Elizabeth Lail loved starring in Countdown, was ecstatic with the talented ensemble cast director Justin Dec surrounded her with and was intrigued with the film’s plot about an evil app that predicts when you die.
But, if the app did exist and Elizabeth had the opportunity to know how many years, months or minutes she had left alive would she use it?
In this interview Elizabeth provides the answer, discusses the role apps play in her life, what horror films freak her out and how elbow butting became crucial in her audition with co-star Jordan Calloway.
Hi Elizabeth, Countdown was such a fun and scary movie to watch. It must have been great to be the star of the film?
Elizabeth Lail: Yeah. I was so lucky to be part of it and, yes, it is a bit scary (laughs).
What was it about playing the role of Quinn that appealed to you?
EL: I read a lot of scripts and when Countdown came my way it was a really solid script, it was a fun read and I connected with the relationship between Quinn and her sister and Quinn and Matt. It had all of the pieces of the puzzle. It had horror, heart and loads of social commentary with the app. That was a really pleasant surprise. I thought it was funny when I was making it, but you never really know until you watch it. I was laughing all the time.
You have some funny co-stars like comedian Tom Segura and PJ Byrne.
EL: Oh yes. They were so much fun. PJ was always improvising so much and playing around. He was amazing to watch and with Tom, I was already a fan of his podcast. I’m actually going to be on his podcast. I’m very nervous. I don’t really consider myself to be very funny person. Not at that level at least.
Tell me about Quinn. She is a strong character and the audience really cheers for her when she faces life and death situations.
EL: I think what’s really interesting about Quinn is that I’d say she is a strong character, but in the beginning she is really dealing with the death of her mother and is disconnected from her family. She managed to become a nurse, so she has strength that way. Throughout the movie she kind of opens up more and more and at the end she’s able to stand in her power.
Is it true when Jordan auditioned for the role he had the flu and he was really careful? He didn’t want to spread the flu to anyone?
EL: (Laughs) He came in and gave us his elbow instead of a handshake. It was like that awkward elbow butting. Luckily they didn’t make us kiss (laughs) or anything like that. We saved that for later.
Despite the elbow butting, did you know after the audition Jordan as the right actor to play Matt?
EL: Yes. He really brought the character alive. What’s great is when an actor surprises you and he really surprised us. He made me laugh and we had genuine chemistry from the start, which is always lucky to find.
There’s a scary scene when you’re in bed and there is a giant creepy hand that comes across you. What was that like to shoot?
EL: That was our demon. It was an actor with full make-up and prosthetics on. Our makeup team was incredible and in that scene we’re actually harnessed together and they yank us really hard off the bed to give the idea he is pulling me in. But it just ends up with me on top of the demon (laughs).
Apps are such an important part of our lives. How reliant are you on apps? Is your phone loaded with them?
EL: Google Maps is my favorite app. I couldn’t live without it. I would get lost without it. I’m always amazed by my parents because they were like road tripping together with real paper maps. I’m kind of sad I don’t know how to read maps, but then again I’m also happy I can turn my phone on Google Maps can tell me where to go. I’m most dependent on that.
There actually is an app like the Countdown app that is in the movie. Have you downloaded it and found out how long you have to live?
EL: Of course not (laughs). Haven’t you seen what happens in the movie? We have a thread between a few of us who were on the film and everyone else has downloaded the app. I’m like, ‘What are you doing?’ Have you learned nothing? I’m the only one who really took the movie to heart because I have stopped downloading apps in general.
I’m with you. I don’t want to know when I’m going to die.
EL: Yes (laughs) And there’s also that app that shows you what you will look like when you get old. It’s like showing your future. Then an article came out saying they’re taking your data and keeping all your photos, and all of a sudden you’ve given your life to some app.
There’s another interesting issue Countdown raises and that is the long legal user agreements that come with apps. Most of us just press “agree” without reading them.
EL: Yeah. I never look at it. I sign my life away really easily (laughs). They should make the agreement more readable. Maybe I should start a movement. After this conversation I’m definitely going to take a look next time.
Are you a horror movie fan?
EL: I am easily terrified. I’m one of those people that once I’ve seen something I can’t unsee it. I could potentially have nightmares for a month. I’m a little hesitant to go into a horror film unless I’m with a lot of good friends.
What’s the scariest movie you’ve ever seen?
EL: In the seventh or eighth grade I saw the Exorcism of Emily Rose. Exorcisms really freak me out. Movies about them always start with, “This is based on true events”. To me that means, “This could be you”. I can’t lie in my own bed without fearing that at any moment some unknown force is going to have its way with me.