Having been an actor since his first role at the tender age of five, Lukas Haas has made quite a career for himself in his almost 40 years of acting. Having had such roles in mega-hits like Mars Attacks!, Inception, and First Man, he has also found a home in the world of indie film with roles in such films as Rian Johnson’s neo-noir mystery, Brick. For his latest role in Mike Testin’s horror/thriller BROWSE, he finds himself in a terrifying situation after his identity is stolen.
Prior to the release of the film, I had the opportunity to chat with Lukas one on one. During the interview, we discussed everything from the dangers that the advancement of technology present to the message he hopes moviegoers will take away from the film.
Hi Lukas, thank you so much for speaking with me today! To start things off, for those who may not be familiar with the film BROWSE can you tell them a little bit about your character, Richard?
Lukas Haas: He’s basically just a normal guy who’s trying to get through life and he’s super reliant on the internet and it all sort of comes crashing down on him. What made me interested in [the role] was that it’s so relatable in a certain way because we’re all out there on the internet, we’re all in the cloud. We have profiles and we’re putting our information out there and there’s something so vulnerable about it. It’s just so scary to imagine that someone could take control of that and turn it around on you.
There are a lot of themes in the film that focus on technology, such as the ever-changing landscape of online dating and using VR as a means to escape reality. Do you think the advancement of technology in this way is a good thing or a bad thing?
Lukas Haas: You know, I argue against it personally. It’s sort of unavoidable, I mean, it’s totally unavoidable (laughs). I would love if that type of technology went away. It’s easy to say that but there are definitely benefits to it. There are things that make it really wonderful but, all in all, I miss the personal relationships; the way that people used to relate to each other. In fact, during COVID, even though the internet was thriving before, being locked down for weeks made it almost feel like that. We were relating to our friends more by sitting and talking, not having to do anything else, not really focused on other things, we were actually having conversations again. It’s just so confusing, you know, the internet is so confusing. Information is upside down and there’s so much misinformation. I mean if you look at politics and everything else it’s just all very confusing. It seems like a mess… it’s just a mess. I miss simpler times, I miss it when it was just easy and you could write a letter or make a phone call or get lost with only the use of a map – it was more simple (laughs).
When it came to embodying your character was there a process you went through, especially in regards to your character’s shift from mild-mannered to outrage?
Lukas Haas: The way I was thinking about it and Mike Testin, the director, we kind of went this direction together. Because it’s in a cloud because it’s out there, it’s like happening but it’s not that tangible, you know? It’s confusing and scary but you don’t know how to react to it. My character didn’t know how to react to it particularly because he’s still just living his life, he’s still at work, he’s still doing what he needs to do but things are just falling apart on the internet and around him. He just didn’t know how to relate to it. At a certain point, he starts to feel like he’s completely crazy and it’s all crashing down around him and he doesn’t understand what’s happening. It’s just total confusion and fear.
Do you think that made it easier to show your character breaking down and snapping?
Lukas Haas: Yeah, totally, because at a certain point the character doesn’t know what to do anymore. He doesn’t even understand up from down and he doesn’t know what his reality is – it’s all just a big swirl of confusion. He comes to a certain point where he snaps. The one thing I do like, though, is at the end it’s almost like the whole thing subsides. It’s like he takes a deep breath and there’s some kind of hope at the end. He weathered the storm even though [the film] doesn’t really go there completely but it sort of hints at it.
Speaking of Mike Testin, how was it working with him on the film?
Lukas Haas: He was great. He’s so easy going and he had a real vision. He really knew what he wanted to accomplish and wrote a really great script. It was a pleasure working with him. I really enjoyed the film so it was cool.
Lastly, what do you hope people will take away from the film after seeing it?
Lukas Haas: Well, I hope that they get the message that at the end of the day you will get through it. Things can get confusing and they can get hard and things can feel like they’ve crashed down around you but at the end of the day you’re still waking up and everything is kind of okay. So as much confusion as there is, it’s going to be all right, you know?
BROWSE is now available on VOD. For more on the film check out our review here.