Wonderland pins down party popstrel-cum-actress Sky Ferreira and Eli Roth to talk about their new film collaboration, The Green Inferno.
Sky Ferreira and Eli Roth are sitting side by side above Hollywood Boulevard, the west side of Los Angeles laid bare like a cliff’s drop from Roth’s poolside balcony. Monkey, Roth’s French Bulldog puppy, is lapping at Ferreira’s legs for attention, she’s been there before, in fact, Roth and Ferreira are close friends.
“I think her performance is really going to surprise people, because she’s not playing herself, there was a lot of dialogue, she became a character, and she’s funny as hell,” says Roth, of Ferreira’s involvement in his latest film, The Green Inferno. “I’ve done three other films, never the funny person.” Follows F
erreira. “She’s always been the suicide moody girl!” Says Roth, laughing. “Or like, the Manic Pixie Dream girl type thing, so this is definitely something new for me, and I’m excited about it.”
Next year’s The Green Inferno, Roth’s first horror directorship since Hostel: Part II, tells the story of a bunch of Columbia-esque college students who travel from New York City to the Amazon to protect an endangered tribe, which works, but then, their plane crashes and they’re held hostage by the very people they helped.
Ferreira plays the best friend of the lead character, played by Lorenza Izzo. Given that she’s the only one talking any sense as the students ready themselves for the jungle, in many ways she’s the voice of Roth in real time. “I wrote the script right after the Kony 2012 thing happened. I saw all these people getting really self righteous and caught up in it, wearing their T-shirts and buying mugs, next thing you know, the guy’s on the street jerking off and everyone realised it did absolutely nothing, except make people feel better about themselves. I think activism is great and getting involved is important but a lot of people now are doing it in the laziest way,” says Roth.
Ferreira and Roth share a love of late 60s, early 70s Italian horror. “I’ve got a weird thing for blood and gore,” she says. “The second time I ever hung out with Eli, it was his birthday party, and I asked Lorenza to show me the movies, and I locked myself in that screening room by myself in the dark, watching Zombie.” She says, curled up in the corner of the sun lounge. “You know, there’s obviously a generational difference, but we’re both exactly the same in many ways, very similar tastes,” says Roth with a nod of his head. Here, they discuss how they came to cement their working relationship in a hedonistic night of candy, film premieres and Snoop Lion.
Eli Roth: I think for Sky as an actress it’s a very exciting interesting time. Her music career is exploding, but she could do any movie she wanted and I could certainly see her in like, a Larry Clark or Harmony Korine movie, but that’s part of the reason I wanted to cast her as a Columbia University student. I feel like there’s a typical type of student you always see in the movies and I think Sky is a much more interesting, multi-layered version of that. I think it’s one of the things people are going to find relatable, because she is so real. I didn’t even audition her for the part, I just knew she’d do it, and that’s how I like to cast. Sometimes I audition people but other times you just talk to people, as a director and even an actor myself sometimes you just know, you have a gut feeling for who’s going to be able to pull it off, and she was incredible.
Sky Ferreira: I mean, we kind of just had conversations about who she was. Because she was not me. She’s a bit of a hard ass, and the way I do it is in a more subtle gentle way. She also just knows what she wants. I saw you at Toronto Film Festival like two weeks after we talked about it [over dinner initially].
Roth: Oh yeah, our first creative meeting was getting high with Snoop Lion! Because I was in Toronto for the festival with After Shock, and you were there.
Ferreira: I was playing a show.
Roth: That’s right and we went to see The Master.
Ferreira: Talk about intense! We were like, ‘OK, gotta change the tone’.
Roth: Then we went to the Snoop Lion party.
Ferreira: Yeah, which was a completely different vibe. I’ve heard the stories about Snoop Lion’s weed, I was like ‘Nooo it’s okay’. Then I was like, ‘Wait a second, I’m from Venice/Culver City and he’s from Long Beach, I have to do this’.
Roth: And we got so stoned, we couldn’t even move at that point.
Ferreira: And we tried to go to some other thing…
Roth: The Spring Breakers after party! These two twins in Spring Breakers, they have ten-inch cocks and they like to double penetrate and they call it Blessing. And we’re high and we were with Harmony Korine and these two twins want to double penetrate Sky and I’ve brought her there so I feel like I need to protect her.
Ferreira: …Eli drops me off, and my hotel’s elevator gets stuck and I’m stoned, soaking wet, with John Goodman and Ben Affleck! And John Goodman’s like, ‘Ohh, don’t be freaked out, don’t be scared’, and I’m like, oh yeah, thing is I’m not scared at all, I’m just stoned. And I was like, ‘John Goodman cannot know I’m stoned, that’s like your uncle, he’d be ashamed of me, even though he doesn’t know me’.
Roth: Sky was texting me [while it was going on] I was like, am I hallucinating? Did that really happen? And we just thought, yeah, this is a good collaboration, this works. I’m going to film with this girl.
Ferreira: We’re very serious actors, that’s what it comes down to. This is very Inside the Actor’s Studio, so this is our craft: get high with Snoop Lion and talk about nothing but films.
Eli: When we first clicked it was really bonding over movies rather than music.
Sky: Yeah, and I’m a big fan of horror movies.
Eli: We really bonded over Christiane F, both of us love that movie. It’s by Uli Edel, it’s based on a true story. This girl wrote it and she was exposed to a lot of the teenage prostitution, and it’s one of the most painful, incredible performances ever done. It’s one of those pet movies – it wasn’t ever released in the US. I actually contacted the producer because I wanted to use a poster of it in the film. Sky and Lorenza share a dorm room – Lorenza, being the innocent girl, has a Betty Blue poster which I remember was ubiquitous in American university dorms in the 1990s. And for Sky’s character we used the Christiane F poster.
Sky: I remember I saw it when I was 14, I was like, “Oh my God, I get this.” But I wasn’t going to start doing heroin. I guess I can see how some people think it’s glamorous ‘cause she’s so cool in the film, but you see what happens to her.
Eli: For …Inferno, I needed a really, really strong actor who’s watching her roommate getting caught up in activism. We needed someone who’s basically the voice of the audience going, ‘Why are you trying to mess with a tribe? You’re out of your fucking mind.’ I’d met Sky actually through Jeremy Scott and knew her because she’s friends with Lorenza, and I said to Lorenza, ‘What about Sky?’ And she said, ‘Oh, that’d be incredible!’ We needed someone that was very real and that was in the movie for a significant chunk but give a very memorable performance. She’s so creative. I loved working with her.
The Green Inferno is out in 2014
Photography Justin Tyler Close