When we ourselves are strapped to our seats, incapacitated by the sheer terror of the horror cinema before us, it’s rare that we consider the actual well-being of the actors who have to project such moments of emotional torment. This is particularly true of the actress Shelley Duvall, whose time on the set of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is infamous as one of the most emotionally traumatic experiences of any modern actor. The same can be said of Alex Wolff, the young teenager in Ari Aster’s terrific horror film, Hereditary.
Reflecting on his role in the highly influential 2018 horror film, Wolff recalled, “That movie did about as much damage to me as a movie can do,” discussing the matter with entertainment journalists Looper. “All of it. It really affected me,” Wolff commented, explaining that he had lost sleep over the role and suffered genuine psychological effects.
Continuing, the actor notes, “It’s very hard because as an actor, you really don’t want to sound pretentious or self-serious or like anything is too serious…“Because we have a cushy job in a lot of ways, but this, emotionally, it was one of those tough ones, it was one of those ones that really did some gymnastics on my emotional well-being”.
Thankfully, the mental effects of the film were not significantly long term, with Alex Wolff due to star in Pig opposite Nicolas Cage in his next project. Speaking to the NME, Wolff revealed, “On day one I had to do a scene where I get in a car with him and I have to freak out and start screaming”.
Continuing, he jokingly comments about the magnitude of acting in front of the classic actor, stating, “I was imitating him a lot – and I said to him before we did the take, ‘listen, freaking out in front of you is like doing a guitar solo in front of Jimi Hendrix’”.