When Mimi Cave’s Fresh premiered at Sundance in January, the plot was purposefully vague. It was basically presented as a movie about dating. I honestly thought it was a romantic comedy. Fresh is not a romantic comedy. It’s pretty much the opposite of a romantic comedy. To the point if you happen to be a squeamish person, you might want to know Fresh will most likely make you squeamish.
The first 30 minutes or so start out like a romantic comedy. Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones) is going on dates and it seems like she can’t meet anyone who isn’t obnoxious. At the grocery store she has a chance encounter with Steve (Sebatian Stan) and, hey, here we go – we all hope it works out for these two. But then after about 30 minutes, Fresh takes a … turn. I won’t spoil what the actual plot is, but it’s safe to say things don’t really work out for Noah and Sam, at least the way we were first thinking
Ahead, both Stan and Edgar-Jones take us through this twisted film that, one moment, can depict pure horror, then the next has Stan and Edgar-Jones doing a highly choreographed dance to a Richard Marx song. (Also, if you see Fresh, there’s a good chance you won’t ever hear Animotion’s Obsession the same way.
There’s a scene where I’m horrified by the stuff going on, but then you two start dancing to, and I’m going from memory, was it Richard Marx? “Endless Summer Nights”?
Sebastian Stan: Of course!
And then I start laughing. Am I a bad person?
Sebastian Stan: I don’t think so.
Sebastian Stan: I don’t know.
I felt guilty.
Sebastian Stan: You should ask, first of all, your girlfriend…
That’s a good idea.
Sebastian Stan: But I think one of the things that we wanted, I suppose from the audience, is for everyone to sort of have their own experience with that moment, or whatever that third act is. I think a good movie often manages to leave one, sort of, with unexpected thoughts or feelings or reactions – rather than always just kind of giving you on a platter, telling you how to feel or how to think. And obviously, this movie has a lot of strong themes and ideas and questions. But I think as it goes, credit to Mimi, our director, I think, and us as well in the sense that we were really, really consciously as a collective, trying to find a way to artistically explain how complicated and complex that moment was between these two. And also keeping the audience a little bit off-kilter in the sense that if you are with Noa in that moment, that you may not necessarily know what she’s thinking or feeling.
Off-kilter is a good way to put it because I think what made me feel off-kilter watching that is both of you just look like you’re going for it. You are really doing a great dance to this song.
Daisy Edgar Jones: That was definitely the feeling. I mean, that was one of the main things we rehearsed. We didn’t really rehearse the scenes. We rehearsed that dance and we had lots of different ways it could have gone. But yeah, I think we both were like, we’ve got to just really commit, or else this isn’t going to work. So I’m glad you enjoyed it.
There’s another scene involving Sebastian preparing food to Animotion’s “Obsession,” I’ll never think of that song quite the same way again.
Sebastian Stan: Well, it was in the script though. That was one of the things that I think really sort of drew me in a way, that the script had these references to the ’80s and songs in the ’80s that you hadn’t heard. And it was sort of interesting. It gave Steve such a bizarre color in a way, too, because seemingly it made me ask, “What does he like when he’s alone in his own private space?” And it revealed something about him and that made him even more terrifying, juxtaposed with some of the serious stuff that he engages in. And, again, I think that’s what was appealing about the movie is just the tone and the shift between kind of the more humorous moments versus the real scary moments and going back and forth going, how is that person capable of both of those things?
When this was at Sundance, they kept the plot really vague. It was basically billed as a story about modern dating. Obviously, the marketing is being a little more open about the sinister tone. But when I first saw it, it was, “this is not going where I thought it was going to go.”
Daisy Edgar Jones: That’s so fun to hear. I think that’s the best way to come at the film, really. And I felt that way reading the script. I didn’t really know what was coming. And I think Lauryn’s [Kahn] script takes you on such different twists and tears. And even when you think you then know where it’s going to go again, it pulls the rug out from underneath you. So I think that was the fun of it. And I really hope that, yeah, most people do come to it with fresh eyes, pardon the pun, and not know what is to come and really enjoy the ride.
Yes, it does a great job playing with tropes. Things that usually happen in movies like this that do not happen.
Sebastian Stan: Well, I think I’ve always thought audiences are very smart. And I think we just don’t, unfortunately, always treat audiences that way anymore. But the most interesting movies to me when I’m in the audience are movies that sort of hit me out of nowhere, or make me think a certain way or ask certain questions and sometimes even pull me along for this ride. And the rug gets pulled from underneath you. And again, I think this was a really hard movie to make actually, and for us to find that fine line between keeping an element of surprise in a world where seemingly everything now just gets deciphered. So hopefully I do hope some people that do see it will kind of have that same element of surprise that you had at Sundance. Even though we’re obviously talking about it a lot.
Well, the day the trailer came out I saw people on Twitter saying things like, “Well, obviously THIS happens,” when I knew the thing they thinks happens does not happen. So, I think people don’t know what’s coming.
Sebastian Stan: That makes me happy if that’s true.
I think it’s true.
Sebastian Stan: I just, again, I love the reading that in the script, just the way it started, it felt so like such a natural kind of connection in the dialogue that, Lauryn had written was, it was conversational. It was relatable. It was aware and sort charming deprecating way and certainly with him and we were encouraged to build on that. And then I was actually scared. And for instance, I was like, “like this sets it up pretty in like a pretty tall order. Like, how do you go from there to a terrible person, but it turns out it’s possible.
If you had told me a few months ago that with these two projects Sebastion is in currently that Tommy Lee would be the more reasonable character I would not have believed that.
Sebastian Stan: Right? Well, I think the subject of our movie is certainly not a simple subject. And though I feel, our movie focuses on something very extreme, it does have a lot of underlying kind of timely sort of things that it brings up about sort of how we, well what do we look for in other people and how we connect. Or how do we base certain judgments on other people now, especially on first impression or social media…
Also, it’s a hard movie to talk about, because you don’t want to give anything away. Which I’m guessing leads to a lot of, “Do you have a dating horror story” questions. For the record, I am not asking that.
Daisy Edgar Jones: [Laughs] Yeah. I mean, I guess that is the question we’re getting. Okay. Because, the dating. Dating, I guess, is a part of the film. There is definitely, Noa goes on a fair amount of kind of pretty dodgy dates. So I guess it reminds people of some dodgy dates they’ve been on suddenly, but I’ve never experienced anything that she has.
‘Fresh’ will begin streaming via Hulu on March 4th. You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.