Interview by Paul Salfen
Now that “Silicon Valley” is nearing its final season, it’s time for Amanda Crew to shine. And shine she does in Richard Bates Jr.’s new wild horror flick Tone-Deaf. Crew goes toe-to-toe with a very scary Robert Patrick and definitely holds her own and then some. After a rousing debut at SXSW, the film is finally being seen in some theaters and now streaming, but the praise keeps coming for the actress, 33, who has come full circle in horror after making her debut in Final Destination 3. She’s also branched out this year by directing a higher-profile music video, “Star Maps” by Aly & AJ.
We caught up with Crew to find out more about her time with this wild film, how everything is wrapping up on her show, and what’s next.
AMFM Magazine: We’ve been looking forward to talking to someone about this movie because it’s crazy, isn’t it? There’s so much to discuss.
Amanda Crew: It’s definitely a wild ride. You definitely don’t know what you’re going to get when you start this one.
AMFM: Just when you think you’ve seen everything, the mind of Richard [Bates] opens up.
AC: Absolutely. I think that’s what’s so fun about the movie. It’s not stereotypical even though we’re doing stereotypical generational lean-ins. But I do love that he flips the expectations with the genre and takes the audience for a weird, wild ride, which is one of the liberties of filmmaking of what is not often leaned into.
AMFM: He said it was fun to see it at SXSW with an unsuspecting audience but you’ve now been able to see it with audiences in the same way, right?
AC: Yeah, it’s fun to watch it with them and see everyone go along for the ride and react very audibly to certain parts.
AMFM: Well, there’s a lot more going on here thematically than most horror or action flicks.
AC: Yeah, definitely. I think Ricky is such a talented writer and is able to do something that on the surface seems like fun and games that’s poking fun but not too far below is the real deep-rooted stuff with topical commentary and exploration of grief and mourning and loss and trauma.
AMFM: When you read this, were you thinking, “I’ve got to do this?”
AC: You know, it’s funny, when I first read it, I think the logline was very generic, like, “This is a horror movie.” So when I started reading it, I didn’t know Ricky’s voice so I was just reading it at face value like a regular horror movie and saw that it was traumatic, serious, and sincere and thought to myself, “I want to see some of the other films he’s done” and watched the trailers and immediately got a sense of his voice and his ironic, sardonic, comedic tone and fell in love with his voice as a writer and director so then I had to re-read it keeping that in mind and read it as a completely different film and got very excited about doing it.
AMFM: You had some incredibly intense scenes with Robert Patrick to do.
AC: Yeah, they were super fun. Nothing ever felt super intense maybe because of the tonal element of the irony and satire of it all and Robert is such an incredible actor. I’ve done stuff like this before where at the end of the day you’re just so exhausted because you’ve been screaming and crying all day but this never felt exhausting, it felt really, really fun, like, “Let’s do it again. Let’s play.”
AMFM: That’s why you originally got into it, right?
AC: Yeah, definitely. I think Ricky brings that flavor to it because he just has that enthusiasm for filmmaking.
AMFM: Do you think there’s a day, scene, or time that you’ll always remember about working on this one?
AC: I really loved the climax of the movie – the standoff between me and Robert, that whole thing with the piano was super fun just because that scene – if it was in a traditional horror movie – would play really differently so it was super fun to do this scene that took a life I didn’t expect it to. It just took off playing with Robert and leaning into these stereotypes.
AMFM: What did you pick up from working with Ricky or Robert?
AC: From Ricky, I think it was that enthusiasm for filmmaking. If you’ve been doing any kind of job for a while, you get a little jaded and worn down because you’ve been doing it so long and he reminded me of the excitement of making a movie. And with Robert, I’ve always prided myself on being a professional actor, but seeing someone that far down in their career and life with that kind of old school professionalism but still having that enthusiasm for filmmaking like Ricky. That’s a model I want to continue as opposed to other behaviors I’ve seen.
AMFM: You’ve had some great horror roles, but would you say you’re a horror fan?
AC: You know what I’m a big fan of in horror movies? They give more liberty to female characters. I think they’re ahead of the curve than other genres. Sometimes there’s the stereotypical damsel in distress but often times I horror movies we’re seeing characters that are layered and nuanced other than sexual objects to be desired and I think that’s what I’ve always loved about horror movies.
AMFM: This was a character that you’re not yelling to the screen at…she’s smart!
AC: Yeah, and also sometimes she’s a fucking bitch [laughs], sometimes not the greatest person, like, thank God. We need to see female characters that aren’t just polished and perfect.
AMFM: You’ve also had a great run on TV with “Silicon Valley.”
AC: Yeah, Silicon has just been such a gift for me. It’s been such a joy and something so great to be a part of and we’re halfway through the last season right now.
AMFM: Is that sad that’s it coming to an end?
AC: You know, it’s taken a long time to process so right now I’m not sad about it, just happy that we get the honor and privilege to do it for six seasons. Not many shows get to do it that long and still love the castmates. I love them so much and holding on to that and ending on a high as opposed to a slow fizzle.
AMFM: – You and Kumail Nanjiani both had big films you were starring in at SXSW. That has to be nice to be on a big path right out of the show.
AC: Yeah, all of the boys have had successes in different ways and that’s the beautiful thing about this group is that no one has changed and it’s not got to anyone’s head and everyone treats each other with the same amount of respect and appreciation. We’ve got no divas!
AMFM: You’ve had a really cool career so far and I’m sure people would say an enviable one. What would you say to those looking to get into the business?
AC: No, it is not an easy one but the thing I always say is that whatever is unique about you – whatever sticks out about you, don’t try and dole that out or hide that. Embrace that, even if you’re told that’s not marketable or no one wants to see that about you or know that about you. Whatever you love about yourself, embrace that and let that lead the way because that is what makes you stick out. That way you don’t get stuck morphing yourself into something you think they want when really what they want is you.
AMFM: Well said, from someone who’s been doing this from a young age!
AC: I’ve been doing this since I was 15 or 16 and I just loved to perform and I just loved storytelling and connecting with other human beings. It made me feel alive in a way that nothing else made me feel. That was at the core of it that I fell in love with.
AMFM: We always ask people their Hail Mary Moment – the moment in their life or career where they had to go for it and it worked out for them. What do you suppose that was for you?
AC: [Laughs] I don’t know. I think my career has been not one defining moment, but slow and steady wins the race. There are sprinters and marathoners and I’ve been a marathoner so it’s been more about getting up every day and putting on the shoes and going to the track. There’s no exciting story of, “Oh, and then it all changed.” There’s no sexy story but it’s true.
AMFM: We’re going to tell everyone to check out Tone-Deaf but what other crazy movie would you recommend to people?
AC: Midsommar! Oh my God, what a masterpiece. It was scary and thrilling and exciting. I hate long movies and I was upset it was over. That was the latest one where my jaw was open the whole time.