Alexis Knapp went from Pitch Perfect to being the perfect victim in Phobias. Alexis plays Lia, who falls victim to her boss (Macy Gray)’s fear of imperfection. Check out our Q & A.
Phobias synopsis: Five dangerous patients, suffering from extreme phobias at a government testing facility, are put to the ultimate test under the supervision of a crazed doctor and his quest to weaponize fear.
Also starring: Martina Garcia, Charlotte McKinney, Hana Mae Lee, Lauren Miller Rogen, Macy Gray and Leonardo Nam. Directed by: Camilla Belle, Maritte Lee Go, Joe Sill, Jess Varley, and Chris Von Hoffman; each taking a phobia segment of the film for this anthology. The five phobias include atelophobia, robophobia, hoplophobia, vehophobia and ephebiphobia.
What drew you to Phobias?
Alexis: Honestly it was my friend Maurice (Fadida), he asked me to do it for him. He explained the premise, and I thought that it was pretty decent (laughs), and I was like ‘yeah, this sounds pretty interesting’ and then he told me it was originally supposed to be Erykah Badu playing Renee and I’m very low key obsessed with her so I was like, ‘Oh yeah, without a doubt, I don’t even have to read it.’ And the irony is that when I showed up on set, it was actually Macy Gray, and that was even just as cool. Those are some bonuses because ultimately, I was kind of like receiving a call to be a hero for my friend. She was crunching down and really needing somebody to play Lia and I don’t remember how we lost [the original Lia] because it’s been about three years since we did this… Yeah, I don’t know what took it so long.
Basically there was somebody playing Lia that had to drop out for some type of conflict and so I didn’t get to choose my phobia or anything, he needed me specifically to be Lia so I got placed into that phobia against my wishes, like that or not.
You play Lia in the Atelophobia segment, what is Atelophobia?
Alexis: With that phobia, I believe it was something about, like a deep insecurity of who you are and what you look like and being accepted. But I can’t really remember all the names and meanings of the phobias because they went pretty deep in them.
Would you say that you have this fear in real life?
Alexis: Um, yeah. I mean, to a degree, definitely, like, awareness of how you come across, that for sure. I wouldn’t call it a phobia, but I mean everybody has a level of awareness of themselves and whether it’s seated in a very deep rooted insecurity or if it’s just, you know, healthy self awareness. I think I’m somewhere in between, all that.
Would you say you have any phobias?
Alexis: Oh yeah, I think I’m claustrophobic actually. I don’t like tight spaces. In fact, I was watching Disenchantment with my daughter and there’s a scene where the king is buried alive in a casket and he’s stuck in there for a long time and I imagine putting myself in there, and I don’t even know if I would be able to like act in that kind of situation if it was real, like, holy shit! So I think I’m actually claustrophobic.
Did you think that your segment was going to take as dark a turn as it did when you first started reading it?
Alexis: No. No, I did not think so, at all. I didn’t see that coming. I didn’t know what the phobia was at all, I didn’t look it up, I just kept reading. I think originally, they were going to take my lips and then on the day, while we were actually filming, we ran out of time to actually do a few inserts, and then she (Writer/Director Jess Varley) switched it up so that she actually just takes my eyes. Then we didn’t actually have to shoot anything. I like that because there’s nothing on screen showing me losing my eyeballs. There’s just something weird, like going through graphic violence on camera because it looks real.
Do you think keeping that stuff off screen helped with the horror?
Alexis: Yeah, I always think when people are left to see something that happens only in their head that it’s usually worse. Yeah, I don’t really like seeing graphic violence on camera anyways and if I do, it just, I don’t know, it just like looks, most of the time just like not tasteful. It’s just like ‘why are you showing me this’ when there’s just so much more mystery and class, I think, when things are shown only in your own mind, you know, left to the audience to create their own horror. I like that better.
So, in preparing to play Lia did you have to do anything special or was it a just get the moment kind of thing?
Alexis: Oh, it was definitely a get in the moment one, that’s for sure. I absolutely love working that way. I love just jumping and going, I think it’s because of my upbringing in dance and ballet. Most mostly just dance, I think, because I’ve played instruments as well and that takes a lot of practice and preparation, but with dance you just kind of show up and you do, and I work really well that way. So anything that’s ever happened last minute such as Phobias and this movie I just did recently called The Knocking, I kind of just figure it out as I go because there’s not much time to prepare and really break things down beforehand. And I think real magic comes in that way because true instincts are allowed to express themselves. When things are over rehearsed, I feel like the magic gets taken out of it. I like to rehearse very lightly and then shoot it full out and just leave room for all the authentic truth and the quirks to come through. And yeah, you don’t really have a choice otherwise when something’s last minute so Lia was definitely a character that was figured out, but, you know, she’s an architect, she wasn’t that complicated.
What was it like working with Macy Gray?
Alexis: Working with Macy Gray was seriously so cool. She is just a really bad ass human being. She likes to make little jokes here and there through song and making her own beats and I was just in love with her the whole time. Like, silently eavesdropping on her little monologues of rapping and singing the things that she was seeing or experiencing throughout the room, because, you know, we’re constantly waiting for a new camera set up, new angle, new this and that, so we’d stop and then we’re waiting around. She would just always be like rapping or singing to herself or making little rhymes and I joined in one time and finished a sentence of her, it was like such a big moment for me. But she literally couldn’t care less… But yeah, she actually has a really funny sense of humor. I like her personality a lot and she’s extremely multi-talented. She would prepare for every scene by really revving herself up and getting into the character. she didn’t break character, actually. Her rapping stuff was almost like a part of her character but it wasn’t something that she played on screen, if that makes sense. Yeah, I actually almost forgot about that fact that she stayed in character the whole time. Her character is super weird but I loved it. I love it when people do that.
Any other thoughts about this movie before I let you go?
Alexis: It is quite a roller coaster. There are tons of different elements going on, there are five directors on it and five segments. So, yeah, just get ready for a roller coaster and to face your fears.