Significant Other's Maika Monroe And Jake Lacy Talk Up Their New Horror Flick - Exclusive Interview

As Halloween approaches and pumpkin spice everything has hit the shelves, a new horror flick guaranteed to frighten is available for streaming today. Paramount Pictures' "Significant Other," written and directed by Dan Berk and Robert Olsen, tells the tale of a young couple named Ruth and Harry (played by Maika Monroe and Jake Lacy) who embark on a backpacking trip in the remote woods of Oregon. But when things go terribly wrong, the weekend goes from romantic to nightmarish.

For Monroe, who also appeared in 2014's "It Follows," 2019's "Villains," and 2022's "Watcher," the horror genre has become typical territory. Directors Berk and Olsen, who worked with the actress on "Villains," tapped her to play the part of Ruth. Lacy of "The Office," "White Lotus," and "Being the Ricardos" was excited to dive into darker territory and join Monroe, of whose work he was a fan.

The List had the opportunity to sit down with both of the film's stars and get the behind-the-scenes scoop — along with some brother-and-sisterly teasing — ahead of its October 7 release.

On shooting in the remote woods of the Pacific Northwest

What was it like filming in the remote woods of Oregon? Was it as creepy as it appears on screen?

Maika Monroe: I loved it so much. It was probably one of my favorite sets because every day was an insanely beautiful location. It was the dream. In the movie, it seems quite scary, but when we're on set, there's 100 crew members around, and there's a heater and a crafty. I stop by and get a latte or a snack. It's nice.

Jake Lacy: Maika had a masseuse come through a lot, or a day spa vibe a lot of the time. She cut an album in her trailer — lots of stuff, [a] mobile library that she set up. That was a huge task for the crew to bring to each location. Somewhere along the line, we'd film whenever Maika was ready.

Maika: Whenever I had the time, really.

Jake: When the lattes weren't flowing, she was ready to rip.

That's too funny.

Jake: There was one setup where deep in the woods, there's a tree that's 12 feet across that has fallen and its root system is up. [Directors] Dan [Berk] and Bobby [Olsen] were like, "We're almost afraid to shoot how we want to shoot it because it looks fake. It's going to look like we are on a sound stage. It's too perfect. It's too perfect for the purposes that we need. It's going to look like we went to the carpenters and said, 'Can you build me a tree with a root system that perfectly allows an adult woman to fit inside?'"

We ended up shooting it a little off-kilter to that so it didn't look staged. But it's incredible when the scope of the story is both intimate in this personal way, but then the expanse surrounding it is where you're filming. You're not shooting in Atlanta and being like, "Let's pretend this is the Pacific Northwest." There's no way. This is so specific. It was wonderful.

Why the characters and script appealed to them

Maika, you've certainly tapped into the horror genre before. Jake, I know it's newer territory for you. What appealed to you both about this script and these characters?

Jake: I've never been a part of something in this genre or even adjacent to it and was thrilled to get the opportunity. The script came my way, and I thought it was such a fun, bizarre intertwining of genres and wasn't sure if I was reading it right. I was like, "Is this funny? There's parts where this is funny, yeah?" Then [I got] on the phone, on Zoom, with [directors] Dan and Bobby and we're feeling that out, and [they're] like, "No, that's insane. Yeah, that's meant to be ridiculous and fun, and we're going to figure out how to tow that line of not going into camp or satire of the genre, playing this within the horror world. But there is a weird, fun, bizarre element to it."

I was a fan of Maika's, and knowing that she was attached, it was like, "Why not go make this movie?" That's how I came on board — and here we are.

Maika: Here we are. Well, I had worked with the directors previously and had such a great time.

Jake: On "Villains," right?

Maika: Yeah, it was "Villains." I had an incredible time. They came to me and were like, "This is the movie we're doing next; [we] would love to have you a part of it." They actually added a couple character traits that were personalized to me. She's vegetarian in it, and I'm vegetarian. That was cute, reading it. I'm like, "Oh, that's nice."

But like what Jake said, there's something unique about this story because you have all these different genres coming together and blending of humor and thrills. It seemed like a fun challenge.

Jake: I wish they had built in they were vegetarian and then, for no reason, only tips 10%. "Why is that in here?"

Maika: Like, "Huh, that's interesting."

Jake: Or [something like] "had braces but made fun of other kids with braces" — "Why is that in the script, you guys?"

Maika: God help me.

On creative freedom and perfecting their craft

Did you do anything to try to get into the heads of these characters to better prepare for the scenes?

Maika: We had some time prior to shooting to go over the scenes, because — without giving too much away — there's a lot of layers to each character, and the audience is kept on their toes. It was helpful for those because there were long scenes [with] a lot of dialogue. For us, having that time, even though it wasn't a ton of time, was enough to figure out where there might be some issues and where we could make it better, and where we could maybe have some fun with teasing or hinting at this, and maybe the audience wouldn't notice it the first time through. It was quite interesting — a dance of sorts.

I feel like I'm going to have to watch it again myself so I can make sure I notice things that I might have missed the first time. How much creative freedom did you have in exploring your characters? Was the final take any different from the directors' plan?

Jake: It was collaborative, to be sure. I imagine that a director's nightmare is an actor who takes over, like, "I know you've got an idea, but I'd like to do my idea." They're juggling so many things that to then have that be the person in front of the camera must be a nightmare. I always like to feel like we're pulling in the same direction and trying to accomplish the same thing, and then find moments where I can offer what I can to this — or if there's a moment that bumps in a scene or something, to say, "Is there a way we can smooth this out?" or, "Can I say this instead of that? It still accomplishes what we want out of the scene, but it then ties back into this."

[I'm] trying to come to it from a thoughtful place and not being like, "I don't like how that sounds," or whatever that reasoning is, or some ego BS. But it felt, between Maika and Dan and Bobby, there was an openness to how much we got to play and create. They were also specific in saying that we have to have this moment. It plays into that later.

Maika was helpful after I'd do a take. She would lean over and be like, "I wouldn't [do that] ..." No, I'm kidding. She was wonderful. It was a joy to build this thing together.

Exploring the film's bizarre twists and turns

I watched a screening of the film, and my mind was spinning afterward. I kept wondering how much of the plot was for real versus in Ruth's mind and how much of what the audience can see can be taken at face value. What were some of your thoughts there?

Jake: There's a bit of a reveal and the truth comes out, or there's a little clarity as to who is what and when. There's a fun in building that out so that then, in reverse, the audience is going, "Oh, right, that's what this was at that time." It's linear, or real, in that it's not imagined or that this is a parallel narrative to something that's happening in the real world and this is a psychosis that she's in. As I understand it, it is playing out as it is playing out. It's not a metaphor within the storytelling.

That makes sense. What do you both hope audiences will think or feel after seeing the film?

Jake: I hope they're along for the ride. I don't know that there's a lesson to be learned. This is fun. It's meant to be a fun, insane, crazy, bizarre, thriller, horror movie. There isn't a takeaway like "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer." I hope that we did our jobs and that they're invested in these two and their love for one another, and then the absolute chaos that rains down. I hope that it's fun for them.

Maika: I agree. Jake said it perfectly.

"Significant Other" starts streaming today, October 7, on Paramount+.

This interview was edited for clarity.