Press Conference with Rebecca Hall: Notes on The Night House [Fantasia Film Festival]


Rebecca Hall photo
Rebecca Hall as BETH in THE NIGHT HOUSE

I had the opportunity participate in a press conference with Rebecca Hall, star of the upcoming psychological thriller, The Night House. Participants were invited to submit questions, and the moderator selected which questions to ask. All five of my questions were selected. Below, find a selection of questions asked at the press conference and the corresponding answers from Rebecca Hall. Questions asked by 1ofmystories are marked with an asterisk.

Q: What attracted you to this role?

RH: I was intrigued and perhaps naively seduced about the idea of starring in a film that was basically me on screen from the whole runtime. It turned out to be an awful lot to shoulder.  But I enjoyed it enormously. I also really liked the character. Early on, there's a scene in a classroom with a parent. It revealed so much about the character of Beth because it was so brittle and weirdly funny. I liked her from that scene onwards and that's the moment I knew I wanted the role.

Q: You have played many roles in the world of filmmaking. You're an actress, director, and producer. At this time in your life, which role challenges you the most and pushes you to the place that you want to be as an artist?*

RH: It truly varies from project to project. At this point in my life and career, I know I thrive by making bold decisions that push me. Maybe that's why I try so many roles.

Q: What was it like working with director David Bruckner?

RH: It's very rare to get to work with a director who is so consistent about the genre that they want to work in.  Horror is his genre, and he understands it. He knows how to manipulate the audience and lay all the foundations to create the jump scares and do all the things that you need. He has an intuitive understanding of how to create a truly terrifying horror movie. I remember being very scared by The Ritual, so I was excited to partner with him here.

A woman holds hands to face
Rebecca Hall as BETH in THE NIGHT HOUSE

Q: What was it like shooting the scene where you interact with the invisible presence?*

RH: The honest answer is that it was kind of funny. We talked about the idea of the scene, but we didn't choreograph it down to a tee. I came to terms early on that I would be having a romantic encounter with an invisible presence and that it would be embarrassing (laughs).  But after a while it became strangely liberating.  It felt like intuitive dancing – something I've never done. It was nice to use my physicality in that way.

Q: For most of the film, you are acting by yourself in a room. What was that like?

RH: I knew it was going to be challenging going into it, but I didn't realize how challenging it would be. As an actor, you derive an awful lot of energy and stamina from the people that you're working with. Like when you're at party, the fun happens when all the guests interact. This was like being at a party with no guests, but you still have to make the party good. So I had to motivate myself more than normal.

Q: The scene where Stacey Martin as Madelyne confesses to you what went on between her and Owen is a very intense segment. How did the two of you go about filming that scene?*

RH: Much of the heavy lifting is done when a scene is as well written as that one. Stacey and I were both aware that we needed to create a tone of enigmatic mystery and that our characters needed to have a sense of mirroring. We made conscious choices on how to sit opposite each other and what shapes to create with our bodies. The way David Bruckner shot it was also very fascinating. Convention dictates that when you shoot a scene of two people sitting across each other, there's a line you don't cross. Well, David crossed that line, which gave the segment a very unsettling feeling, which is perfect for a horror movie.

Double close up image of a woman's face in a shower door
Rebecca Hall as BETH in THE NIGHT HOUSE

Q: Your character runs the gambit of emotions in this movie.  How did you get in the right headspace to enact the depth of emotion you had, particularly when you-when expressing deep grief and paralyzing terror?*

RH: That's a tricky question to answer. The material was well made. As an actress I tried to just believe in the scene and believe that this is truly what's happening. If I believe what's happening to me, then the emotions just come naturally. I tried not to prepare all that much for this role.  Because I wanted to be quite instinctive and surprise myself in a strange way.  I thought about Beth, thought about what's she's going through, and then just let myself react and see what happened. 

Q: The song "Cavalry Cross" performed by Richard & Linda Thompson plays a big role in the movie. How many times did you have to listen to that song ? And can you share any insight as to why that song was featured so prominently in the story?*

RH: There's a lot of things that you could read into that song: The lyrics carry a lot of meaning, and there's quite a backstory with how the song was written. I know that David and the writers had this song in their heads from very early on. I became very familiar with it.  I'm very familiar with it now. (laughs) If I hear the first two notes for it, my stomach turns over and probably will for the rest of time.

About Rebecca Hall: Rebecca Hall is an acclaimed British-American actress whose career encompasses the multiplex, the art house cinema, and the world’s most respected theaters. Hall is currently in post-production on her directorial debut PASSING, adapted from Nella Larsen's 1920s Harlem Renaissance novel.  Hall was most recently seen in GODZILLA VS. KONG opposite Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, and Brian Tyree Henry. 

About The Night House: Reeling from the unexpected death of her husband, Beth is left alone in the lakeside home he built for her. She tries as best she can to keep it together – but then nightmares come. Disturbing visions of a presence in the house calling to her, beckoning her with a ghostly allure. Against the advice of her friends, she begins digging into her husband’s belongings, yearning for answers. What she finds are secrets both strange and disturbing – a mystery she’s determined to unravel. 

Read my full review of The Night House.

Release info: The Night House will have its Canadian premiere at Fantasia Film Festival on August 12, 2021, and then release in theaters on August 20, 2021.