It’s one thing to just act in a horror film as the passive victim of a gruesome killer who hunts you down and inevitably wins, but it’s another thing to take on the starring role and become the prevailing heroine, which is what Jessica Rothe does once again in the sequel film, Happy Death 2U, set to hit theaters on February 13.
Let’s talk about Happy Death Day 2U. Were you at all surprised that there was going to be a sequel to it?
JESSICA ROTHE: Yea, I was shocked because in the first film, I originally died at the very end. I made it out of the loop, I made it to the next day, I vanquished all my foes, and then there was a very snarky plot twist where Gregory’s wife poisoned me to get back at me for sleeping with her husband. When we did test screenings of the film, people freaked out so we actually re-shot the ending. About a month before the first movie came out, [director] Chris Landon called me and said, "Okay, I have a crazy idea," and he pitched the sequel to me. And I said to him, "Chris, you know what, you’re the only person I know who could pull this off. But if you’re in, I’m in."
I guess without telling me anything but telling me a little about the film, it looks like you’re playing the same scene over and over. What was that like?
JR: It was actually really fun. One of the things I loved about making the first one and the second movie is there are a lot of nuances. For me, I’m really lucky, even though I’m playing the same scene over and over again, I get to make slight tiny adjustments in what I’m doing or really huge adjustments. I’m a perfectionist. I actually really liked doing the same thing over and over again. Instead of my personal hell, it’s my personal best day ever, getting to perfect things.
You’re also a big supporter of female empowerment. Is that what attracted you to the role of Tree because she’s such a fighter?
JR: I really think it was. I just don’t think that roles like this are written for women that often. Not only what a fighter she is but also that she gets to undergo such a drastic transformation. In the first film, we see her turn from this manipulative, self-serving person into this bad ass heroine who’s fighting for herself and for those around her. In the sequel, she continues that arc and it becomes even deeper. There’s also a beautiful, emotional journey in the sequel. I think it’s really important for young women to see such an empowered female role model who isn’t willing to quit, who isn’t going to wait for someone else to save her, who instead of running away from the bad guy picks up an ax and runs towards him.
I have to ask—are you so sick of that 50 Cent song?
JR: [Laughs] Here’s the crazy part, way before this movie, when I was younger, I was really short. My dad would sing that song to me on my birthday and my dad’s not good at singing. My dad’s a doctor. But he would come into my room—go, go, go shorty, it’s your birthday. So, there must be some kind of weird karmic loop happening in my life. It has a soft space in my heart.
Speaking of musical chops, we got to see you perform in La La Land. Would you consider more musically inclined roles in the future?
JR: I would love to. I feel so incredibly blessed that I was a part of La La Land. It was such an incredible experience and I’m so happy that musicals are making such a huge comeback. Being in another movie/musical would be an absolute dream so we’ll see.