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The Unexpectedly Wholesome Reason Justin Long Was Cast In Zach Cregger's Barbarian

"Barbarian" director Zach Cregger wants to make it perfectly clear that he doesn't have any beef with Airbnb. "I don't have a bone to pick with them or anything," the "Whitest Kids U' Know" actor-turned-horror director told The Hollywood Reporter. "I still use them and like them." For Cregger's first solo outing as director, the home rental platform was simply a convenient point of entry into "Barbarian," the new horror movie whose Detroit-set rental house is hiding a sinister secret.

Georgina Campbell and Bill Skarsgård star as Tess and Keith, two renters who are accidentally double-booked at a house in a seedy Detroit neighborhood. "Barbarian" introduces Justin Long's AJ Gilbride later in the movie, during the second act, that's part of the film's unconventional structure. AJ is the rental homeowner, a sitcom actor who's been fired following rape allegations — which, we're led to believe, are true — by a co-star. Here's the surprising reason that Long was cast for the role.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Justin Long was cast because he's a likable foil to his despicable character

When casting Justin Long's despicable character in "Barbarian," Zach Cregger initially had a very different type of actor in mind. "I was like, 'I need to cast a big Chad,'" Cregger told The Hollywood Reporter. "'Some guy with biceps, a jawbone and a haircut that just makes him look like a douche.'" That characterization, the director realized, was "too on the nose." Instead, Cregger reasoned, "A more terrifying sexual predator is somebody who is charming and not threatening and likable and disarming." His casting lodestar soon became the most likable and charming actor of all time: Tom Hanks. "And who is like Tom Hanks?" said Cregger. "Justin Long."

His role in "Barbarian" is certainly a part against type for Long. In his other horror movie stints, including "Jeepers Creepers" and "Drag Me to Hell," Long usually plays a tragic victim or horrified onlooker. Elsewhere, he's a nice-guy everyman, as in "Accepted" and "Dodgeball." Hell, he's even affable as a Mac. For him to appear as a sexual predator is just one of many disorienting twists in "Barbarian."

Cregger's casting of Bill Skarsgård — best known for playing Pennywise in "It" – achieves the opposite effect; the seemingly creepy house guest ends up being completely innocuous. The director claims that was incidental, and the twists and turns were even a surprise to him. "When I was writing the movie, Keith was a bad guy," he said. "I thought that's where it was headed."