“I didn’t use the pool, but I did take advantage of a hotel cocktail,” Billy Magnussen says after I ask if he and his co-star Pom Klementieff were able to use the giant inflatable flamingo in the pool at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica.
It’s the perfect setting for my interview with the stars of “Ingrid Goes West”– not only is it as West as you can get without dipping your toes in the Pacific Ocean, it totally screams Los Angeles. In the Matt Spicer-directed dark comedy, L.A. is the backdrop where the loner Ingrid Thorburn (Aubrey Plaza) stalks and then befriends Instagram influencer Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen) in a fake it till you make it situation. Only Ingrid isn’t faking it consciously, it’s her mental illness that tricks her into thinking that social media “relationships” are real relationships. In a time when online personas are curated to the point of perfection and friendships are based on likes and comments, “Ingrid Goes West” could not be a more relevant and entertaining film for this generation. In our exclusive interview with Magnussen (Nicky Sloane) and Klementieff (Harley Chung), we talk about comparing acting to carpentry, Pop Sockets, and the difference between the various heart emojis.
Did your first job influence your passion for acting?
Pom Klementieff: I sold clothes. I hated it. I knew I didn’t want to do that for the rest of my life so I think that’s what brought me to acting!
I sold clothes too, so I totally understand the struggle.
Pom Klementieff: Oh my God, yeah. It’s terrible, haha.
Billy Magnussen: My father is a carpenter so I grew up in a carpentry shop. We worked in these freaking-million dollar houses down in Georgia, building cabinets for these people. But meeting them… they were all characters. These people didn’t exist in my everyday life.
What I also learned through carpentry is craft. You have to take the time to sand [a piece] down, to build it, to put it together. And then you get to see a product. I feel that way with acting completely. You have the months of [pre-production], shooting, editing, and then you come out and see your product.
I actually worked on [director] Matt Spicer’s Kickstarter video a few years ago, he’s a super cool guy. What was meeting him for the first time like for you?
Pom Klementieff: I met Matt on Skype actually. I was shooting “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” in Atlanta, and I think I bought a webcam especially for that.
Billy Magnussen: For that!?
Pom Klementieff: Yeah because my webcam didn’t work on my MacBook!
“What I also learned through carpentry is craft.” -Billy Magnussen
Billy Magnussen: Good investment, yeah! I met Matt at some restaurant off Western in Los Angeles. We had oysters. It was great.
You’ve both done big blockbuster movies [Pom, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” Billy, “Into the Woods”]. Can you describe the difference between working on those sets compared to an indie film set?
Pom Klementieff: I remember having to drive myself to set [on “Ingrid Goes West”], that’s kind of funny, haha. On a big production, they’ll have a driver waiting for you. But I don’t really care about that stuff. I love doing both! It’s all about the script and the people that you work with.
Billy Magnussen: From an acting standpoint, you shouldn’t tackle a project differently because of the budget. I do have to say, with a lower budget film, I feel more involved in the creation of everything. With big budgets, it’s more, “We’ll call you when we’re ready for you.”
“I do have to say, with a lower budget film, I feel more involved in the creation of everything.” -Billy Magnussen
Both of your characters are so outrageous, was there any part of that character you really liked to play? Like Nicky’s sweet dance moves, do you do that often in real life?
Billy Magnussen: Oh yeah I love dancing! Thanks for the “sweet” dance moves! The goal of Nicky in the film was this– Ingrid is creepy, awkward and how can you relate to this person but by having someone else who’s worse. So you actually want Ingrid to win.
Pom Klementieff: Yeah, like that moment when you meet Ingrid and you take her picture. I can’t remember, was that improvised?
Billy Magnussen: We did a whole bunch of takes, just messing around.
Pom Klementieff: We did a lot of improv, there was a lot I did with Lizzy [Elizabeth Olsen] that isn’t in the movie like taking selfies and stuff. You know when you’re taking a selfie, and you’re looking only at yourself and your friend is only looking at herself, it’s pathetic! Haha
So I bought this thing recently, it’s called a Pop Socket. I went on a trip recently and wanted it to take better videos and pictures, and self-admittedly, I’m embarrassed to say… better selfies…
[Billy Magnussen takes my phone and starts playing with the Pop Socket]
Pom Klementieff: You know that Paris Hilton has an iPhone case that has a beautifying light?
Billy Magnussen: Social media!
“Ok, I’m boring, I think it’s the two pink hearts [emoji]. Sending the single red heart is more of a commitment.” -Pom Klementieff
Exactly! Haha. I talked to Matt and Aubrey [Plaza] at the LA Film Festival and asked them what their favorite emoji was. He said Prayer Hands. She said the Knife. Do you have a favorite?
Pom Klementieff: Let me check which one I use the most [scrolls through her phone]. Ok, I’m boring, I think it’s the two pink hearts. Sending the single red heart is more of a commitment.
Billy Magnussen: I, ugh, I don’t know…
Or do you not use emojis?
Billy Magnussen: I don’t do emojis… I’m probably older than you so…
My mom uses emojis, and she’s older than you, so…
Billy Magnussen: Well she wins, haha.
Pom Klementieff: I just started emojis not too long ago. For a long time I was rejecting it, I thought it was too easy. I’d rather speak to someone.
Billy Magnussen: Too easy!? When someone sends them to me, I think “Why are you sending me poop?”
Billy Magnussen: The most important thing with this film is to understand how people connect and communicate with each other and the problems that Instagram and in turn, society, has created has separated people. I hope “Ingrid Goes West” is a reflective mirror to really show the dangers of this fucking false world. I hope through this, people will put down their phones and really get to know someone rather than fakely follow someone. Ok, I’m going political– we elected a President who won off Twitter. That’s fucked up.
“Ingrid Goes West” opens tomorrow at ArcLight Hollywood.