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Hereditary Star Alex Wolff ‘Actively Avoiding’ Horror Movies

by : Cameron Frew on :
A24/Neon/Altitude Films

After starring in one of the scariest movies of all time with Hereditary, Alex Wolff has no interest in horror. 

Nostalgia; it’s delicate, potent and dangerous. When it comes to horror, there’s a recurring ‘consensus’ that it’s not as strong as it was in the good old days of reputable classics like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Shining, Nightmare on Elm Street or Scream – all of which have been milked for remakes, reboots and sequels in the Hollywood machine.

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These cynics are hopelessly wrong, as evidence shows: The Witch; The Babadook; The Cabin in the Woods; It: Chapter One; Get Out; Raw; and many, many others. At the top of the nightmare scale, there’s Hereditary; a film so terrifying, it saw audiences crying and running, hands shielding their wet eyes. For Wolff, that’s a solid enough legacy to leave behind.

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From his earlier days alongside Nat in the The Naked Brothers Band, and nearly five years on from Patriot’s Day, Wolff is now a bona fide indie star with movies like HereditaryMy Friend Dahmer, Bad Education, Castle in the Ground and his own directorial effort The Cat and the Moon. He’s also directing a new movie in the spring, but hasn’t divulged any details bar the inclusion of a ‘terrific’ actress.

He doesn’t have a plan, so to speak. ‘I try not to think about things in terms of career. I go with stuff that moves me without sounding to self-important or pretentious or anything. I try not to get too hung-up on focusing on my career in too much of a macro way,’ he told UNILAD.

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Coming off the back of M. Night Shyamalan’s Old, he stars alongside Nicolas Cage in Pig. In our review, we called it one of the best films of the year.

Nicolas Cage and Alex Wolff in Pig. (Neon)Neon/Altitude Films

Wolff described it as the ‘single greatest experience for me, not just professionally as an actor, but it was. It was the best experience I’ve had, getting to work with another artist like him that does magic in front of your eyes and you can’t figure out how he did it. But also it was just the most rewarding personal experience I’ve ever had to work with him’.

‘I’ve said this before as well, but I feel if I have really bad luck for the next 10 years of working people who maybe I don’t connect with, or things where the chemistry isn’t as good, I feel it’d be okay to pay that price after having such an unbelievably rewarding, special, one-in-a-million, once-in-a-lifetime experience of working with someone who’s already my hero, already an actor I look to as my guiding light.

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‘Every new movie I would watch, no matter what genre or what he’s doing, he’s the most risk-taking, brave, nuanced and all-round delicious actor that’s around. To have that high opinion of him and his art and work with him and realise it’s even more incredible to watch up close, he’s even more gracious and giving and exhilarating to be friends with ,you don’t have a lot of experiences like that, so I just gush, gush and gush.’

Alex Wolff in Pig. (Neon/Altitude Films)Neon/Altitude Films

While Cage plays Robin, a grizzled, truffle-hunting widower living out in the Oregon woods with his beloved pig, Wolff stars as Amir, a yuppie under his dad’s thumb who buys truffles to supply local restaurants. He’s one lick away from Tom Cruise in Rain Man – something the actor was delighted to hear when told that was my immediate thought.

‘Oh my god! That’s amazing, that’s the one I totally referred to all of the time. I just feel very, very grateful for the comparison to one of my favourite performances ever.’

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When the trailer for Pig dropped, its plot – Cage’s Robin on the hunt for the people who steal his pig – was instantly compared to John Wick across social media. While Wolff tends to not take notice of any comparisons, that one ‘confused’ him.

Nicolas Cage in Pig. (Neon)Neon/Altitude Films
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‘I feel people just throw a bunch of sh*t at the wall and see what sticks. I feel the comparison art to be really dumb, anyway. Most articles find a way of taking the nearest, lowest-hanging fruit in terms of what the easiest comparison is. But that one just confused me because I felt like, ‘Oh boy, that really isn’t what this movie is, I hope people aren’t disappointed.’

‘But at the same time, I thought it’d be really great to get a bunch of people in the theatre expecting one thing and completely subvert their expectations and give them something a lot richer, you know? If you go in expecting to eat Skittles, and get a big decadent, delicious dessert, I don’t think you’ll be totally upset – you’ll just be filled.’

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Halfway through our conversation, it pivots towards Hereditary; a movie on which Wolff has documented his experience extensively. ‘That movie did about as much damage to me as a movie can do,’ he earlier said.

Alex Wolff in Hereditary. (A24)A24

When fans see him on the street, Hereditary is responsible for some of the ‘more visceral responses… some people just click at me, a lot of people say it was the most horrifying experience they’ve ever had’.

‘The coolest thing people say is maybe they had a horrifying family tragedy or something, and they found some catharsis in the disturbing nature of the movie. It’s not as common, but definitely common enough that you realise that movies can be a powerful thing… I just feel lucky I’ve gotten to be in some things that seem to hold some emotional resonance.’

Ari Aster followed up Hereditary with Midsommar, a trippy, occult daymare that didn’t feature Wolff. While he’d been keen to reunite with the director, saying they’re good friends, he’s not pursuing another horror movie at all.

Alex Wolff in Hereditary. (A24)A24

‘A horror film is something I’ll actively avoid, but I feel really lucky to have worked in the genre at all. Again, I’m not very intellectual, not very tactful on the way I play in my career – I don’t think in terms of that, I just attack the things I love and I don’t relent, and I stand by them whether they burn to the ground or lift up and move in the way Pig has. I follow my gut in that way.’

Many – including myself – may consider Hereditary the crown jewel of Wolff’s career so far, but it’s his latest work he holds dearest: ‘If I die and people remember me for Pig that would be the greatest thing in the world.’

Pig will open in UK and Irish cinemas from August 20. Watch it on altitude.film and Other Digital Platforms From August 23.

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected].

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Cameron Frew

Entertainment Editor at UNILAD. 2001: A Space Odyssey is the best film ever made, and Warrior is better than Rocky. That's all you need to know.

Topics: Featured, Features, Film and TV, Hereditary, horror, Pig