I had the chance to speak with actors Malin Åkerman and Lorenza Izzo about their new film The Aviary, a horror thriller about two young women who attempt to survive in the desert after escaping the clutches of a cult run by Chris Messina.
Åkerman is well known for her work in films like Watchmen, I’ll See You in My Dreams, The Heartbreak Kid, Rampage, and Wanderlust along with television shows such as Billions, Childrens Hopsital, and Trophy Wife. Åkerman has also produced a number of films including Chick Fight, Friendsgiving, and now The Aviary. Izzo is best known for her work in films like Women Is Losers, Knock Knock, and The Green Inferno and in television in Hacks, Casual, and Penny Dreadful: City of Angels. I was struck by Åkerman and Izzo’s good humor and charm in the conversation – the chemistry the two share in real life is easy to see.
The following has been lightly edited for clarity and conciseness.
Malin, I wanted to ask about your work as a producer. I notice that between The Aviary, Chick Fight, and Friendsgiving there’s a common throughline of women who are attempting to grapple with a discontent in their life. Here, obviously a little more extreme.
Åkerman and Izzo: ::Laughs::
I’m curious what you look for as a storyteller in your production capacity.
Åkerman: I love a human experience and I love a challenge. I like to see a character move through something and have a change throughout a script. Of course, it resonates with me when there’s a challenge because that’s just life. We all go through our challenges, and I’ve definitely had my own fair share of them. It’s nice to have relatability. Usually, I love to bring in some comedy and levity into it because that is life as well. There’s comedy in trauma and in sadness and we have to be able to laugh at certain things.
This one was a bit original and a challenge as a character piece. Moving into something that is very psychological and I didn’t know how I was going to approach this at all. I don’t think I’ve been brainwashed in my life so moving through and figuring out what that would look like. As you saw, this doesn’t really give you an answer and I like an open ending like that.
Lorenza, I’m curious about how you balance a performance like this. On the one hand, there’s a real trauma story of a victim trying to grapple with the horrible experience she’s been though, and, on the other hand, you have this sort of encroaching thriller/horror elements. How do you approach that in your performance?
Izzo: I don’t know! ::Laughs:: I don’t have a set way of doing things. I don’t have a strict method of how I approach certain things. I think when I read a script I try to figure out the arc, where I’m gonna go, and how high I want to get. That also has so much to do with my director – in this case, Jen and Chris – and my acting partner, Malin. This one in particular is so much about the elements and these two women. There’s nothing to fall into. You’re very naked in a way, very vulnerable. It’s all about that trust because then you can really let go.
For me, I enjoy this kind of genre because there’s a real relief that happens when you can really let go and explore very scary aspects of yourself or situations you could be in. I think the mind is very powerful, but also very fickle. To allow yourself to go there can be quite an experience. I think I was able to do that, hopefully in an ok way, because I felt very safe. You know it became a joke because my character has so many of the scare moments so it’s like Malin says – life is pretty scary as it is. Real life can be very scary. I like to deal with life with comedy a lot and I was so lucky I had Malin in this movie. There were a lot of laughs between takes which helps balance out the emotions of the characters. I think the balance of the performance happens in the editing room and with the director, it’s a collaborative thing in the end. It’s not just you ever.
I wanted to ask about the chemistry because so much of the movie rests on the relationship between the two of you. You can even see it in the Zoom right now that the two of you have clearly gotten along swimmingly! I’d love to hear you speak to that.
Åkerman: Yea, it was instant friendship. Lorenza is one of the most outgoing, bubbly, sunshiny personalities ever. And I love it. Through grueling long days, she’d come to set and it was ::goofy noises. Laughs::.
Izzo: ::Laughs:: It could have gone really wrong!
Åkerman: And I love it! It means so much to have someone who’s so outgoing and just real. She can’t be anything but herself. We’ve continued our friendship after and I have a friend for life. I’m so glad it resonated on the screen. That’s all you can hope for especially when you have two people on the screen and that’s what it hinges on. We got lucky.
Well I gather we’ve reached the end of our time. I really enjoyed having the chance to speak with both of you. I’m a great admirer of both of your work actually – Women Is Losers, I’ll See You in My Dreams – there’s a lot of stuff you’ve both done I really appreciate. Congratulations on this film and best of luck!
Åkerman and Izzo: Thank you so much!
The Aviary will be in select theaters and available on video on demand on April 29.