Milly Shapiro certainly picked a great movie for her first big screen role. Staring as Charlie in Hereditary, she’s a part of some of the film’s biggest moments in what is arguably the best and most talked about horror movie this year. With Hereditary now available on 4K, Blu-ray, DVD, and digital services, I had an opportunity to catch up with Milly, who discussed joining the cast, her part in one of the most shocking scenes in the movie, and seeing Hereditary with her friends and family:
How did you get involved with Ari Aster and Hereditary, and what made you want to say “yes” to being in this pretty grueling horror movie?
Milly Shapiro: Well, I got the audition when I was walking home from school. They sent the script since it is a really dark film, and they wanted everyone to read it and make sure they're okay with doing it before they auditioned. So, I read the script, and I was very startled and very intrigued. I'm a huge horror fan, and it was on my bucket list to be in horror movies: both as someone who wasn’t getting scared and someone who dies. I was like, "This is both of the things I want to be in a horror movie combined."
So then I auditioned and I was really nervous, and I actually didn't think I got it. When I auditioned, everyone else there was a redhead. So I was like, "Oh, they want red hair! I do not have red hair. And they are all like three years younger than me. So I don't think I'm gonna get this." And then I got a call back and I was very excited.
With you being a big horror fan, what are some of your favorite scary movies?
Milly Shapiro: I really like the classics, like The Shining, The Exorcist, and The Amityville movies. But I also like some of the recent ones, too, like the Paranormal Activity series. My sister and I watch a bunch of horror movies together and we both don't get really scared, but we always get startled by things. So we have very loud reactions, and we both have really awkward startled noises, and it's really hilarious.
When it came to developing your character, how much did you work on it ahead of time, versus collaborating with Ari when you were on set?
Milly Shapiro: Well, I had created the character, kind of beforehand, and what her physicality was, how she talked, how she ate, how she looked, and who she was on the inside. And then I got to meet with Ari a few times before we even started filming, and we really came to a conclusion of who the character was. By the time we got on set, it was like another being that I could just step in and step out of when I needed to.
Obviously, one of the most surprising scenes of the movie is when your character gets beheaded in the car. Can you talk about filming that scene and prepping for it? I’m assuming they did a cast of your head, at the very least.
Milly Shapiro: They did a cast of my entire body and I got to go to Canada for a day, which I thought was very entertaining. They did a mold of my head first, and it was really awkward and I was concentrated the whole time, because you can't see anything since it's in your eyes, ears, and mouth. You can only breathe through your nose. I was concentrating the whole time on being as still as possible, and they were slightly weirded out and kept asking me if I was okay, because I was being so incredibly still.
I didn't get to see anything that they did until I was on set filming for the car scene. I got to see my heads—they had multiple ones. They had two that looked like my normal head that they were going to ram into the pole, and then they had a few others that were at different levels of decomposition. It was really cool because they were so lifelike.
Then we filmed the car scene on two separate days: one indoors and one actually outdoors. The indoor one was really funny because we were in a dark room, they had a car inside there, and they had a giant stick underneath the car and they were moving it around, and a giant fan so there was wind. Then we filmed it outside, and I was tethered into the car so I could actually hang out of it. It was really fun for me because I got to do my own stunt a bit.
Were both of your parents or sister on set? What did they think about you taking on this scary role?
Milly Shapiro: My sister loved it, and I kind of rubbed it in her face because we used to make really bad horror movies when we were kids. I'd always be the person getting scared and dying, and I always wanted to be the scary person, but she'd never let me. So I was like, "Haa! I told you that you should have let me be the scary person!" So I got to rub that in her face a bit.
And my mom was with me on set the whole time. My dad didn't see anything until the movie was at South by Southwest. They had all read the script, but he didn't really get to see it in its final form until the end.
What was it like seeing it for the first time with your entire family at SXSW? What was their reaction?
Milly Shapiro: They were really startled, which I thought was amazing because I love scaring people. And my dad was very confused. He's the type of person that likes to make all these conspiracy theories about what's going on, so I thought it was really funny to see [if he’d figure it out]. All of my friends have seen it now, and I actually got to see it with a giant group of my friends.
You worked with a group of really talented actors on this film. What was it like working with them on set when the material is so serious and there are so many heavy character moments?
Milly Shapiro: I was really nervous the first time I met them because they were all really experienced actors, and I had never done a film before, so I was really incredibly nervous, but they were all so nice. I actually kind of knew Alex [Wolff] before, because we went to the same school, so it was kind of funny. Everyone was so welcoming and kind, and it was really great because you never really know when you're going into something new what the other people are going to be like.
Your character’s clicking noise has become a big thing. I saw people doing it in theaters after the movie to scare their friends, and people seem to have a lot of fun with that. Have you had people you don’t know making that noise when they recognize you?
Milly Shapiro: A little bit, but I thought a lot more people would do it. Many people don’t for some odd reason.
It might be because they're worried about what you'll do to them.
Milly Shapiro: Yeah. It's like, I'll just chop their head off with a pair of scissors that I pull out of my pocket if they do it [laughs]. A lot of my friends do it as a joke, and me and my friends have this running joke, instead of saying "Hereditary," we'll call it "Heredity," which is actually a word, but we joke around and call it that because we like to make fun of everything that I do, so it's pretty funny.
"SANTA MONICA, CA (July 16, 2018) – A family’s darkest secrets surface when Hereditary arrives on 4K Ultra HD™ Combo Pack (plus Blu-ray and Digital), Blu-ray™ Combo Pack (plus DVD and Digital), and DVD September 4 from Lionsgate. Academy Award® nominee Toni Collette “is raw, almost feral, making us feel in our marrow what it’s like to be a mother losing control of her family and maybe her mind” (Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly) in this riveting film from writer-director Ari Aster (Munchausen, The Strange Thing About the Johnsons) about a grieving family haunted by tragic and disturbing events. From the producers of The Witch and Split, Hereditary is being lauded as “a new horror classic” by the Los Angeles Times and as “this generation’s The Exorcist” by Time Out New York. The Rotten Tomatoes Certified Fresh™ horror film also stars Alex Wolff (Patriot’s Day, My Friend Dahmer), newcomer Milly Shapiro, Ann Dowd (TV’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”), and Gabriel Byrne (The Man in the Iron Mask, TV’s “Vikings”).
When Ellen, the matriarch of the Graham family, passes away, her daughter's family begins to unravel cryptic and increasingly terrifying secrets about their ancestry. The more they discover, the more they find themselves trying to outrun the sinister fate they seem to have inherited. Making his feature debut, writer-director Ari Aster unleashes a nightmare vision of a domestic breakdown that exhibits the craft and precision of a nascent auteur, transforming a familial tragedy into something ominous and deeply disquieting, and pushing the horror movie into chilling new terrain with its shattering portrait of heritage gone to hell.
Take home Hereditary and go behind the scenes with the cast and crew in a featurette exclusive to the home entertainment release, offering a revealing account of what it took to create this harrowing tale. Also included in the home entertainment release are nine never-before-seen deleted scenes and an “Evil in Miniature” photo gallery. Experience four times the resolution of full HD with 4K along with Dolby Vision™ HDR, which brings entertainment to life through ultravivid picture quality. When compared to a standard picture, Dolby Vision can deliver spectacular colors never before seen on a screen, highlights that are up to 40 times brighter, and blacks that are 10 times darker. The Hereditary 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack, and DVD will be available for the suggested retail price of $42.99, $39.99, and $29.95, respectively."