From director William H. Macy, the comedy The Layover shows what can happen when a plane is re-routed from Florida due to a hurricane warning, stranding its passengers in St. Louis. While they’re stuck and at the mercy of the weather, best friends Kate (Alexandra Daddario) and Meg (Kate Upton) find themselves willing to go to crazy lengths as they compete for the same guy (Matt Barr).
At the Los Angeles press day for the film, actress Alexandra Daddario sat down with Collider for this 1-on-1 interview about what attracted her to the project, how quickly she got involved with the film, the experience of working with William H. Macy, her excitement and nerves over doing a comedy, keeping a sense of humor about having to wear a bathing suit on camera, and how natural the relationship between her and Kate Upton was. She also talked about how she decides what project to do next, how True Detective was a career turning point for her, her upcoming films, whether San Andreas 2 might ever happen.
Collider: How did you come to this? Did you just get the script and respond to the material, or was William H. Macy in the director’s chair the draw for you?
ALEXANDRA DADDARIO: It was right before San Andreas came out. They had another actress attached, and I think the actress fell out and they were starting to shoot the next week. So, I had a Skype meeting with Bill, and it’s the only time, ever in my career, that I’ve been offered a job on the spot. The Skype wasn’t working and he said, “I’ll just call you.” He called and we talked on the phone and, within 10 minutes, he was like, “Can you get on a plane tomorrow?” It’s incredible to work with a director like that. He’s been in this business for so long that I think the fear doesn’t exist. A lot of what happens in this business is that you over worry, and it was really cool to just work with someone who was like, “You sound great! Come on, let’s do it!” He didn’t over think it, and that’s how he was on set, too. Everything was positive. He was excited about making the movie. He is Bill Macy, and he’ll be Bill Macy, no matter what, so it created this environment where we just were having a lot of fun and it was a safe, supportive environment.
With so many layers to this film and what was required of you, in this role, at least you were in great hands because so many things could have gone wrong.
DADDARIO: But so many things could go wrong, on any film. I’ve been out in L.A. for eight years and I’ve been acting professionally for a long time, and you realize that you have to prepare and work hard, but you never know what could go wrong. Bill has done so much work and he knows that, I’m assuming. I don’t want to speak for him, but I would assume that, even if you worry about it, you have to just do it. It all really worked out. We all got along really well, which I think is the key to this film. You have to have really good chemistry, and that worked really well. All of us got along very well. We went out and had fun together, and I think that shows on screen.
Was there anything you were most excited about and most nervous about, with what you’d have to do for this film?
DADDARIO: I really wanted to do a comedy. I was very excited about working with William H. Macy and working with him. I always get nervous about sex scenes, in a way. It’s not that I’m nervous about doing them, at this stage in my life. It’s more about how it’s going to turn out. But, I think it was shot exactly how it should have been shot. The bathroom scene made me a little bit nervous. It’s an uncomfortable thing to do, to pretend to pee on camera, and then fall out of a window and get covered in shit. But it was a really supportive environment, to try all kinds of things. I like to make people laugh. I wouldn’t call myself a comedian, but it’s cool to be in a comedy.
It seems as though you can’t get away from wearing a bathing suit in the movies you do. Are you at the point where you’d be happy to never have to do that again?
DADDARIO: I have a pretty good sense of humor about it. It’s kind of cool to be considered sexy. It’s not something that I ever expected to happen for me. It wasn’t something that I tried to do, so I embrace it, to a certain extent, especially when it’s part of the joke, which it was in Baywatch. In True Detective, the scene that I did naked was done for a point. It wasn’t gratuitous. It was done to shockingly show you the philandering nature of Woody Harrelson’s character, when you thought he was a good guy. In Baywatch, it’s part of the joke, but at the same time, it’s also just fun. It was like, “Wow, look, I’m a Baywatch babe!” The character in The Layover is very conservative, nervous and anxious, which I think is actually closer to who I am than a Baywatch babe. She wants to do things outside of her comfort zone, which I think we all have to do, at certain points, to advance as human beings. You have to step out of your comfort zone and try different things, and sometimes you fail at it, but you have to try things to figure out what works. So, I wouldn’t say that I’m done with it. I like to do different things and, as my career evolves, I will choose roles to do things that I haven’t done before. There are a lot of different sides of me, and I’m in a unique position now, for the first time in my career, to decide what direction I want to go in.
There’s an interesting dynamic between Kate and Meg. What was is it like to have Kate Upton to figure that out with?
DADDARIO: We met the day that I flew in, and we were really lucky that our friendship was really organic and not forced. It was the same thing with the other actors, with Matt Barr, Matt Jones and everyone that came in for cameos. We all got along, and I think that shows on screen. It made for a much more enjoyable shoot than if we had all not gotten each other. Most people are decent people, but people are different. Sometimes you can get on a set and it’s not that you don’t get along, it’s that you don’t really have chemistry and you have to fake it a little bit or force it. That was not the case with this.
Do you think these two women would have been friends, if they had met as adults and not when they were younger?
DADDARIO: That’s a good question. I have a relationship similar to this, where I was the shy girl in high school that wouldn’t talk to anyone, and then this girl came up to me and went, “Hey, you wanna hang out with us tonight!” I feel like it’s that kind of thing. We’ve known each other since we were 16 years old, and we’re both 31 now. When you have one quieter, more conservative personality, sometimes the stronger personality can compliment you, and you can bring out different sides of each other for each other. That’s what happens in this film.
You’ve talked about taking more care in deciding what kinds of projects you want to do, at this point in your career. How do you decide what you want to do next?
DADDARIO: I’m just going with my gut, at this point. I’ve reached a point where I don’t want to take jobs just for money. I can tell, when I read something and find out who’s involved, if I get that feeling that it’s something I want to do. You can just go with your instincts. It’s like trying on the right dress. When you go shopping for a dress, you can try to make something work ‘cause you can’t find the right thing, but you always have that memory of the time you put on the perfect dress and you were like, “Oh, my god, I love myself in this dress! I’m so excited to go out and have people see me in this!” It’s also like buying a house or finding an apartment. That’s the way that I’m looking at the roles that I want to do now. I’m not looking for anything specific, except for something that has heart, something that speaks to me, and something that I will enjoy doing that feeds my soul, so to speak. That can be a tough thing to do, but I feel like I’m at a turning point in my career now, where I can at least take a little bit of time to find exactly what those things are that I want to do and not work myself into a corner. I love acting and I love who I’m becoming, as I evolve as a human being. My work is so closely related to my life. It’s such an important part of me, which may or may not be healthy, so I need to do things that I love. Otherwise, it’s just a job. I want to tell interesting stories, try new things, discover things about myself, and discover things about the world and other people. The only way to do that is to not take jobs that feel repetitive or boring to me because then you’re stuck doing that job instead of finding the thing that speaks to you.