Elisabeth Moss Grapples with Unrest, Anger in Horror Film “Us”
Elisabeth Moss (Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale) stars as Kitty Tyler, a “perfect” wife and mother but who finds herself grappling with deep undercurrents of unrest and anger, in Universal Pictures’ new horror thriller Us.
“Kitty is a woman who we’ve all known or met at some point: someone who has a really good life but feels like she never got to be who she wanted to be,” Moss says about her role. “Because of her children or because of getting married or whatever she’s blaming it on, she never got to achieve her personal goals, and she’s very bitter about that.”
Kitty’s dream was to become an actress, but life and luck interfered, and now, as her twin daughters are entering their teens, she’s staring into the maw of thwarted ambition, regret and a litany of what-ifs.
For Moss, the role of Kitty was a rare opportunity to play the kind of woman she seldom gets to explore. “I usually play the heroine or the strong person or the nice person,” Moss says. “So I don’t get the chance to do much comedy, or to play funnier moments, so getting to lean into that and play this total shallow bitch was really fun.” She laughs. “I’d like to do something like that again.” In truth, though, she says she probably would have signed on for any role director Jordan Peele offered her, just for the chance to work with him. In fact, she basically did.
“I sort of said, ‘yes’ before I had even read anything,” Moss says. “I had a meeting with him and he said, ‘There’s this part for you, and I want you to do it.’ And I was like, ‘I don’t want to sound desperate, but, ‘yes’.” She laughs. “He said, ‘Well, I’ll send the script to you, and you can let me know what you think,’ and I was like, ‘I don’t think you understand: I’m serious. Whatever it is, I’ll do it.’”
She did not disappoint, to say the least. “Lizzie does amazing things in this film,” Peele says. “The most wonderful thing about working with her is that you can experiment. She has such refined tools as an actor. She’ll give you a take that’s so beautiful and nuanced and intentionally off balance, and then you ask her to try it another way, and she’ll give you a take that is just as brilliant but entirely different. She really brought a fourth dimension to the character of Kitty and cemented who she was.”
For Lupita Nyong’o, playing opposite Moss was everything she’d hoped it would be. “Elisabeth is an actress that I’ve admired,” Nyong’o says. “She’s so arresting, and she brought such a groundedness and depth to Kitty. She is a character that could easily come across as two-dimensional, and Elisabeth brings such a well-roundness to her. Kitty believes she is closer to Adelaide than Adelaide feels she is to Kitty, and you can really sense that in Elisabeth’s performance. Elisabeth is extremely present, and I was really lucky on this film to be surrounded by actors who were all team players and invested in their roles and in this story.”
That layered complexity in Kitty, Moss says, also represents some of the film’s central themes. “On a deeper level, this movie is looking at how we tend to judge a group of people based on where they’re from or what they believe or who they voted for,” Moss says. “We tend to put one group of people in a box in our minds and say, ‘They’re good,’ and we put another group in a box and say, ‘They’re bad.’ The truth, of course, isn’t quite that simple.”
In Philippine cinemas March 20, Us is distributed in the Philippines by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures. Follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/uipmoviesph/ ; Twitter at https://twitter.com/uipmoviesph and Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/uipmoviesph/. Use the hashtag #UsMovie.
After sending shockwaves across contemporary culture and setting a new standard for provocative, socially-conscious horror films with his directorial debut, Get Out, Academy Award®-winning visionary Jordan Peele returns with another original nightmare that he has written, directed and produced.
Set in present day along the iconic Northern California coastline, Us, from Monkeypaw Productions, stars Oscar® winner Lupita Nyong’o as Adelaide Wilson, a woman returning to her beachside childhood home with her husband, Gabe (Black Panther’s Winston Duke), and their two children (Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex) for an idyllic summer getaway.
Haunted by an unexplainable and unresolved trauma from her past and compounded by a string of eerie coincidences, Adelaide feels her paranoia elevate to high-alert as she grows increasingly certain that something bad is going to befall her family.
After spending a tense beach day with their friends, the Tylers (Emmy winner Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker, Cali Sheldon, Noelle Sheldon), Adelaide and her family return to their vacation home. When darkness falls, the Wilsons discover the silhouette of four figures holding hands as they stand in the driveway. Us pits an endearing American family against a terrifying and uncanny opponent: doppelgängers of themselves.
Writer and director Peele produces for his Monkeypaw Productions alongside Sean McKittrick, Jason Blum, and Monkeypaw’s Ian Cooper.