[Interview] Rosa Salazar & Catherine Keener for BRAND NEW CHERRY FLAVOR
BRAND NEW CHERRY FLAVOR l Netflix
When you’re someone that watches a lot of horror, there comes a time where it can all feel monotonous. It can be hard to find something truly exciting and unique at times. If you’re one of those people, then do I have a surprise for you. It’s BRAND NEW CHERRY FLAVOR.

From the twisted minds that brought you Channel Zero comes BRAND NEW CHERRY FLAVOR, based on the novel by Todd Grimson. The 8-episode limited series centers around Lisa Nova (Rosa Salazar) a filmmaker who comes to LA dead set on directing her first movie. But when she trusts the wrong person and gets stabbed in the back, everything goes sideways and a dream project turns into a nightmare. Finding herself in dire straights, she meets a mysterious tattoo artist (Catherine Keener) who has a penchant for cats and likes to put curses on people. However, not everything goes as planned as Lisa’s going to have to figure out some secrets from her own past in order to get out alive.

Recently, Nightmarish Conjurings’ Shannon McGrew had the chance to speak with actors Rosa Salazar (“Lisa”) and Catherine Keener (“Boro”) where they discussed everything from vomiting up cats, rooting for a flawed character, and more.

Thank you both so much for speaking with me today! BRAND NEW CHERRY FLAVOR is probably one of the wildest shows I’ve watched in recent years. What was your reaction when you found out the type of characters you would be playing? 

Catherine Keener: I thought, holy shit I’m going to need a lot of help, which I got [Laughs]. Rosa had asked me a question [about the series] and I was like yeah, I’m fucking Boro, man. That [ended up] became our thing [Laughs].

Rosa Salazar: I liked that Lisa was totally fucked up. You’re not necessarily rooting for her, but like you are rooting for her, but you’re not necessarily like all’s forgiven. She has this myopic viewpoint of, “I’m just going to make my art,” and that for me was a very direct through-line through the entire series. It’s nice when you know a character’s ultimate motivation: I’m a filmmaker and I’m making this art and whatever crazy shit happens to me along the way I’ll react authentically, but that’s not going to stop me. Boro’s not going to stop me. Vampires aren’t going to stop me. Real-life predators, like Lou, aren’t going to stop me. There are parallels to real life, we just heightened it a little bit and that’s what I liked about it. Life is like this, it is a rigmarole like this. It is full of predators and vampires. And I liked that this person was not just like, you fucked with the wrong girl, but you fucked with the wrong filmmaker. And that’s what I really liked about the chance to play Lisa.

(L to R) ROSA SALAZAR as LISA NOVA and CATHERINE KEENER as BORO l SERGEI BACHLAKOV/NETFLIX

Okay, you know that I can’t do this interview without asking about the cats. The cats are just coming out of everywhere! It was horrific and disturbing at times. So, what’s up with the cats?

Catherine Keener: Well some people are dog people and Boro was a cat person. I also felt the same [about the horror of it]. I can relate to what you were saying. What we’ve been through in the last…aside from this horror that’s gripped the world, I think it was easier to imagine this story than to imagine what reality we’ve just gone through. Because talk about a horror show, you know? There were a lot of allegorical bits to this that kind of resonated with me. I did like the idea that these two characters were of a certain world in some sort of nether gender world that was magical. What was happening now, but informed by the past, there’s a lot of mythology, which I find to be very real.

Rosa Salazar: The cats are a metaphor for the price you pay for your art. If someone had asked me back when I was working three jobs and struggling to put myself through acting school and all of that if someone said I can help you but you’re going to have to throw up cats, I would’ve said yes! I would have signed up. And here I am actually doing that on this show, but it’s the price you pay. It’s also fucking cool, dude. When we got these scripts from the minds of Nick Antosca and Lenore Zion

Catherine Keener: I called her and said come over, I don’t understand anything [Laughs].

Rosa Salazar: And I went over there and we talked for an entire day about what is this? The reason I said yes is that there’s so much crap out there…there’s so much content. And a lot of it you throw it on and you text through it or you scan through your social media or you’re buying stuff on Amazon, or you’re cleaning the house, I don’t like that. I wanted to do something that cuts straight through, whether it’s your vibe or not you’re definitely not going to be looking at your phone while the show is on. I want to make an art piece, I want to do something that is captivating. I’m a big fan of weird shit. I love horror. I love Cronenberg. I love that they’re throwing out that comparison. Every time I see that it turns me on, I get a boner for Cronenberg. I have a “Bonerberg.” [Laughs]. The thing that this has that a lot of horror projects that come our way [don’t have] is it had this next-level insanity to it. You will have a captive audience, no matter what. If you go full throttle, which indeed, obviously Catherine is a living legend, but if you go full throttle then you can achieve this ability to go, “Hey! I’m throwing up a cat from my side, go see it!”

Catherine Keener: On the other hand, I feel that a lot of horror comes out of the mundane. I happen to like the mundane, I do [Laughs]. Because I feel like it’s a misnomer, you know? To me, it’s just keeping your eyes open, sometimes keeping your mouth shut and looking for luck, you know?

Piggybacking off of that for our last question, let’s talk about the WILD sex scene that had me screaming in shock at the TV screen [Laughs]. What was it like to film that with actor Jeff Ward?

Rosa Salazar: I got really lucky with Jeff. When he walked into the room…you always hope, you know, when you’re doing chemistry reads you go through actors and you’re like, I wonder if I’m going to feel it, I wonder if I’m going to feel it. Every single time I do a chemistry read I’m like, I wonder if I’m going to feel it. And then Jeff walked into the room when I was there and I was like, Jeff! He’s our Roy! There’s just no other person for Roy, it’s Jeff Ward. So I got really lucky. It felt fun to film that scene. He’s also one of the funniest people on the planet so to do that with him was a joy. We had a great time filming that.

Catherine Keener: Everybody had chemistry with Jeff [Laughs].

Rosa Salazar: I gotta say, in terms of that sex scene, big props to Netflix. I mean, this is the same platform that brought you The Queen’s Gambit, and then you have something like this? Now that’s what we’re talking about, that’s some diverse content right there. And to take a big swing, such a weird out-of-this-world swing, and to let us just go and play and do this weird show, big props to Netflix.

BRAND NEW CHERRY FLAVOR is now available exclusively on Netflix. For more on the series, check out our review here.

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