This Friday, M. Night Shyamalan is set to take audiences on a vacation from hell with Old, his adaptation of the graphic novel Sandcastle, written by Pierre-Oscar Lévy and Frederick Peeters. The story revolves around a mysterious beach where those trapped on its shores are aging rapidly, and they have to quickly find a way to escape before it’s too late. Old stars Gael García Bernal, Vicky Krieps, Rufus Sewell, Alex Wolff, Thomasin McKenzie, Abbey Lee, Ken Leung and Nikki Amuka-Bird and is being released in theaters courtesy of Universal Pictures.
During a recent press day, Daily Dead had the opportunity to speak with Krieps about her involvement in Old, and she discussed how a viewing of Split made her want to collaborate with Shyamalan, and her experiences shooting the film during the pandemic. Krieps also chatted about the challenges of making Old, how much she enjoyed collaborating with Shyamalan and more.
Look for more on Old all this week, right here on Daily Dead.
So great to speak with you today, Vicky. When you were considering coming on board Old, was there a specific hook to this project that really lured you in? Was it the script? Was it the opportunity to work with Night? Or were there a variety of factors?
I remember watching Split on the plane. I was very impressed and something in that story unsettled me in a way that nothing had unsettled me in a long while, and it got me thinking about things. I really enjoyed that. I really liked that. I think the first thing that pulled me in was the idea of working with the person who made that movie and these other movies from his filmography. Then the second thing was my curiosity. I have a very big sense of curiosity. I'm always curious about life. Especially in my work, where else could I go? What else is out there to see or to try out?
Coming from the cinema, I usually do more arthouse and foreign language films, where everything comes sometimes just from someone sitting at a window and smoking a cigarette for what feels like half an hour to the idea of doing a cinema. I had never done a horror movie before. My first idea was that a horror story would be something constructed and made with different tools, so I was curious about those tools, seeing them, knowing how a horror movie is made, and ultimately, being part of something different.
I know the circumstances with how you guys had to make this movie with a pandemic going on were slightly unusual. How much did that isolation lend itself to the story of Old as well? Was it easy to immerse yourself in the themes of this movie because of how you guys had to end up filming it?
Yes. I think when we all arrived on the islands, it was a very strange feeling. We all came down and we were all still completely influenced by what had happened, each of us have been in different kinds of lockdowns. So, coming to this beach, we were feeling so grateful and lucky to have work in this time. In the other sense, we were lost because of where we are now, because the world has still not really changed. Where is all of this going? There was still no vaccine. We are here on this beach doing a movie. What are we doing?
Sometimes in life when you are confronted with these things, or you're in this heightened state of mind, you become more sensitive and vulnerable and open yourself to different thoughts. This is how we all arrived there. I think it lent itself to the movie a lot because the movie is also playing with the idea of what if you were stuck? What if you were going to die this evening? What if I would tell you everything you believe, everything you put your clock on, it is all going to change? For us, it was really, really helpful to come from the lockdown where each of us had been having these big thoughts about life and our lives. Who am I in this society? What is my life without my routine? Who am I without other people? What do I do if I cannot go to my fitness studio? Is my fitness studio really so important? Or is there something more important in life? I think we all had this experience and that was perfect in preparation for the movie because the movie is asking all these hyperphilosophical questions about life.
When you're shooting in such an idyllic and beautiful place, and yet you're working with material that has these undertones of menace and dread to them, is that an interesting juxtaposition for you as a performer? Like, on any other given day being on that beach, it's a perfect day. Yet the things that your characters are going through, is something so horrific and unbelievable.
I think we were lucky to be in lockdown for Old. We were lucky for the movie because if it would've been the case where we’re at this paradise beach and we could just go off and have a nice time, it would have been very hard to then go and produce stuff in the position of someone having a hard time. And in that sense, we were lucky because we were really restricted. So we had to stay in a hotel and then take one car and go to the beach and go back home. We couldn't go out. We couldn't even go for a walk. We couldn't see the country. There was nothing we could do.
On the beach itself, it was very hard actually, because it was something like 40 degrees Celsius all the time. There was bright sunlight on the open beach, and this is not where usually you would stay. You would go into the shade at noon, but because of time restrictions, we had to go through the whole day in one place. We didn't even break and everyone was just going through it all and sometimes we'd do 12 hours. People had digestion problems because of the food. Their backs were aching because we were walking on sand all day long. We never really could sit down. There was not any time to go back to the trailer. We would just be in a cooling tent, but I will always remember that the cooling tent wasn't cool (laughs). We're always joking about it. But the beach itself was actually quite uncomfortable, I must say.
One of my favorite things about a lot of Night's movies is that so many of them, you could take them and turn them into a stage performance because of the way the characters interact with each other in things like that. As I was watching the footage last night of this, it struck me just how much of Old would translate really well into a stage play. Did Night give you a lot of time to find your characters and work on the back and forth? Or was all of that done there in the moment as you were shooting?
This is a very good question. And a good observation, too, because prior to shooting, Night said to us, this is going to be very tough. During preparation, there was a thunderstorm and it destroyed the set. We knew we were in difficult situations and we knew there was COVID, too. I think we were the first or only production shooting at that time. But sometimes it would be sunny and then maybe, it would start to rain and we would have to change things up immediately and we would have to go and do a scene from a different part of the movie.
So Night asked us to prepare in a way that we could jump in at any moment from the beginning of the script to the end of the script. I remember him employing the words theater play, too. I remember Night saying it would be good if you all learned your lines and your parts, the way you would in a theater so that we could play it as if it was at the stage performance, because we might have to adapt to weather or we might have to adapt to other circumstances.
Also, we shot on film and film is always a restriction. You don't have endless material. You always have to see if the gate is good. There are many different things that you have to be mindful of when you’re working with film. We also had sequences in the movie where a lot of things are happening, but they’re happening all over the beach. So, in order for these scenes to work on the beach, we had to all be acting in our moment, whether we were on camera or not. So in this sense, you are very right.