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Mary Elizabeth Winstead: Trapped at 10 Cloverfield Lane

Mar 08, 2016

By: Lynn Barker

In 10 Cloverfield Lane, actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays Michelle, the victim of a bad car accident taken in by a mysterious dude who lives in an underground bunker. He warns her not to try to go out cuz “they” are out there. Ooooo, who?

Getting friendly with EmmetGetting friendly with EmmetCourtesy of Paramount Pictures

Mary is familiar to teens as the villain in Sky High, a victim in Final Destination 3, Bruce Willis’ daughter in Live Free or Die Hard and Mary Lincoln in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. In this interview she talks about the film’s mysterious story, the characters and she loves that actor John Goodman, the voice of popular blue and purple monster Sully (James P. Sullivan) in the Monsters Inc. movies, is using his nice guy rep to go all creepy in this film. Check it out.

Q: Tell us about your character Michelle. What happens to her in the story?

  • Mary: When you first see Michelle, she is in a car accident and when she wakes up she is in this bunker or cellar or something. She doesn’t know where she is and she is tethered to the wall by a chain and has this horrible make-shift knee brace on and has no idea how she got there. As the movie goes on, it all kind of unfolds and you find out there is this man keeping her there and saying it is for her own safety because there has been some kind of attack, a nuclear or biological attack and they can’t leave. You are wondering if he’s telling the truth, if this really happened or if he’s possibly a nefarious sort of man himself and she might possibly need to escape.

Don't you dare try to leaveDon't you dare try to leaveCourtesy of Paramount Pictures

Q: Creepy! What made you want to do this role?

  • Mary: When I first heard about the project with names like J.J. Abrams (Producing), it’s pretty exciting and peaks your interest right from the get-go so I immediately read the script and loved it and was so excited about the role. It was just getting to do something where I get to be kind of tough then get to go into a lot of different places emotionally as well. Then when I talked with (director) Dan Trachtenberg, I kind of knew this would be a perfect project for me because he seems like the type of person I would always want to work with and he has been. Same with the actors and the crew so I feel very lucky.

Director Dan TrachtenbergDirector Dan TrachtenbergCourtesy of Paramount Pictures

Q: The trailers make the story seem really mysterious. You don’t know who is a good guy and who’s a baddie.

  • Mary: When I was first reading the script I honestly didn’t know where it was going. From sequence to sequence there are moments where you are rooting for certain characters and moments where you don’t like them and you are afraid if they’re a villain or they’re a hero. You really don’t know. I thought that was really interesting, particularly John Goodman’s character. It keeps you on your toes as to where he fits in the whole thing.

Q: How do you feel about John Goodman as Howard (the guy who keeps her in the bunker)?

  • Mary: Ever since we had the table read (of the script), I was just so amazed by John and his ability to just make this character so unexpected because he’s really bringing all of the warmth and humor that he’s brought to other roles but kind of flipping it on its head and bringing this underlying creepiness to it that makes it so interesting and unlike anything we’ve seen him do before. I’m really excited for people to see him in this role. I think he’s really fantastic. He’s been lovely to work with and he gives so much as an actor and even when he’s off camera. He gets into it just to give us things to react to. It’s great when actors are that committed and generous to the other actors. 

Happy times in the bunkerHappy times in the bunkerCourtesy of Paramount Pictures

Q: How would you describe the tone of the film? Is it scary, a mystery?  

  • Mary: I would say it’s incredibly tense but it’s very real in the sense that if you were actually in this situation there would be moments of nervous laughter here and there. You would have to adapt and learn how to survive in these surroundings so, at some point, it almost becomes a bit mundane and normal but then it goes into a whole other crazy place just when you’re getting comfortable.
  • To me, this film harkens back to a thriller of the ‘80’s. There’s a little bit of an Alien feeling or a cerebral thriller in a sense. It feels very thoughtful. It’s not about a fast pace and jump scares and things like that. There is a definite slow burn to it which I really like.

Q:  What does Michelle think of the Emmet character?

  • Mary: I think when she first meets Emmet the initial reaction is fear that he could be a bad person, that he could do something to her but it quickly turns to “Oh, maybe this guy could be my ally and maybe this is my way out of here. This is somebody who could help me”. Their friendship grows throughout and she actually sees him as somebody she can trust whereas, with Howard, it’s more back and forth. Sometimes she thinks she can trust him and sometimes she’s not so sure. Emmet is much more of a safe bet for her in terms of somebody she can confide in.

Chillin' with EmmetChillin' with EmmetCourtesy of Paramount Pictures

Q: How does Howard feel about Emmet and Michelle’s relationship?

  • Mary: Howard gets a little bit jealous of Emmet and Michelle and their relationship and the closeness they start to form which is purely a friendship and that’s really cool as well in the script that they aren’t really romantically involved. There’s not some kind of love that blossoms between them. They just kind of like one another and feel like they can lean on one another. Howard does not like that one bit.

Dang! No cell serviceDang! No cell serviceCourtesy of Paramount Pictures

Q: And how is working with the other John? John Gallagher Jr. playing Emmet?

  • Mary: He’s so sweet. It’s such a great cast. John is one of the flat out nicest people I’ve ever worked with and so dedicated and brings such a likeability to Emmet.

If I can just get the jukebox to workIf I can just get the jukebox to workCourtesy of Paramount Pictures

Q: How was shooting the movie for you?

  • Mary: It’s funny. It was surprisingly a very easy-going experience even though it’s such a tense and intense film but we all had such a good time and everybody is so nice. It’s been so great that we shot mostly chronologically (in story order) because it all takes place on this one set so we really got to see the story unfold from day to day in real time which was such a help as an actor to really know where we are and where we just came from and where (in the story) we are going next. I’ve been really appreciative of that.
  • It’s been low key and fun, just like friends hanging out together and making a film. It was easy and low stress.

Q: How was shooting in New Orleans? Pretty cool?

  • Mary: It was awesome. I’ve shot one film there before and I know from that experience that it’s a really fun town. You go out every night and there’s plenty of opportunity for that. I was shooting pretty hard so I didn’t go out much but there’s still just a fun energy in the air at all times. You look out the window and there’s fireworks going off or a parade going by. There’s always something happening and it is fun to be a part of that.

I wonder what he's up to?I wonder what he's up to?Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Q: Why should teens go check out 10 Cloverfield Lane?

  • Mary; Well, it’s going to be scary but also thought-provoking and fun. It goes to a lot of surprising places. Where it ends up is completely different than people will expect. I hope when they see it, they will go back and say “Okay, I need to watch that again”.

See 10 Cloverfield Lane in theaters Friday, March 11th!

10 Cloverfield Lane Poster10 Cloverfield Lane PosterCourtesy of Paramount Pictures

10 Cloverfield Lane Trailer

** Rated PG-13**


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