John Gallagher Jr. on Emmett’s role in ’10 Cloverfield Lane’

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10 Cloverfield Lane was one of the surprise films of the year. Not only was it announced 4 months before release, but the film was incredibly good as well. The entire cast was phenomenal and we’re lucky enough to talk to star John Gallagher Jr. (Emmett) about his role, behind-the-scenes stories, and more. Check out what he had to say below.

NERD REACTOR: Knowing how tense the bunker situation was, how did it differ from you, John [Goodman] and Mary [Elizabeth Winstead] when you guys weren’t filming?

JOHN GALLAGHER JR.: Well, the funny thing about a movie like this is that we created something that, when I went to see the film I was so blown away because it worked. I thought, “Oh wow we really did create that tension, that atmosphere, claustrophobia, dread, and uncertainty.” But my memories of making the movie are all actually happy-go-lucky. We had a really good time making it, and John and Mary are incredible, not just as performers, but as people. They are so sweet, funny, and lovely to work with. When you have someone like Dan Trachtenberg calling the shots, you feel really taken care of and protected.

In a weird way, there was an ease to the proceedings. Sometimes movie making can get really stressful, you start running out of time and at the end of the day, suddenly it’s like, “oh god we didn’t get to these shots we got to finish these. Everybody hustle, come on hurry, we have to be done by 7 PM.” Everybody starts getting stressed out, and the more stressed you get then people starts bickering.

That never happened on the set this film; it was very laid back and easy. It was a very happy and fun experience making the movie, which is something that theatergoers or those watching the Blu-ray would ever suspect that we were having the time of our lives as we made it. It was a great time.

NR: Were there any special behind-the-scenes stories?

JGJ: I can’t think of anything that springs to mind that was kind of juicy or exciting. My memories of it are John Goodman keeping everyone laughing in between takes. You know, he was such a naturally funny person without even trying. He just has this constantly going sense of humor, so he would kind of just crack jokes in between takes and keep everybody laughing. That’s what I would remember the most. But yeah, not to be boring but I don’t remember any kind of pinpointing exciting moments other than just having a great time.

NR: Your character Emmett felt like the bright light in the film, do you think that the reason why he needed to be that way was because he wanted to alleviate the situation between Michelle and Howard?

JGJ: Yeah, definitely. I think it was important to the story to have that beacon. The scarier that things start getting as you start realizing that Howard’s intentions may not be as altruistic as he has wanted everybody to believe throughout the movie. We wanted there to be somebody where you can project the hope onto, have the bright light, and somebody that you can trust. I think that [is] definitely part of the role that Emmett is meant to play down there in the bunker. Especially as things get scarier and harder for Michelle.

But I do think he’s intended to be there as a… The most common terminology would be “comic relief” but we wanted to go a step further. Not just a kind of clown but actually a sweet person that you can root for to take care of Michelle.

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NR: What was your reaction to reading the script? Did you have any idea that the film was going to be a spiritual sequel to the first Cloverfield?

JGJ: No, not at the time. I had no clue. When I first got the script, it had two titles, it was called Valencia and The Cellar. That was the story and the script that we shot. I read it and totally fell in love with it. I loved the characters, I loved the story, I had no idea what was coming. It was a genuine and literal page turner in the sense that I couldn’t stop reading it and I had to get to the end to find out what was happening.

But I had no idea, I didn’t know it was going to turn into what it turned into. Which made the experience of making it, honestly, that much better because there wasn’t any pressure on set, there wasn’t the feeling of: “Oh my god, we got to make a cool movie here because we’re doing the spiritual successor to Cloverfield. So, we got to make sure that it’s good, that it’s exciting, that it’s fun, that the audience is going to like it.” There was none of that, the only thing we were focusing on was telling a good story and trying to make a good movie as we possibly could. The fact that it ended up being that spiritual sequel, and the fact that it ended up doing so well in theaters is just such a bonus.

NR: Yeah, it kind of had that Twilight Zone story to it.

JGJ: Yeah, definitely. That was one of the things that drew me into it, I remember reading it and thinking, “Gosh, this could feel like it could be an incredible double episode of “The Twilight Zone.”

NR: What kind of research and preparation did you do for the role? Was there any sort of inspiration for Emmett?

JGJ: Not really, I mean other than Dan and I kind of sat down, talked a little bit about a backstory, [I] thought, “where does this guy come from? What do we think his background is like? What do we think his life is like?” Those kinds of conversations and that’s really as far as I went. Which is kind of a little bit of character to work to build out the character.

And I think he had a different name when we were about to start shooting too. They kept changing the name of the character. It was Nate at one point and I think it was Kyle at one point. I talked to Dan [on Skype] and then I was about to make my tape that I was send in for the audition. Dan and I were like, “What if you did the guy with a Southern accent and maybe he was kind of a rural person from that area.”

I think it was J.J. [Abrams] who decided on Emmett. He said that he saw the tape and the table read, and he was like, “I got the name! Emmett. That’s the name of the character.” J.J. decided and we were like “That’s great, let’s do that.” So the character emerged very naturally in that sense where the pieces kind of fall into place. But I didn’t need to do any research in terms of “being trapped in a bunker,” I’m a claustrophobic person so it was easy to imagine the panic and the fear that would go on in such a situation.

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**SPOILERS BELOW**

NR: We know that Emmett sacrifices himself for Michelle in the movie; can you talk about that scene? What the mood was like that day because the film primarily stars you, John, and Mary?

JGJ: It was actually a sad day. We shot the movie in chronological order, so that was my last scene that I shot. There was this feeling of, “Oh my gosh, we’re about to say goodbye to this character” because John, Mary, Dan and the crew they were going to go on for a couple of weeks but I was going home. It was this kind of somber feeling where we have to film this sad and tragic scene, we have to say goodbye to this character, and then we have to say goodbye to [me] because [I’m] going to leave. It’s just going to be us now.

It did have the kind of sad energy that the scene in the movie had because we knew we were getting ready to say goodbye to shooting that section of the story. It made it really easy to bring out all of the fear, sadness, and the frustration… Everything that goes into that scene really works and comes out in the end.

But we shot a version where you really did see much more than you see in the final cut. I wore a blood pack, they detonated it, it shoots fake blood all over the wall, and I fell over. There is a version of that scene that’s much gorier and thankfully the editor (Stefan Grube), the producers, and everyone thought it was a little TOO graphic for the movie that we’re trying to tell here.

It was sad to say goodbye to all those guys and goodbye to the character, but I think that scene really works. We ended up getting something that really surprises the audience at the time that scene rolled around.

10 Cloverfield Lane is out on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD June 14th.

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Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1567 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.