Relationships suck. Why? Because eventually you have to deal with the reality that your relationship isn't just you two (or three, or four, if you're into that). After you check out of the honeymoon hotel, where other people and your own gross bodily functions don't exist, you eventually have to come down to the real world. And that real world is ripe with temptation, frustration, and things you cannot control nor predict.
That's what writer/director Leigh Janiak explores in her film Honeymoon, in theaters this Friday. The film follows New York City newlyweds Paul (Harry Treadaway) and Bea (Rose Leslie) who travel to a remote cabin for their honeymoon. What starts off as a sweet getaway turns into a nightmare, when a mysterious force begins to transform Bea from Paul's loving wife into a shell of a human being he doesn't even recognize. At SXSW earlier this year, Janiak told Complex, "The movie is really about a relationship being destroyed, and how these outside elements can lead to that. The outside element is what it is in our film, but it doesn't have to be that. It could be anything. At the film's core, it's a relationship drama where crazy things happen."
At the film's press day in Los Angeles, Rose Leslie spoke to Complex about the film's themes, but also talked about what actually terrifies her. And no, it's not a doomed relationship—she's a pro at handling them, after all (see: Ygritte and Jon Snow in Game of Thrones).
What creeps you out?
It's kind of ridiculous, but I hate creepy crawlers. Like centipedes. It's just the fact that they have so many legs! I am not great with spiders either. That absolutely creeps me out.
But in this movie there's a lot of blood and ooze—does that make you queasy?
Not necessarily in real life, but it did make me feel a little queasy when we were filming it just because I was in the damn T-shirt for so long! [Laughs.] The blood became very sticky and slowly turned that white shirt into cardboard, so then it like decided not to move and became stiff and rigid and I felt so icky. But it was a funny experience and this is what you are doing as an actor, so it wasn’t messing with my head too much. At least there were no nasty smells.
I believe that we're not alone. How can we be alone in an infinite universe?
So how'd you get yourself into character? Besides the shirt that basically forced you into it.
[Laughs.] Harry and I had several conversations about making sure we were immersed within the loveable and sickening honeymoon bubble that the characters were in. We felt that if we built a solid, realistic foundation on that, then it would help the arc of their transformation. Knowing that there had to be a build up and a kind of like different approach to the character helped me to go one step further. We knew there had to be two extremes in one movie.
Would you say that this movie is a metaphor for relationships?
I hope not! Otherwise we're all doomed. [Laughs.] No, I feel that this movie shows that strong, healthy relationships are built on trust and honesty, and Bea is not very honest with him. To be fair, she doesn’t know what the hell is going on. But whether this is about how you should tackle your relationships—I think stay clear of woods and abandoned cabins in the woods and you'll be okay.
So it isn't trying to say that the honeymoon phase eventually ends?
The honeymoon phase always ends, for everyone. But hopefully not in this way.
Did you do any research into Brooklyn hipster life?
Harry and I spoke about perhaps going to New York and living in the East Village and going to these Indian restaurants that they talk about in the beginning of the script, throwing ourselves into that world, but it never happened. There wasn't enough time.
What did you do to cultivate your accent?
We had a dialect coach, which helped, absolutely. Being surrounded by an American crew helped as well, and Leigh was brilliant and just on it. If there was a shift in our voices, then we were able to re-shoot and go over it again and she very much had an ear for that. And then Harry and I, we have a great dialogue off-screen, so we were helping one another and asking other members of the crew things like, “How do you say that?"
Were there any words that you just couldn’t nail?
There are plenty in the American accent! There are loads! They normally begin with S. There were a few sentences where I was like, “Oh my, I hate this sentence, I hate this sentence.”
What's your go-to American accent?
I think, because I'm uneducated within that world, it would be the Valley girl. That's the one I kind of know. I love the southern accent as well. I sound horribly like I'm putting Americans into a box in that way, but as an outsider, that's how I feel. [Laughs.]
Do you believe in the supernatural? Or in aliens?
I believe that we're not alone. How can we be alone in an infinite universe? I'm using the word alien with a little trepidation because I know that sparks so many different versions of that word and there are so many different images that come in to one person's head when someone says it. So I wouldn't say I believe in aliens, but other life forms, absolutely. Think about the realms of possibility. The universe is so enormous and we have no idea what's on the other side of the galaxy. It's a lovely thing to be able to tap into. I'm definitely not opposed to any supernatural ideas, but I've never encountered any. I believe in spirits, but I've never seen a ghost. And I believe in heaven and hell.
Do you have any favorite bedtime stories or myths?
When I was a child, it was always the fantastical ones like "Jack and the Giant Beanstalk." I loved that, and I loved "Billy Goat’s Gruff."
I personally have been drawn to female roles who are incredibly strong, females who are dominant and know their own mind.
What about any favorite sci-fi or horror movies?
I know that it's more a psychological one, but my all-time favorite, one that freaks me out, is The Shining. If I want a scare and want to be creeped out for several hours, if not days, it would be The Shining.
What are you working on now?
So right now, I've flown in from Pittsburgh where I was working on an action/drama film called The Last Witch Hunter. I'll be there for seven months.
What kind of roles do you look for?
I personally have been drawn to female roles who are incredibly strong; females who are dominant and know their own mind; who are feisty in their own way without being annoying. I like it when she has a dark side but she also has a playful side. It's a wonderful thing to have a character with tons of attributes.
Ygritte is such an iconic character and a role model for a lot of girls.
I feel hugely blessed to be able to play a character that's been able to reach others. It's great to have her on a pedestal with Jon Snow because, like I said, she's a woman with her own mind, who is hugely loyal to her people and to the tribe. She fights for what she believes in and doesn’t take any slack. It's a wonderful thing to show young women that it is okay to speak your mind and to stand up to your man.
How many people come up to you a day and say, “You know nothing, Jon Snow”?
Quite a lot. [Laughs.] Oh god, I feel hugely privileged to have not only been a part of Game of Thrones, but also to have a catchphrase. It's a lovely thing.
Who are your fictional female idols?
Well, one of my favorite books is by Georgette Heyer, These Old Shades. The heroine in that book is a feisty young woman and antagonizes a lot of the men that step into her life.
You're drawn to these tough female characters, but how would you say you are in real life?
I wish I were as tough and strong as the women that I'm lucky enough to portray. I suddenly feel that I've learned a lot when it comes to standing up for your beliefs and answering back if you think that something is wrong, or if you're passionate about something you believe in. But yeah, I think that there's a delicate balance in whatever relationship you're in and that you have to have respect for one another.
Tara Aquino is the Complex Pop Culture editor who is ride-or-die for Ygritte. Tweet at her here.