Jurnee Smollett talks about playing Lizzie in Netflix’s ‘Spider Head’

SPIDER.  (From left to right) Jurnee Smollett as Lizzie and Miles Teller as Jeff in Spider Head.  Netflix © 2022

Netflix’s Spider Head is very different from Jurnee Smollett’s previous projects (Birds of Prey, Lovecraft Country and True Blood). The first thing the actress thought of when she read the script of the film a few years ago was Milgram experiment — a controversial 1960s psychological study on human authority and obedience. His association with the 2010 New Yorker-inspired film. The story “Escape from the Spider’s Head”was too strong for Smollett to ignore.

“This idea of ​​disobedience versus obedience really intrigued me.”

“I read about this experiment when I was in high school… and it stuck with me — this idea that you can manipulate another person so much that they will then voluntarily cause pain or suffering to someone else,” says she is Popsugar. “This idea of ​​disobedience versus obedience really intrigued me, so when I read the script I was like, ‘Wow, this is interesting and thought provoking.

Spider Head, a futuristic thriller set in a state-of-the-art prison, follows visionary Steve Abnesti (Chris Hemsworth) — a scientist who gives prisoners doses of mind-altering drugs in exchange for a reduced sentence — and his dehumanizing mind. experiments. Steve’s subjects, Jeff (Miles Teller) and Lizzie (Smollett), form a bond in the prison they serve their sentences in when they fall victim to his controversial free will trials, which he hopes will change the pharmaceutical world. The genre film is a mix of black comedy, social commentary, and psychological thriller, which left Smollett with a lot of “uncomfortable questions,” but she learned to push herself out of her comfort zone to get ahead during filming.

“Spider Head” was filmed at the height of the pandemic, with Smollett stranded in “a place of extreme isolation.” “There was a lot of deep emotional pain that I was trying to internalize while at the same time feeling so out of touch with the world,” she explains. In the film, Lizzie Smollett struggles to cope with the death of her young daughter as she is found guilty of murder and sent to prison.

Despite their extreme differences, the actress admits that she still finds elements of herself in her character. “This level of isolation, as we all know, does something to you,” she continues, “and so I could connect with that, but then I could also connect with this idea of ​​vulnerability against shame…the past, because of which we reproach ourselves, and we have this sensor inside that says: “You are this, or you are that, or you are not enough”, you understand? [Lizzy].”

“I think this film [the kind] that after you see it, you should talk about it.”

Working with Teller and Hemsworth – “great colleagues,” as Smollett calls them – was a rewarding experience for the actor. “Personally, I really wanted to get back on set and be able to just create, and it felt so safe for me to do that with them. It was a very generous, playful environment,” she notes.

The warm setting and the way the actors’ characters explore human willingness and manipulation prompted Smollett to reflect on herself. “It definitely made me explore it deeper,” she says. “Where do you draw the line in society, and who should draw the line? We have so much modern technology and the future will only continue to evolve, but as we become more technologically advanced, we become more and more disconnected from our true lives. inner nature too.

Spider Head embarks on a journey through the shame, redemption and reconciliation that is so deeply rooted in reality. Even after filming, Smollett is still going through the layered storyline and predicts that audiences will do the same. “It definitely prompted me to sort of look around. [the shame] a lot in me and sinking into these really uncomfortable places,” she shares. “I feel like this film [the kind] that after you see it, you should talk about it. It doesn’t just quietly disappear into the dust.”

Spider Head is available to watch on Netflix now.

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