'Freaky': How Vince Vaughn Taught Kathryn Newton to Embody a Killer
“I just had to do [the movie] because I kind of wanted to play a serial killer!” Newton tells TheWrap
[Spoiler alert: Do not read on if you haven’t seen “Freaky.”]
In Christopher Landon’s “Freaky,” 6-foot-5-inch-tall actor Vince Vaughn, who plays a serial killer, body swaps with 5-foot-5-inch-tall Kathryn Newton — and as it turns out, Vaughn had some tricks up his sleeve to help Newton embody that physicality.
“Vince is so great — it was such a collaborative experience and he gave me so many great ideas and I got so inspired from him,” Newton told TheWrap. “We talked a lot about the physicality of both characters. Millie is all over the place, and her center of gravity is like the top of her head, and she’s hunched over and insecure and talks with her hands way too much. And I was like, ‘well, I do that, so I think Millie should do that and have these nervous ticks.’ I was like, ‘we need to change me. I can’t be like Millie at all and the butcher. So where do we start?’ And it started by putting the center of gravity in your chest and carrying yourself just a little taller, more confident, and the way the butcher walks is slower and more certain — all of these things that I just don’t do in real life. So to have someone I was such a big fan of, for one — I’m such a big fan of Vince, like he doesn’t even know because I gotta be cool around him!”
With embodying a very imposing serial killer came a sinister facial expression that Newton says came to her without practicing much. Seriously, stop reading now if you don’t want spoilers.
“I did not practice it at all. I had no idea what I was going to do… but when you’re trying to kill somebody, you just go there,” she said. “And I think that’s just what happened to my face. The butcher is so sinister, and he’s really only thinking about one thing, so there’s not much room for any other thoughts. So I didn’t have to do much. It was mostly the physicality and being really grounded and just playing the circumstances of the scene and like, just really imagining I’m going to kill Alan Ruck and I’m going to kill these three jocks and this mean girl and do it and believe it — it was really fun.”
Vaughn and Newton would also spitball ideas during a scene, which was a new experience for Newton.
“I’d have scenes where he would be behind the camera, waiting for his setup next. And I’d be like, ‘what do you think of this choice? Do you think the butcher would do this? I don’t know what to do here. What do you think?’” she explained. “And that doesn’t happen on a movie. You talk to your director about that to serve the story, but never about character choices like that. So [Vince and I] created something together really, like we were playing the same role. So strange!”
Newton was on board to play Millie when she first read the script, but she was really sold when Vaughn became attached.
“I thought the script was brilliant,” she added. “Michael Kennedy and Chris Landon wrote a script that is totally a reflection of the times that we’re in. It was funny and it broke all the tropes and cliches. Like we’ve seen the final girl, we’ve seen the best friend die — We’ve seen it all in movies, and those are also part of the horror films that I love… So the first time I read it, I just thought it was a fresh take on this kind of idea. I just had to do it because I kind of wanted to play a serial killer. I really wanted to be the butcher. That’s what drew me to it. And then when Vince Vaughn was attached, and it blew it up for me. I had no idea that they were going to have Vince Vaughn. He was the icing on the cake.”
Newton previously starred in Blumhouse’s “Paranormal Activity 4,” which was also written by Landon. Landon has previously said that he wrote “Freaky” for Newton and Vaughn, and Newton says her work on the found footage supernatural film prepared her for the reunion with Landon.
“[On ‘Paranormal Activity 4’] I learned how to tell a story with your eyes and that’s it… but mostly as an actor, I just learned that small movements can make the ground shake,” she explained. “And in ‘Freaky,’ the butcher doesn’t speak much. And so it was all about the physicality in specific moments to freak people out or change or get that killer instinct suddenly. I really looked to Chris for that, for those moments, because he knows me so well. I felt so supported by him.”
“Freaky” opens in theaters this Friday. Watch the interview above.
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