Malin Barr stars as the studious Rylie in the rural horror film, Honeydew. I got a chance to talk to her about the film and working with both Sawyer Spielberg and Barbara Kingsley.
Honeydew is written and directed by Devereux Milburn (shorts “Stayed For” and “Wade”) and stars Sawyer Spielberg in his feature acting debut, Malin Barr (Skyscraper, First Love, CBS’s “Bull”), and Barbara Kingsley (The Straight Story, “Jessica Jones”).
Honeydew tells the story of a young couple (played by Spielberg and Barr) who are forced to seek shelter in the home of an aging farmer (Kingsley) and her peculiar son, when they suddenly begin having strange cravings and hallucinations taking them down a rabbit hole of the bizarre.
What drew you to this film?
Malin: I must say that as soon as I read the first couple of scenes that I got for the first audition, I really sensed that it was such a strange but sharp and peculiar but also really humorous script. And what really stood out to me was the relationship between Rylie and Sam and I was very captivated by their relationship and how it was a lot of bickering and how the contrast of the two characters were and what a hopeless relationship, but yet so fun to play. and. And the humor came across, at least to me, when I read it, and I am not a super horror fan in general. I’m usually just very scared of horror films, that’s the reality, to be honest. But when I read this, there was just such a specific element to this horror and it was strange and it was weird and it was sort of like a nightmarish comment on food and America’s food industry. So, there’s a lot of things, I think right from the top that really got me interested and then as soon as I got to meet with Devereaux, the director and writer, and getting to know what he was like and his vision of the film. And then in the reading, meeting Sawyer and Barbara and Stephen, it was such an adventure that I was so excited to be a part of, because right in that first reading, all of us were laughing because these characters are all so odd and the interactions they have just created so much humor and awkward passes. by that. And that’s what happened on site as well so it was such a blast to just be part of it.
Did this fear of horror films help you to play Rylie?
Malin: Yeah, I think so. I’m not a scared person, but I definitely am scared of the dark, and I definitely am sort of claustrophobic, so the scene on the pole was definitely a moment where I was getting panicky this year and in general because I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I could breathe, and I was okay but that fear definitely helped, it was dark and it was a little scary in the cellar and I could live in that moment. Being scared of the dark and scared of horror movies definitely made it easier for me to play Rylie. And it was such a great set, I mean that that pole was literally outside in the middle of nowhere and it was really cold when we shot those scenes so the whole situation fed into the acting of it.
I spoke with Barbara a few days ago about how she created Karen and all of the quirks that she added in- did you know that she was going to be that quirky, going into shooting with her or did she take you by surprise?
Malin: Barbara is a really talented actress, she’s amazing! I loved working with her and, you know, she has a background in theater and she did a lot of work. And in the first reading when we all met, we kind of read through the script for the first time, and even then, there were a lot of moments where we all were laughing because Barbara didn’t do all of her little things then, but she definitely had already had a thought of what she was doing with the character. And for me playing Rylie, it was so much easier working off of Barbara because of all the work that she did. Being surprised and taking in the moment and her behavior, and then having Sawyer, who’s playing Sam, next to me who’s just like distraught and blunt and doesn’t care about her behavior, and then Rylie’s trying to control the situation, and being like ‘no we have to do something about this.’Just taking in this strange character that Barbara created was so much fun. I mean, it gave me so much to work off, there were moments where it was literally like tension hanging in the air for a long time and definitely let us really play on this. The movie and the scenes are sort of long, it’s slow and the scenes were long and the movie is pretty slow in tempo, and I think that was really a choice and I really personally liked that both as an actor but also seeing it, letting all of these awkward moments hang and Rylie and Sam responding to it in their separate ways. It was so fun to work with Barbara, I would love to do it again, and the whole film crew is wonderful.
What was it like creating that tense relationship with Sawyer?
Malin: I had such great chemistry working with Sawyer as well and we both had understood the relationship that Sam and Rylie had from speaking to Devereaux about it before filming. I feel like Rylie is very much a Virgo, I’m a Virgo myself, so I can see her Virgo side of, you know, trying to fix everything and take control of the situation and do everything right and be driven, ambitious and she wears the pants in the relationship… I really had a great time building that character and finding the side in me that kind of leans towards that and how can I build on it, you know, how she’s in this unhappy, complicated situation and relationship with Sam. She sort of finds a way to try to fix him, to fix the relationship, and giving him a diet and telling him what to do and then at the same time, she’s unhappy and not content with the fact that he doesn’t ever do anything and she has to give everything. But then she never fully gets to the point where she stands up and says, ‘No, I’m going to walk out, I’m tired of you.’ So yeah, I think Rylie really is struggling to try to get control of the situation and the relationship. But yeah, both Sawyer and Barbara were such a blast to work with and also Jamie and Stephen- everyone’s such great and brilliant actors and it made everything so much easier.
If you were in Rylie’s shoes, like if you’re in the middle of nowhere and your car breaks down and you come across Karen, would you stay the night with her?
Malin: I would probably run from her. I would knock on the door and when I would see her stare like she did and Sam saying hello three times, I’d be like, ‘Maybe we should try another house, let’s not stay here.’ But yeah, I definitely wouldn’t stay. But, you know, that’s kind of what creates this whole film obviously is the fact that their relationship is bad and they’re not connected with each other and can’t communicate and think they wouldn’t end up in that situation if they had a better relationship. But I would run away very fast.
Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Malin: I’m just really excited for it to be out in theaters now but also for more people to see it because I think Devereaux has really created something special. For me, being European and Swedish, I feel like I don’t want to say that it’s towards a European movie, but the pacing being slower and well, I don’t know if that makes it more European. To me, I think both European audiences and American audiences are really going to enjoy this and go on a really scary nightmare of a journey when they watch it. I was so excited to be part of this it was definitely a wonderful film to be part of and I’d love to keep working with all of these actors and the crew and we’re very excited to see how people respond to it.