In The Voices, Ryan Reynolds portrays Jerry, a mentally ill factory worker who ends up becoming the world’s nicest serial killer on accident. His comedic misdeeds are guided by the voices of his cat and dog and as Jerry’s body count grows, he struggles to maintain some kind of normalcy as his life begins to spiral even further out of control.

Written by Michael R. Perry (Paranormal Activity 2) and directed by Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis), The Voices also stars Jacki Weaver (Stoker), Gemma Arterton (Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters) and Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect). The darkly comedic film arrives in theaters and on VOD today courtesy of Lionsgate and, recently, Daily Dead chatted with Satrapi about her experiences collaborating on this unique project with Reynolds and much more.

Fantastic job on the movie, Marjane. It’s really rare to have a movie about a serial killer that leaves a smile on your face but The Voices was just that. Did this project surprise you at all when you were first approached to direct it?

Marjane Satrapi: Oh, yes. When it was brought to me, it absolutely took me by surprise just because I wasn’t expecting to ever get a script like this. I read it in a night and I enjoyed how truly fucked up it was. I remember thinking to myself, ‘How am in love with this character so much?’ but I was. The character of Jerry was something that immediately drew me in.

I also thought the script was great because of how subversive it was. In the doctor scene, when Jerry asks about the existence of God and if he does exist, how responsible are we really for our actions if he is truly in control. I thought that was an interesting question, especially considering Jerry’s actions and his ultimate fate. We’ve been taught to believe that serial killers should burn for their deeds but that isn’t the case here. Jerry’s sick- he’s not a bad guy by any means. In fact, he has a kindness to him and I think that shows through in the film, despite some of the violent acts he commits.

Did you get to work with Michael at all on the script or did you leave things pretty much in tact after you agreed to direct it?

Marjane Satrapi: Michael is a fantastic writer. There were some budget issues with the original script- just some of Michael’s ideas were much bigger than we could afford and we didn’t have a ton of time to shoot either- so we did some necessary edits in order to make our schedule and stay within the confines of our budget. But every time I would come up with an idea, he would respond enthusiastically; I was just so blessed to have had the opportunity to collaborate with Michael on this.

Was Ryan an easy sell on the role of Jerry? I just thought casting him was so inspired, especially since most people just think about him from mostly his comedy stuff. I am a big fan of Buried so I always enjoy when he goes outside the box like he does in this.

Marjane Satrapi: Actually, Ryan knew about the script and reached out to me when I came on the project. I hadn’t seen Buried but I had seen his comedies and Green Lantern (which I thought he was great in, despite the fact the movie wasn’t very good at all) and so I wasn’t sure at first if he could handle Jerry. Then I watched Buried and he blew me away; you have to be an extremely great actor to be able to keep the tensions up like he does while stuck inside this tiny box for almost an entire movie. I saw that he had this dark side too him and that’s what this role needed- someone who could be extremely likeable and endearing to audiences but could also pull off all that dark stuff at the same time.

And when you’re making a movie, you can have the best director and the best actor, but if they don’t connect, they’re not going to make something good. It just won’t work because they’re coming at it from different places. But Ryan and I really connected over The Voices and I think he does some genius work in this film. Ryan brought a lot of ideas to the table too so it was my job to just open the door and let him just go for it. Most time when I’d yell ‘Cut!,’ Ryan would just keep going because he was in the moment and I completely trusted him to be able to bring Jerry to life in a way that would honor Michael’s script and that also celebrated this unique anti-hero character.

Was it always the plan to have Ryan do the voices of the cat and dog? I just thought that added another fun element to the film.

Marjane Satrapi: It was; I thought it made perfect sense because the dog and cat represented the voices he was hearing in his head so it was just natural to have Ryan provide their voices as well. Honestly, when I first started working on The Voices, I imagined that the cat would almost have this Pesci-like quality to his voice, but when Ryan proposed the different voices for the animals, I just loved his choices because they worked so well. I’m really hoping people recognize what an incredible range he has as a performer.

You also have a really stellar supporting cast in The Voices as well; how was it working with those ladies?

Marjane Satrapi: Everyone was just so great and really worked as a team because we really had to hustle to stay on schedule. There’s a certain kind of chemistry that has to happen in order for a movie like this to work and they all had it. Jacki was like a crazy version of my own mother which was really fun to have on set and Gemma was a red apple, so vibrant. And Anna is just so wonderfully talented- she can sing, dance, act- she adds so much too anything she’s in.

One thing I wanted to commend you and Michael both on was the depiction of mental illness in the film; it’s so easy in movies about someone who suffers from these kind of ailment to make them into the bad guy, but it’s not really as black and white as all that. Was that something you guys were conscientious of when you were making it?

Marjane Satrapi: Absolutely; it’s so easy to villainize someone suffering from mental illness or make them into a monster but they’re still human beings. They’re just flawed. You have to recognize that or you can’t make a character that people still want to like and I think we found the humanity in Jerry. At least, I know Ryan did in his performance; he understood Jerry’s struggles and I think that’s why his performance succeeds as well as it does.

  • Heather Wixson
    About the Author - Heather Wixson

    Heather A. Wixson was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, until she followed her dreams and moved to Los Angeles in 2009. A 14-year veteran in the world of horror entertainment journalism, Wixson fell in love with genre films at a very early age, and has spent more than a decade as a writer and supporter of preserving the history of horror and science fiction cinema. Throughout her career, Wixson has contributed to several notable websites, including Fangoria, Dread Central, Terror Tube, and FEARnet, and she currently serves as the Managing Editor for Daily Dead, which has been her home since 2013. She's also written for both Fangoria Magazine & ReMind Magazine, and her latest book project, Monsters, Makeup & Effects: Volume One will be released on October 20, 2021.