HEAT VISION

Andi Matichak on 'Son' and the "Wonderfully Chaotic" Ambition of 'Halloween Kills'

Andi Matichak
Paul Archuleta/Getty Images
The actor dives into her new film, and reflects on why the final two installments of the 'Halloween' trilogy weren't shot back to back as planned.

Andi Matichak trained her entire life to be a Division I soccer player until a summer trip to Greece changed everything. Once the idea of acting was presented to Matichak and her family, she forwent a full-ride soccer scholarship and started learning to be an actor. A handful of years later, Matichak earned the coveted role of Laurie Strode’s (Jamie Lee Curtis) granddaughter, Allyson, in David Gordon Green’s Halloween (2018). So instead of being chased by opposing defenders on the soccer field, Matichak used her athleticism to fend off Michael Myers, cinema’s most iconic slasher character.

As Matichak awaits the delayed release of Halloween Kills, the second installment in Green’s planned trilogy, she returns to the screen in Ivan Kavanagh’s Son, which was her first experience as number one on the call sheet. Matichak plays Laura, a young single mother who’s desperately trying to protect her ailing son (Luke David Blumm) from a cult she escaped years earlier. Since she was coming off of two Halloween movies alongside Curtis and Judy Greer, Matichak knew exactly how to lead the set of Son.

“Watching Jamie Lee Curtis and Judy Greer navigate a set and lead on set was invaluable,” Matichak tells The Hollywood Reporter. “I was able to take that into the filming of Son and know how to approach being a leader on set and how to do it with grace, strength and kindness. So it feels like a blessing that I was able to have them in my corner, especially so early on in my career.”

Had the original plan for the Green’s Halloween trilogy gone as expected, Matichak may not have been available to shoot Son just a few months after wrapping Halloween Kills. The second and third installments of Universal’s updated take on the classic horror franchise were originally scheduled to shoot back to back, but that approach was eventually abandoned.

“That was something that was toyed with; they thought about doing them back to back. But Halloween Kills was just so ambitious,” Matichak explains. “It was such an intense shooting schedule that it would have been a bit much to try to do them at the same time. So we didn’t. We just have Halloween Kills in the can, and if Allyson is lucky enough to make it out of Halloween Kills, then I think that the third one will be filmed in the foreseeable future.”

Matichak has already seen portions of Halloween Kills, and she’s as enthusiastic as one might expect.

“When I read it, I was just blown away with how big, wonderfully chaotic, mad and ambitious it was,” Matichak shares. “It felt so exciting to tell this story. And the sequences that I saw just affirmed that we were able to achieve all of those things.”

In a recent conversation with THR, Matichak (pronounced Muh-tee-check) also discusses listening to John Carpenter’s score on set, why Michael Myers actor James Jude Courtney separates himself from the rest of the cast and the most memorable piece of advice she received from Curtis.

If a fortune teller approached you after a high school soccer game and said, “Andi, you’re going to be a scream queen someday,” do you think you would’ve dismissed this prophecy altogether?

Yes, I would have told them they were out of their mind and they should probably get a new profession. (Laughs.) I never would have believed it, honestly. It’s very bizarre. I’ve spoken about it a lot, but the thing that always gets me is the fact that my life was geared towards something completely different. I had a scholarship to play at a Division I college so my life was geared in a different direction. There was one incident and if I didn’t take that opportunity, I never would have been on the trajectory I am now. It’s kind of mind-blowing that my life hinged on one decision that, at the time, could’ve been seen as really small.

In Son, you play a young single mother named Laura, and since you had the good fortune to work with two maternal figures in Halloween and Halloween Kills, did you utilize anything that you may have picked up from Jamie Lee Curtis and Judy Greer?

Definitely. This was the first time that I was number one on the call sheet and the outright lead of a film. So, watching Jamie Lee Curtis and Judy Greer navigate a set and lead on set was invaluable. I was able to take that into the filming of Son and know how to approach being a leader on set and how to do it with grace, strength and kindness. That is something that the two of them do incredibly well. While Jamie Lee Curtis owns the room, she’s the most generous person and kindest soul at the same time. And the same with Judy Greer. They’re both really, really spectacular human beings, and of course they’re spectacular actors. So it feels like a blessing that I was able to have them in my corner, especially so early on in my career. I was able to learn so much from them both on and off set.

Like them, your performance conveyed the feeling that there’s nothing Laura wouldn’t do to protect her family.

Yeah, that’s the strength of a mother, and that’s the maternal instinct and the strength of a grandmother and matriarch. It’s something that we’re seeing more and more in film, which is really exciting. And it’s being portrayed by many different people and age groups, which is really fun.

The special makeup effects in Son were terrifying to say the least. Did it take you a little while to get used to the frightening accuracy of the bodies and body parts around you?

Luckily, I had some practice with Christopher Nelson on the Halloween movies. (Laughs.) Christopher Nelson was the first exposure I ever had to that level of artistry with special effects. And one of the things that shocked me when I was filming Halloween was just how practical everything was. A lot of what you see, a lot of the sequences you see, aren’t done in post. They’re done on the day with these dummies that Chris created. I still go into his trailer and stare for way too long at things because they’re so believable. Special effects is something that I’m super fascinated by, and I think that special effects artists are up there with some of the best artists in the world. Their attention to detail is so precise with everything that they have to capture. They have to paint. They have to draw. They have to sculpt. They pay such close attention that they even put decay on a dummy’s teeth. It’s unbelievable what they do, and I have the utmost respect for all the special effects artists that I’ve worked with so far.

Since your Halloween character is named Allyson Nelson, is Chris Nelson responsible for her family name?

(Laughs.) We actually don’t technically have a last name.

Are you suggesting that the Internet is wrong from time to time!?

(Laughs.) They went back and forth. There were a couple other options, but they weren’t able to get a full copyright on one. So they just never gave us a last name, but people glommed onto Nelson. (Laughs.) But, yeah, I think it should be an ode to Mr. Christopher Nelson because he’s just so iconic.

Laura’s son is played by Luke David Blumm, who was 10 at the time of filming. What was the dynamic like when you guys filmed a number of intense scenes together? Did he handle things alright?

Oh, he’s unbelievable. He’s a tremendous actor, but he also has such lightness in his ability to go in and out of scenes. At the end of the day, he’s a kid and he was playing make-believe. It was so much fun to work opposite him, and I was lucky that the majority of my scenes were with him. Yes, it was very dark material that we were filming, but in between takes, he was still a 10-year-old boy. We’d mess around with each other, play pranks on each other and just give each other a hard time. So that brought so much levity to what we were doing, and it made it feel so much more manageable because sitting in that state 24/7 would obviously be depressing for anybody. (Laughs.) So I was lucky that I got to work with somebody who had such lightness and was able to dive in and out of scenes so quickly and effortlessly. It really enhanced my work and my ability to do the same.

Some actors have told me that fear is the hardest emotion to portray. Would you agree with that notion despite your obvious knack for it?

It’s definitely difficult. The approach to fear that I resonate with most is something that’s a little bit more nuanced. Horror, in particular, can be very easy to push, and I always try to stay as far away from pushing as I possibly can. As long as you are extremely connected to the story, whatever emotion you’re trying to elicit from the audience is going to be on set. When I prepare, I probably read the script more than a hundred times so I know exactly what’s happening in the story and in the structure of each scene. I kind of try to take emotion fully out of it, and it leads to a more open-ended option as an approach.

What’s the most impactful note you’ve ever received from a director, producer, co-star, etc.?

The two things that come to mind would be “commit” and “breathe.” (Laughs.) Those are the two things that have really stuck with me the most, and I remind myself of them every time I go on set, before almost every take. Commit to what you’re doing, don’t go halfway and breathe. Because if you don’t breathe, you’re not going to be able to be present and enjoy the scene. Jamie Lee also said something to me once that really stuck with me. This wasn’t about filming, but it translates to work. She said, “Just see where your feet are and be present where you are. Because if you’re not, you’re going to miss the experience.” It’s like taping a concert. You’re not going to go back and watch the concert. You have to enjoy the concert while you’re there. So that’s something that I try to take into not only my career but my approach to life. I try to enjoy every moment on set because you’re not going to get that take back. So be present, be open and be interested in what’s happening, and things will shift accordingly.

So why did Universal/Blumhouse decide not to shoot Halloween Kills and Halloween Ends back to back as originally planned?

Yeah, that was something that was toyed with; they thought about doing them back to back. But Halloween Kills was just so ambitious. It was such an intense shooting schedule that it would have been a bit much to try to do them at the same time. So we didn’t. We just have Halloween Kills in the can, and if Allyson is lucky enough to make it out of Halloween Kills, then I think that the third one will be filmed in the foreseeable future.

Have you seen Halloween Kills yet?

I haven’t seen the full cut of Kills. I’ve seen bits and pieces. David [Gordon Green] took me into the editing room and showed me some sequences and clips. But I haven’t seen the full thing and I haven’t seen anything that has John Carpenter’s full score over it. Obviously, that’s part of all of the fun and what makes it so epic.

Can you spare a couple adjectives that best describe your reaction to what you’ve watched?

Well, I’m going to tell you what my reaction was when I read the script. That was the first time I was exposed to the story of it, and when I read it, I was just blown away with how big, wonderfully chaotic, mad and ambitious it was. It felt so exciting to tell this story. And the sequences that I saw just affirmed that we were able to achieve all of those things.

When you’re waiting between setups, is Michael Myers separated from the rest of the cast to maintain the dynamic of the story?

Not by choice, necessarily. James Jude Courtney, who plays Michael Myers, is a really wonderful actor. He is extremely professional, and when he’s on set, he stays in it. So he isolates himself off to the side, just sitting in his starting-one mark and waiting for the next go-round. But James and I are so incredibly close, and it’s tough to not be friends with him if you meet the guy. (Laughs.)

Is John Carpenter’s music ever played on set in order to create the vibe of the final product?

They have a little bit. I’m a huge fan of having headphones with me at all times. So, if there’s a scene in particular that I’m trying to find a way into or trying to just settle in or to create some type of anxiety or excitement, I will always have my headphones on hand. And a lot of the time, John Carpenter’s score is what I’m using.

Lastly, what type of role or genre are you eager to try next? Let’s put it out in the universe and see what happens.

Of course, I’m definitely open and excited to expand into other genres like comedy and drama. I would love to do a comedy just to add some levity to all of the madness that I’ve been steeped in for the last few years. (Laughs.) But at the end of the day, the collaborators are really the thing I look forward to the most. I want to work with really interesting people and different creative brains, so we can really sink our teeth into the work and create something pretty spectacular.
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Son is now available in theaters, on demand and digital.

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