You may know the story of Invisible Man from the classic H.G. Wells book and subsequent iterations of the character on film and in television, but in his latest film, writer/director Leigh Whannell offers us this classic sci-fi thriller with a twist. In The Invisible Man, Whannell creates a dark and dangerous world wherein an abusive husband, who refuses to let his wife go, figures out a way to become invisible so that he can wreak havoc on her life and destroy her.
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Whannell, who is known for his directorial work in Upgrade and Insidious: Chapter 3, says that The Invisible Man is more an examination of relationships than a statement on love.
"I mean, I really wanted to communicate how difficult relationships can be," offers Whannell. "You know, human beings, we get ourselves into these relationships. We choose somebody and oftentimes it doesn't go the way we wanted to. And someone who you thought was one person turns out to be someone totally different. As you get to know someone, they reveal their true colors. And unfortunately, we live in a world where people have to go through these toxic relationships. Not just physical abuse, but psychological. You don't have to hit someone to wound them. You can do it with words."
"And so that was very interesting to me in terms of The Invisible Man, because here's someone who can't be seen. So, if he's attacking you, you can't prove it. You're not going to be believed. You're going to feel insane, like you're crazy. So, it seemed to dovetail nicely into this really modern conversation about what people are going through in relationships."
BET spoke with actors Elisabeth Moss (Us, Hulu's Handmaid's Tale) and Storm Reid (Don't Let Go, HBO's Euphoria) about moments when they've felt unseen, what they would do if they could be invisible, and what they use to get through scary nights.
BET: If you could render yourself invisible, what would you do with that ability?
Storm Reid: I wouldn't take the opportunity. I feel like when you're trying to be invisible, most times you're trying to be a little shady, a little sneaky. And, I don't want any parts of that. I feel like, okay, maybe if I was invisible I could go help people, but I feel like if I'm being of service and I'm helping people, I would want people to know that it was me. So, I would just pass up on that ability.
Elisabeth Moss: I would do the nerdiest thing, which is I would love to go watch performances of actors that I really admire up close or go to the theater and, you know, sit on the stage and watch the play from there. That sounds like it's not that exciting, but that would be really cool for me.
BET: Has there ever been a moment that you can ividly recall when you felt completely unseen?
Reid: Yes and no. I feel like as a young African-American girl, growing up I saw myself on television, but I didn't really see myself; I didn't see enough of myself. And how can you feel like you can succeed if you don't see yourself? Now we're in an industry where we're trying to make steps to be inclusive and be diverse, which I hope it's just not a trend. It should just be something that is just there. But I'm glad that I'm also able to be an inspiration to young African-American girls and just young women in general to just know that you can do anything you want to do, whether you want to be an actress or not. You could follow your dreams and you don't have to conform to what society wants you to conform to. You can be unapologetically you.
Moss: Yeah, absolutely. I think that's happened to all of us in varying degrees. Especially as a woman. Fortunately, I feel like in my experience, most of the time I've worked with really great people who have allowed me to have a voice and to be visible, but it's only sort of recently that I feel like that has become something that people are aware should be happening. Before I felt like it was something you definitely had to kind of remind people should be happening. And of course, in relationships too, whether they're romantic, or business or friendship, you know, of course there are times when we've all felt like—or even politically—like no one can hear me. And you feel like you're screaming into the wind.
BET: There's a great scene in this movie where the character Sydney gets resourceful one night when the Invisible Man pays an unwanted visit. Is there anything that you keep by your bed that makes you feel safe at night?
Reid: Actually, yes. I've never really thought about this, but I have pictures of my family and friends on my dresser and then at the edge of my dresser I have my Bible and that's right next to my bed. So, I feel like that always has me protected. My faith is what drives me., so, it's important.
Moss: I used to have a plank of wood that I would keep, but what am I going to do with that? If someone comes into my [room], what am I going to do? I might hit him with the piece of wood, but there was something about it that made me feel safer even if there was no objective to it. It just made me feel like I have a plan. I feel like, you know, language and intelligence and the mind [are] very powerful. I'm not a violent person. I wouldn't even trust myself with any sort of weapon. I believe in conversation.
BET: There were definitely some creepy, scary moments in this film! I jumped two or three times. During filming, was there any moment where you said, wow, I'm a little afraid?
Reid: I mean, the thought of like someone having enough money and intelligence to be able to ruin your life is a scary thought. But filming it wasn't too scary because I feel like we created such a bond on set and such a sense of comfortableness that was great because I feel like people think you should be walking on eggshells while filming a scary movie. I don't think that should be the case at all. A few times I was a little frightened, but not too much.
BET: So, we know that this movie is inspired by the H.G. Wells book The Invisible Man. Have you read the book?
Reid: I have not, but I want to. When I'm doing films that are based on books or movies, I try not to cloud my thoughts or have preconceived notions with those things. Even though I know that this is something that people have loved for a long time. I just wanted to take Leigh's vision and take this script and embrace it and try to make it my own. But I definitely want to watch the movie and read the novel. Sure.
BET: On a scale of one to 10 how would you rate the the fright factor of this movie?
Moss: You know, it's hard to be objective, but I did watch the film by myself in a screening room and I legitimately jumped several times and I was there when we shot it. So, I knew what was happening and I knew what I was about to do. I was watching myself and I actually surprised myself! So, I think with that information, I can be a little objective and say that I think it's pretty scary.
BET: On a scale of one to 10?
Moss: 20? It's a film that I have to warn my friends and be like, 'it's really scary. Ok?'
The Invisible Man is in theaters Friday February 28.