In the upcoming original Hulu movie, NO EXIT, a young woman becomes stranded in a motorway rest stop during a blizzard and discovers a kidnapped girl in a van. Determined to discover the identity of the kidnapper, she investigates the group of strangers trapped inside with her.
During the recent press junket for NO EXIT, we had the chance to ask the director Damien Power and Dennis Haysbert, Danny Ramirez, David Rysdahl, and Havana Rosa Lui from the cast some questions about the making of the movie.
Interview with the talent of NO EXIT: how quarantine helped make the movie better and other fun facts from the making of NO EXIT
The novel NO EXIT had all the makings for a great movie
After reading the initial script, Damien Power knew that NO EXIT had the elements needed to make a great movie while being faithful to the novel.
As a novel, it had a great character-driven plot, it's got high stakes, it's got these surprising twists and turns, this incredible, hostile setting, and, you know, this great ticking clock with the girl in the van. And all that was already, in the script that I read,” said Damien Power.
NO EXIT isn't a film about a character's journey; it's a film about how true character is revealed under pressure
“True character is revealed under pressure, and that applies to every single character in that room. The audience is trying to work out who is the kidnapper. So, Darby's trying to ask, ‘Who are you?' and the film asks that question of the characters all the time ‘Who are you when this happens? Who are you now? Who are you when the pressure's really on?' I think that that's a very human experience,” Power said.
Power also discussed how he believed the film is about desperation and how desperation pushes people to do terrible things.
“I think all of those characters are in their own way desperate. And I think that that's what brings a level of light and shade to all of the characters.”
Havana Rose Lui fell in love with the character of Darby immediately
Havana conveyed what Darby was going through flawlessly, despite how intense the character is and the depth of emotion she carries.
“I just fell in love with Darby right away. I use this thing called ‘The 36 Questions To Fall In Love' in order to find character every time. I'm untrained, so generally, I'm just throwing pasta at the wall and seeing what sticks. And with Darby, I barely even had to think. It just felt like it was flowing right from me. I find her to be gritty, bold, charming, and also tortured, and also very vulnerable in a way that I don't think we always see heroic characters holding on to throughout the course of the film, Havana said. “It was just the best, most sort of complex, nuanced character I could have asked to play, given that so many of her faults really are her strengths, and vice versa. I think playing around with that duality was just something that made me feel so alive every day. And I thank Damien every night before bed for giving me the role.”
Danny Ramierez masters duality as Ash
As Ash, Danny Ramirez really leaned in and managed to play a character who is charming in one beat and incredibly dark, bordering on psychopathic in the next. Ramirez shared how he felt part of his 2 weeks in quarantine upon arrival in New Zealand attributed to his ability to get into the right headspace to portray Ash.
“For 2 weeks, all the source material that Damien had sent me, and everything we had talked about was basically just ruminating. By the time that we went to go film…it all came out,” Ramirez said. “Honestly, just felt like a pressure cooker, that felt safe to be our best and our worst selves, which I think the film definitely required to find ways to empathize with people that you normally would write off right away. And I was a little bit scared sitting in that room for 2 weeks and then having to go be a person, but also an actor in the space. But I think in the movie, you're able to see everyone, and the beautiful work that they did to make really nuanced characters that usually an archetype you would write off so quickly.”
How the cast built chemistry during a 2-week quarantine
Getting off the ground and running on a film project is critical to budget and deadlines. COVID hasn't helped any films meet deadlines or budgets in the last couple of years. However, it has helped talent figure out ways to be more creative. During the 2-weeks the cast of NO EXIT spent in quarantine when they first arrived in New Zealand, the team used that time to get to know one another better—it just wasn't in person.
It's clear from the film that Ramirez and David Rysdahl have a very close relationship and their chemistry is almost sibling-like.
David Rysdahl shared how about four days into quarantine he thought they should get each other's numbers and connect. David, Danny, and Havana ended up having a FaceTime to get to know one another.
“And it's, like, a 3-hour FaceTime, and we got really into it. We started talking about our own families. I have a large family, and for these kinds of characters to work, you have to bring yourself to it, and to bring-find the personal in it,” Rysdahl said.
“For me, it's really important in how Damien's approaching it, and how all the other actors approached it, I think, was really not judging these characters. They're really trying to play them truthfully. And I think trusting the other actors are gonna be there for you and support. And I feel like every day, we'd go into that snow globe of hell, which I've used a couple of times, and I feel like was going into battle every day.”
Rysdahl shared that the film was shot mostly in order. “All the memories of the day before were in you, or of a week before. I remember later on in the script, I was like, ‘I don't have to act anymore. I already feel it just walking into this place. I'm already triggered.' And the whole crew felt that, too, 'cause we were all in it together, watching the movie unfold in front of us.”
The cast created the groundwork in quarantine, but they would go out and have dinners. “I got very close to all these people. I love all these people. And you have to have that if you're gonna do something this dark, I think. You want there to be a nuance to it, and I think having people that you respect have your back is really essential,” Rysdahl said.
Watch the NO EXIT Trailer
About No Exit
Hulu’s suspense/thriller NO EXIT is the story of Darby Thorne, a young woman en route to a family emergency who is stranded by a blizzard and forced to find shelter at a highway rest area with a group of strangers. When she stumbles across an abducted girl in a van in the parking lot, it sets her on a terrifying life-or-death struggle to discover who among them is the kidnapper. Directed by Damien Power (“Killing Ground”) from a screenplay by Andrew Barrer & Gabriel Ferrari (“Ant-Man and the Wasp”) based on Taylor Adams’ 2017 novel and produced by PGA Award winner Scott Frank (“The Queen’s Gambit”), the film stars Havana Rose Liu (“Mayday”), Danny Ramirez (“The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” “Top Gun: Maverick”), David Rysdahl (“Nine Days”), Mila Harris (“Young Dylan”) and Dennis Haysbert (“Breakthrough”).
NO EXIT will debut February 25 exclusively as a Hulu Original in the U.S. and internationally as an Original on Disney+ under the Star banner and Star+ in Latin America.
Rating: R (for strong violence, language, and some drug content)
Director: Damien Power
Editor: Andy Canny
Screenplay: Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari
Producer: Scott Frank
Adapted from: No Exit book by Taylor Adams
Cast: Danny Ramirez; Dennis Haysbert; Havana Rose Liu; Mila Harris; David Rysdahl; Dale Dickey
Production company: 20th Century Studios