CS Interview: Sasheer Zamata on social media-slamming Spree
ComingSoon.net got the opportunity to chat with star Sasheer Zamata (I Feel Pretty) to discuss her role in the social media-critiquing comedic thriller Spree led by Joe Keery (Stranger Things), which is now available on digital platforms and in select theaters! Click here to rent or purchase the thriller!
In looking at the “wild ride” of the film, Zamata found that she was drawn to the project as she really “liked the script” and its “interesting dissection of both relationship with social media and how many different ways you can have a relationship with social media,” expressing that the story also created a feeling of wanting to “be more protective of myself” on social media.
“I play a comedian in the movie, which is a huge stretch for me,” Zamata joked. “I really had to like, break out my acting chops for this one. But it just seemed fun, and I also am new to the like, thriller/horror genre and would love to do more. I enjoyed watching it, so I think it’s cool that everyone thought I could do it and they let me. Jessie in the movie is very open and streaming everything and is showing where her grandmother lives and like, lets everyone know where she is and what time. It makes me very easy to find. There’s some people who have a very unhealthy relationship with social media, like Kurt’s character, and you can see the worst case scenario with that. Jessie’s realizing maybe she’s doing things in her life that are detrimental, and how does she want to like, remove those from her life completely. So I’m not ready to get off social media completely yet, but I am definitely aware of what I put on there, and is this too personal and is there a person out there who could be looking at this and maybe plotting something?”
Despite Zamata having starred in films before, this marks a new genre for the 34-year-old star and in looking at this transition, she described it as “really, really fun” and she was excited to “try a new thing” and is looking forward to people seeing this different side to her.
“Eugene, the director, created such an open, communicative space on set and he let us improvise, he let us pitch ideas for things,” Zamata explained. “I really loved the experience, and yeah, it’s just cool a cool thing to do. This is the first time I’ve had to perform while also film. So like, a lot of the camera angles are phones or they’re handheld, where it’s like, I’m now responsible for the angle of the shot and I’m talking to somebody and I’m thinking about the position and I’m moving. So there was a lot of choreography to get used to in the beginning, but the more we did it, the more I got used to it. And also, as my character, she is a person who is constantly talking to her phone, so I decided to like, dive into that and be like, well, I would be doing this anyway. So I had to be aware of all of the perspectives.”
The various lengths at which Zamata and her co-stars got to improvise proved to be some of her favorite moments on the set of the project, namely the ones in which she was just in the car with Keery, who was driving the car himself during their scenes, even if they were some of the more terrifying moments for audiences.
“They were fun to do because we would just drive, we would just drive for a long period of time,” Zamata recalled. “Eugene would be in another car watching us and giving us notes and telling us to do it again and do it again. And eventually we got to like, a very interesting dynamic for the both of us. And those are the parts that I loved, because we just like, flowed together. I don’t know how long he’s got a license for, but we were driving safely [laughs]. There was a moment where I had to drive, too, well, towards the end, where things get really crazy. And yeah, there’s some wild moments. They had a stunt driver show us how to do stuff. It was like, it was really, really cool.”
Driving around Los Angeles not only allowed Zamata to see a lot of new locations in the city, but she also found the location helped further tap into the social media fame nature of the story, as it’s “what people are doing here in LA.”
“There’s this element of wanting to be famous or wanting to gain fame from the internet, that’s why people come to LA, and we see it with Mischa Barton and Frankie Grande,” Zamata noted. “We see all these celebs throughout the film and it makes it feel like a very LA movie. I’ve only lived in LA for two years, and I guess maybe only a year when we shot this. So there was a lot of new LA spots for me. And it was nice to be able to see a new place and also work there.”
One of the things that she definitely looked forward to when it came to joining the production was reuniting with Upright Citizens Brigade and SNL alum Kyle Mooney, calling her experience getting to work with her 35-year-old frequent collaborator “wonderful.”
“I think Kyle is hilarious and he’s so great to work with, so I was really excited to work with him again in a different way,” Zamata warmly described. “He’s just like, so funny and I was cracking up watching him perform whenever he would do a take. It’s a joy to have someone that I already know on set. We had a funny relationship because we’re both comedians in the film, and he’s kind of like a mooch. And you can read that from my face and from my energy, so it was fun to have some nonverbal improvisation going on while we were communicating.”
After making its premiere at Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, the film has now made its simultaneous theatrical and digital release and in looking at this hybrid debut, Zamata expressed she was “so excited” for audiences to see the film and that “they’re going to get a lot out of it,” especially as the horror genre is seeing an elevated renaissance.
“It’s really thrilling and it’s a rollercoaster, and when I watched it at Sundance, that was my first time seeing the whole film at once and in front of a crowd,” Zamata recalled. “Just hearing everyone gasp and when they laughed and laughing at things that I didn’t even necessarily know was a funny part when we were filming it, it was so amazing. I feel like a lot of really good and classic horror films have humor in it, so it’s nice to be a part of a film like that, to make a point to make it funny, but also kind of making you think about society in a certain way and it’s thrilling and makes you scared at times, too. And I like that it does multiple things, that it’s not one note and you can come away feeling so many things.”
Meet Kurt (Keery), a 23-year-old rideshare driver for Spree, who is so desperate for social media attention that he’ll stop at nothing to go viral. He comes up with a plan to livestream a rampage as a shortcut to infamy – coining his evil scheme “#thelesson”, he installs a set of cameras in his car and begins streaming his rides. Wildly miscalculating the popularity that would come from his lethal scheme, Kurt’s desperation grows as he tries to find a way to overcome the plan’s flaws. In the middle of all this madness, a stand-up comedian with her own viral agenda crosses Kurt’s path and becomes the only hope to put a stop to his misguided carnage.
In addition to Keery, the film features an ensemble cast that includes Sasheer Zamata (Saturday Night Live), Mischa Barton (The Cat and the Moon), John DeLuca (All Hallows’ Eve), David Arquette (Scream 5) and Kyle Mooney (The Unicorn).
The film is co-written by Eugene Kotlyarenko and Gene McHugh, with the former directing and producing alongside Sumaiya Kaveh, Matthew Budman and John H. Lang.
Spree is now available in select theaters and on digital platforms and VOD!