From writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour, the wild thriller The Bad Batch follows Arlen (Suki Waterhouse), a young woman who has been left in a Texas wasteland fenced off from civilization that must try to navigate the brutal and unforgiving landscape. After being captured by a ruthless group of cannibals led by the Miami Man (Jason Momoa), Arlen tries to survive any way that she can, eventually winding up in the town of Comfort, but quickly learns that she also doesn’t agree with the way the eccentric founder The Dream (Keanu Reeves) handles things and that it may be better to fend for herself.
At the film’s press day, actress Suki Waterhouse and filmmaker Ana Lily Amirpour talked about how much The Bad Batch evolved, the challenges of the shoot, extra scenes that will be included on the Blu-ray/DVD, cleansing themselves afterwards, and what’s next for Amirpour.
Collider: How close is this final product to what you originally envisioned this film to be, and Suki, how close did things turn out compared to the script that you first read?
SUKI WATERHOUSE: I didn’t know what it was going to look like or be like. You read the script and you’re just like, “What?!” I had no idea, at all.
ANA LILY AMIRPOUR: [Jason] Momoa said he had a similar reaction. I don’t even fully know. I do know elements. I knew about the airplane junkyard. Once you know that location exists, my camera man and I go there and shoot tests, so we know.
WATERHOUSE: My jaw dropped, when I first say that first location.
AMIRPOUR: I show pictures, play music and act it out to try to give [the actors] some idea, but it’s different once it’s them.
WATERHOUSE: Lily acts out the whole script for you. It was really entertaining.
AMIRPOUR: It’s a monkey show. It took forever for Momoa. He has ADD, so he’s be able to go for 15 minutes, and then he’d have to take a break, have a beer, and make some mac and cheese. It took two days in Atlanta. People were coming in the house, and he’d be like, “Let’s go do this for a second.” And then, he’d come back and be like, “Okay, let’s do this,” and he’d grab the script. But, I feel like it helps. It is surreal storytelling and there are extreme visual elements. Some of it is just only in my head, so I try to help prepare there. I told Keanu [Reeves], “There’s gonna be a pool in your living room and pregnant girls everywhere and drugs on the table.” How do you prepare someone for that? It’s trust, really.
Suki, was there a specific moment when you realized just what you’d gotten yourself into, with all of this?
AMIRPOUR: Five minutes into day one.
WATERHOUSE: No, I think it was before shooting, when we were just hanging out. I was like, “I’m just going to do what you tell me to do.”
AMIRPOUR: I think she knew it was not for the weak-willed.
WATERHOUSE: That was written on the audition. It was like, “Don’t audition, if you’re a pussy!”
AMIRPOUR: I don’t think there are many girls like [Suki]. She’s special. She’s tough, wild and feral.
Was it difficult to walk around with the leg brace on?
WATERHOUSE: It wasn’t a breeze, at all. My leg was stuck in it.
AMIRPOUR: She had the VFX prosthetics that she was wearing, and then she had a giant armature over her leg that encapsulated her entire leg.
WATERHOUSE: And it would melt and come off. You just learn to walk anyway. I was really grateful to have all of that stuff because you’re right in it and right there.
AMIRPOUR: I actually feel like Jason’s pants gave him a walk, too. He had those Dancing with the Stars pants on, with the high waist. He’d get this slow Latin thing going on.
WATERHOUSE: There was a lot of movement in the hips.