need a trailer?
You probably do need one to change in. And when you get there at 5 o’clock in the morning and they don’t start shooting until 9, it’s nice have a place to nap. So I’m glad they’ve got my back. But there’ve been some films that I’ve been on that had slightly bigger budgets that I’ve written entire plays while I’ve been just on my off-time sitting in my trailer. That can really disconnect you from the process of filmmaking, and so much of why I like being on a movie set is to feel like we’re all in this together and we’re all making a movie. When I did “The Exploding Girl,” we changed in Starbucks bathrooms and had a crew of six and I was incredibly happy to be helping move the sound cart to next location. I like that “all hands on deck” feeling.
So, the monster: There’s an actual guy (Chris Webb) in that suit. How much interaction did you have with him just as a normal co-star?
I didn’t have a ton. I tried not to talk too much to him because he’s a really nice guy, and it’s hard enough to maintain a certain level of fear because you just, like, see him walking around between takes without his head on and, you know, eventually you become inured to sight of a guy in a giant monster suit. As nice as he was and as much as I normally try to bond with my co-stars, I sort of tried to avoid a whole lot of contact so I didn’t become fond of the monster.
“The Monster” is In theaters and available on demand and through DirecTV now.