In horror films, desperate characters will do everything and anything to survive.
Connor Paolo (Gossip Girl, Revenge) plays Kobe, a computer-savvy friend, who tried to assist Laura, a popular social media girl, from the haunts of an Internet demon. He ends up being haunted himself in this terrifying web.
The film stars Alyicia Debnam-Cary (Fear the Walking Dead), William Moseley (Chronicles of Narnia), Britt Morgan (Supergirl, Riverdale), Brook Markham (Foursome), Sean Marquette (The Goldbergs), and featuring Liesl Ahlers as the demon.
LRM had an exclusive phone interview with Connor Paolo last Thursday for Friend Request that was playing nationwide.
In our conversation with Connor Paolo, he talked about on what true horror films meant to him and the love for Friend Request. We also discussed the behind-the-scenes stuff in the makeup chair. And most importantly, on how his perspective and attitude has changed towards social media in the past year.
Friend Request is currently playing nationwide in theaters.
Read our interview transcript below.
LRM: I wanted to remark about your character was that I would’ve done the exact same thing. But, then again, that’s probably the evil side of me. Maybe I should rethink that. [Laughs]
Connor Paolo: It’s not the most positive reaction, you’re right. In some ways, it’s bizarrely rational. I liked the idea of a horror movie character reacting with some sensibilities to what’s going on. Okay, I’ve entered a supernatural zone, but I try to defuse it with the best course of action. As crazy as it might be, it’s better than running around like a maniac.
Originally, the director and writer wanted it to be with his eventual possession. I thought of it that he being lucid throughout all this is more of a frightening and interesting choice. Everything he does is because he thinks it’s the right move.
LRM: So tell me on what initially attracted you to this project? And how were you approached?
Connor Paolo: I received the script and I liked the opening setup to it. I felt the empathy from the characters. I think for any horror movie—it’s beyond your bread and butter that you’ll don’t care. So just watching us die would just be an increasing boredom. I found myself connecting to the normalcy of their lives and believing it.
I went in and read with Simon Verhoeven, the director of the film, and Philip Koch, the co-creator of the story. I really vibe with them, especially with Simon. I wanted to see on what they would do with it. Then I met with Quirin [Berg] and knew this was a team I wanted to be involved with.
You can also get a sense with the cast you’re going to be working with based on the interview you’ll get with the director. After I’ve met Simon, I had a really good feeling of the rest of the people he would be putting into the film. I wasn’t even a bit disappointed. The rest of the cast are really wonderful human beings. They’re fantastic actors. They’ve really became close friends of mine.
LRM: Are you a fan of horror movies yourself?
Connor Paolo: Yeah, I’m a fan of anything that makes me feel strong emotions. Horror is no exception. I find that horror movies are a lot like westerns. If they’re done well, they can and should capture all elements of drama. They can be scary and funny. Horror can blend all the deep emotions on the spectrum. If they’re done well, as in any film, I find horror to be a really good genre. It’ll be a full range of experiences and terror is a big part of that.
It’s a part of humanity you’ll try in civilized society to remove ourselves from. It’s really attractive to us cause it’s something we’ll do in society to shelter ourselves. I think experiencing it is really healthy. It’s a lot of fun.
I find social media to be a pretty fascinating ocean. It’s really attractive to explore the dark side of that and the dangers of having it to be your entire world. That is interesting to me.
LRM: What are some of your favorite horror movies for yourself?
Connor Paolo: Don’t Look Now, Rosemary’s Baby, and I really love the American remake of The Ring. There are a lot of really strong emotions. And not to mention Roman Polanski’s The Tenant—the apartment film just creeps the fuck out of me.
I tend to respond more to films that play with the sense of uneasiness. It’s like Let the Right One In rather than the shock horror or with jump scares. They’re not just horror movies, but they deal with themes that are so twisted and so uncomfortable. I struggle to classify them as anything but a horror movie. I have a loose definition when it comes to horror films. But, those are some of my favorite movies.
LRM: I certainly like your horror perspective. Those are some pretty good choices I have to admit.
Connor Paolo: Thanks!
LRM: Did you spend a lot of time in the makeup chair for your transformation? It seems like you did the least out of your fellow cast members.
Connor Paolo: I got lucky with that. My demise is mostly CGI. I got to avoid the hard part.
They actually put a bunch of tattoos on me. Kobe stopped sleeping even though he didn’t get much sleep to begin with. It was really after the first death, which happens to be his best friend. Basically, it was decided that the rest of the film took place after two or three days. He doesn’t sleep after that.
I did spent a lot of time to progressively get paler and more crazed looking. It’s more sweaty, purple-eyed and all of that fun stuff. I didn’t really get to have my skin cleaved up, but I did generally looked like shit. [Laughs] That was fun.
LRM: How long did you have to sit in the makeup chair for—like an hour?
Connor Paolo: If I recalled that once they had the tattoos set—they’re just like decals. That was pretty easy. The process was that they decided for this actor to look generally terrible. It takes a lot of pressure of things. I don’t remember taking an obscene amount of time. Sometimes adding dirt or wear and tear is a lengthy process.
Now staying pale while shooting in South Africa is not particularly easy. It was quite of a bit of a challenge trying to look like a cave dweller while spending time in Cape Town, one of the most beautiful places on the planet.
LRM: Now you’ve sat through so many makeup chairs yourself. What is your go-to thing to do while sitting in that chair? Do you read magazines? Are you on your cell phone? What do you usually like to do?
Connor Paolo: Cell phones don’t really exist for me on set. It is a massive distraction when you’re driving—let alone you’re trying to create another life. I try to leave it at home or whatever trailer is my home on set.
In the makeup chair, it depends on the day I have. I usually apologize in the morning to everyday that I’m not particularly responsive today. I’m listening to music. I listen to whatever playlist I put together for that day. Or I would have a conversation with the makeup artist or hair designer I’m working with.
The way I’m on set has to do with the personality I’m trying to inhabit. If the character is fun and talkative, then I’ll be that way. Now if I’m more of an introvert, then I’ll keep to myself. Kobe spends a lot of time on his own with his computer. I spend most of my time on my MP3 player.
LRM: Do you use social media yourself? Are you a popular person on the Internet?
Connor Paolo: Am I a popular person on the Internet? No, I spend a lot of time trashing the Internet. I don’t deserve to be popular with the Internet. I do have Instagram, which I was dragged into kicking and screaming. However, in the past year, I was very active and still am on the Bernie Sanders campaign. Last year, I was up at Standing Rock to be a part of the populist social movement. They wouldn’t really wound up with the place they’re having without social media. The mainstream media has no interest in them or threatened by them.
I respect the power and use of things like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. They allow us to subvert the powers that be. They really allow us to create our own forms of communication. At this moment, they’re trying to destroy all of that with net neutrality and other policies in the House and Senate. I’m assuming and hoping that they don’t go through with it.
The Internet is the only place we still have that’s not completely controlled by the government. Hopefully, it’ll become the fifth estate. I’ve kind of reverse my thinking on it quite a bit. I used to be really frightened of it since it played towards our superficial selves. Now I’m really seeing that egalitarian way of the Internet. There is a way to use it to be a great leveler. It’s a good hope for things like Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, and any other populist social driven movements that we need so desperately.
LRM: Absolutely. You’re doing a great thing. Let me start wrapping things up with you. Can you talk about any of your future projects you may have?
Connor Paolo: I do have another film coming out this year called Flock of Four, a film about the 1950’s jazz and how four young people struggling to fit into that. I just finished filming a new project for Amazon, a new series for them based on the works of Philip K. Dick. I’m really excited about it. I believe Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams will be out in December. I’m not sure when the Flock of Four will premiere. I know it’ll be at the Austin Film Festival next month.
LRM: It’s been a pleasure speaking with you. Thank you so much.
Connor Paolo: My pleasure. You too. Take care.
Friend Request is currently playing in theaters nationwide.
Source: LRM Exclusive