After celebrating its international premiere at the 2019 Fantastic Fest, Daily Dead caught up with Homewrecker director Zach Gayne and one of the film’s co-stars, Precious Chong, to discuss their collaborative process on creating Homewrecker along with Alex Essoe, who also served as a co-writer and co-star on the psychologically driven dramatic thriller. The duo also chatted about creating female characters who have layers to them, and why they didn’t want to make yet another movie about two women caught up in a catfight.
Congratulations on the film, you two. It's so fun to see this back and forth between Alex and Precious’ characters, where you're just sort of trying to figure out who is going to get the upper hand, and who's going to do this or that. I know this is something that all three of you collaborated on a creative level, in terms of the script and the characters. Can you talk about coming together on Homewrecker and what was the genesis for this project in particular?
Zach Gayne: I'll start by saying that Alex and I have been friends for a long time. We made short films together when we both lived in Vancouver, when I was in film school and she was taking acting classes and such. The idea actually goes as far back as back then. So, the concept had been simmering from that point. Then, Precious and I started working together a couple of years ago and a friend of mine reminded me that this project existed. I was like, "Oh my God, I now know two people who can knock these characters out of the park and I just cannot wait to get them in the same room."
Precious Chong: Alex and I had met through Zach and had wanted to create something together and this seemed like the perfect sort of thing to do.
Zach Gayne: So, Alex was there when the story originated way back when and then time just caught up with us all. We all collaborated together, and that's when it really came alive.
So, what I think is really interesting about this movie is that there are layers to these women, where they're not just black and white characters. How conscientious were you about that, making sure that that these weren't just “You're right, you're wrong” type of characters, because there there's some validity on both sides of their conflicts here.
Precious Chong: It was very important to me that we love Linda. Linda is sort of our villain, but I relate to Linda a lot. It's like all the things that I'm grappling with rolled into one with Linda: ageism, getting older, being a woman, feeling dismissed, expectations of what your life is supposed to look like, all of those things. So, I think maybe that's where maybe the layers come in, and I think that's the strength of having female writers involved in it, is that it doesn't become this idea of, "Oh, she's just a crazy old hag lady" either.
Zach Gayne: Ultimately, was our way of exploring these women who have been hurt, who are just trying to figure it out together but can't quite connect. They would be capable of totally getting along, if only they had met under less sketchy circumstances.
Precious Chong: Alex was really brought so much depth and layers to her character too, and you understand her politeness and her insecurities. I think her performance also has an element of truth to it, where women her age not really being sure of themselves and being overly identified with their relationships. I think that helps to give it layers rather than just being about two women cat fighting.
Precious, for you, was it fun to, as a woman in the industry, get to stand up defiantly here and say, "Yes, this is how women are and we don't always have the answers but we're doing our best and we're figuring it out.” Because there’s a power that comes from just owning your experiences and making peace with that.
Precious Chong: Oh, it was awesome. Hell yeah. Especially being an actor where you’re now in your 40s, and it becomes all about making Hallmark movies, and you feel like you’ve been sidelined in that way. That's crazy to me. So, to have this opportunity to create a voice that's full and angry and a little nuts at time, but in a relatable way, was very much a joy for me.
Zach Gayne: I am someone who loves late-in-life Joan Crawford films, but I didn't want to exploit her character in that way. I wanted to create a Joan Crawford-type character that people knew where she was coming from so she’s unhinged, but she’s still relatable.
I think there's an intimacy to the way that you crafted this, where it almost feels like a theatrical play in some ways? Was that something you recognized at all during production?
Zach Gayne: Well, my go to response for that is simply that, I think back to when I first had the assignment of making a feature length story out of this concept, where I thought, "What if the audience thought they were watching like a Richard Linklater film for the first 25 minutes or something like that?" So, it came to me that I wanted to make something where it's just about two people really talking about the things that are going on in their lives with a layer of truth to them, before everything gets thrown right out the window. So, maybe I wasn't thinking about it theatrically, but it was more about watching two people communicating back and forth, which is rare.
Precious Chong: Yes. There's one, the scene where we play the board game, and that's a long scene. I was worried if it was going to sustain on film, because it’s not particularly exciting; it’s just a bunch of dialogue between Alex and myself. But as an actor, we love that kind of stuff, and that’s what excited me about this project.
Visit our online hub to catch up on all of our live Fantastic Fest 2019 coverage, including more reviews and interviews from the festival!