'The Way Back' Star Janina Gavankar Shares Ben Affleck's Memorable Reaction to Her Short Film

"He just twisted up his little face and I was like, 'I really got something,'" Gavankar said of a grotesque tongue sequence in 'Stucco.'

Janina Gavankar stars alongside Ben Affleck in Gavin O'Connor's The Way Back, in theaters now, and she tells The Hollywood Reporter In Studio she was working on the drama while simultaneously prepping her short film Stucco with her creative partner Russo Schelling.

The eerie short, Gavankar's directorial debut that was selected for this year's SXSW Midnight Shorts competition and premiered on THR last month, is a left-of-center horror film dealing with guilt, depression and the feeling of stasis. While co-writing, co-producing and co-directing the 17-minute film, Gavankar also stars as the lead, playing a woman dealing with agoraphobia who deals with a terrifying monster living behind her wall, and comes close to fully consuming her and her mind.

Gavankar shared with In Studio how she pitched Stucco to Affleck while on the set of The Way Back, and his memorable reaction to the grotesque tongue sequence in the film.

"I told Ben the whole entire thing. I pitched him the whole story. I pitched him the tongue sequence, which is a pretty intense moment," she explained. "We love magical realism, my creative partner and I, but that means we have to really pitch ideas to as many people as we can to make sure that what we're trying to do is not lost behind the gag."

"So, I pitched the tongue sequence to Ben and he just twisted up his little face and I was like, 'I really got something.'"

Gavankar and Schelling are already working on their next project, calling it the "spiritual successor to Stucco" and saying, "We don't feel like we need to make the feature version; we've already told the story. We love this genre because you can really examine the part of ourselves that we're not proud of in horror."

Along with working on her next project, Gavankar is back on set for Apple TV+'s The Morning Show as Alison Namazi, as shooting for season two has begun.

Speaking on her character, the actress explained: "She's a former pageant girl. She's not a pageant queen, but she's always found ways to win publicly. I think the way that she's risen above all the Mitch muck is that she doesn't care. She is going to live way past The Morning Show. This is a line on her resume, and as everybody vies for the iron throne, she's like, 'Go ahead. My Instagram following is way more important right now because it's going to help me get the next thing.'"

The Way Back is in theaters now. Watch more in the video above.