Wednesday, January 3, 2024

‘Night Swim’ – Wyatt Russell and Kerry Condon Wade into Aquatic Nightmare Territory [Interview]

Everything you fear is under the surface in writer/director Bryce McGuire’s Night Swim. At least, that’s the case for stars Wyatt Russell and Kerry Condon, as a couple who discover that their new swimming pool isn’t all that it appears.

Ahead of the film’s theatrical release on January 5, 2024, Bloody Disgusting spoke with Russell and Condon about wading into aquatic horror territory.

Wyatt Russell (Overlord, “Monarch: Legacy of Monsters”) plays Ray Waller, a former major league baseball player forced into early retirement by a degenerative illness, who moves into a new home with his concerned wife Eve (Oscar® nominee Kerry Condon, The Banshees of Inisherin), teenage daughter Izzy (Amélie Hoeferle, The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes), and young son Elliot (Gavin WarrenFear the Walking Dead).

Secretly hoping, against the odds, to return to pro ball, Ray persuades Eve that the new home’s shimmering backyard swimming pool will be fun for the kids and provide physical therapy for him. But a dark secret in the home’s past will unleash a malevolent force that will drag the family under into the depths of inescapable terror.

Wyatt Russell and Kerry Condon

(from left) Ray Waller (Wyatt Russell) and Eve Waller (Kerry Condon) in Night Swim, directed by Bryce McGuire.

Russell brings experience to his role here; the actor was left searching for a new career path over a decade ago when his professional hockey career was cut short by injury. When asked if that life experience made it easy to connect with his character, the answer came easy.

“It made it a little bit easier, for sure,” Russell replied. “It’s an easier way in, and I had experienced the emotion of having something taken away from you before you were ready for it to be taken away. Then the transition phase of going back into regular life was difficult for me, as it was difficult for most athletes. That aspect, I didn’t have a family or kids at the time, so I didn’t really have that to draw on, but you could imagine. I knew a lot of friends that did, who played longer, and it’s just a difficult thing. Yeah, I definitely drew on a lot of my life prior.”

For Ray Waller, the haunted pool holds the allure of former glory. But Condon has the arguably tougher task as Eve, a protective mother that’s been tasked with holding the family together in the wake of her husband’s illness. Eve also, refreshingly, is the first to suspect the family’s new pool might be dangerous.

“I suppose that was a little hard to play; how suspicious do you get, and how early?” Condon reflects on cracking her character’s savvy intuition. “That was a tricky one for me because it’s a fine line. You can’t get too suspicious because then why would you go ahead with certain things? And then, if you’re not getting suspicious soon enough, then she looks dumb. That was a little bit of a tricky one for me, so I tried to offer up options so that maybe, in the edit, they could play around with it because that was a little bit hard to know when she was starting to get super suspicious. Particularly in the scene with the doctor, we had different reactions to that.

I liked the idea that it was a regular woman and a regular mother and let him take all the glory and sacrificed her life for his career and was slightly bitter about the fact that he was so self-engrossed. It just seemed like a real relationship to me, and I really liked that. I really liked the scene with her daughter when she truly revealed what it was like giving birth. I just felt that there was an independence and strength to her that was like an every-woman thing. That’s one of the things I talked about with [Bryce McGuire] that I liked.”

Kerry Condon

Kerry Condon as Eve Waller in Night Swim, directed by Bryce McGuire.

A horror movie about a haunted swimming pool means that its characters spend quite a bit of time in the water, with Condon in particular navigating treacherous depths of horror. By the third act, both Russell and Condon are contending with aquatic challenges. Because McGuire wanted to handle these sequences as practically as possible, was it as scary to film these sequences as it looks on screen?

“It was challenging,” Condon says. “But it was a challenge I wanted, which is why I took the movie because I really love swimming. I swam a lot as a kid, and I still swim a lot, so I feel very confident in the water. I was up for the challenge and to learn about filming underwater. Yeah, it was tricky, of course. You had to have a lot of patience because there were a lot of elements to it. Then, trying to act, too. Act holding your breath with your eyes open underwater and then hoping that you can convey that it was a little bit challenging, as opposed to hard.”

Russell adds, “‘Patience’ is a good word because you just had to be patient. There’s only so much that you can do underwater because there’s a time limit. Then there’s the way they have to film it; they have these special rigs and guys down there with them. It’s a whole different crew of people they use for the water. You do have to have a little patience because things don’t happen quite as quickly as sometimes you’d be like, ‘Okay, I want to go back and just do it again,’ it takes a second. That’s probably the most challenging thing, just having patience in the underwater part.”

“Then if you’re diving in and you’re in dry clothes, and you know you’re diving in,” Condon continues. “You only have one take because I can’t get cleaned up and change out and dry my hair, so we have one shot, and then everyone’s getting all stressed. ‘Are you going to do it? Is it going to happen?’ You’re like, ‘I’m not stressing; you handle your department, and I handle mine, and it’ll be fine.’ I didn’t rise to any stress; I always just tried to figure out my own stuff, stay in my own lane, and let everyone else figure out their stuff, and it all came together. It was a great crew; it felt like a team effort, which made it a lot more fun.”

Wyatt Russell

Wyatt Russell as Ray Waller in Night Swim, directed by Bryce McGuire.

Night Swim isn’t Russell’s first foray into horror, and the actor reveals that he inherited his love of the genre not from his dad (Kurt Russell) but rather his brothers.

“My brothers and I would watch SuspiriaPet SemataryThe ShiningEvil Dead II,” he tells us. “All of those movies of the past were passed on to me because that’s what they were watching; my brother’s like ten years older than I am. The great filmmakers came out of horror; you could name any of them, and they’ve probably made a horror film. I was really into that with them and built an appreciation and a love for it. I do not like slasher films when there isn’t some good conceit behind them. I liked that about this; there was an existential threat that was a swimming pool that was not just gory and people getting slashed. I’m not a big fan of that, so more of a psychological thriller person.”

As for Condon, she prefers to act in horror movies rather than watch them.

Condon explains, “I’m not a horror movie fan. Probably I’m very ignorant because I haven’t seen them. Because I just don’t want to be scared; I live alone. I don’t want to go to the loo in the middle of the night going, ‘Oh, my God, is there somebody in my backyard?’ I don’t need that in my life, so I’m always stressed just thinking about it. I tend to stay away from horror, but there are a lot of movies that are thrillers, which I would like to think this movie is. I think perhaps I’d venture into that, yes.

“Scary, scary, no. Thank you very much.”

The post ‘Night Swim’ – Wyatt Russell and Kerry Condon Wade into Aquatic Nightmare Territory [Interview] appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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