In the international thriller Erased, ex-CIA agent Ben Logan (Aaron Eckhart) discovers that he and his teenaged daughter (Liana Liberato) have been marked for termination as part of a wide-reaching conspiracy that he unknowingly ended up right in the middle of. Logan must outsmart their hunters and uncover the truth, all while still getting reacquainted with the daughter he hasn’t had much of a relationship with in years.
At the film’s press day, actress Liana Liberato spoke to Collider for this exclusive interview about how she came to be a part of the film, why she related to her character, being able to get involved with the action, and the experience of shooting in Montreal and Brussels. She also talked about her upcoming projects Stuck in Love and Haunt, doing a comedy, her desire to play a superhero in a comic book movie, and her love of screenwriting. Check out what she had to say after the jump.
LIANA LIBERATO: I met with Aaron [Eckhart]. I had a very awkward interview with him, back in 2011, and I guess that he liked me. I auditioned for the role. I sent my tape in to Philipp Stölzl, who was in Montreal doing pre-production. And they decided to take a risk and hire me.
Before all the craziness in this movie starts, your character is a pretty typical teenager. Was she someone that you felt you could identify with, in that regard?
LIBERATO: Sure! I have not lost my mother. She’s very much alive. I can’t imagine what a teenager would go through, having lost a loved one, and then getting picked up from their friends and family and moved to a foreign country. I think how she responds in the beginning is perfectly normal. I think that it’s very, very real.
Your character, Amy, has a passion for photography. Was that fun for you to play around with?
LIBERATO: That was a cool camera. I had never used film before, so I had someone come in and help me and teach me how to do it. It’s hard, but it was really fun. I liked it a lot. Aaron shoots with film, personally. He’s such a pro at it and just clicks away.
Was it important to you to make sure that this girl never really becomes the victim?
LIBERATO: Yeah. I would be so terrible in this situation. I would have been dead within the first 10 minutes. She’s a trooper, in my opinion. She learns to adapt to the situation, and ultimately helps her father, which I think is great. I found that very admirable in her.
From the first reveal in the story, this movie moves at a pretty frantic pace. Was that exhausting to keep up with?
LIBERATO: It was difficult because normally, as an actor, in the beginning of a scene, you work up to an intense emotion, but in this, you had to run into a scene, completely exhausted and terrified and confused. You had to be at the top of this emotional roller coaster, at all times, which was difficult, but it was really fun, and something I had never done before.
No matter how hectic the drama and action gets, the film always comes back to the father-daughter relationship. Was that important to you?
LIBERATO: Absolutely! I think that it makes the movie more personal. It’s so easy with action films to just make it all about the action and have no root, but I think that’s what’s different about this. You care about these two people and their relationship, and how they grow throughout this situation.
Did you get to spend any time with Aaron Eckhart, to figure out how you wanted to play the relationship between your characters?
LIBERATO: Yeah, we had so much fun. I hope he had fun because I had a lot of fun. We were up until four in the morning working, so we were delusional and crazy and loopy. We had a great time. I think we bonded really well. I hope it shows.
When you’re exploring a story like this, did you think at all about how you might react, if you found out that your parents were someone entirely different from who you thought they were?
LIBERATO: You do think about those things. I always thought, “What would happen to me, if I were in a situation like this?” I just came to the conclusion that I wouldn’t survive. When you do films like this, you consider your own life and how you would react in situations like that, for sure. I don’t think I would react the same. I’d just run away and be like, “I’m done!,” and put my hands up and forfeit.
Was it fun to be able to really get involved with the action?
LIBERATO: It was a nice break, getting involved instead of just being the victim the entire time. I liked that. It was different for me, and something I would like to do more often.
Were any of the stunts particularly challenging?
LIBERATO: Yeah, it was all really new to me. It was scary. I’d never used one of those squib things that pops, and then there’s blood everywhere. That was crazy and cool, but all very foreign. Now, I’m addicted. I want to do it again and again and again.
As an actor, do you find yourself taking to the physical side of things easier, or does the emotional stuff come easier for you?
LIBERATO: The emotional stuff comes a lot easier for me. I’m not a very coordinated person, so it takes a lot of effort for me to not fall. I don’t know how many times the film shows me falling, but that was all real. I would fall and Aaron would go, “Oh, god, let me help her!” It’s interesting, having to do all that stuff. The physicality part is a lot harder for me. It’s hard. But, I think the great thing about this sort of job is that it’s not all the same. You’re constantly challenged and constantly pushed to your limit. It’s nice to see how your body can adapt to these things.
How was the experience of shooting in Montreal and Brussels?
LIBERATO: It was wonderful. I had never been to Montreal before. I had never been out of the U.S., really. It was a culture shock, but it was wonderful. I had a great time! The jetlag was terrible, but it was really fun. Aaron lived in Europe when he was younger, so he was really used to it and knew how to talk and knew how to get around. I was just so confused.
Do you have any idea what you’re going to shoot next?
LIBERATO: I’m doing a fun comedy next. I’m excited about it, but I can’t say what it is yet.
Had you specifically been looking to do a comedy?
LIBERATO: I was looking for something more family oriented and something that I could do with people my age. I’ve worked with a lot of adults, which I enjoy a lot. But, I thought it would be nice to be a kid, a little bit more, so that’s what I was looking for.
When you read scripts, do you just go on instinct, as far as deciding what you want to pursue?
LIBERATO: Some people say that they read the first 20 pages, and then decide if they want to do the film or not. But, I have to read the entire thing ‘cause anything can change in a script. I don’t necessarily look for what I respond to. I look for things that scare me, and take that as an indication that I should probably do it. I don’t want to be bored. I look for challenges. I look for a variety of different things because it’s so easy to go the cliche route.
LIBERATO: Totally! I would love to. That would be so much fun! I just hope the opportunity comes around. I think it would be great to play a superhero. That will be one of my goals.
What was it that initially got you into acting? Was it just something that you always wanted to do?
LIBERATO: It was really all I ever knew, to be honest. I tried other things. I tried softball and soccer. I just didn’t take as much of a liking to it, as I did sitting in a movie theater and watching people recreate a story, and doing it myself, as well. Until that fire burns out, I think I’m gonna stick with it.
Was that immediate for you, right from the first job?
LIBERATO: Yeah! Any actor has their moments of being stressed, but the great part about this job is that it’s so unpredictable, and that’s what I like. I love spontaneity. I don’t ever want to be bored, doing the same thing from 9 to 5. That’s what this job does for me. I’ve always loved pretending and being someone different.
What was the moment it went from playing around to an actual career?
LIBERATO: It’s still fun. It’s still not even a career for me. I think the second it becomes a career is when I should stop. I don’t ever want this to be a job. I want this to be an outlet for my creativity, and something I just simply enjoy doing. I don’t ever want it to become something too serious. I hate taking myself seriously. It drives me crazy!
Have you thought about working behind the camera, at all?
LIBERATO: Eventually, I’d like to. I don’t think I’d ever want to direct. I don’t think I have as much discipline to direct as I would like to have, and I don’t want my hair color to not go grey during that process. But, I love writing. I love to write, and I would eventually love to have some of my work produced. That would be great.
Do you write a lot?
LIBERATO: Yeah, I’ve written a lot of scripts. But, they’re still in the workshop, as of now. Hopefully, they’ll get made. That would be nice.
Do you give them to anyone to read and give you feedback?
LIBERATO: When I was 15, right after I did Erased, I got accepted into an NYU program for a month. I did a crash course in screenwriting. That was the first time I ever shared my work with anyone. I knew that I had to just put myself out there and do it. After that, I decided that I was going to start sharing my work with my agents and my manager. I do have a very wonderful mentor, who helps me and reads my work and criticizes me, all the time. You’ve gotta have those people, who will tell you the truth and help you. You don’t want anyone buttering you up. My parents can do that. I want someone to tell me what I can fix. That’s what I like.
What do you have coming out next?
LIBERATO: I have Stuck in Love coming out in June. And I have a scary movie, called Haunt, coming out in October, as of now, but that could change.
LIBERATO: I had never done a horror film before. I used to hate scary movies, but I worked my way up. I started with The Shining and Rosemary’s Baby, and worked up to Grudge and The Ring, and all those creepy things. I learned to love them, and I learned to appreciate them. It was something I had never done before, so I thought it would be fun to try. And I loved it. It was awesome! It was so much fun. I just recently watched a clip of the actual film, and something popped out and I screamed. The director looked at me and was like, “You knew what was going to happen!” But, it’s still scary. Watching it, it’s creepy.
Who do you play in Stuck in Love?
LIBERATO: I play Kate, who is the first love of Rusty, played by Nat Wolff. She’s his first a lot of things. I open his eyes to a lot of new experiences. It’s a fun role. Very different. That’s a great ensemble. It was a nice transition because this was the first film I’d ever worked with someone younger. It was wonderful. I had an awesome time. We were all a very tight-knit group.
Erased is now playing in theaters.