Don't Breathe Star Jane Levy Discusses Her Return to the Horror Genre

Don't Breathe poster excerpt

It's been three years since Jane Levy appeared on movie theater screens as Mia, the protagonist of Fede Alvarez's Evil Dead, whose mission to get clean of heroin at a remote cabin in the woods was complicated by the arrival of the malevolent demons known as Deadites. Levy has kept busy in those three years, with her continued starring role in ABC sitcom Suburgatory and a lead role in Jeffrey St. Jules' musical drama Bang Bang Baby. Then, in 2015, she reunited with Alvarez for another horror movie - only this time the monster wasn't an ancient demonic force, but a blind old man.

In Don't Breathe, Levy plays a young woman called Rocky who seeks to escape her abusive home life and run away to California, along with her little sister Diddy (Emma Bercovici). Unfortunately, Rocky lives in Detroit, on the other side of the country from California, and she needs money both for the journey and to set up a life for herself once she gets there. In an effort to achieve her dream, Rocky resorts to robbing houses with two accomplices: Alex (Dylan Minnette) and Money (Daniel Zovatto).

Though Don't Breathe's outdoor scenes were filmed on location in Detroit, the bulk of filming took place on a sound stage in Budapest, where the filmmakers painstakingly built a house from the basement to the second floor. During the seventh week of filming, shortly before production wrapped in Hungary and moved to Detroit, Screen Rant was fortunate enough to visit the set of Don't Breathe during filming, and we spoke to Levy about the experience of making her second film with Alvarez.

Jane Levy as Rocky in Don't Breathe

We don’t really know anything about this film right now. Can you tell us a bit about your character, Rocky?

Jane Levy: Rocky is a young girl from Detroit who doesn’t want to live there anymore and wants to start her own life and doesn’t have the means to do so. So she and her friends start stealing stuff so that they can make enough money to get out of Detroit forever.

So this isn’t their first robbery?

JL: The main robbery in this film is not their first, no. It’s their first stealing cash.

What’s the relationship like between the three of you?

JL: They’re friends situationally. Like, they all need each other to be able to pull these things off. But also, there’s a bit of a love triangle.

Where does Rocky want to go after Detroit?

JL: Rocky has a little sister that she’s really close to. She wants to get away with her sister. They say California. I think anywhere. California is like an obvious dreamy getaway place. That that’s their fantasy, is the beach in California.

Jane Levy in Fede Alvarez's Evil Dead
Jane Levy in Fede Alvarez's Evil Dead

How horrific does the movie get? Is it more of a thriller?

JL: This is where me and the director and a lot of people on set don’t agree. For some reason everyone likes to call it a thriller. To me it’s 100% a horror movie. It’s very horrific. Less blood maybe than something like Evil Dead, but still terrifying and shock value. There is gore and violence.

I was lucky enough to get to talk to you on the set of Monster Trucks. I remember you saying that you weren’t too keen on doing another horror movie.

JL: I knew this question was going to come up… [laughter]

What lured you back?

JL: I don’t know. They caught me at a bad moment... Or they caught me at a good moment, whichever way you want to see it... Actually, I signed on to do this movie five days before I flew to Budapest. I had one day to decide whether I was going to do this. Fede just called me. A couple actresses were going to play this part. I wasn’t even up for it. I didn’t audition for it. We weren’t even talking about it. He was like, “You know what? I want you to do it.” And I was like, “OK.” I guess that’s how I ended up here.

You didn’t have very long to prepare though. Are there stunts that you have to do?

JL: There are stunts. The preparation for me… stunts you can sort of figure it out the day before or week before. But yeah, I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare the character. But sometimes that is cool, because winging it can sometimes create…

…an unknown situation anyway.

JL: Yeah.

Jane Levy as Rocky in Don't Breathe

What do you think of the character?

JL: She’s cool because she’s like an anti-hero. I don’t know how many people are going to like her. I think you will root for her hopefully. But Fede likes to play with those roles of the heart of the story, the brains of the story, the protagonist, they’re all like mixed together. Each character, you can’t tell… I think in this movie you are not necessarily going to know who is the survivor in the end, which all these horror films have, right?

What is it like working with Fede again?

JL: It’s cool. We have like a really honest rapport. He can be like, “Don’t frown like that. You look old.” And I’ll be like, “Oh, OK. Thank you.” But... he speaks better English. He didn’t speak very good English in the first one. He speaks really good English. He’s really confident. He’s been working on this for a long time. He’s had a lot of opportunities to work on other things, but this is the project that he wanted to. He has an answer for everything. You ask him like, “What about this little…?” And he has thought about this for so long that he’s really, really excited about it.

He’s happy to be at work every day. It’s really a pleasant environment. I think with Evil Dead he was really excited to be there and they did give him a lot of free reign, but he was more of an employee because he was walking into someone else’s project, like their baby, basically. And this one is his. So it’s cool to see him grow as a director. Everyone here is really excited to be here and everyone really loves Fede. He’s really nice to everybody on the crew and the actors.

How has it been filming in Budapest? Is this your first time filming over here?

JL: It’s really nice to be in Europe. Things are open late. You can go out to dinner after you wrap. It’s funny. The set is super international. Not only are most people speaking Hungarian and you have no idea what anyone is saying all the time, there’s like Uruguayans, Australians, South Africans, Costa Ricans. Most of the time there is nobody speaking English, which is funny, because right before you roll you have absolutely no idea what’s going on. But it’s a beautiful city. People are nice. Food is really heavy.

Do our opinions, the way we root for the characters, does it change much during the course of the movie do you think as we learn more or less about them?

JL: This movie is like criminals fighting criminals. Everybody is “bad guys”. They are all breaking the law. I think it’s probably going to be different for each audience member who you like the most or who you want to win.

Don't Breathe is set for release on August 26, 2016.

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