IAR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Evan Peters Talks ‘The Lazarus Effect’

Thursday, 26 February 2015 16:12 Written by  Jami Philbrick
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IAR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Evan Peters Talks ‘The Lazarus Effect’

Evan Peters is very quickly becoming a Hollywood movie star!

The actor began his career in the fighting films Never Back Down, and it’s sequel Never Back Down 2: The Breakdown, before eventually appearing in Kick-Ass and on all four seasons of the hit FX anthology series American Horror Story. But his big break came last summer when he sprinted on to the big screen as the Marvel comic book character Quicksilver in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Many critics praised Peters’ performance as one of the best aspects of the film. The actor is expected to reprise his role in the upcoming follow up X-Men: Apocalypse, and will also play former Deputy Assistant to President Nixon, Dwight Chapin in Elvis & Nixon. But first, Peters can be seen as part of the exceptional ensemble cast in the new horror thriller The Lazarus Effect, which opens in theaters on February 27th. 

In the new movie, a group of medical research students discover a way to bring dead animals back to life. But when Zoe (Olivia Wilde) accidentally dies, her husband Frank (Mark Duplass) forces the group to help bring his wife back from the dead. While the experiment is successful, the situation become dangerous when they realize that Zoe’s personality has been altered. Peters plays Clay, a member of the research team that has second thoughts about their experiments. In addition to Duplass, Wilde, and Peters, the film also stars Donald Glover (The To Do List), and Sarah Bolger (In America). The Lazarus Effect was produced by Jason Blum (Whiplash), and directed by documentary filmmaker David Gelb (Jiro Dreams of Sushi).

I recently had the absolute pleasure of sitting down with Evan Peters to talk about his work on The Lazarus Effect. The talented young actor discussed his new movie, its cinematic influences, scientific research, faith vs. science, collaborating  with documentary filmmaker David Gelb, what he needs from a director, working with Mark Duplass and Olivia Wilde, and how he created his character.

Here is what Evan Peters had to say about The Lazarus Effect

IAR: To begin with, The Lazarus Effect reminded me of several different classic films including Flatliners, Alien, Pet Cemetery, and even more recently Lucy. Can you talk about the potential that you saw in the screenplay and why you decided that you wanted to be part of this project?

Evan Peters: David (Gelb) actually had us watch some of The Abyss and it was great. I love that movie. The Lazarus Effect also reminded me of Akira as well because Olivia (Wilde) goes telekinetic crazy on everybody like Akira does. I like science fiction thrillers a lot. I like anything that has to do with the future and technology. I love that stuff. Developing a serum that could bring people back from the dead was an idea that was very cool to me, and I liked playing a scientist. I also liked that the film was a contained thriller and that the characters are stuck in one area. They’re trapped with this being that was their friend but is now destroying them. That’s scary.

Did you do any science research so that you would better understand your character?

Peters: Yeah a little bit. They're developing a lot of stuff to prolong the time period after you die so they can resuscitate you, which is very interesting to me. They can prolong your death and you would not think that's possible. That's very exciting to me. Then it taps into the idea of what would happen? I think Olivia's character says about the dog, “Did he want to come back? Where was he before?” The movie asks the question, did the person want to come back to life? What would happen if they didn't want to come back? What would happen if they came back from a place that was pretty much hell? The film asks the audience a lot of cool questions to think about.

Usually in a horror film when you are dealing with people coming back from the dead, it is because of one of two reasons. Either it has to do with religion and a demon or the devil has brought someone back from the dead, or it’s science that is responsible for raising the dead. But in The Lazarus Effect it’s both, can you talk about adding that unique twist on the genre to this film?

Peters: It is a unique twist. It's not set in stone which one it is, which is kind of cool. Everybody has different opinions. My character has a more scientific approach on the whole thing, which is cool. Then Sarah Bolger's character has a more religious approach on the whole thing. It was kind of both aspects of it in there.

The Lazarus Effect marks documentary director David Gelb’s first fictional feature film. What was your experience like working with him on this movie?

Peters: It was cool. He's a very good director and he has a great eye. He shoots very slick. There are a lot of cool close-ups and great shots down the hallway. It's very scary and everything's slick. He made the transition well to directing actors. I think that could be a big challenge for a lot of people to go from doing a documentary to trying to direct actors and getting them to do what you want. I think he nailed it. I think he was very good, very collaborative and very communicative. He was a great director to work with.

Is that what you're looking for from a director, someone who is “collaborative and communicative?”

Peters: Yes. I need someone to talk to me so we can create and come up with ideas together. I like coming up with ideas in the spur of the moment. I like following the script a lot, but I also like adding onto it and making it better on the day. That's definitely something that I like. You can't try to make something in the script work that's not working in the reality of what you're shooting. That’s a huge part of making movies, getting the idea from the script and making that work in what’s going on right in front of you.

Speaking of directors, one of your co-stars in the movie is also an extremely accomplished filmmaker. What was it like acting on the set with Mark Duplass?

Peters: Mark was great. He’s obviously a director and a producer so he was very good at helping us all, David included. He let you know that he was the lead actor without overstepping David. It was very cool to watch him work and come up with ideas. I remember specifically one moment where they’re trying to resuscitate Olivia’s character and she was on an iron grate. We were working with a CPR specialist to try and figure out how to do all this correctly. Mark asked, “If we shock her on this metal grate, are we going to get electrocuted?” So we had to move her off the grate to do the scene. These were all questions that were brought to light by Mark and Olivia. They are just smart actors and smart people to work with who helped make the film more real, which was cool. 

You mentioned actress Olivia Wilde, and she has a very difficult role in the movie. The audience must connect with her character early in the film, so that once the twist happens, the audience is invested in her and can be truly scared when she changes from the protagonist to the antagonist. Can you talk about your experience working with her?

Peters: Olivia is great to work with. She’s just very sweet, loving and friendly. My mom came to set a couple times. She was very friendly to my mom and talked to her. It was very cool to work with her especially since she was turning evil. She never turned evil in real life or acted cold. I thought she was incredible in this film and really sold it. I believe what she was talking about and going through in every moment. I really loved her performance in this movie. I’m excited for people to see it. The film lives or dies on her performance and she kills it. 

Finally, was your character well defined in the script, or did you have to add a lot in order for your performance to be realistic on screen?

Peters: In the script it was confusing to try to figure out how much he was questioning the experiment. It seems like he’s one step ahead of everybody. I always thought of Clay as the logical one of the group. We played around with him a lot. We made him more fun. I liked the idea of him being kind of the Good Will Hunting of the group. Where he’s the smart one, but he doesn’t study. He’s just a pot smoking gamer, but he happens to be a biochemical genius. It’s a really fun character to play. There’s a lot to play around with in there because he’s gifted this incredible thing, but yet he’s such a wild card. I had a lot of fun playing this role. Part of the reason I wanted to do the film was to act as Clay because I thought he was such an interesting and crazy guy. 

The Lazarus Effect opens in theaters on February 27th. 

To read our exclusive interview with Evan Peters about X-Men: Apocalypse, please click here.

To read our exclusive interview with Mark Duplass about The Lazarus Effect, please click here

FULL DISCLOSURE: The Lazarus Effect was produced by Relativity Media, iamROGUE's parent company. 

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