From filmmaker Scott Derrickson (Sinister, The Exorcism of Emily Rose), Deliver Us From Evil tells the story of the real-life series of disturbing and inexplicable crimes that police officer Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana) began investigating in New York. As frightening events occur around the city, Sarchie teams up with an unconventional priest (Édgar Ramírez) who is schooled in the rituals of exorcism.
While at WonderCon to promote the film’s July 2nd theatrical release, actress Olivia Munn (who plays Sarchie’s wife and the mother of his child) spoke to Collider for this exclusive interview about how she got involved with this project, why she only likes horror movies if they’re based on a true story, creating a great family core at the center of the film, why having Magic Mike and the first season of The Newsroom come out at the same time changed the way people saw her, as an actress, and getting to a place where you can change the Hollywood game. She also talked about how they’re half-way through the final six-episode third season of the HBO series The Newsroom, that HBO won’t let the cast out of their contracts because they’re hoping show creator Aaron Sorkin will decide to do more, and how much fun she had making Mortdecai with Johnny Depp. Check out what she had to say after the jump.
OLIVIA MUNN: It’s a Jerry Bruckheimer film, and it’s a really great story. I just got a call from my agent that said, “You’ve got this offer for this movie. Read it and let us know what you think.” The first thing that I saw was that it’s based on the true accounts of an NYPD officer. For me, I love horror movies and I love being scared, but I don’t like them, if they’re not based on a true story. It’s like knowing how the sausage is made. You don’t get as excited anymore. What I found so fascinating is that it’s the NYPD and, after exhausting all of their efforts, they actually used an exorcism as a tactic. That just made it so much more real to me. It seems crazy because it seems like that’s a supernatural thing that only certain people believe. But they were like, “This thing is so otherworldly and so crazy that we don’t know what to do anymore,” and that’s what they went to.
You said you don’t like horror movies unless they’re based on a true story, but how closely do they have to stay to that true story?
MUNN: I want it to actually be that and follow through on it. I don’t want it to be, “There’s this idea, and then we expanded on it.” I want it to be the true story. It’s so much better. I watched that movie The Strangers, with Scott Speedman and Liv Tyler. That said, “Based on a true story,” and I was literally screaming so much. Afterwards, I looked it up and it wasn’t based on a true story, and that pissed me off. I felt like they shouldn’t be able to say that because I would not have been scared. By the way, it scared the crap out of me. Great filmmaking. But as a person who loves horror movies, I was really pissed and like, “Don’t say it’s based on a true story, if it’s not really based on a true story.” That’s obnoxious. Scott [Derrickson] said, “What’s the difference between fact and fiction? Fiction doesn’t have to make sense.” The interesting thing is that, in real life, we’re always like, “This doesn’t make sense,” but we can open our mind to believe anything, if it’s just pretend. But, the reality is that fact is so much more unexplainable. You can’t always answer it. That’s what I find so fascinating about something that’s based on a true story. If this really happened, how do you explain it? If it’s something that somebody made up in their mind, I’m like, “Eh.” If it’s something real, I’m like, “Holy shit!”
MUNN: Right, ‘cause we all have at least one person that we love. That’s what was so important to me, as the wife and the mother in this movie. It was important that I created, and helped create with Eric [Bana], a really great family core, so that, as the audience is watching Eric go through all of this as Ralph Sarchie, the character he plays, they know what he has to lose.
You don’t play the expected or typical characters, generally. Do you find that people get that now?
MUNN: Yeah. And thank you for saying that. That means a lot. Magic Mike and the first season of The Newsroom came out at the same time, and the similarity is that both characters are unapologetic women. They’re not flaunting themselves, but they’re not apologizing for it either. Those two movies, because those are [Steven] Soderbergh and [Aaron] Sorkin projects, more people in the business see them, and then they know that that’s what I’m going to bring. My intention is always to depict women that I know and that I’ve been around, and therefore it’s more realistic. I’m not just playing it off the page or playing what I think people want. Now, people know that I’m not going to just play the stereotypical female. I’m going to play what is the real stereotype of women, which is that we’re actually more strong and complicated, and we’re not the screamers who are running around. When shit hits the fan, we actually have to be the ones who are really calm and collected.
Do you find that people are finally starting to understand what to do with the smart hot chick more than they used to?
MUNN: A lot of people are changing that dynamic, like Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Amy Schumer, Sarah Silverman, Claire Danes and Natalie Portman. It pushes the envelope. A lot of people bitch about the dynamics in Hollywood, or any business, and I just think that we have to stop complaining about it. This is just the game that we signed up for. But then, when you get to a place that you can, then you change the game. You play the game, until you get to a place where you can change it. And then, slowly but surely, you keep pushing it. Also, when you have a little success, people start offering you different things, and it’s knowing when to say no to things. People will want you to just play this thing, and sometimes I’m like, “I don’t think you would know how to handle that.” I’ve done different projects, in the past, where I’ve felt like it wasn’t the best representation or it wasn’t taken the right way. Now, I just try to be more thoughtful.
MUNN: I’m excited! It was up to Sorkin, if we were going to do another one, so we were all waiting. HBO still won’t let us out of our contracts, really, because they say, “Just in case Sorkin wants to do more, we can’t let anybody go.” But Sorkin writes every single episode, and that’s exhausting and that’s very hard, to always do that. So, he made a decision to do six more and tell that story. I’m excited, personally, for two reasons. One, it’s really exciting to be able to end a show on a high note. It’s exciting because we all get to go off and do other stuff. We get to have this experience, but also go off and do other projects. And as a friend of Aaron’s, I’m happy that he’s not being forced to keep writing something when he’s just exhausted, and he’s got other things that he wants to write. It’s so much better that way. I’m happy that we get to do six and end it. I’m sure other people have a different opinion, but I think it’s nice.
When are you going to shoot the season?
MUNN: We’re in the middle of it now.
How was the experience of making Mortdecai with Johnny Depp?
MUNN: Oh, that was so fun! That was fun because it’s Johnny Depp, Ewan McGregor, Gwyneth Paltrow, Paul Bettany and David Koepp, the director. I play a really big, bold character, and I got to do a lot of comedy. It’s all comedy, and that was really fun and so exciting. I had to do a lot of stunts. I had to learn to ride a horse to be racing through on a horse, and I had to learn whole dance routines, and do all this stuff, while at the same time, doing comedy. It was so fun to play around with those guys. I took a very circuitous path to get to where I’m at, having started on G4. So, when I get opportunities to work with people like that, I know how lucky I am to get to be there on set. It’s so fun. The biggest thing I have to do is remind myself to not be starstruck and not feel like I won a radio contest. I’m like, “Okay, wait, you know what to do. Just do it!” That’s when I really get to have fun.
Deliver Us From Evil opens in theaters on July 2nd. Click here for more WonderCon coverage.