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Interview with Hereditary Star Milly Shapiro

So let's start by talking about hereditary, now I watched the trailer to this film about six months ago in the cinema with my wife. I honestly couldn't sleep after watching the trailer, I brought myself to watch the movie and it genuinely is one of the scariest films I've ever seen.

Now you play the character of Charlie who's a really unique character and she goes through quite a lot of traumatic stuff during the course of his film, what was it like preparing for that role?

Milly Shapiro: It was a lot of fun and I personally love horror, I don't know why I used to despise it but then I tricked myself tin to liking it. I watched enough of it that I become desensitised and I just grew to love it. So when I got the audition I was very excited because it was my first audition for a horror movie, and I read this script three times before I even went in and I just fell in love with the character of Charlie. She is so different than anything I've ever done before, and she's also very complicated. Getting to step into that type of character that isn't just one layer is really fun because you have to figure out how they think, what their physicality is and it was a lot to wrap my head around at first but I had a lot of fun doing so.

And with my acting teacher we came up with an inner and an outer animal for Charlie, which is something that I tend to do for a lot of characters because it makes physicality and thought process a little easier to understand. For Charlie the outer animal was a turtle and the inner animal was a snake, and it just kind of helps you develop personality traits and physical traits. Then I also met with Ari [Aster] once I had gotten the part and we talked about Charlie.

So with this character, obviously she goes through some traumatic stuff right, so there's the scene where she's basically having an anaphylactic shock, and you play that so well. How did you prepare for that particular scene because you were so convincing?

MS: Thank you, well I think part of it was because I have actually had an anaphylactic allergic reaction before, so I had some personal experience with that because I am highly allergic to red ants, so I kind of had that to bring to the part. So I had kind of experienced it which I thought was very cool, I also did some research like online and looked up people having anaphylactic reactions and then read a bit about what happens to your body when that's happening to you. Then there's also all makeup which made it really real in the moment for the character, and it just brought everything together. Everyone was so kind and it was so much fun to film. Because it is something that's harder to do so you're challenging yourself and then when you feel like you did a good job you feel so proud, and I just really had a blast doing that.

You are 16 year old so in terms of the film itself, how did your parents react to the outcome in the film, did they let you watch it or were they screening it from you?

MS: No my parents were fine with me watching it and stuff, because when I first auditioned I was 14 and when we're done filming I turned 15 in the next month and I read the script a bunch of times. I feel like as an actor you have a sense of what's real and what's not real and it's just art and I feel like that's the best way to describe it.

I feel like a lot of the times if a child is too young for something they won't understand it and it won't bother them, and for me my parents were fine with me watching it and everyone I knew when I told them about the part and the role they saw the movie said it was perfect for me. perfect for you. I've always said that I wanted to die in a horror movie and be someone who's creepy. So I got all of that in one go in my first film and I was very excited.

Yes you definitely did those two things, he character is really creepy I won't give away the end but she's a very interesting character. One of her unique traits is that clicking that she does quite a lot, was that something that was written into the script or was that something that you ad-lib?

MS: It was written in the script and me and Ari we had a 30 minute meeting discussing why she does it and what the exact sound is and, it's kind of like a coping mechanism for her when the world's too overwhelming. So she recluses into herself and makes that noise as a comfort thing and I feel like it translated really well on film. It's absolutely brilliant in my opinion to use that, because you can get across so many things and there's so many parts in the movie where you think you hear it, you get very freaked out and startled.

I think it was a perfect way of getting that across, and figuring out the exact sound for it took a fair amount of time. Which is ridiculous sounding because it's such a simple sound, but when you think about how many different ways there are to make that sound and it makes it more complicated . How long the sound is and is it the same every time or is it different, but once we got it I feel like it got a bunch of stuff across and really added to the creepy elements of the character.

Yes definitely, it was used as a really good mechanism to frighten the viewer. So typically in horror films you have those sort of jumpy moments, but that click sound really got to the of soul of you, it's really unsettling and unnerving.

So you mentioned that you've become a big horror fan over the years, is there any particular horror movies you love?

MS: I really like The Shinning and The Exorcist, and I think it's really funny that I like those because the first horror movie I ever watched I didn't actually watch it. My dad and my sister were watching it and I watched the beginning parts of it and then I left because I was so scared. I kept peeking out around scary parts and it was pet cemetery which is a very similar like a slow burn style movie and I've been freaked out about that specific movie ever since and still haven't watched it to this day. But then later down the line I said "I'm not going to be scared of stuff anymore, so I'm going to watch like a bunch of scary movies" and so I did with my sister who's never been scared of anything.

And then I slowly grew to love the horror genre and all things creepy and disturbing, and I think what really drew me to it as I got older was how it shows, how humans develop and how humans react to situations where there is like a strong sense of death and like danger. It's really interesting because you see how the human psyche reacts in that way. There's also a big use of stereotypes in typical horror, where they use certain stereotypes to get across certain reactions from the audiences, and it's really interesting to think about and I feel like that's what developed my love of horror. Then I read Hereditary it was like nothing I'd ever heard of before or seen and I really loved it, because it doesn't rely on jump scares, it relies more on psychology and there isn't really stereotypical characters or archetypes that are generally used in horror.

So reading that I really could just picture every image in my mind and it was nothing I'd ever seen before. I really loved it and when I read it I was like "I have to be in this, I'll be so sad if I don't get this" and I did, so I've been very lucky about that.

So it's Oscar season around the corner and obviously not a lot of horror films often win Oscars, but Hereditary is unique because it crosses the lines between being a horror film and a psychological thriller. Do you think you're going to get an Oscar nod?

MS: I would be very excited if I did, it's my first film so I'm still really happy about the outcome either way, but I feel like Toni [Collette] should get nominated, Alex [Wolff] should get nominated. The film should definitely get nominated for directing or writing because it was amazing in both those aspects. I really just want it to get some recognition in some way because everyone's put their heart and soul into this movie and it's really just an amazing project.

I saw on your Instagram that you're a massive anime fan? What sort of stuff are you digging on at the moment?

MS: I really like some of the darker stuff like the original Tokyo Ghoul series, and Dengenronpa which was originally a game but then they later made an anime from. I also liked more of the typical coming-of-age stories like Princess Jellyfish. I've also seen every episode of Fairy Tail which is a large thing to say because there's almost 300 episodes. I just really like the way anime tells stories, and they also teach you about Japanese culture and you get all these different characters and I really like it because you're watching. All of the artists that work on it are so talented and I just really like.

So obviously since hereditary come out you've become an instant horror icon, how's that been? I'm sure more people recognise you in the street now, you're probably getting offered a lot more roles than you were offered before?

MS: Yes it's really cool I'm definitely getting a lot more auditions for bigger parts and stuff, and I'm trying to stay away from horror so you don't want to be typecast because it's very easy to get stuck into that repetition. I have been getting recognised which is really cool.

One time I was at the airport and someone said "You look like that girl from that movie" I was like "Yes I do". They walked away and then they came back and they're like "Are you?" I said yes I am and they are like "oh good job"

Becoming really recognisable overnight must be quite strange?

MS: It is strange in a way, but you're also getting recognition for your work so there is that aspect of it. And all the reactions I've had from people are really cool and it's from people that really loved the movie, and so getting to meet those people and talk about the film is really cool.

So what does the future hold for Milly Shapiro them, what's the next role, what's the next project?

MS: Right now I'm just auditioning hoping for the next job. I've gotten really close on some things and I'm hoping for something that's really fun and really challenging and like nothing else I've done before.

Movie Theatre



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