By MICHAEL GINGOLD
Having successfully and violently taken on Kevin James and his band of neo-Nazi thugs in 2020’s drive-in hit BECKY, the teen avenger (Lulu Wilson) returns to combat more villains in THE WRATH OF BECKY. RUE MORGUE chatted with the sequel’s directors Matt Angel (who also scripted) and Suzanne Coote, as well as Wilson and her new antagonist, Seann William Scott.
THE WRATH OF BECKY, which world-premiered at the SXSW Film Festival and sees release exclusively in theaters this Friday, May 26, reintroduces Becky in a low-profile existence two years later, living with elderly Elena (Denise Burse). But trouble finds her again in the persons of a gang of right-wing extremists known as the “Noble Men,” led by Darryl (Scott), who bring violence back into her life, leaving her no choice but to respond in kind. The film (which this group previously discussed with us here) presents a more battle-hardened, resourceful Becky than before, and ups the ante on the black-comic elements as well.
There’s more of a snarky, cynical sense of humor in THE WRATH OF BECKY than in the original.
MATT ANGEL: That was important to us. As we explored Becky 2.0, we were asking, what is the new genre twist we can put on this film? What can we do for the fans of the first one, so that they are satisfied, but also, in an effort to break a new audience in, how can we turn things on their head, and make it its own film that can stand on its own two feet?
LULU WILSON: I loved having that opportunity, and I love movies like that. In the first film, we see what happens to Becky, and all the damage that happens to her and that she can cause, and there were opportunities to go into that fun, snarky, dry, almost campy space. There are a lot of funny moments in this film too, and I think Becky needed that in the sequel. It was a really fun thing to play with: violence and gore coupled with a few laughable moments is just the best ever. It’s very much a comic-book feel.
Speaking of comic books, with Becky’s red jumpsuit and the character of Elena, I couldn’t help thinking of DEADPOOL at times. Was that intentional?
ANGEL: Yeah, we really wanted to tap into the personality of films like DEADPOOL and KICK-ASS, and all things Tarantino and Edgar Wright. Just a movie that has a lot of personality, but with very grounded characters who have humanity at their core.
Lulu, what was the most physically difficult or challenging part of this shoot?
WILSON: [Laughs] Oh my God, all of it! There was a lot of running in it, and I am not the best runner, but honestly, I was able to have a good time with all of the physicality, which is basically the whole movie. I was able to train beforehand with my original fencing coach. I couldn’t do a somersault, which was a really big deal, and I taught myself to do one with the help of my coach, and the scene where it’s featured was definitely the highlight, because I worked really hard on that somersault. I did a lot of jumping jacks before takes to get my breath up, thanks to Matt–that was very, very sweet of you! It worked, though; it definitely paid off.
SUZANNE COOTE: And you’ll see in the movie, she does the somersault in a field where there are squibs going off. Most of this movie was very much like shooting on clay, because we didn’t have much money, and we had a dog, and in the scenes with the squibs we’d have one opportunity, and maybe two squibs. And it was like, “OK, we’re gonna do this, and if we don’t get it, then we’ll figure it out.” And Lulu nailed it every time.
ANGEL: Lulu, I do want to say, I asked Seann to do jumping jacks once, and he was like, “No…” [Everyone laughs] Like, “I’m too old for jumping jacks.”
WILSON: Honestly, I get it, I get it.
SEANN WILLIAM SCOTT: I want to say, though, Lulu, you were in all of that blood, all day, and it was freezing, and you were such a trouper! I mean, that was brutal.
WILSON: Thank you, I appreciate that! There were a few days of being covered in blood, but I got some really funny selfies out of it, so I gained something.
Seann, were you a fan of BECKY, and how did you enjoy entering this universe?
SCOTT: I loved the first movie, and after I got the call that Matt and Suz were interested in me for the sequel, I got the script and loved it, and had some ideas. Once I got on the phone with them and started talking about the character of Darryl, it became very collaborative. I haven’t had that many opportunities to play [villains]; most of the stuff I’ve done has been super-broad comedies where I play kind of the lovable asshole [laughs], and this was totally different and super-fun. It came together quickly, and I’ve never had an experience like it, where I had ideas and they liked them, and everything evolved from there and went full steam ahead.
ANGEL: The character you see in the film is so much what Seann brought to it, and what we talked about in preproduction. I mean, to sit down with an actor who says, “I want a monologue I can sink my teeth into, and what if it taps into this backstory, and this is who he really is and this is what he’s really done?” That’s all Seann, and we give him all the credit in the world, because that’s the greatest thing you can hear from an actor; it just shows their commitment to the project. So when he said, “What about a scene like this that will establish how terrifying this man truly is,” it was like, cool, I’m going to go write that two-page monologue, and we’re going to shoot it on day one. [Everyone laughs]
SCOTT: Thank you guys! It often happens that you can have an idea, and the filmmakers are like, “Cool, yeah…we’re not gonna do that.” [Laughs] And you guys were so awesome about it.
You have a cult following from the GOON movies, which also combine violence and black humor. Did you see something similar in this project?
SCOTT: I just loved the script, really. I didn’t think of GOON, I just saw it as a great opportunity as an actor, having never been given the opportunity to do something like this. That was the appealing factor for me, just showing a different side of myself as an actor, and going dark!
Matt and Suzanne, how important was it to keep the villains as right-wingers, following up on the first film?
COOTE: It was less that they’re right-wing–I mean, they obviously are, but what was important was that we were drawing from the headlines. I think Becky is the hero of today, and I do think Gen Z, in a lot of ways, will save us, if we’re not too far gone already.
ANGEL: Don’t fuck it up!
COOTE: [Laughs] Yeah, don’t fuck it up. But Matt and I just needed a little bit of catharsis, because we hate those guys so much. So it was more like, who’s relatable as villains? We talked about making them incels at one point, and there is a version of an incel in Twig [Courtney Gains], but it was more like, what can everyone relate to as a country, on both sides, even if it was a bunch of Proud Boys watching this movie, and let’s go with that. And hopefully everyone’s therapy will be a little bit less.
ANGEL: The day they brought us the project, producer JD Lifshitz actually said, “What about incels?” But I’m telling you, it was hard not to go the direction we went, because when you spend a day on message boards, you think, “How do we not use these people as villains?” Obviously, we needed to make them fit into the larger-than-life but grounded world we were trying to create with THE WRATH OF BECKY, but we couldn’t have them speak one percent of the way these people speak, because it’s not funny.
COOTE: There was a fine line in bringing that levity to the film that we wanted, the genre-bending comedy, because there is nothing funny about these guys. When they’re behind their screens, and don’t think anyone’s reading what they’re writing, it’s bad.
ANGEL: Seann did a wonderful job of bringing in some incredibly subtle, unbelievably disturbing lines that if you’re not paying attention, you might not catch, but if you’re paying attention, it touches on how they really talk.
Seann, did you go on-line to research those guys to prepare for your part?
SCOTT: I did a little bit, but it became so dark that I was like, “I think I have a good enough basis to draw from.” Just from doing the reading I did, I had enough information. Nobody’s confusing me with Daniel Day-Lewis, let’s put it that way!
I appreciated that after the key went unexplained in the first BECKY, it’s explored a little further in this one, and the end of WRATH OF BECKY suggests the franchise is headed into more expansive territory. Has there been any serious discussion about where Becky goes from here?
ANGEL: Yeah, we have a lot of really fun ideas. If Quiver and the team decide to do a BECKY 3, and we’re invited to the party, we definitely know where we want to take things. And with the key, we kind of felt like, because it was such a part of the first film, and the idea that it wasn’t explained, it almost felt like we needed to continue that trend and lean into it, while simultaneously giving the audience a little more. So we’ll see what happens.