HNS sat down and chatted with Logan Marshall-Green & Emayatzy Corinealdi last week to talk about their film The Invitation which comes out today. Check out our exclusive interview below and be sure to check out the film in theaters!
When you got the script, what about the story made you want to do the role?
Corinealdi: The world that Karyn had created. She really put together this wonderful look book that I think we all saw in the beginning. And just the story that was already on the page was just really fascinating. It could go a lot of ways, this group of people who come together for one night who haven’t seen each other in a long time, some who don’t know each other. Just that idea is interesting to me and that’s what I wanted to kind of navigate.
Green: Yeah I read the script and I saw an opportunity to break genre rules and I had ideas about the character and his potential for a very vulnerable, emotionally driven drama that I hoped Karyn felt the same. And once I met with her I saw that she did. I guess you could say it’s a genre but it’s human amongst a drama, and that’s what I wanted – this real piece. It’s more than just a boring, talking piece. And that’s what I wanted. I just want to talk. I want to talk about our feelings.
Is the horror or thriller genre something that you’re drawn to?
Corinealdi: Not as an actor. But as an audience member, I love horror, thrillers. I love it all. I love it to the point of it just really scaring me. I always said this is the one genre I can’t really do. I’m just such a naturally jumpy, scaredy person… even though you would think it would lend itself to playing one, it made me not want to do one. So this was the first one, but again I don’t think I thought of it that way because I don’t see this film that way. It’s much more of an intimate, personal love affair event though it has those other elements. But for me, I always felt like, ’oh you could never do that.’
Green: Yeah, I feel the same. I love horror, I love genre films, but I just like people. That’s why I do what I do. If I respond to some guy, I play him and call him down and that’s what I do.
Cults are fascinating to me. Did you guys do any research on cults after you found out you got the role? Or on the mindset that people possess that join cults?
Green: I’d already done research because I also am kind of fascinated by them. I used to love this band Fishbone, and I always remembered that they lost their guitarist. Two brothers were in the band and the guitarist ran off to be in his father’s cult. It was the first time I’d ever really understood what a cult was. He left the band. It was an amazing band, I couldn’t understand why would you leave this band to run to Northern California to join this cult?! And then I found out that the brother and another band mate went up and kidnapped him and brought him back down. The next time I saw him he was angry and sullen on stage playing guitar and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh what has happened to this guy? What is this thing called a cult?’ The name of the band was Fishbone. Look it up, very interesting, it’s a great story and so are those two brothers. At that point, I kind of had to read everything. It kind of started my whole true crime craze. I love true crime. Helter Skelter. With that said, there was no research for me, it just wasn’t my approach to the character. I don’t think he needed an understanding, in fact it may have been a detriment.
No one is listening to Will throughout the entire film. He seems to be the only one with some type of intuition that something’s off. Even Kira is not seeing that something’s off. For your character and playing that frustration, how did you get into that mindset?
Green: I think it’s multi-layered with his history of the house and the echoes of his son and a former past that’s in front of him that’s different. And his wife. Worlds colliding with his girlfriend and introducing her to old friends and some friends that aren’t familiar. So I just went after intention, wants. I think the drama-ter inside of me said I can’t expect the audience to believe me or to feel like I’m right or righteous. You shouldn’t feel like you’re in the body of heroes. You should feel like you’re in the body of the anti-hero in someone that’s flawed and making mistakes. You’re like, ‘Stop doing that.’ Instead of ‘Yes! You’re right!’ I don’t think we did our job if you’re feeling righteous.
So Will had that instinct that something was off and Kira didn’t. Do you think that you personally would be someone to recognize something’s not right here or do you think you would’ve been more like Kira and gone with it?
Corinealdi: No, because I really think that the way it played out is the reality of it. There’s a lot of different levels in her… this is her boyfriend, we’re going to his ex-wife’s house. He hasn’t seen her in a year. She’s with people she doesn’t know. So it makes sense that she wouldn’t just make a speedy exit, especially knowing what they’re going through with losing a son and Will coming back to kind of face that for the first time so she feels like she has to be there for him even though there comes a point where she says we should go, but she’s willing to go with what he wants to do. So it all played out in the reality of how I would’ve handled it too which is again something I loved about the film. You didn’t feel like, ‘Oh I would’ve left a little bit earlier.’ Each character left or not when they would have. It had to make sense to me why she would stay, why she wouldn’t just shut it down from the beginning. It made a lot of sense to me, so I would’ve played it out the same way.
Green: Yeah, I think there’s this heard mentality. That’s what we do. There’s been studies about it, the movie Compliance I think hits on it. That when you have an apartment building and there’s a woman being raped, and everyone is waiting for someone else to do something, and she continues to be raped. It is Stockholm syndrome, and I think there’s another area of research on it too. You always say, ‘Oh I wouldn’t be that guy.’ But when push comes to shove, the studies show 99% of the time, you are that guy who watches and waits for someone else to do something.
Corinealdi: Like that show What Would You Do? That shows most of the time, that’s what people do.
The epic battle at the end of the film, did you prepare a lot for some of the fight sequences or did you rehearse a lot?
Green: Well we definitely rehearsed a lot of it. I prepared to get my ass whooped. Again, I approached him as ill-equipped physically. Equipped mentally maybe, but ill-equipped physically. I thought that was a much more interesting take. Originally there were more heroic moments that I and I think Phil and Matt [the writers] agreed we should strip away and embolden Emmy’s character with more of that heroicness. I felt like stripping him down in his physical ability to deal was smart. You should say all you want you know, you yell, ‘Fire!’ but when it comes to actually doing something I thought it was more interesting that he wouldn’t.
I agree, I don’t think it would’ve been true to his character.
Green: Yeah, I mean look we all want to be heroes. But I think going back to what we were just talking about, when push comes to shove, some of us are not equipped to deal. He does his best. I think he’s a leader, but to answer your question, I get my butt kicked.
And Kira actually bails you out.
Green: Yeah, that was my intention too. That was a change. Originally it was me being more heroic and I didn’t want that.
Will has some pretty epic long hair and facial hair in the film. Was that real?
Green: That’s all me.
How long did it take to grow that out?
Green: When I grow the beard, it takes about three months to get to that length. About three months to get it pretty homeless looking, you know pretty traumatic driven. The hair, just a couple years I guess.
The end of the film is kind of ambiguous in that we don’t get to see what happens to Will and Kira. What ending would you like to see for them?
Green: (joking) The Invitation 2. In theatres 2019. I think for me, as you see there’s a kind of concoction of chaos in the end. I think it lends itself to some other stories that are going on in other houses in the hills and other people that are living and not living and surviving it. I think that it’s not just Will and Kira, that’s one of the things I loved about this script. It’s not just the heroes. People survive against incredible odds and it’s not just them. So I think more grief, lot of therapy.
The Invitation releases in theaters TODAY! I highly recommend the film!