Having caught The Invitation during its festival run, I'm excited for Daily Dead readers to check out this expertly executed character-driven thriller from Karyn Kusama that is available today in theaters and on VOD. At the center of The Invitation is Logan Marshall-Green, who told me about what drew him to this project, filming one of the movie's most intense scenes, and his interest in directing feature films.

As an actor, when you first heard about The Invitation, what made you say “yes” to it? How did you know this was going to be different from the average way of dealing with these topics?

Logan Marshall-Green: Well, I didn't until I aligned my vision of it, what I wanted with [director] Karyn [Kusama], [and screenwriters] Phil [Hay] and Matt [Manfredi], so when I read it I saw that it could be construed as a genre [piece]. We read it thinking as much, but I quickly saw the potential for an emotional path in the lead character, whose point of view the audience sits in.

That was first and foremost essential for me—to get on the same page with Karyn—and when meeting her, I saw it was readily apparent that she wanted that. You could say I wanted a boring chamber piece, a boring talking piece, a conversation piece. I wanted the genre to be a backdrop and I wanted to talk about my feelings. I wanted to deal with the human condition of grief and trauma and where we put it, and so once I met Karyn, I saw she wanted that, too, and there were moments, there were microscopic nuances that were important to her to build. I wanted this man to be flawed and an antihero. I wanted him to make mistakes, and that was their intention, too. That comes out in the piece. That's what drives it past the genre and makes you think.

Yeah, it's completely character-driven, and I love that your character, Will, is so complex, and the audience doesn't really know what's going on until the end. There's a mystery and a tenseness about it, especially in that dinner scene when Will finally has had enough. Can you talk about the filming of that particular scene?

Logan Marshall-Green: That scene needed inflation. I needed to do my job and allow that pot to finally boil over. That scene really doesn't work unless we've taken the steps leading up to it, which we accomplished. When I walk through the door, I'm not thinking about a cult, I'm not thinking about the awkwardness of worlds colliding with my past and my present and my ex-wife. I just find a place to start and that begins with the loss of my son. While the house haunts him, so do his son and his ex-wife, but I didn't base it in any genre. I based it in loss and what it would be like to lose a son, and having to carry it with you and put it in your pocket.

It certainly shows. Now, this is a movie that has a number of really fantastic performances and with it being an indie movie, what was the process like working with these actors, especially in those scenes with John Carroll Lynch, who is such a force of nature within this movie? How did the whole cast prepare for this?

Logan Marshall-Green: There was a respect for each other's process, but really everybody's process ended up being, "Lets just sit on these sofas and talk while they move the camera around us," and we got on, and we shredded the darkness quickly at lunch and played games. Karyn built a world that was safe to be unsafe in, so we could let go when needed. Everyone was fighting a great battle. Even some of the supporting roles in the ensemble were dealing with their own battles, and there was a respect for that, too, and everyone was checking in. We believe it's a movie you can go back and watch multiple times and understand it even further, and it actually plays just as well a second time as it does the first.

While it is Will's POV, the house is a character as well, and every now and then you depart from his point of view and you are in the house's point of view. It's such an artisan touch by Karyn. The house is watching him watch them, and that's essential to building the dread in this movie.

This movie deals with topics of cult mentality, isolation, and grief. Did you do any specific research before filming began?

Logan Marshall-Green: I didn't do any research because I didn't believe it would be helpful or beneficial to my role. I'm sure Michelle [Krusiec] and Tammy [Blanchard] and John [Carroll Lynch] may have done some, but to tell you the truth, I've always been interested in cults. While I say I didn't do any, I knew enough. I'm a big true crime guy and cults have fascinated me for a long time.

I'm a big Fishbone fan, and the band Fishbone has an incredible cult story underneath it, where one brother left the band to go up north and be in a cult, and the other brother grabbed a band member and went up and kidnapped him and brought him down. Ever since the ’80s I've been interested in them. That was my first taste of it. I didn't really understand it until then.

In regards to this film, I did little to none, just because I don't think it was placed anywhere inside of Will. I don't think that's something he's taking into account walking into this night.

Creative changes on set are pretty common. Was this pretty much exactly to the script, or did things change as you guys got into it when filming started?

Logan Marshall-Green: The core answer is “yes,” what we read is what you see and hear. We held very true to the words because it was a great script and you were guided by those words. Now, there were some changes that we adapted as we went, and there were some cuts that helped streamline the paranoia and the psychosis of the piece. For the most part, it was a collaborative experience top to bottom.

After our readers have had a chance to check out The Invitation, what are you working on next that they can watch?

Logan Marshall-Green: I just shot a movie last year called Sand Castle, so that might come out this year. I'm not sure exactly what their intentions are with it. Really, I've been putting on other hats: producing, writing, and I'm hoping to direct in the very near future and get behind the camera. It's been more exciting for me nowadays than acting has been of late. I'm moving into my 40s, so I'm moving into other aspects of filmmaking and finding a love and excitement for writing and starting my own stories.

That's excellent. I wish you the best of luck with that. Do you have a first project in mind or anything you can say, or is it a bit too early to tell?

Logan Marshall-Green: It's probably a bit too early to tell, but I've got a couple things I've written that some other people are circling, and my intention is to direct them and not be in them. They're stories I've always wanted to tell, and hopefully you and I can talk about them in the near future.