Just a few years ago, audiences worldwide realized that if there’s one person you don’t want to trust with your car keys, it’s Allison Williams, whose character in Jordan Peele’s Get Out instantly became meme-worthy in one of the film’s most pivotal scenes. With that in mind, Williams knew going into Richard Shepard’s The Perfection that viewers would potentially be hesitant to trust her again, which is something the actress and Shepard both embraced heading into their latest collaboration (the duo previously worked together on the HBO series Girls).
Daily Dead recently spoke with Williams about her involvement in The Perfection, and she discussed what she loved most about her compelling character, Charlotte, and how much she enjoys working within the realm of psychological horror. Williams also chatted about the challenges of preparing for the role, how she thrives on pressure, and how much she enjoyed working with her partner in crime, Logan Browning, throughout The Perfection.
And for those of you who might be worried about spoilers, fret not, as none of The Perfection’s unexpected twists and turns are mentioned here, so you can still go into the film having no idea just where the story will take you next.
The Perfection hits Netflix Instant exclusively this Friday!
I know that you have had this working relationship with Richard for years now, but I'm curious about your thoughts coming into this project. Was there something in particular that appealed to you with the role of Charlotte for this? Or was it more about your excitement for getting to re-team with him for this project?
Allison Williams: My introduction to the movie was a text from Richard telling me that he had this idea for this movie, and it wasn’t like anything he had done before. That in and of itself was appealing to me. I thought, "Oh my gosh, I really hope I like this script because I really want to work with Richard again and on a feature would be so much fun." So when I was reading the script, I couldn't put it down. I had no way of predicting where it was going, so I stopped trying eventually, but I did put in quite an effort my first read-through to see where it was headed, and quickly realized that it was impossible.
But overall, I just wanted to understand Charlotte. As I was reading the script, I was drawn to her and found her really compelling and confusing and complicated and human and all of those things. I was very excited by the idea of doing it from the first read.
There has been a lot of discussion over the years about creating well-thought-out female characters, especially in genre movies, and I think over the last five years we've really seen the tide changing. For you, in terms of the stuff that you're being approached with, do you see the tide changing a little bit, where it seems like scripts are putting a little more effort into tapping into the complexities of what makes female characters tick? Hopefully that makes sense.
Allison Williams: Yeah, it totally does make sense. I think maybe that's why I've done two movies in this genre now, because I do think certain genres lend themselves to this exploration [more] than others. There is an element to a psychological thriller that frees up some of the conventions that other movies feel like they might have to follow, that maybe there isn't time for that sort of complexity in a character and that tropes are easier because you don't actually have to hand hold very much with the audience. You can just sort of say, to use a very old one, "Here's a cheerleader uniform. You know what that indicates, right?"
But they're taking their time to create someone that's baffling, and to address this idea of how many people do you know that can be described in one sentence? It's not possible. I just really like that because it just means as an actor it's so much more interesting. As a viewer, it means that your ability to actually consider someone, a character, as a human being, is increased because they may actually resemble human beings you know if they're more just real. Real is complicated. And that's one of the things that I'm very drawn to.
Obviously, actors put a lot into any performance, but the work that you and Logan did for The Perfection seems like a very special circumstance. Not only did you have to do the acting side of it, but you also had to train musically as well. It just seems sort of unprecedented that both you and Logan would just go off and be like, "Okay, now I have to learn cello." That seems so daunting, and I give you both so much credit for that.
Allison Williams: It was. Thank you. It was daunting, especially as the amount of time that we had to learn the cello closed in on us. It was really fast and it's a really complicated instrument. Both of us have musical backgrounds, and I think we hoped that would be more helpful than it ended up being. It's just tough. Physically, it's hard to just hold a cello, let alone play a note successfully on it. Your hands always hurt, and it's a tough instrument physically. I think in many ways it's representative of so much that is feminine, where they have to pretend that it's easy and it doesn't hurt, but it's really hard and it hurts a lot. That felt representative of so many of the other things that the movie is getting into and just led to it being a perfect milieu for the movie to take place in, the world of cello.
At first glance, you're sort of like, "What a random instrument," and then as the movie goes on, I think it starts to take shape, the explanation for it and the dark beauty and darkness of this world and the people who play this instrument and take it very seriously. I have so much respect for cellists. Not that I disrespected them before, but I just have all this new respect for them now.
I know there was a lot of pressure on everyone during this shoot. Do you feel like that aided you at all, especially because of the material and the themes that you were exploring here?
Allison Williams: Yeah, I think I like that pressure. It's always nice to luxuriate into a scene and know that you can do it a million times because you'll find new things as you keep doing it. That's always the case. But I think with this movie, because we knew the shoot was so fast, we over-indexed on preparation so that we didn't have to have any big thematic script discussions while we were shooting, because we literally didn't have time for them. We prepared a ton and basically were memorized by the time we started shooting. I was shooting two things at the same time, too. I was shooting the movie from Wednesday to Saturday or to Sunday, and then I was shooting Lemony Snicket['s A Series of Unfortunate Events] on Mondays and Tuesdays.
It was a seven-day week rotation for me for the duration of the movie. So, it was a lot of pressure, but I don't know what's wrong with me, because I like that pressure. Otherwise, I wouldn't have played Peter Pan on live television. It's not something that scares me for some reason, even though it absolutely should.
There's so much here that I want to talk about with this movie, but I don't want to ruin anything for anybody who's going to get to see it. But a great deal of the story relies on the back-and-forth between your character and Logan's character, and I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about working with her before we go.
Allison Williams: I just think Logan is so talented. I think the world of her. I also love her as a human being, but as an actor she's just unbelievably captivating and so, so good. She's such a smart actor. It was such a pleasure working with her and working through this dynamic in our preparation and then also, on the day while we were shooting. I was very excited about the idea of playing a part that would allow for people to bring their baggage from Get Out into the experience of watching it, and we experience some of that in the wake of the trailer coming out already, which is good. We didn't want audiences to feel totally comfortable with the idea of Lizzie just going off on this adventure with this girl. You're not supposed to know what her motives are from the beginning. We knew that rather than be this other role that was hanging over the head of this one, we knew it would help fuel people's perception of Charlotte and wanted to use that.
But the experience working with Logan was so positive. For a movie that deals with some pretty intense subject matter and has some very, very intense scenes in it, it was really nice to have someone that we could just veg between scenes, and dissolve into our phones and giggle, and all kinds of stuff so that we could defuse the really high-pitched tension of what we were working on. I know that sounds callous and strange, but it is the trick to surviving mentally an experience like this. If you have a partner in crime that can help make it all seem like work rather than your life, then it lends itself to a much healthier work environment. Our cast and crew across the board were just phenomenal. We got really, really lucky. The movie would have been very different otherwise.
In case you missed it, check HERE to read Heather Wixson's other interviews with the cast and crew of The Perfection.