Following our interview with director Patrick Brice, Craig had the chance to speak with actress Desiree Akhavan, the star of CREEP 2, where they discussed everything from letting go of control to filming a scene with male nudity.
Nightmarish Conjurings: How did you get involved in this movie?
Desiree Akhavan: Mark (Duplass) reached out. I think they had been grappling for a while with different drafts and different ideas of actresses and I was the first non-actress that they thought of. I’m really glad they did reach out to me because I think the role works with a non-actress. So, yeah, Mark wrote me and said, “Do you want to be in a movie?”
NC: And you said, “Yes,” obviously.
DA: The way he asked was very ambiguous and we had to talk. Eventually, he said, “Just watch CREEP and tell me what you think about it.” I watched it and then we talked and then one thing sort of led to another.
NC: Being a writer and director yourself, what was it like being on someone else’s project?
DA: It’s hard, man, it’s really hard. I think people who gravitate towards these jobs of writer-director are really control freaks. The whole time I really had to let go. They were very inviting and very collaborative, but Patrick (Brice) and Mark speak their own language and they have a vision that is very much their own. It was about observing them to try to soak up what they wanted to achieve and then trying to deliver it to them. It’s so much harder, at least with my personality, to try to shut up and listen. To communicate to people what I want just feels more natural to me. Given the setting, I learned a lot about other people’s processes and how I would like to work.
NC: What’s the biggest thing you learned on this set?
DA: I think it was to like not be precious about every little thing. This project was so spontaneous; it was so much about inventing it in the room and about making the best thing we could at that moment. We only shot for eight days with less than ten hours a day of shooting time. We got it done, but it kind of felt like making a film when you’re eight with your dad’s camcorder. I mean, there were only four of us total and two of us were already in the film so it was really down to the bare-bones basics. Whatever comes up you’re just problem-solving. A few months later I was on my own shoot as a director and it was nice to take this experience with me going into that next project. Even though my next project had a larger crew any time a problem arose I would think to myself, “What if there were only two of us?” For instance, if someone couldn’t do something the way I had anticipated, it became easier for me to adjust to the changes and look at what we could do with the ingredients we had.
NC: How was it trying to juggle the camera work for you?
DA: At the beginning it was all me and then I started having a hard time getting the timing down. Sometimes I would just deliver lines to Patrick’s back while he held the camera and Mark was straight down the barrel of the lens. It was so weird.
NC: Since this is a planned trilogy, did they ever talk about part three while on the set of this movie?
DA: I have heard about part three, but not the plot. My understanding is that this is still being conceived as a trilogy and beyond that, I have no idea. I think a lot of that comes to them as they work. I don’t think they quite know yet what’s right and that for the moment they are just living with this movie in mind. I think that’s a sign of their creative authenticity because it’s not just this pre-formulated thing; they want CREEP 2 to have its life before CREEP 3 has a conception. I think that’s really cool. I know this movie had a lot of false starts before it happened so it was important to them that it felt natural and that they weren’t just making it to make it. They wanted to make sure they had something to say, which I think comes across in the film. While CREEP is very much about a cat toying with a mouse, this is more about two people manipulating each other and both trying to get what they want. It’s very much a power struggle that makes it hard to know who to trust when you’re watching it. Going off of that, I wonder what that will inform in the last one.
NC: Was there a lot of improvisation in this movie?
DA: There wasn’t that much improv, actually. I feel like it was improv in the fact that Mark and Patrick were thinking on the spot constantly of what should be said and done, but they would still script it in a way. Like sometimes they would just tell me before the camera rolled that, “He’s going to say this and you’re going to say that”, but I pretty much always knew what I was gonna say once the camera was rolling. It was often very last minute, though, and that’s just sort of how the process came together. I think the first day we didn’t know that that was gonna happen, but after that nearly every day they would talk it out, see what’s going on, what they wanted to achieve, and then they would figure out what worked best for the scene.
NC: What’s one question that you are surprised no one has asked you yet?
DA: I haven’t done that many interviews yet; we’ve only done this morning. I think…I’m surprised no one has asked me about Mark’s nudity and what it felt like to shoot that scene.
NC: Were you holding the camera for that one?
DA: Yes. I would answer to that question that the whole experience was surreal. Because there was no crew, it felt so illegitimate. It just felt stupid and I was like, “What the fuck am I doing?” Like, stupid meaning it was just silly. Like every day on this shoot just felt silly, like, “Why am I just playing around in the woods with my friends? This is not a legitimate film.” So now, doing press for it feels absurd. The fact that I’m going to watch it tonight with other people feels absurd. I can’t even believe it; I can’t imagine. It was just this fun thing we did in the woods that I then watched on Vimeo by myself in bed and that felt appropriate. I got to the credits and I was like, “Great, the film’s done.” Going to the premiere tonight I will finally know full circle what it feels like after seeing it projected up on a really big screen.
CREEP 2 is now available to watch on all digital platforms.