Spending an evening with Allison Williams—the stellar young actress and star of Girls—and talking about Get Out, one of the most provocative movies of this or any other year, is an assignment we highly recommend.
Girls, now in its finale season on HBO, is enjoying some of the series' highest ratings in its seven-year run. Williams is also co-starring in Get Out, which is scoring a stunning 99 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes—one of only six films to ever rank that high on the review aggregator website. Rolling Stone celebrated Get Out as a "jolt-a-minute horror show laced with racial tension and satirical wit." Describing the film as a "modern American horror classic," Forbes says Get Out captures the nation's "current zeitgeist."
Can you appreciate that people are talking about Get Out in the same way we talk about Rosemary's Baby or Night of the Living Dead?
I knew that when I first read it, [writer/director] Jordan Peele had tapped into something very special, using a genre that for a long time hasn't been used for a greater social commentary. I leapt at the opportunity.
When did you film this movie?
January through March 2016. I remember that the presidential debates were happening.
You know where I'm going with this.
I had a feeling.
By the time Donald Trump had been elected president, you had scheduled your release date for this February. And with racial unrest boiling at the surface...
I know exactly where you're going with this. Right after the election, I texted Jordan: "I wish this could come out now." He said, with great sadness, that there probably wouldn't be a time anytime soon when this movie wouldn't be relevant and important. And then, post-November, the film became relevant in a whole new way as our country seemed to be increasingly bifurcated.
Let's talk about casting. Your director's choices in casting against type is rather brilliant. For goodness sakes, Bradley Whitford plays your father.
I know. That's Josh Lyman from The West Wing. But that's another part of Jordan's brilliance: Choosing unlikely people as villains. Very deliberate. He wanted me for the part of Rose because he thought people would trust me immediately, knowing that I came with the legacy of playing Marnie on Girls.
How did Jordan approach you?
He told my agent, "I need Allison to play this part." Oddly enough, he asked for me based on my performance in Peter Pan [Williams played the title role in NBC's 2014 live musical] and not my role on Girls. I think he knew that I would do just about anything, which is true. I will.
Speaking of Girls, does Marnie finally get a happy ending by the series finale?
You can't just sneak in that question.
You can't even say if she finds happiness?
How difficult was it to wrap the series?
Very, very sad.
Pardon my being superficial, but more than a few people are curious about your new hair color. Is that for a role?
No, a cover shoot for Allure. I was willing to change it to jumpstart my moving away from Marnie on Girls. It's my break-up hair color.
Can I assume that each time you've seen Get Out audiences react differently: gasping instead of laughing? Laughing instead of screaming? That must be a trip.
That's one of the other things brilliant about Jordan: perfect timing. Someone in the audience screams at the screen, shouting, "That bitch is crazy." And two seconds later, a character in the movie says, "That bitch is crazy."
Tell me about the moment when you first read the script and eventually realized who your character would truly become.
It's sounds a bit weird, but I was so honored that Jordan wanted me to play her. I knew at that exact moment that this was a huge responsibility, to carefully reveal her true character but in a way that you've never seen before.