Will Poulter shares his Midsommar experience and being in touch with reality
British actors that straddle between Europe and the United States have become relatively common, however, Will Poulter is a genuinely intriguing soul that cares about his craft. Many remember him from We’re the Millers with Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis, or affectionately as Gally from The Maze Runner trilogy. This is because Will Poulter is intrepid. He takes risks, and his role as the eccentric Colin Ritman in the interactive Black Mirror episode Bandersnatch begins to show his range. Will’s latest flick is Midsommar, and he teams up with Ari Aster from Hereditary to spook and scare audiences even when the sun is out.
It has only been six months, and Black Mirror’s Bandersnatch has a cult-like following. Were you a fan of the series before your role as Colin Ritman?
Absolutely, yeah! I was such a big fan of the series, and Annabel Jones and Charlie Booker has set the benchmark for television. Especially because what they have created challenges the times we are living in. Our interactions and dependencies on technology are intelligently interpreted through Black Mirror. And while watching a few Black Mirror episodes, I got a call from my agent, and Black Mirror was checking my availability over the next few months from Bandersnatch. I was surprised, and for a second I was wondering whether they were somehow watching me through a hidden camera in my TV screen. It was an honor to be a part of that project and grateful that Charlie Booker and Annabel Jones offered me a part.
Colin Ritman has some of the most memorable lines in the movie. What did you do to prepare for the role, and did you take any aspects of your personal life to fulfill the character?
So I watched a documentary called Bedroom to Billions that was recommended to me by Charlie and our director, David Slade. It was about these young men and women in Northern England that was literally selling video games out of their bedrooms. They would develop games, and selling them at conventions or out of their cars. In that, I observed a lot of different characters, and I recognized that Colin is part Charlie Booker and an amalgamation of the characters from the documentary. They were genius in their own way. Colin is a bit me too, but not that technological genius part. I can hardly turn my computer on or off. It was hard to convince myself that I was knowledgable in that, in fact, I bought a book called Programming for Dummies and learned some basic code to prepare.
“I don’t like to discriminate according to genre, but I like to make my decisions based on the quality of the material.”
The episode is the first interactive experience on Netflix. During the filming, were you confused by the scenes, and intrigued about the conclusion and results?
I knew Bandersnatch was going to be challenging, but I was still not prepared. The set captured all the different locations and times, and to understand all the different continuities scrambled my mind. I was easily the worst in the cast dealing with that challenge. Depending on what part of the story, there was still a range of narrative strands. I would struggle regularly and would go to David, the director, or Annabel or Charlie for help. I was in crisis mode a lot of the time, but I loved the challenge of it.
The Maze Runner setting looks daunting on screen. It looked hot and humid all the time. What was it like to film in a dystopian world?
I think we were in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in August. Where we had 100% humidity, and that is the sort of climate you sweat immediately once you step outside. Similar to Midsommar, the set was expansive and empty. The art department uses the space to create a world, and throughout the movie, so many aspects of the book that I read about were somehow replicated physically. The amazing set design just made it so authentic. It was so immersive and was a reminder of how lucky I am.
“I find myself watching a lot of films. Besides it being recreational, I also find it to be educational. I can apply a lot of what I watch to my film, and it might sound pathetic, but I love films.”
The Maze Runner: The Death Cure ended the series in 2018. Was it tough to say “good-bye” to the Gladers?
It was very difficult. We are all really close. I was just messaging our group chat earlier, and wishing Dexter Darden a “happy birthday.” We all stay in contact. So we never said “goodbye,” but the ending was very emotional.
Although you have had many roles before your first significant role in the US was Kenny from We’re the Millers. It is one of the funniest and easiest movies to sit down and watch. Did you have as much fun on that film as those that have watched it?
I was very lucky to be a part of it. The film allowed me to become known to an American audience. I liked working with Rawson Marshall Thurber because of what he did with Dodge Ball. I was a huge fan of Jennifer Aniston and watched FRIENDS while I was growing up, and Jason Sudeikis is absolutely hilarious. It was just filled with incredibly talented and funny people.
Midsommar is about to release soon, and it is about some friends traveling to Sweden. The serene setting suddenly shapes into something mysterious. What attracted you to make this film?
Like Bandersnatch, this film is unique and ambitious. I was wondering how anyone can make a movie like this, but then I watched Ari Aster’s short films and met him. I knew that this was the dude that can pull off a film like this.
Ari Aster, from Hereditary, is the writer and director of the Midsommar. He definitely has a world that he creates with his style. Was this something that you got to see and believe immediately, or did it take you some time?
Ari Aster is an incredible filmmaker, and his ambitious made this an ideal opportunity. That dedication to detail from the story to the characters and set design gives this film the level of detail that made everything seem authentic. The cast was also incredible, and I got to work with Florence Pugh, who I’ve been a fan of for a long time. This was also the third time working with Jack Reynor. William Jackson Harper was also amazing, and Midsommar has loads of positive elements.
“I knew Bandersnatch was going to be challenging, but I was still not prepared. The set captured all the different locations and times, and to understand all the different continuities scrambled my mind. I was easily the worst in the cast dealing with that challenge.”
Unlike most horror flicks Midsommar doesn’t take place in the dark. Was Ari successful with this new style?
He was very successful, and I believe he embraced daylight as a challenge. He is going to scare the living daylights out of people with this movie, and that’s really impressive. Fear and uncertainty commonly found in horror films are attached to darkness and the night, and he is able to do this with light. You’re in this beautiful and serene landscape, but he is able to make it so unsettling.
For those that like horror and mystery, Midsommar looks like a perfect fit. Do you plan on making more movies in this vein?
I don’t like to discriminate according to genre, but I like to make my decisions based on the quality of the material. More recently, I consider the social applications of my work, and I want to continue to work with good directors.
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With acting taking you all over the world, where do you want to be to relax and feel at ease?
Time with friends and family is so precious, and anytime I can get it, I am thankful. I feel like I am in touch with reality, and it allows me to escape the intensity and uncertainty of my work life. Whenever I can, I try to put my friends and family as often as I can.
Acting pays the bills and keeps you busy. Are there any other hobbies that you like to participate in when you have the time?
I find myself watching a lot of films. Besides it being recreational, I also find it to be educational. I can apply a lot of what I watch to my film, and it might sound pathetic, but I love films.