Come Play is the latest horror-thriller that deals directly with modern-day smart technology. The film is the directorial debut of Jacob Chase, whose previous short film Larry served as a stepping stone for this film. I recently got to participate in a virtual press day for Come Play where I had the opportunity to chat with writer/director Jacob Chase and stars Gillian Jacobs and John Gallagher Jr. Here is my interview with Gillian and John who discussed what it was like to play parents, working on a feature film adaptation of a short film, and their favorite aspect of being part of a horror film.
Scott Menzel: Gillian, it’s nice to see you again. How are you today?
Gillian Jacobs: Nice to see you, I really like your poster back there. Is it all DC? Is it the Justice League?
Scott Menzel: It is Justice League.
Gillian Jacobs: Great.
Scott Menzel: Hi John, I’ve actually never met you, but I’ve been a big admirer of your work for a very long time. I saw Spring Awakening way back when and loved you in Short Term 12.
John Gallagher Jr.: Thank you very much. I really appreciate that.
Scott Menzel: No problem.
Gillian Jacobs: Today has been a reminder for me of all the amazing movies that John is in, and all his Broadway career.
Scott Menzel: Yeah. But come on, I’ve talked to you multiple times. I loved you in Love. We talked about that. How much I loved that.
Gillian Jacobs: Thank you. But I can’t sing and John can sing. So he has that on me forever.
Scott Menzel: Well, you sang that one episode of Community.
Gillian Jacobs: Would you call that singing? Vocalizing, I vocalized.
Scott Menzel: (laughs) Well, I really enjoyed the hell out of this movie. I thought it was a blast. Really scary too. Did either of you see the short film before signing on to the project?
John Gallagher Jr.: I did. Yeah, that was my introduction to it. My agent sent everything over at once. So I had the feature script and the short and I just impulsively clicked on the YouTube link to watch the short and then I got sucked into it, but I had to keep pausing it. I watched it in like four to five installments, even though it’s only like six minutes long because I kept getting too freaked out and I was too scared. And then I was just so blown away with what the short accomplished in that short amount of time. And then I read the feature and was so blown away with the way that Jacob had expanded it into this family story. You only get this anonymous guy in a parking lot attendant Booth in the short, and then you get this rich story with this family. So that, made me want to jump into it.
Gillian Jacobs: Yeah. And now I’m feeling retroactively embarrassed because I invited Jacob to a screening of a short film I directed, right before we started shooting and it wasn’t nearly as good as the one he made. So now I’m like, Oh, okay. This is not as good of a short film as Jacob’s.
Scott Menzel: What was it like for both of you do to play parents?
Gillian Jacobs: I’ve done a lot of nannying and babysitting which can approximate parenthood, but they’re now adults, but kids that I feel a very strong connection to, and I’m very happy to still be in regular touch with them. So that’s, I guess the closest I’ve ever come to approximating parenthood, but I know it’s nothing like parenthood.
John Gallagher Jr.: I really related to the fact that my character was so bad at it. Because I, feel that’s how I would be. That, Marty, is this guy who is struggling to rise to his occasions, was kind of heartbreaking to me, but I honestly felt like I was letting, as you might… The young actor so talented, he plays my son. I was kind of letting him lead me through the filming because he’s such a pro.
Scott Menzel: Yeah. I think he did such a terrific job in this movie. And I was telling Jacob that I honestly believed he was on the spectrum watching this. He was that good. I actually Googled him right after watching it. And I was like, “oh yeah, this is the kid from Marriage Story.” How much research did you guys have to do in order to play parents of someone dealing with autism?
John Gallagher Jr.: Well, Jacob sent over some materials because Jacob’s, our writer, director Jacob Chase’s wife works with a lot of children on the spectrum and, I had a very peripheral and kind of base relationship with what that would be like, but Jacob sent over a bunch of materials kind of via his wife. And I didn’t do any hands-on research, but just reading that was very eye-opening and humbling. And it kind of got me accustomed to, what it’s like to work in the day to day with a child on the spectrum.
Scott Menzel: And what was your favorite aspect of doing a horror movie? For both of you? I know, you’ve done some before, but what’s your favorite aspect of doing a horror movie?
Gillian Jacobs: I like seeing all the little tricks and details that directors and cinematographers and production designers employ in a film like this and, as we shot the film, I started to pick up on more and more all the subtle things that Jacob was doing, and it really made me appreciate him and his storytelling ability. And I also feel like in addition to having the puppet. So you had a practical monster instead of having a CGI monster, he would try to do long takes and have these sort of reveals and scares within one take, which I really respected his filmmaking.
Scott Menzel: Great. Thank you so very much, you both were excellent in the film and I look forward to talking to you both again in the future. Take care.
Gillian Jacobs: Great to see you, Scott.
Scott Menzel: See you later.
Gillian Jacobs: Thank you.
Scott Menzel: Bye-bye.