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Vicky Krieps on M. Night Shyamalan’s unsettling new thriller Old

An interview with Vicky Krieps about her time acting in M. Night Shyamalan's thriller Old.

Any new M.Night Shyamalan movie is a big deal, always highly anticipated as soon as a trailer drops, and his latest movie Old is no different. Based on Pierre Oscar Lévy’s and Frederik Peeters’ graphic novel Sandcastle, Old is a chilling thriller movie centred around a family who find themselves on a secluded beach.

However, their idyllic holiday turns into a nightmare when the family begin to age rapidly. Old shows viewers what it would feel like if your life flashed before your eyes in a single day, making us all question how we would spend that precious and fleeting time if it were us. International star Vicky Krieps plays Prisca Capa, a determined mother who puts her kids first, even when faced with supernatural forces.

Best known for her performance in the Academy Award-winning romance movie Phantom Thread, the Berlin-based actor returns to the big screen as one of the titular characters in M. Night Shyamalan’s Old. Acting as an intelligent mother of two in a strained marriage, taking part in the movie was, “a very personal choice” for Krieps, who found the Hollywood thriller extremely relatable as well as very different from the movies that we have seen her act in before.

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In our interview with Vicky Krieps, the star offers insight into the mysterious film. We learn how she prepared for a realistic performance of the rapid ageing process that we see in the suspenseful movie. We also discuss the parallels between her personal life and Old’s script. And finally, we get to know what it was like for Krieps working with M. Night on set for the upcoming blockbuster.

The Digital Fix: Old is tremendous; what first drew you to the script?

Vicky Krieps: So I got the script during the first lockdown. You saw the movie, so you know how it felt, you know if you were inside your apartment trapped kind of for weeks, and then you read this kind of script how it feels.

The parallels were just so strong, and also the parallel between my private life being a mother of two, and also not living with the father anymore were there. Of course, I was very moved, and it was a very personal choice also that drew me to the script.

It’s funny you mention your personal experiences being a mother influencing you because when I was watching the movie, your character was very realistic. I could see my own mother in there, in your reactions and focus on your kids. So how did you prepare for the role? Or did you? I know in your past work you’ve stated that you’re a very present actor.

Haha, yeah, it’s a good point. I didn’t have to prepare [for] being a mother, and haha, I didn’t have to prepare [for] separating, um, I didn’t have to prepare [for] being on a beach. But it’s true, you know, what is happening on the beach in terms of weather conditions, they were so strong that you did not have to prepare, it was asking you to react. So that was actually a really good place to be in for this kind of movie. So you know, you can not be asleep on a beach in these conditions, if you see what I mean? It was just so intense all the time, and we had to run from one scene to the next, so the only way to be was like prepared in the moment, you know?

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The only thing, if you want, it wasn’t like ‘prepared’, but I thought about it and I kind of prepared the physicality of getting older, that’s something I did. Just closing my eyes and thinking of my grandmother, and walking in my hotel room, just walking up and down, and trying to find ways of how I would walk, or how my grandmother used to walk. Her eyes, I remember they were like children’s eyes when she got older, and how old people suddenly become so open. You know? It’s like suddenly they are so present and open, and curious. So these were things that I was trying to prepare.

It’s interesting because we saw that evolution of you taking care of the kids, and then, almost as you get older, you revert back to that child state, and then they take care of you. It’s a lovely moment, but I still find the concept of Old quite scary, that rapid acceleration of age. What was the most unsettling filming experience you had on set?

Ok, I would say unsettling was only what Vicky would see on set, you know? When anything would happen to other character’s. But there are many things that happen in the movie that we didn’t shoot on set because it was not possible. We shot parts of it. So the really horrific parts of the movie I never really got to see, I only saw it when I watched the movie, and then I got scared, but on the beach, I couldn’t really see them. So if it was unsettling, it was unsettling really on a deeper level.

Questioning myself about life. Questioning myself about the passing of time, of getting older, of dying one day, and how important love is, you know? The most important things we have in life, such as love and caring for one another, fighting for one another, helping each other, these were things that I was thinking about a lot, and sometimes it felt unsettling knowing the world I live in, which is, unfortunately, not always like this.

Obviously, you are no stranger to big blockbusters, you were fantastic in Phantom Thread, and it was so nice to see you back on the big screen. What was it like working with such a huge director like M.Night?

Ha, yes, well, first of all, every person is, first of all, a person, and he is too. I enjoyed working with a director who has built himself almost like an empire, you know, of movies and ideas. And you know he created some sort of cinema on his own, and each movie is different, so on that side, he might seem quite huge, but then on the other side, he has conserved himself something children have, which is like a deep curiosity for life, so I think he makes movies to understand life, which is a very good reason to make a movie, and this is something that I could connect with, and that I could follow. So to me, working with him felt very natural.

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It was easy to work with and around, or maybe to dance with the structures that are needed to do this kind of thriller cinema. But it was also different, if you see what I mean? The making of the movie, how is the set, how does the set look, how is it cut out? The other movies that I do are different in a way. Like if you take Phantom Thread, we would shoot everything we could chronologically, also because we could, it was more easy that way, you know?

But in this kind of cinema, in Old, where the visuals are more important, or the most important element almost, everything had to follow the image. So you can not just say, oh, I’m going to do everything chronologically. I had to follow the camera, what the camera needs at the moment, and what is possible. So this is something that I felt like I had to adapt to, but I was happy to do it, so that’s why I say it was like a dance. But working with Night as a director was very natural – it didn’t feel like something I had to adapt to or think about.

Thank you so much for your time, it’s been lovely talking to you, and I’m sure everyone is excited to see you in Old soon.

What that was so short, did I speak too long again?

No, no, we managed to get through everything we needed, so don’t worry.

Haha, thanks.

Old opens across cinemas in UK and US on July 23. In the meantime, for more chills and thrills, make sure to check our list of the best horror movies.