With Happy Death Day 2U now in theaters, we thought it was the perfect time to catch up with franchise co-star Israel Broussard, who plays Carter in the series opposite Jessica Rothe’s Tree Gelbman. At the recent press day for the sequel, Broussard discussed making history with the approach of Happy Death Day 2U, revisiting the time loop for the original film yet again, and how surprised he was by the direction Christopher Landon was taking the series for this follow-up.
Look for Happy Death Day 2U in theaters now, courtesy of Universal Pictures!
Congratulations on getting to come back and do something different than I think we've ever really seen from a genre sequel before.
Israel Broussard: Yeah, that's honestly all Chris Landon right there. When I signed up for the first one, I thought we were making a dedicated Blumhouse horror movie. I played Carter like that. I had my whole head space around this idea of, "It's like we're making a horror movie," and when I saw it, I had so much fun watching it the first time because it was very lighthearted. It didn't take itself too seriously. It made fun of itself, and the pacing and the energy of it was just fun. It wasn't necessarily the movie that I thought we were making, but I was even more excited with the outcome than had we made the movie I thought we were making. And when the talk of the sequel started floating around, it's like, "What are you going to do with this? It's the same day—it's a loop."
I really didn't know what they were going to do, and then when Chris told us about it a month before the first one released, he just gave us his idea, and it was a little crazy. But you know he could pull it off. Then he sent us a script and it's like, "Oh, oh goodness, all right," but we knew the pacing and the energy of the second one based on the first one, so it was a lot easier to visualize it. But man, this one, it was bigger, there was more dimensions, just to say pun intended. But there was just a lot more life in this one.
Not to say the first one didn't have life, but this one, just with the ensemble, I felt like Chris did a great job incorporating the first Happy Death Day into a completely new movie. I didn't know how it was going to come out and I just saw it about a week and a half ago, and I am biased so I understand that, but I was really happy with the way it turned out, and I did not expect my heart to be ripped out of my chest by some of the scenes with Jess. That’s when I was like, "Okay, this movie has heart."
It's just awesome being able to work with Jess and evil genius Chris Landon, because he did it again. I doubted it a little at first, like, "What are you going to do with it? What are you going to do with the second one?" But he did it and so far, people are responding to that. I don't know how the greater audience will respond, but I hope they'll get a kick out of it because it's very lighthearted still, and it still has fun, still doesn't take itself too seriously, but there's more of a message and there's a little more depth to it, too, so I like that.
I think it's really cool that as the movie progresses, in some ways it indirectly solidifies the relationship between Tree and Carter even further. Did you enjoy seeing that dynamic play out in a new way this time around?
Israel Broussard: Yeah. I feel like it was similar in the sense of Carter has no idea what was going on in the first one, and then he kind of gets an idea, but every day the idea resets, so he still has no idea. That kind of carries into the second one, but what he's aloof to now, it's the energy that Tree's coming at with him. It was interesting playing around with this love triangle because you can tell there's a connection between Tree and Carter still, where you could tell that Carter's feeling something for Tree, but he doesn't really know what's going on and he can't move on Tree without compromising his own self-integrity and self-worth.
When he's telling Tree that, "You need to go back, this isn't your life," he's really saying that because there's this longing for Tree and if there's a possibility that Tree and Carter can be together in this other dimension, I think he wants her to go for it because he can just feel it. It was a great dynamic to play around with.
Once you realized the game that Chris was going to set up with this one, was it surprising? And were you looking forward to revisiting this story, but in a completely different way?
Israel Broussard: Yes and no. I knew it was gonna be easy stepping back into it, but I also knew that it was going to come with new challenges, which it did. The plaid shirt—I am totally sick of it, I will say that [laughs]. But coming up from that desk, we would find something new with each take and even if it was something subtle, it would still be something that kind of kept it fresh. So, I did have a lot of fun doing that. There were days when, if you were to look at the shooting schedule as a whole, then it's very easy to get overwhelmed by, "Oh my gosh, it's the same day over and over even when you're shooting." But when you're on set and you're in the moment, all of that just goes away.
Beyond the fact that we got to bring the entire cast back, plus we got to expand the cast, too, but we were also able to bring back a lot of the crew, too, which was great because we were like a little family on the first movie. We had fun every single day on set and there was never a dull moment while we were filming. There was always something going on. There was always somebody cracking a joke. Hopefully, you can feel that energy in the movie because it was definitely there on set behind the scenes. We got into a lot of mischief, too [laughs].
Check here to catch up on all of our coverage of Happy Death Day 2U, including Heather's review and a special Corpse Club podcast episode featuring writer/director Christopher Landon and star Jessica Rothe!