Melissa Barrera said she’s sticking with the horror genre while opening up about her upcoming film, Your Monster, at The Hollywood Reporter‘s studio during the Sundance Film Festival on Friday.
In the horror rom-com by Caroline Lindy, Barrera plays Laura, an aspiring musical theater actress whose boyfriend breaks up with her while she’s recovering from cancer surgery. As Laura faces her heartbreak, a monster comes out of her closet and the pair spark a romance akin to Beauty and the Beast.
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Barrera, speaking to THR‘s Seija Rankin in some of her first interviews following her high-profile exit from the Scream franchise, said she took on the Your Monster role after a close friend, who is also friends with Lindy, encouraged her to appear in the filmmaker’s debut feature film.
“He called me, and he was like, ‘So there’s this friend, she’s an actor and a director. She’s doing her first feature, and she’s going to send you the script. It’s going to come your way. And I just wanted to call you beforehand to vouch for her that she’s a good person, and she’s very talented,'” she recalled. “I was like, ‘OK.’ Already you’re intrigued if it’s coming from someone that you trust.”
Her friend vouching for Lindy was beneficial, as Barrera said her priority when choosing projects is making sure she’s working with someone she will feel comfortable with. “To me, it matters a lot who I work with, if they’re good people that I care about that it’s not just about if the script is good, if the director is an asshole, I’m not interested in going through that,” she noted.
There was another key reason why Barrera was interested in starring in Your Monster: “This movie has comedy, romantic comedy, horror and musical theater. All the things that I love in one. It was a no-brainer.” And she said the film allowed her to return to her acting roots. “I hadn’t done comedy in a while, not since I did comedy in theater in Mexico, but I hadn’t done it since I was doing stuff in the U.S. So, I was interested in doing some comedy again.”
After becoming a scream queen through her roles in the Scream franchise, Bed Rest and the upcoming film Abigail, Barrera has been exploring projects outside of the horror realm — but she said that doesn’t mean she wants to be done with the genre anytime soon.
“I don’t think I’ll be able to get away from horror, and I also don’t want to,” confirmed Barrera. “I love the genre so much. It’s so much fun to make. Also, I think a genre that people show up to the theaters for no matter what. No stars have to be in the movie for people to show up. I think that just goes to show how big it is, and I think a lot of great directors start as horror directors. There’s just something about it.”
In November, Barrera exited the Scream franchise following social media posts about the Israel-Hamas War. During the Park City fest, Barrera was among several hundred who participated in a pro-Palestinian protest on Main Street.
Spyglass, the studio behind the franchise, said in a statement at the time that it had “zero tolerance for antisemitism or the incitement of hate in any form, including false references to genocide, ethnic cleansing, Holocaust distortion or anything that flagrantly crosses the line into hate speech.”
In her own statement, Barrera said she not only condemns antisemitism and Islamophobia but also “hate and prejudice of any kind against any group of people.” Saying, “Every person on this earth — regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or socio-economic status — deserves equal human rights, dignity and, of course, freedom.”
When asked by THR how she felt coming to Sundance and fielding questions about her Scream exit and comments on the war, she said, “I wasn’t worried. Maybe I should be worried. (Laughs). But I wasn’t anxious at all. I think it was just the excitement and the love that I have for these people and this movie overpowers any cloud or anything bad. So I was just very excited to be here. My whole family’s here. Everything worked out. It’s been very special. I also feel like I’m very transparent and I don’t shy away from anything so I’m just like: whatever. I’m not hiding anything.”
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