One of my favorite films from Fantastic Fest 2019 was Andrew Patterson’s The Vast of Night, and I’m so excited that fans are finally getting the opportunity to see it for themselves. A retro sci-fi talkie centered around a pair of inquisitive residents of a small town in New Mexico who happen to stumble upon a mysterious radio signal one fateful night in the late 1950s, and how everything changed afterwards, the film stars Sierra McCormick and Jake Horowitz, who were both tasked with sharing an enormous amount of dialogue between their respective characters throughout the film.
Daily Dead recently spoke with Horowitz about working on The Vast of Night and he discussed his initial thoughts on the film’s impressive script and what excited him most about taking on the role of Everett, a fast-talking radio DJ. Horowitz also chatted about his experiences working with McCormick and how much he enjoyed immersing himself in the world of the 1950s as well.
The Vast of Night hits Amazon Prime on May 29th and is currently playing select drive-in theaters around the US.
Great to speak with you, Jake. I absolutely loved this movie, and what I really loved about it is that after the first few minutes, you’re hooked and it doesn’t let up until the very end. I wanted to ask, because Everett is one of the two biggest driving forces in this film, what was your initial reaction to him as a character and to this project as a whole?
Jake Horowitz: My initial reaction was it’s one of the only movie scripts I think I’ve read cover to cover without putting it down, because I just could not stop reading. It was like so much of the tension of that story and the excitement of finding out what’s going on in the dialogue and the rhythm of the script was incredible. Plus, there are these great moments of back and forth banter, and as an actor, you read dialogue like that and it’s so fun and so musical, where you can just hear it already, like they have a cadence to them. It was exciting, because as I was reading it, I felt like I had struck gold.
I just spoke to Sierra a few minutes ago and she mentioned you having a theatre background. So, how much did that help you prepare for the dialogue in this? Because there are some huge chunks of dialogue in this movie, which had to be a little intimidating, but you did great with all of it.
Jake Horowitz: Well, thank you. I would say that my theatre background totally helped, but I’d also say that Sierra having never done a play ever, and in all of the films that she’s done, she had her own appendages to it. And that’s a huge part of why it feels so easy is just because Sierra’s so virtuosic, and it’s incredibly easy to have chemistry with her.
Without chemistry between actors, it’s like none of it matters, because it just won’t work without it. I was joking with Andrew when I auditioned for this film, because I was working on a play where I had a 30-minute monologue and I was memorizing that when I auditioned for Vast of Night. So the fact that I didn’t have to speak for 30 minutes straight was amazing [laughs].
This movie deals with the theme of communication and it also incorporates all this classic technology of that time period. Was it fun going back to these older devices and immersing yourself in that world?
Jake Horowitz: Yeah, getting to work with those old-school technologies was one of the biggest gifts I received on this film. I had a reel to reel recorder in my hotel room and every day, for a few minutes, I’d do whatever it was that Everett might do on a day-to-day basis. Being able to do research like that, as opposed to just researching and reading about people using it, was the perfect gift for me as an actor.
And I would say that the whole movie is about communicating and existing in a world where things actually took time. In my regular life, I get frustrated when things take too long, so this was an exercise in patience. This movie embraces a completely different kind of storytelling, and it’s focused on following the truth, and I really loved to be able to play around with that.
I had the pleasure of meeting Andrew at Fantastic Fest, and really enjoyed speaking with him. What were your experiences like when you were collaborating with him on this?
Jake Horowitz: It was incredibly different from the get-go. I don’t know if Andrew told you this story, but he flew me and Sierra down a week early to rehearse, which is just the best scenario ever for an actor. It was so important to him to have us all be on the same page about what was going to make this movie work. First of all, with all the long takes, you obviously can’t direct within those and he was really committed to his vision of making these long takes work, which I was, too.
The note that he would always give was, “Send it through the floor.” He didn’t want us to let the suspense top us out and excite us. It’s like, if you stay committed to wanting to figure things out, that’s what’s going to ratchet the stakes up and the tension. And just having something be so detailed and so interested in getting the right kind of good performance, not just a good performance, was special. This was clear right off the bat in the first week.
Before we go, I wanted to ask how it felt to be able to immerse yourself in this time period?
Jake Horowitz: It’s not that like acting in anything that’s current isn’t enjoyable, but it’s just so much fun to put on a costume. I remember putting the glasses on and doing my hair and it just totally changed my mindset and it sent me into this other time, and it’s so fun to be able to work on stuff that takes you into a different world. I just had a weird amount of fun with it. It might seem like it would be harder or there would be more challenges in pretending to be from the 1950s, but the script helped, because all of that history is right there in the words. So if you can get a handle on the language, so much of the work is taken care of.
In case you missed it, visit our online hub to catch up on our previous coverage of The Vast of Night, including Heather Wixson's Fantastic Fest review.