Korean American actress/comedian Hana Mae Lee made quite a splash back in 2017 with her scene-stealing roles as the quietly spoken beat-boxer Lilly Onakuramara in the musical/comedy Pitch Perfect, as well as a Sonya, the goth friend who joins a blood cult, in McG’s over-the-top horror/comedy, The Babysitter. Recently, for the release of its sequel, THE BABYSITTER: KILLER QUEEN, I had the chance to chat with Hana where she discussed everything from the power of wielding a flamethrower and the importance of chocolate chip cookies to Sonya’s love of the Dark Arts.
In THE BABYSITTER: KILLER QUEEN, two years after defeating a satanic cult led by his babysitter Bee, Cole continues to be haunted by the horrific events of that night. Everyone in his life thinks he has lost his mind since Bee and all of her friends disappeared, making Cole’s story hard to believe. He is still hopelessly smitten with his best friend and next door neighbor Melanie – the only one who believes his story – who convinces him to forget the past and come to a party thrown at a nearby lake. But when old enemies unexpectedly return, Cole will once again have to outsmart the forces of evil and survive the night.
Thank you so much for speaking with me today, Hana. How does it feel to come back to portray Sonya?
Hana Mae Lee: I loved it! Sonya is one of my favorite characters I’ve played. I love horror movies and love playing the villain. She’s great because I really liked making sure that she’s really into the Dark Arts and not just a caricature of just being evil. I really enjoyed it. We got her blogger acrylic nails with her 3D art and her Saint Laurent look going again. It was really fun.
Considering how you died in the first film, it’s only fitting that they would give you a flamethrower this time around. What was that experience like using it?
Hana Mae Lee: I had never used a flamethrower before. It was really great because they wanted me to practice before I did it and I was like, “Yeah, it’s gonna be CGI’d, I don’t know why I need to practice” and they were like, “No, no it’s not going to be CGI, you’re really going to use it” and I was like, “Oh shit, I’m really going to use this thing?” (laughs). I was kind of nervous because we were doing that all outdoors. It wasn’t in a controlled set environment but it was controlled because the stunts and all the pyro guys were making sure that in case I did not let go of the ignition they would have the power to cut off the gas. That was really good. I loved that thing, it wasn’t very heavy, the gas tank was kind of heavy that I wear on my back, but the gun itself was pretty light. When you press the louver to let it go, I thought I was going to be shot back from the power of it, but it wasn’t the case. It was so easy to use and it was so ridiculously fun. I had a little practice with it and on the day I was like, “This thing is AWESOME!”. When I do use it on somebody that was crazy because I was really afraid that I’d hurt the stunt person cause a lot can happen with real fire.
Besides the flamethrower, you are also getting thrown around on the hood of the car. What was that like?
Hana Mae Lee: Funny enough, they were like, “Are you going to be alright on this harness on the hood of the car?” and I’m like, “Yeah, no problem!”. They were like, “We’re just going to go kind of slow and speed it up during the editing” and I was like, “Totally, we’re all good.” Then I’m like yelling all my lines cause originally the script was like a page of dialogue before [retracted for spoilers]. I’m screaming and screaming and then I’m like, “Oh my God, I can’t breathe” cause you’re in this weird angle the whole time and you can’t really sit up because you’re in the harness and strapped to the hood so you’re safe. We did [the scene] more than they even wanted cause they just wanted to make sure we got the shot. It was totally doable and fun and enjoyable. I had a few harness bruises but that comes normally with that, to lift all my heavy weight that’s sliding down the car (laughs).
The film also gives us a peek into your backstory. Did you enjoy learning more about your character?
Hana Mae Lee: I loved it! That’s kind of what I was saying when I mentioned she’s really into the Dark Arts and really curious about the afterlife. Instead of wanting wishes or wanting certain things, it was more like what is this? She has so much excitement about what will happen with the Dark One and all that comes with it. I was really excited [her story was one] where she worked in the morgue and was doing makeup on the corpses and just waiting. I thought it was a nice layer to Sonya’s character for sure. It made it more fun and exhilarating for me. It just made her character authentic to why she’s doing all that stuff.
You also get to reunite with most of the gang from the first film. How was it seeing everyone again?
Hana Mae Lee: It was so good! Everybody on this cast is so great to work with, they’re talented actors but they’re also super great personalities and just really fun to hang out with. We have that history of the first movie that we shot awhile ago, I think 2015, so we had that bond in the first movie. It was almost like resurrecting us because we’re coming back as the same characters but just a little more heightened this time (laughs). The trippiest part was seeing Judah Lewis (“Cole”) and Emily Alyn Lind (“Melanie”) because they were so young and little and small [in the first film] and now they’re like adults. It still trips me out even when I talk about it (laughs). Emily’s a woman now and Judah’s growing facial hair and he’s like 6’1″ and he’s working out and I’m like, “This is so weird!” (laughs).
Obviously, I’ve saved the best question for last. What was the significance between you and the cookies?
Hana Mae Lee: I just figured this out literally last week! I was reading McG’s interview and he was like, “I love this movie, I incorporate a lot of my inspirations” and I’m like, “Holy shit is this why Sonya loves cookies?”. I don’t know if people know this, but McG has a sweet tooth. I’m like, “Does he love the cookies and that’s why Sonya is so obsessed with the cookies? The plot thickens!” In the gag of Sonya’s character…in the first movie, because Cole doesn’t really want the cookie, she’s like, “You’ll like this cookie…”. It’s kind of like torture but she doesn’t poison the cookie cause that’s too easy and boring for Sonya. I personally love chocolate chip cookies so it was like a great plus for me, there was no acting involved in that (laughs). We had a lot of takes where I’m literally taking the cookie and right after I say it’s going to be so good, I’m like slapping it on Robbie Arnell‘s (“Max”) naked chest (laughs). We had a lot of fun with those cookies.
THE BABYSITTER: KILLER QUEEN is now available to stream on Netflix. For more on the film, check out our review here.
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