Deborah Ann Woll & Jay Ellis Interview: Escape Room

Deborah Ann Woll is better known as the intrepid Karen Page from Netflix’s Daredevil or the vampire Jessica Hamby from HBO’s True Blood. Her most recent role is Amanda Harper, a war veteran suffering from PTSD, in the psychological thriller Escape Room. She and five other strangers are forced to solve the puzzles of an escape room or die trying. Woll’s co-star is Jay Ellis, who played Bryce "Blueprint" Westbrook on BET’s The Game and Lawrence Walker on HBO’s Insecure.  He plays Jason Walker, another person trapped in the deadly escape room.

Screen Rant: Guys, first of all, great job. I'm a fan of escape rooms and this was perfect for me.

Jay Ellis: That's awesome.

Deborah Ann Woll: I’m glad it beat the true escape room test.

Screen Rant: It did, yeah. So, Deborah, you play war veteran, Amanda. I read that you searched through forms and stuff about PTSD and stuff like that. How did that help inform your performance?

Deborah Ann Woll: I've talked a little bit about this before. Obviously, one performance can never represent everyone. Everyone's going to have a really specific experience of what that is. But it gave me a sense of what, and why things get triggered, how you change. I also read a lot of people who were partners or caretakers to people who were dealing with that. Because they had their own unique perspective. And so, it was taking all of that and then going, “All right, now it's Stanislavski. Right? Now it's, if that were me and I was in that situation and I have all this specific imagery to go with it, how does that affect how I respond?”

Screen Rant: Right, right. And then Jay, you play Jason. You've described him as Patrick Bateman, Christian Bale in American Psycho. Do you want to explain that a little bit?

Jay Ellis: Yeah, I think this is a guy who, on the outside, presents one thing. In sales, one thing And I think people view him as a thing, right? He's a motorcycle riding, deal closing, fast talking dude who seems to love thrills. At moments charismatic. Right? He seems like, he has the shell of a dude who you want to hang out with. But then, as we get deeper into the movie and we get into some of the backstory, you start to see there's a darker side similar to Patrick Bateman in American Psycho.

Screen Rant: Well, there you go. Now, with the escape rooms, in this movie in particular, the rooms themselves become characters. Which did you guys find the most challenging to shoot in? Because, just like an escape room, I'm sure that there were some challenges that you guys had to face, right?

Jay Ellis: Yeah.

Deborah Ann Woll: M-hm. You go.

Jay Ellis: Yeah, I mean—

Deborah Ann Woll: We had the same room.

Jay Ellis: It was the ice room, I think. And it was-- the ice room was probably, I mean it was the biggest set that we actually had. Which is interesting, because we definitely had the most room in that set. Because usually sets always feel small. But the challenges of it were, I mean the floor was actually a little bit slippery, there was smoke constantly being pumped into room to look like fog.

Deborah Ann Woll: Even the makeup took a long time and it wasn't terribly comfortable. But, obviously, it looks great and you're excited to put it on. But it's a little… psych yourself up every time.

Jay Ellis: The snow was always stuck in your hair and your clothes. And so there was just a lot of-- And we were in there for two weeks.

Deborah Ann Woll: It was the longest room for sure.

Jay Ellis: We were in that room for two weeks.

Screen Rant: I'm sure that you guys now know a lot about escape rooms. If you had to choose one of your cast members to do an escape room with, who would you choose? Who’s the best? Now, I know that you're good. I've read that you're great at puzzles.

Deborah Ann Woll: I’m really good at puzzles.

Screen Rant: So, you would be the one?

Deborah Ann Woll: [GIGGLES] Jay would choose me.

Jay Ellis: I just, I have to. It's not even a question.

Deborah Ann Woll: [LAUGHS]

Screen Rant: What about you? Who would you choose?

Deborah Ann Woll: Umm…

Jay Ellis: It's okay.

Deborah Ann Woll: It's okay. It's interesting. I might choose Tyler [Labine].

Jay Ellis: He definitely would be fun to be in a room with, for sure.

Deborah Ann Woll: He would be fun. Because, for me, the social aspect is the scariest part. I'm not too worried about failing or not winning. But for me, I feel like Tyler would just bring a sense of levity to it. And, yeah, I would probably pick him.

Jay Ellis: He would be a lot of fun.

Deborah Ann Woll: It would be a lot of fun.

Screen Rant: You guys did a great job. I really enjoyed this film.

Deborah Ann Woll: Thank you, so much.

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Key Release Dates
  • Escape Room (2019) release date: Jan 04, 2019
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