I was covering a red carpet when I got asked if I wanted to go to Sydney, Australia to visit the set of The Invisible Man. The movie stars Elisabeth Moss, Aldis Hodge, and Storm Reid. Funny thing is I had just read the announcement that they found their invisible man, Oliver Jackson-Cohen. He would play Adrian Griffin, but to get invited down under was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
It was a rainy day when I visited the set, I was immediately greeted with a cup of tea and a brief rundown of the film. Unlike most set visits I’ve been on we rarely get to interact with the director, but Leigh Whannell who is directing The Invisible Man, kept popping up to give us the 411. He told us this is a sci-fi horror film filled with some science behind The Invisible Man, that the story takes place as a woman named Cecilia finds herself picking up the pieces after an abusive ex takes his own life and leaves her his fortune if she can remain sane. The thing is she suspects his death was a hoax and he did it to mess with her mind. As a series of coincidences turn lethal, Cecilia works to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see.
Crazy right? As the day begins I got to observe a scene. On a monitor, I can see them setting up the shot, at James’ house where Celicia has been hiding. James is played by the supremely talented Aldis Hodge. It’s eerie, Elisabeth is sitting on the floor joking off camera but all of that is about to change. Leigh yells action and then there is a knock at the door. The camera zooms in on Elisabeth Moss as Cecilia and she calmly says, “The door has been locked all night. How is it that you’re just able to walk up to open it when I couldn’t. Doesn’t that seem strange to you.” Aldis replies in a comforting way, off camera, Elizabeth speaks again, “There is someone sitting in that chair.”
Immediate my heart drops. I’m nervous for her and I don’t know what’s going on. But I want to see the whole movie right at that moment. Aldis as James really seems to be trying to comfort his friend. He is still off-camera, but Elisabeth Moss looks completely terrified. You can see a brief moment of this scene in the trailer.
They film this scene multiple times, from different angles. Sometimes Elisabeth is on camera, other times Aldis and Storm Reid, who plays Aldis’s daughter is on camera. In between scenes, Storm has 3 people working on her. One person on makeup, another on her hair and one more fixing her clothing to make sure it’s perfect. Leigh chimes in on her position in this scene telling her to peek into the room just in the frame of the camera and when the cameras start rolling she makes the international sign for this mother fo is crazy in the background. It seemed like a choice not in the script because she didn’t make it each time they shot the scene. One time she looked hella nervous as she eavesdrops on this conversation about the invisible man.
When the scene is finished we got to talk to the cast and I found out more about the process and their characters.
Aldis opened up about his excitement working with Leigh, the man behind the Saw films. He told me this movie will “have a completely different look,” Aldis shared his opinion. “When it comes to this particular genre, right.” He has been paying attention to everything even down to some of the choices his co-star Elizabeth Moss was making, “I’m watching how everything is moving and I’m watching the choices that Elisabeth makes, I think she’s killing this. Something as subtle… The other day she made a choice to look at me on a very particular line and it’s creepy.” He goes on to reveal how building creepy on camera is different than building empathy or anger out of an audience. “I’m just learning a lot,” he says.
Elisabeth has been pushing herself as well. The film was recently rated R because they go there, holding nothing back. Elisabeth felt most comfortable in not having to restrain herself when it came to delivering the performance for this role. “I would be very confused, by not being able to do certain things and having restrictions. It’s just not what I’m used to. The kind of material that I’m attracted to tends to be pretty dark as well. And it’s very difficult to do that with those boundaries.” Elisabeth continues by explaining being able to go there doesn’t mean that things have to be violent or filled with a lot of curse words but more about having the freedom to go there when necessary. As opposed to having to create in a situation where you would have to think “‘Wow, I can’t do that because that might ruffle a few feathers’ like to me, and I guess to Leigh too it’s not very fun.”
While filming this, I loved the dynamic of a white woman living with a Black single father and there not being any sexual tension between the two friends. Aldis and Elisabeth spoke about that. Elisabeth said, “Aldis and Storm, are the best people for the jobs. They’re incredible. I think it’s obviously important for everyone to have as much diversity as possible in any project and as the friendship thing, that’s one of the things I really like. You don’t have to have a man and a woman in the movie and have them have a relationship or there be sexual tension on the set. A man and a woman can just be friends and it’s okay. I like the idea of there being a female lead who doesn’t necessarily have to have that part of the story.”
Aldis had a very similar take on this subject as well. “I love that aspect because we get to see a real friendship between a man and a woman and they never cross that line. I have female friends who I’ve been down with since I was 12.” Adding he has been using those relationships from his real-life to help him create his instincts with his character.
Another aspect of this film is they are playing with the idea that the Invisible Man is actually invisible. Leigh explained, “What’s cool to me about The Invisible Man that I’ve never seen tapped into before is the idea of not seeing something, and of someone not being there. That’s what really made me excited about it. More than floating sunglasses.” That’s the trope most movies use to create invisible people in movies.
Lastly, the biggest thing I’m looking forward to is seeing Aldis Hodge play a single father, something we’ve seen him do in movies like What Men Want in the past. He told me about the importance of that type of work in film and even related it to his own life.
“I hope that people draw some sort of positive influence or a positive inspiration from what I’ve done. For young brothers out there who are in a position, is I hope this helps them to be a little bit more responsible and cautious about these things. When they get into that situation just definitely step up to the plate because regardless what you’re going through in your life personally It is never more important than that step, you know, because now you have created this whole new sense of responsibility that is yours and wholly yours, nobody else can replace that. That is the most important job you’ll ever have and it’s a beautiful job to do,” Aldis explains.
After leaving the set of The Invisible Man I felt like this could be a major moment when we address some serious topics in the unlikely genre of horror. I’m excited to see this film when it hits theaters on February 28th, 2020.
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