While going through the junket for Old, we got the chance to interview Alex Wolff, who really shot onto the mainstream stage with Hereditary. Our conversation got a bit off of the rails, but Wolff was great to talk to, so we're posting the entire interview instead of segments. We cover shooting during the pandemic, where Wolff had a very different answer from his co-stars, his fanboying for M. Night Shyamalan, and whether or not he has heard anything about the third Jumanji movie.
Kaitlyn Booth: I heard you're on your last interview of the day.
Alex Wolff: You're my last one. You better make it good! I'm just kidding.
KB: I hope it hasn't been too much of an insane day for you. They've been moving my interview time around all day.
AW: It's been insane. You're like my 62nd interview or something. So it's been absolutely insane. Nothing short of it.
KB: I imagine this must be very different from doing press for something like Jumanji or when you were doing Hereditary, I can't even imagine.
AW: Yeah, it's not nearly as fun because I'm not doing it with anybody else. So it's much harder, and it's virtual.
KB: I had a chance to speak to M. Night yesterday and one of your cast members, and they were telling me about what the shoot was like and that it was really kind of difficult on a bunch of different levels in the sense that your weather was really unpredictable. At one point, you guys didn't even have a beach because of a hurricane. And then you also had all the covid restrictions. And I was wondering, as an actor, how do you feel that impacted your performance?
AW: You know it's weird; I feel like it was one of the least stressful shoots I've ever been on. I've had some tense, disastrous shoots. I've had real problems where you don't know if you're going to shoot that day. I felt like maybe this was a lot for Night. I'm sure it was. I felt a lot of sympathy for him dealing with that. But to tell you the truth, he handled it like such a champ, and everything was so streamlined and easy that it felt like it was a creative and amazing time.
KB: Wow. That's really surprising. You're essentially sharing your role with, like, three to four other people. How did you go about making sure everything was consistent? Did the group of you kind of get together? Was it all there on the script?
AW: Yeah, we did all get together and talk, but I felt like it really wasn't my job, you know, I felt like I really had to honor who he was on paper. And if you look at people when they're six and when they're 13 and when they're in their 20s and when they're in their 50s, they really do change. Just the spirit of them is the same. So I think Night had to cast really well, which I think he did a pretty beautiful job at. And he had to make sure that our spirits and our centers were all aligned.
But I think any kind of pivots that each actor has, any kind of adjustments or differences is actually an advantage. I think sometimes casting another actor can actually be better than just aging an actor. It can end up serving it more, like Godfather. DeNiro doesn't really look like Brando; it didn't even necessarily really seem like Brando, just that he captured his essence in a way that was so profound and amazing and Godfather 2.
KB: What drew you to this particular project? Was it wanting to work with Night? Was it the script? What pulled you in and made you want to take on this role?
AW: Craft services, I heard, was going to be really good and…
KB: And the chance to go to the Dominican Republic in the middle of September.
AW: I know, but they have these special pork rinds that I heard are like lime flavored. Honestly, they're there. And it was mostly that, I have to be honest, it was mostly that. And Night. Night was a little part of it. My number one favorite director my whole life. But it was mostly the pork rinds.
KB: So did you kind of fanboy a little bit the first time you met him?
AW: Yeah. Yeah, I did a little bit. A lot a bit. Yeah, I worship him, I still do. And every time I see him, I want him to like me so bad.
KB: What was the first movie of his that you remember watching?
AW: The Sixth Sense, but then the movie that I watched in theaters that really floored me the most was The Visit. I think it's his best movie; other than this one; it might be his best.
KB: So you've gotten a chance to work with M. Night; he's kind of legendary in the horror and thriller genre. You've worked with Ari because of Hereditary. What is it like working with these two eccentric and extremely creative directors? What was the difference between working with the two?
AW: I'd say the only similarity between those two is that they're both visionaries, and they're both very creative. They're just so different in style and tone, and presentation. I find [Old] to be an allegorical sci-fi movie, a drama, a true sci-fi fantasy, a metaphorical nightmare fairy tale. Hereditary is bleak in a fantastic way. I'm really proud of it. I think [Old] has scares, but the scares are more long-lasting existential worries, and it's more a fever dream. So I don't think they couldn't be more different.
KB: What would be your elevator pitch to somebody who maybe is like, "I've seen a couple of M. Night's movies that kind of freaked me out, why should I go see Old, and why won't it freak me out like Sixth Sense did?"
AW: There's a young kid in it who's got curly hair. He's… I'd say just about 6'1". He is sort of tan. He's got a big schnoz, and you'll enjoy watching it. That's it. That's the whole pitch.
And the person would be like, "Are you talking about yourself?"
And I'm like, "I really have to go.".
And I'd start banging on the elevator to get out.
And they said, "I think you're talking about yourself.".
And I'd say, NO, I'M NOT!
KB: You've had a day I can tell
AW: You mean because I'm hilarious and on fire?
KB: Absolutely, 100 percent.
AW: Really, Night, his whole career has been reinventing the genre, and I find that this is something you've never seen before. I think the closest thing to it is the original graphic novel. But I get reluctant to compare it to anything because it's really individual. I do think it has echoes of Persona. If you mix Exterminating Angels, Persona, Diabolique, Kurosawa, and maybe you attached Split, and you put them all in one little smoothy. I think you get this really fascinating movie.
KB: You've been in both of the Jumanji movies, which have been massive, massive successes. Have you heard anything about the third one so far? I know they've greenlit it.
AW: [Dives off his chair and off screen].
AW: I honestly haven't heard a thing. I think I think they're going to recast me.
KB: You think?
AW: Yeah, I heard, um… Clive Owen is going to play my role.
AW: Let's hang out more; you're getting the real answers. You're getting the real deal.
If you, me, and Clive Owen were in a room, I would pick Clive Owen. I wouldn't even hesitate. You would too. Anybody who says they wouldn't is a liar.
But I don't know. I have a great coat on today.
KB: You do have an excellent coat on today.
AW: Who knows what coat Clive is wearing? He's probably not even wearing a coat, probably wearing a T-shirt, and looking handsome. Damn it; I pick him.
KB: Well, I already got my one-minute warning, and I don't want to go over and have you spend more time doing this because I'm sure it's been a very long day…
AW: I hope you got everything you needed. I just let loose on the last one.
KB: Five stars.
Summary: This summer, visionary filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan unveils a chilling, mysterious new thriller about a family on a tropical holiday who discover that the secluded beach where they are relaxing for a few hours is somehow causing them to age rapidly … reducing their entire lives into a single day.
The film stars an impressive international cast, including Golden Globe winner Gael García Bernal (Amazon's Mozart in the Jungle), Vicky Krieps (Phantom Thread), Rufus Sewell (Amazon's The Man in the High Castle), Ken Leung (Star Wars: Episode VII—The Force Awakens), Nikki Amuka-Bird (Jupiter Ascending), Abbey Lee (HBO's Lovecraft Country), Aaron Pierre (Syfy's Krypton), Alex Wolff (Hereditary), Embeth Davidtz (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Eliza Scanlen (Little Women), Emun Elliott (Star Wars: Episode VII—The Force Awakens), Kathleen Chalfant (Showtime's The Affair) and Thomasin McKenzie (Jojo Rabbit).
Old is a Blinding Edge Pictures production, directed and produced by M. Night Shyamalan, from his screenplay based on the graphic novel Sandcastle by Pierre Oscar Lévy and Frederik Peeters. The film is also produced by Ashwin Rajan (Glass, AppleTV+'s Servant) and Marc Bienstock (Glass, Split). The film's executive producer is Steven Schneider. It's out in theaters now.