Judging from the trailer or poster, Zach Cregger’s Barbarian seems to follow a classic horror movie premise, updated for the tech age: A young woman signs up for an Airbnb in Detroit, only to find a man — and all sorts of horrors — waiting. wait inside. But that’s only a small part of the story.
Halfway through the film, which opened at No. 1 over the September 9-11 weekend, the Cregger writer-director abruptly cuts off a gasping moment, jumping from sunken Detroit to sunny LA, where an actor Shooter played by Justin Long. flying in a convertible without care in the world. That is, until he got a call from his agent saying he had been charged with sexual misconduct in The Hollywood Reporter.
“When I write, my dream is to use The Hollywood Reporter but it’s one of those things that you think could never happen and I would be very sad to make some kind of fictitious approximation,” explains Cregger. CHEAP recently via Zoom. “And one of the benefits of having capable producers is that they say, ‘Why don’t we see if we can get a real deal?’
For Cregger, the real deal isn’t just using CHEAP but also the narration of editor-in-chief Kim Masters, whose name is seen at the top of the page for the character Long.
“Having Kim Master as the author of the article is taboo. Kim has just been ahead of the curve when it comes to exposing the toxic nature of power dynamics going on in Hollywood when it comes to men and sexual misconduct,” explains Cregger of the veteran journalist and presenter. program of KCRW. Business who published revelations about Fred Savage, Roy Price of Amazon, Warner Bros. ‘ Kevin Tsujihara, Sex and the City Chris Noth, and more. “She was locked in [these stories] since before it exploded a few years ago. I think that’s very commendable.”
Because of his work, Cregger says seeing or hearing the name Kim Masters creates a reaction. “There are a lot of people who dread her and a lot of people who really admire her. She has earned this place in our culture and she deserves a lot of credit for what she has done. Personally, to have her name in this movie is like a hat to me for what she’s done. And a big thank you to Kim Masters. ”
What about the character Long? Cregger claims he created him out of a combination of people he knows. By casting Long, a beloved actor known for his comedies, he wanted to play with expectations in a similar way to seeing Georgina Campbell’s character welcomed in Airbnb by celebrity Bill Skarsgård famous for villains like the monster clown in the blockbuster It.
“We all have preconceptions about what a predator looks like, and I wanted to explore that a bit,” says Cregger. “Bill is a perfect choice for the role of Keith because he has a long history of being a literal monster on film. It is the biggest horror movie of all time and he’s the clown so when you see him you know he’s a villain, right? The audience is ready to fear him or suspect that he has some ulterior motive. “
Therefore, Cregger gave very limited direction to Skarsgård. “My only direction for Bill, from the beginning, was, ‘Don’t do anything scary.’ We rely on him from the good guy area even though he has all these micro-aggressions. Then when it came time to cast AJ, at first I thought of it as a low fruit. Pick someone like Zac Efron, who has jawline, haircut and biceps, a very alpha actor. But I didn’t think deeply enough about it. “
Barbarian Currently showing in theaters.
This story first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter September 16th issue. Click here to subscribe.