[Interview] Millicent Simmonds for A QUIET PLACE PART II

[Interview] Millicent Simmonds for A QUIET PLACE PART II
Courtesy of Paramount Pictures
When A Quiet Place hit theaters back in 2018, it achieved critical acclaim and put Millicent Simmonds on the map. A relative unknown prior to the film’s release, most would have known her from the film Wonderstruck. But, thanks to Director John Krasinki’s pushing to cast a deaf actress in the role of Regan Abbott, she has been able to capture our hearts and, in her own words, work on projects that are part of the corrective process of showcasing actually deaf talent and ASL in media.

The follow-up to A Quiet Place focuses on the Abbott family (Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe) needing to now face the terrors of the outside world after the disastrous events in their home as they continue their fight for survival in silence. Forced to venture into the unknown, they quickly realize that the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats that lurk beyond the sand path.

For the release of A QUIET PLACE PART II, Nightmarish Conjurings had the chance to chat with Millicent Simmonds via email, where we discussed her working with Cillian Murphy and Djimon Hounsou on the film, coping with working constantly barefoot, deaf representation in media, and what she hopes people take away from the story, especially after experiencing the isolation of a pandemic.

Both A Quiet Place and A QUIET PLACE PART II authentically portray American Sign Language. How meaningful was that for you and do you think it’ll open the door for more people in the deaf community to want to follow their dreams of being an actor?

Millicent Simmonds: I think films like this help portray what it’s like for a deaf person and in a suspenseful thriller like this, where you’re on the edge of your seat, it gives the audience the perspective of a deaf person. And I think that as a person who is going through this, it’s challenging but also it was fun to kind of play around. So this is not only a horror film in general but there’s…this could be applied to romance films, comedies, there are so many opportunities moving forward for deaf people and for people with disabilities in films like these.

Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and Emmett (Cillian Murphy) brave the unknown in “A Quiet Place Part II.”

Reagan spends a lot of time with Emmett throughout the movie. How was it working so closely with Cillian Murphy?

Millicent Simmonds: It was fun and also interesting to see his approaches to acting and to be able to share moments together as we’re filming different scenes and share this home with him and this family with not only him, but Djimon Hounsou and other cast members. Cillian and I had a great time together. He’s extremely humble, he’s easygoing, and we were able to kind of play and brainstorm about what a scene might look like, how we might react, what it means to us, and our characters. We had so many wonderful conversations together while working and filming.

One aspect I couldn’t stop thinking about was how you (and the rest of Reagan’s family) were walking around barefoot. How was that experience? 

Millicent Simmonds: As you can imagine, it was painful at times. When we would prepare for it in the makeup trailer, we were putting dirt on our feet, blood on her feet, and at the end of the day, we really had so much dirt. Our feet were disgusting. And after work, every day, I would have to shower it was just so dirty (laughs). They would use a special kind of film that we put on the bottom of our feet to kind of help, but it was still really gross. And it was fun just to be there with everyone, to hang out with Noah and Emily and just have fun together.

I was just going to ask about the family dynamics between all of you and if it resulted in the cast growing closer during the filming of this movie?

Millicent Simmonds: Yes, absolutely. I think it was an instant connection. I do think that the sequel brought all of us even closer because we already knew each other pretty well from our experience filming the first. But after coming together again, we knew what we would need. We could advocate for each other. We could run the scenes together and we had a lot of success with that.

Regan (Millicent Simmonds), Marcus (Noah Jupe) and Evelyn (Emily Blunt) brave the unknown in “A Quiet Place Part II.”

Outside of A QUIET PLACE PART II being a down-right terrifying movie, what do you hope people take away from this story? 

Millicent Simmonds: I hope that the film instills hope. What we’re seeing in this current pandemic with COVID is very similar to the experiences that we had. We had to isolate ourselves. We didn’t know who we would be around and we didn’t know what to expect. I hope that others can find the strength and hope in themselves just like Reagan did and use that as their strength and continue to have hope and connect with others. I think at the end of the day, when people go to the theater and watch this film, I hope that they can forget about everything for this time they’re there and enjoy watching it with popcorn and a snack, just relax and hang out and enjoy.

A QUIET PLACE PART II is now in theaters nationwide. All images courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

Shannon McGrew
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