Despite looking, sounding and acting like one, Colossal isn't really a monster movie — at least, not in the Godzilla sense. Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo's film, out in theaters Friday, is all about what lies beneath the surface. Every few minutes of the film peels back a layer, revealing a much more horrifying, and much more human, story.
Stars Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis knew what they were getting into when they first read the screenplay. While other actors might be nervous about a director who is relatively unknown to U.S. audiences, plus an independent budget, plus a high-concept story that's hard to sell in a logline, these two jumped right in to play heroine Gloria and childhood friend-turned-jerk Oscar. Hathaway even signed on before anyone else.
Their passion for the film comes across while interviewing them, as Mic did in the weeks before the film's release. Despite being in the middle of a press tour, the actors were chipper, Hathaway even greeting her interviewer with an endearing "Hi, I'm Annie!"
Mic: Annie? Instead of Anne?
Anne Hathaway: I never think to introduce myself as Anne. It always surprises me when people call me it. [To Sudeikis] You're like, "And when Anne..." And I'm like, Jesus, did I upset you? What's going on?
Does it feel more stern?
AH: I've been Annie my whole life. So whenever I was Anne, it was because I was in trouble. When I had to decide what my professional name would be, I never expected anyone would know it, so Anne Hathaway just felt like it carried me farther.
You get a script for a kaiju monster movie. What is it about that script that makes you think this is something you want to do?
AH: I was in a little bit of artistic limbo. I was in my early 30s, which is a little bit of a dry moment for — I don't know about actors, but for actresses, you're kind of in between ages for storylines. I had just seen Ben Wheatley's A Field in England, and for the first time, I felt really alive at the movies. Whatever that was, I wanted to make something like that.
I wrote an email to my reps, and I said, "Listen, I just saw this movie, please check it out. This is the sort of thing I'm interested in doing." And one of my agents said, "I have something. This might be a little too weird, I don't know, but here you go." Nacho hadn't been thinking of me, but because of this, it came to me and I was like, "This is it. This is exactly what I had in mind."
I met [Nacho], I checked out his movies, and I knew he could pull off this very ambitious script.
What about you, Jason? What stuck out in the script?
Jason Sudeikis: I really liked Oscar's storyline. I don't know if it's so much an arc as the other side of a bell curve—
AH: It's a "darc."
JS: Sure is! I felt that it was really well-observed, and really cleverly plotted, both emotionally and story-wise. I was like, "Who is this guy? Can he pull this off?" I watched his short films — and that's all I really needed. I watched his whole collection, Confetti of the Mind, and just thought Anne was gonna be perfect for it. It was a one-two-three of story, director and costar.
The monsters in the film, size-wise, serve as allegory for the hugeness of the problems in Gloria's and Oscar's lives — her alcoholism, his insecurities — and the surprising ways those affect people in other places. But you two were charged with making the scope of that read just on your faces. How did you make the "colossal" personal?
AH: You just take it seriously.
AH: Characters in comedies don't know they're in comedies. They didn't know they were in a monster movie. For me, as an American, I don't know how you don't feel responsible for some of the suffering in the world. This is a controversial thing to say, but we don't feel that back here. We do, but in smaller doses; not to the level that other people do.
JS: While it is an allegory for the giant problem you may feel, you don't always understand the repercussions of that. My dad smoked when we were all kids, then he stopped one day, but my little sister has asthma.
AH: I could be the most low-stakes drunk in the world, but I'm still affecting the people around me. Gloria doesn't think she is. She thinks, "The only person in the world I'm hurting is myself, and that's my right." She has that proved to her in a really big way. Also, I just want to clarify something I said before: We Americans have dealt with things, too.
Annie, you've spoken in the past about how this movie feels like a pair with Rachel Getting Married. Is that mostly because of the way both films are about addiction and recovery, or something else?
AH: It sounds fairly obvious to say, but it's this idea that addicts are human beings. Addiction is not their whole story. These are characters that were written with tremendous care, humor, heart and love. And truth! I have a lot of people in my life who I love. Some of them are addicts. I've only ever played one with great care, because it's a really brave existence.
Rachel Getting Married, of course, earned you your first Oscar nomination. This feels very different than that.
AH: There's nothing Oscar-baity about this movie. This is a film that knows exactly what it is.
JS: It's more Warren Beatty than Oscar-baity.
Although, after this year...
JS: Yeah, those aren't far apart.
AH: Poor Faye [Dunaway]!
I felt so badly for her, because we all thought La La Land was going to win, so she saw the name of the movie on the card and just said it.
AH: And Warren's so incorrigible! She even said it, "You're being impossible." She didn't even look, she was like, you know who's gonna win, we all know who's gonna win.
Were y'all watching when it all went down?
AH: I had gone to the bathroom, because I thought it was over. My friend [La La Land producer] Marc Platt, who is a wonderful man, had just given his speech. So I had gone to the bathroom, and my husband was like, "Wait, come back, something happened!" And I was like, "I can only do this as quickly as I can!"
JS: I had people over. Liv [Olivia Wilde, Sudeikis' fiancée] was working upstate, and we had a friend who had just moved into the neighborhood, but his wife was at home with the baby. We had paused it at some point to refill our drinks, so we were about 10 minutes behind. So first, my friend David gets called, and [his wife] is like, "Oh, my God, oh my God." But we said, "We don't know anything. Let me call you back." He hangs up, and then she calls back and goes, "I just want to be on the phone when it happens." Then I look at my phone, and I've got seven texts from Olivia saying, "Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit."
Now, David and I are both looking at each other, and there are about eight people at my place. Our stomachs both were hurting. In this day and age, you just don't know. So when Warren goes up there — I still didn't know. It was a way of watching the Oscars that didn't exist 10 years ago, where, A, you could pause the television, and, B, people are ahead of you and texting you. I screen-capped it and kept it. It could have been something horrible, or something more embarrassing. It was a surreal moment in time. I felt the same way, like, "Is there a tear in the matrix?" when Ashlee Simpson got busted for lip-syncing at my old job. It's like, "Oh, right, this is live! What happened? What's going on?"
I have one last question, just because I would be betraying Gay Twitter if I didn't ask about Ocean's 8.
AH: What is Gay Twitter? What does Gay Twitter call itself?
It feels like Gay Twitter calls itself Gay Twitter but no one else does. But yeah, I have to ask for them, because any time those on-set photos come out, it just shuts down Twitter for the day. Is there anything you can tell us about playing your character, Daphne Kluger? Any hints?
AH: Look for the nails.