Michael Pearce was “so struck” by actress Jessie Buckley’s ability to summon big emotions at will when she auditioned for Beast.
In the psychological thriller, the War & Peace actress plays Moll, a 27-year-old woman who lives with her family and is haunted by a dark secret. When she meets outsider Pascal, played by Johnny Flynn, she becomes torn between her oppressive family and her new boyfriend, who is accused of a series of murders.
Michael, making his directorial debut, cast Jessie in the role of Moll because she blew him away with her emotional capabilities in the audition.
“Jessie, when she came in, partly I was so struck by her talent and she was able to Shamanisitically (sic) summon these very big emotions,” he recalled during a Q&A in London. “Like, these audition rooms are so dry, you’ve got these fluorescent lighting, it’s three o’clock on a Tuesday afternoon and somehow she would go to this very intense place.
“Jessie as a person is very grounded, very natural. I kind of thought: ‘This is who Moll could have become if she didn’t grow up in this environment, she could have been this spirited person,’ and that’s interesting to get Jessie and put a straitjacket around her.”
Jessie added that she spoke to psychologists who worked with psychopaths to prepare for the shoot, and used music to help her get in the right mood before each scene.
Furthermore, the Irish star explained that she was drawn to audition for Moll because she was intrigued by her layers of complexity.
“I just had a really strong reaction to her and Michael’s story and I felt I kind of understood her and yet was kind of terrified of her and for her,” she added.
Beast is in U.K. cinemas now.
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