‘Bodies Bodies Bodies’ film: Meet the comedian behind Alice

After finishing the brief movie model of “Shiva Baby” in 2018, Rachel Sennott went for a stroll across the neighborhood the place she did the undertaking with author, director and good friend Emma Seligman.

“We were so inspired, and we were like, ‘We’re going to do all of this,’” Sennott remembers — together with a feature-length adaptation of the brief.

Actuality quickly hit as they had been “slogging through the mud” for 2 years getting the characteristic off the bottom, giving Sennott a crash course in indie filmmaking.

“It taught me that sometimes it’s a very slow-burning thing,” she says. “And you really have to push your baby forward, because no one else is going to do it.”

That lesson led Sennott to her standout function in A24’s “Bodies Bodies Bodies,” wherein she stars alongside Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Myha’la Herrold, Pete Davidson and Chase Sui Wonders as a part of a gaggle of mates whose evening of partying in a mansion throughout a hurricane takes a flip for the more severe when somebody finally ends up useless.

Sennott’s character, Alice, is a beacon of power chasing the most recent traits and TikTok challenges, usually pulling out her telephone to wrangle others right into a dance. Sennott’s efficiency leans into each the engaging and morally suspect features of the Gen Z clout-chaser, together with the hypocrisy of acknowledging social points with out implementing adjustments and even acknowledging one’s privilege in on a regular basis life — at one level crying that she’s an “ally.” Her consideration to the intricacies of a younger grownup earnestly clinging to like in friendships and romantic relationships underscores the satirical slasher movie’s comedian aptitude. Mixed along with her timing and supply of Alice’s usually sudden one-liners, the actor stands out in an already standout forged.

Sennott’s success within the function comes from a deep nicely of expertise. Rising up round native theater, she carried out from a younger age, each formally — she did “Annie” thrice — and informally — together with brief performs and “weird little music videos” she produced along with her siblings. Although she didn’t have a very practical sense of life in showbiz (“I was like, ‘You wake up, you put on a dress, you go on the red carpet, day is done,’” she says), the inventive impulse led her to New York College to check performing. Sadly, the college’s “classical, dramatic” bent was limiting to Sennott: “I felt like it was a kind of program where comedy didn’t necessarily have a place.”

Sennott determined to pave her personal path as an alternative.

Fred Melamed, Rachel Sennott, middle, and Polly Draper in a scene from “Shiva Baby.”

(Utopia)

“I did basically every single student film project,” she says. “If they needed someone to drink a glass of water, I was there. And I would skip acting class to do all the film students’ stuff because I wanted to be on camera.”

She additionally discovered herself concerned in stand-up by a “meet cute” with a classmate worthy of a contemporary comedy.

“He came up to me in the dining hall and was like, ‘You’re kind of cute,’” Sennott remembers. “He basically insulted me and then told me he does open mics. So obviously, I was obsessed.”

She began attending with him and “got hooked,” significantly after her first time onstage.

“You tell everyone, ‘It’s my first time doing stand-up,’ so everyone gives you a little leeway,” she says. “They laugh, and it’s like a drug. And then you do it again, and you’re bad. So then you have to keep going until you get back to how it felt the first time.”

Sennott later joined fellow stand-up Ayo Edebiri (“The Bear”) in Comedy Central’s short-lived net collection “Ayo and Rachel Are Single,” which adopted the 2’s courting lives, and, like many wits, has developed her following on social media through the COVID-19 pandemic — all experiences that paid dividends with “Bodies Bodies Bodies.”

Sennott first learn the script for the movie, written by Sarah DeLappe from a narrative by Kristen Roupenian, throughout pandemic closures and instantly knew she needed to have the function. She says she “begged for an audition” and dedicated to the callback by rehearsing to the purpose that she involved her neighbors, who noticed her by the window with a knife in her hand.

“When you want something that bad, you don’t want to mess up,” she says. “You want to have control over everything you can.”

Four women, the one on the right wearing a glowing necklace, stand together in “Bodies Bodies Bodies.”

Amandla Stenberg, left, Maria Bakalova, Chase Sui Wonders and Rachel Sennott in “Bodies Bodies Bodies.”

(SXSW Movie Competition)

When Sennott acquired phrase she had landed the half, after the Los Angeles premiere of “Shiva Baby,” she initially thought the fixed calls from her supervisor had been an indication she’d accomplished one thing flawed. “Whenever anyone calls me on the phone, I’m like, ‘I’m in trouble.’”

This solely created new anxieties, although, as she deliberate to reach on set as ready as she had for her audition. (She got here to the desk learn “guns blaring,” she says. “‘I’m off book.’”) Her nerves settled when she realized she might depend on her theatrical instincts in what “felt like a play,” replete with unities of setting (a mansion and grounds) and time (one evening). Sennott remembers Stenberg pointing to the classical tropes in a narrative laden with Gen Z specificity: “At the end of the day, everything is like Chekhov, everything is like Greek theater,” she says. “It all goes back to that.”

The character of the movie required forged members to rehearse closely and forge a powerful familiarity with the dialogue, which has the snappy pacing of a comedy of manners. (The tempo additionally meant that the props workforce needed to swap out Alice’s neon bracelets and necklaces not less than 5 occasions a day — even whereas the digital camera was rolling on one other actor — to maintain their glow alive.) However although Sennott’s character is the comedian aid, she says there’s extra to Alice than that.

“People are like, ‘Oh, she’s annoying,’” Sennott says, evaluating Alice to “Pride and Prejudice’s” Lydia Bennet, who “just wants to flirt.” “I love her, and I think she’s just trying her best. There’s something so fun to play about a character where at the end of the day, all she wants is for everyone to have a good time.”

It was director Halina Reijn, steering Sennott away from studying her strains like a understanding joke, who helped her join with the devilish tone.

“We ran the scene where I’m in the kitchen defending Greg [played by Lee Pace] and she was like, ‘Everything you say is your last chance to defend his life, to defend his honor,’” Sennott says. “That completely shifted everything for me.” It impressed the studying of maybe her funniest line, “He’s a Libra moon” — an totally earnest protection of a person accused of homicide.

For Sennott, the breakout function in “Bodies Bodies Bodies” is simply the beginning of a raft of upcoming tasks, together with “Bottoms,” which she co-wrote with Seligman and which she is ready to star in alongside Edebiri, and HBO’s “The Idol,” from “Euphoria’s” Sam Levinson, starring the Weeknd, Lily-Rose Depp and Troye Sivan.

She additionally hopes so as to add a directing credit score to her résumé someday. Being a part of the whole journey of a film is what attracted her to tasks like “Shiva Baby.” Although she might have a stronger grasp on the work that goes into a movie than she did when she was youthful, she hasn’t misplaced contact with the surprise of these crimson carpet daydreams.

“I think making a movie is a magical, scary thing,” she says, “Where everyone goes in and you write one movie, you shoot another movie, you edit another movie, and you hope that the final thing is good.”