Interview: Abigail stars Kevin Durand and William Catlett on character quirks and what truly terrifies them

Children can be such monsters.

After a group of would-be criminals kidnap the 12-year-old ballerina daughter of a powerful underworld figure, all they have to do to collect a $50 million ransom is watch the girl overnight.  In an isolated mansion, the captors start to dwindle, one by one, and they discover, to their mounting horror, that they’re locked inside with no normal little girl.

From Radio Silence, the directing team of Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett behind the terrifying modern horror hits Ready or Not, 2022’s Scream and last year’s Scream VI, comes Abigail, a brash, blood-thirsty new vision of the vampire flick.

To coincide with the film’s global release this week, Peter Gray spoke with a bevy of the film’s creatives, including stars Kevin Durand and William Catlett, who touched on what personal quirks they injected into their characters, what truly terrifies them (sports?), and how they navigated the violent choreography with their tween co-star.

You’re stuck in a house here with a 12-year-old vampire ballerina, but, for the both of you, is there anything you couldn’t handle being trapped with the most?

Kevin Durand: Probably for me, and Kathryn (Newton) will hate this, but I don’t like watching golf.  So if I was in a house filled with TVs with golf on… that would be torture to me.

William Catlett: I just don’t want to be stuck anywhere that I can’t get out of (Laughs).  That right there will be a long life for me.

And working with Alisha (Weir), you’ve got the intricacies of the fight choreography, but is there ever that fear of her being as young and as delicate as she is in navigating that action?

Kevin Durand:  Alicia is such a born professional.  I know I would constantly kind of catch myself once in a while saying a curse word, or something, but then she’s turning around as a demon and spouting way more horrific language at us.  So, you know, she was just 100% game.  I never felt like, “Oh, I’m working with a fragile kid.  I’m working with a terrifying demon.”  Between “Action” and “Cut” she was terrifying.  (Then) she became the sweet, brilliant girl she is.  But I didn’t feel like she was fragile, no.

William Catlett:  I remember when we were all in the van and (her character) is zipped up in the (body) bag, and everyone’s asking if she’s okay.  “Are you okay?” She’s like, “Yeah, I’m fine guys. Let’s go!”  She’s like, “I’m here.  This is what I do. You guys came to play with me.” I love the confidence and the genuineness of that.

You all have such specific characters here.  Obviously, a lot of the quirks and background comes from the script, but did you both personally inject any details to inform your characters further?

William Catlett:   Well, my father is ex-military.  So, we’ll put a little bit from him and his story, and working with the armour guys.  I always felt when I read the script that (for our characters) it was our last job.  The last one we’ll commit to together, and then we’ll go off into the sunset.  Now you’re trying to figure it out.  You’re second guessing yourself.  “Maybe I should have passed on this one.”  That’s human, you know? We all think about those things in real life.

Kevin Durand:  Probably the most personal thing that I brought to (my character) was I asked Tyler and Matt (the directors) if I can make him French-Canadian.  When I moved to LA, like 150 years ago, with a French-Canadian accent, I had to learn how to drop.  So, it felt liberating to be able to put it back on.  It felt like a really comfy sweater.  It’s nice to luxuriate in (that) and not having to worry about not sounding American (laughs).

That’s why your accent was so believable!

Kevin Durand: (In a French-Canadian accent) This is my way of talking when I first moved here…

But I loved this movie.  I had so much fun with it.  I never quite knew where it was going.  So congratulations to the both of you.  This is the reason we go to the movies! For movies like this…

Kevin Durand: Yes! Yes!

William Catlett: Thank you so much.

Abigail is screening in Australian theatres from April 18th, 2024.


Peter Gray

Seasoned film critic. Gives a great interview. Penchant for horror. Unashamed fan of Michelle Pfeiffer and Jason Momoa.