Lizzy Caplan talks about auditioning, why the title works and the fireball.
Lizzy Caplan thought she was auditioning for a romantic comedy and a year later she's one of the young stars of Cloverfield. Funny how stuff works out, eh? Cloverfield will be released on DVD on April 22 and I had the chance to speak with the actress over the phone about this very unique project. Here's what she had to say.
So I read there was a little bit of confusion when you first went in for this, you thought it was a romantic comedy. What was that whole experience like?
Lizzy Caplan: Yeah. The scenes that they gave us for the first part of the audition were just in the party scene, so it was like 'We've gotta get this place ready for a party!' That was like the biggest drama going on, so we just assumed. We saw character breakdowns and the characters were there but it didn't say anything about a monster anything like that. It was just, 'We've gotta get this ready in two hours, so stop messing around.' It was totally lame.
So what was your first reaction when you found out what it actually was?
Lizzy Caplan: I was kind of relieved that it wasn't Star Trek, not because I think Star Trek is going to be anything less than awesome, but just because I think that would be really strange to have no idea and then be in such a recognizable franchise. Each member of the cast had to come in and sit down with Matt Reeves and J.J. and the other producers and it was just like Matt and J.J. going crazy, spinning around like tops. 'The monster is coming your way and you're going to be running this way and they're gonna be running this way and...' so it's kind of hard not to get excited because they're screaming and running around like little kids.
What sorts of things did you do to get in character for this?
Lizzy Caplan: Not a whole lot. It was kind of difficult because, as far as backstory, we did have a little bit of rehearsal and the only thing that I really knew about my character was that she wasn't really in this group of friends, so just trying to do stuff with that. I don't know. I just try to think about like how much it would suck to be in a city being attacked by a monster and how much it would REALLY suck to do it with a group of friends you barely knew and you weren't with your own friends, trying to figure it out.
It was a pretty rapid-fire shoot, I think you only shot for a month. What was that experience like compared to other stuff you've done?
Lizzy Caplan: Well, right after I did this movie, I did a romantic comedy that was like double the budget of Cloverfield, which is crazy. We shot for more weeks and it was completely different and cost way more. Coming off of Cloverfield, it was like, 'I could make this romantic comedy for about 50 bucks. I'll do it right now for 50 bucks,' because we made a monster movie for half the price. I think that it kind of ruined me, in a lot of ways, because now it's like, 'Really? This is the best you could pull off? Come on.' Every aspect, from the audition on, was just completely different than anything else, any of us had ever done. It was very grueling and rewarding and rough and fun and brutal and exhausting, all at once.
I just interviewed Michael Stahl-David recently and he said you guys were throwing out a lot of different titles throughout the shoot as well.
Lizzy Caplan: Yeah, we were, a lot. The cast really liked Rec, but somebody else was making a movie like that or something. They had some ideas that were really not great and there was a little head-butting. I always kind of loved Cloverfield. I thought that it sounded kind of interesting, but what are you gonna name it? If you were actually going to try and sit and think of a name for that movie, I mean, it's impossible. So why not just pick some random word, that doesn't mean something.
It'd be something like out of the 60s like Monsters Attack New York, or something like that.
Lizzy Caplan: Yeah, exactly. Monsters Attack New York? You can't do that. (Laughs) So, I actually kind of like the title.
It worked out really well too because everyone thought they were pulling our chain and that it was probably going to be the title anyway, and all that, and when it was actually the title, everyone just assumed they were just yanking us around.
Lizzy Caplan: Yeah. It really wasn't supposed to be Cloverfield until like the last second. Also, everyone was calling it that online already, so it would be just weird to change it.
Yeah, Michael also said you guys were following the buzz a lot and you were still filming it when the first trailer came out.
Lizzy Caplan: Yeah. We shot that like a month before, so yeah, we were still filming when it came out. Yeah, I followed it in my trailer, not crazy-crazy, because some of it was really confusing and made no sense to me, but I did follow it just because it was insane, what it caused so quickly. It was exactly how they orchestrated it. They knew it was going to happen and they were so spot-on, the producers of the film. It worked and it was so crazy that people actually thought it was going to be and they made drawings and had written all this stuff. I've never been a part of anything that meant to so much to people before they even knew what it was.
I was really impressed with Matt Reeves' direction throughout. What was he like to work with and what kind of style would you compare him to, as far as others you've worked with?
Lizzy Caplan: What's really funny is that I heard during one of the screenings, is they had come to Matt to direct this movie and he was like, 'No, not me. Why me? Why would it be me?' because he did Felicity and this movie called Pallbearer, character-y, small, kind of quiet things. They wanted him to do this movie and I think it was more important for them to bring the emotional aspects of the characters to it than anything else. The FX and all that would work and they would make it work and to have a director that really cared about the characters. You don't really see that in a lot of disaster movies. Everybody was pretty stressed out and he was also trying to figure out this brand-new style of filming. He was literally putting a camera in a box and throwing it down stairs, cameramen were quitting or hurting themselves, the crew was in flux, a really great group of people, but nobody knew what we were doing. There was running and then 50 takes more of running then we'd figure it out and kind of change it up a little bit. It was just madness and he totally pulled it off. Matt Reeves totally pulled it off and I'm so proud of him. I think he thought he was way in over his head, like we all did, and it actually worked.
Have you seen any of the bonus features on the DVD so far?
Lizzy Caplan: I think I've seen a little. I think they have TJ (Miller) and my audition on there. I think that's all I've seen and then maybe like another little thing that TJ shot, but no, not really.
Have you heard anything about the sequel at all? I know this whole thing has been shrouded in secrecy since day one.
Lizzy Caplan: I'm officially out of the loop or the cone of knowledge.
Lizzy Caplan: I didn't see that, actually. I should check that out online. Yeah, Crossing Over is a really interesting movie. It's kind of like Traffic, but for immigration. It's got a really amazing cast and I think that comes out the end of the year. My Best Friend's Girl comes out, I think before? It's a romantic comedy and hopefully it will be funny. Oh, and The Pitts is an animated series. I did a live-action version of it when I was like 19 or something and now they're turning it into a cartoon, which is so cool that it went away for a few years and now it's coming back as a cartoon.
Finally, how would you sum up your entire experience on Cloverfield?
Lizzy Caplan: I think that the whole thing took a year, from the first audition to right now, so it's like if you took a fireball from, I don't know, Mario Brothers, and put it in a box and wrapped it up in a tight little bow, that would be Cloverfield. It's like this one finite amount of space, but it's really a fireball. There it is. It's a fireball.
(Laughs) Cloverfield: The Fireball Movie.
Lizzy Caplan: That's right.
Excellent. Well, that's about all I have for you. Thank you so much for your time, Lizzy.
Lizzy Caplan: Thank you.
Cloverfield will hit the DVD shelves on April 22.