Night Hunter, a psychological thriller by writer and director David Raymond, explores members of the police force and their connection to a series of abductions and murders. One of the characters at the center of the story is Rachel, a profiler with marital problems played by Alexandra Daddario. The actress sat down with Screen Rant to discuss how she stepped into her character’s psyche, and how honored she felt to be working alongside such a top tier cast.
You don't have to look beyond the cast list to understand why you chose this project. The chance to work with Henry Cavill, Ben Kingsley, Stanley Tucci, Nathan Fillion, and many others must have been too big of an opportunity to pass up. Who is the most surprising legend that you got the chance to work with on this project?
Alexandra Daddario: Oh, God. I mean, they were all incredible. Sir Ben Kingsley, in particular, it was a huge honor to work with him. I really adore him, and I found to be incredibly supportive and brilliant, and all the things that you would expect of Sir Ben Kingsley. Also, just very, very funny. He has a wonderful sense of humor. So, I absolutely adore him.
Amazing. This project may be a little more intense and street-level than many of your previous movies. How does a project this gritty affect your performance?
Alexandra Daddario: I sort of like exploring myself. Getting into that kind of state of mind is really hard, because you go home and carry a lot of that with you. Even if you know in your mind that you’re going to be crying or yelling all day, your hormones or whatever [are affected] and can lead to trouble sleeping, and that kind of thing.
But it's kind of interesting to explore that side of yourself. And I think it was a challenge for me; a good challenge, and really helped me out with providing an environment that allows me to explore all of that. And that's what's fun as an actress – to push yourself to different emotional places and try different things that you've never tried before.
What I really love doing as an actor – in addition to learning from some incredible actors, like the kind of people I got to work with on this – is trying something totally different.
Interesting. What did you discover about yourself as an actor during the filming of Night Hunter?
Alexandra Daddario: I knew I could pull it off, but I was intrigued by the role. I think that one of the beautiful things [about acting] is it’s a little meditational; you sort of get to this place where you can't plan out what you're doing.
In particular with something like this, that’s highly emotional and dark and you don't know what the other person is going to be next, you're really reacting. You have to get yourself lost in the moment and sort of see what happens. I was surprised sometimes, when I got into that sort of meditational lost place, by what would happen.
That's what's really fun, when you don't plan and maybe you over prepare. And then when you get there, you have to let it all go and just see what happens. I like to see the scenes take on a life of their own in that way.
Nice. You play a criminal psychologist in the film. What kind of research went into your role for this film?
Alexandra Daddario: I have a tendency to over-prepare, so I read the script a lot. I did a lot of work on the character; where she came from, who she was, why she got into what she did. The storyline [shows a lot of] her relationship status, and her sort of struggling in her marriage. I did a lot of work on that. Because I think that coming in, with the kind of job that she does, if you're having trouble at home, it’s even harder to deal with it at work. You‘re trying to have more control over things if you don’t have control over your personal life. So I did a lot of work on her, and who she was as a person outside of what you see on the screen.
David Raymond is both the writer and director of this film. Do you find it easier or more challenging as a performer when the director is also the script writer?
Alexandra Daddario: I think it benefits when the director has written the script, because they know what they were going for. They can answer questions. The writers aren't always there on set, but it's nice when you have someone who understands the ins and outs of their projects. Because they can sort of explain to you what they were going for when they wrote it.
Especially this script – there's a lot of twists and turns; it’s very complex. So, it's easy to get lost when you're shooting where you’re at in the story.
Corruption of trusted institutions is a steady undercurrent in this movie. What kind of real-world relevance do you think these themes will have with audiences?
Alexandra Daddario: Well, I think one of the weirdest, craziest and most intense scenes is in the beginning of the movie. I believe it’s in the trailer, as well. Sir Ben Kingsley sort of dispenses justice on his own, and I think that part of the story – in addition to the nature of the abuse that women are facing – is this idea that at what point is it too much to take matters into your own hands?
Why is the police force there? When do people take it too far? Why is it wrong for Ben Kingsley’s character to do what he did? Even if it's the right answer, why is it wrong? Because of human nature, we get too emotionally involved and we can't really be trusted to take matters into our own hands, which is why we have a police force, interrogators, detectives, etc. So, there's an interesting aspect of that; of why we can't take matters into our own hands.
You share many intense scenes with Brendan Fletcher, who has clearly thrown himself into his role. Talk to me about acting opposite him and the emotional toll that the film may have taken on you.
Alexandra Daddario: I thought it was very cool to work with him. He definitely was very Method and took his role very seriously. He delivers an incredible performance.
One of the cool things, like I mentioned earlier, is that you don't really know what's going to happen next. We were all given our notes quietly, so I didn't hear what his notes were. That's why when we went into the scene, I didn't know what to expect. And I really enjoyed that, because I don't want to know what's gonna happen. I think you react more authentically if you're not expecting it. So, I thought that that was really cool, because I didn't really know what he was going to do next. It brought the scenes to life in a good way.
It absolutely did. Henry Cavill turns in a much different performance than many of his Superman fans may be anticipating. What can you tell me about his performance?
Alexandra Daddario: I thought he did a great job. He's good person and a consummate professional, and it's really awesome to work with Superman.
He was a really strong costar and just a wonderful person to work with. I think everyone was. You get lost in these people's work; they were just totally in it, for better for worse. There's a lot of darkness in there, but we are all totally in it.
Serial killer mysteries have been a popular sub-genre in Hollywood for decades. Why do you think that this genre strikes such a nerve with audiences?
Alexandra Daddario:I think people enjoy being scared. They enjoy seeing the darker side of humanity. I think it's sort of cathartic, in the same way that horror movies and thrillers are. There’s that adrenaline rush you get when you grab the person next to you when something happens suddenly, or, you can't believe what's happening on screen.
So, I think it's a combination of being fascinated by human nature, and also enjoying that feeling of bing scared.