Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Barbarian's Justin Long And Georgina Campbell Talk Bill Skarsgård, Hollywood's Dark Side, And More - Exclusive Interview

Disney has finally cooked up a new horror film that's as terrifying as the origins of Cruella de Vil's infamous coat. Written and directed by Zach Cregger, "Barbarian" turns Hollywood's sweetheart Justin Long into Hollywood's nightmare. Long's meta-character, AJ, parodies the worst traits of the industry's elite, adding some dark humor into the mix. Long may be the nicest guy you'll ever meet, yet AJ is anything but. Meanwhile, Georgina Campbell shines as Tess — a self-aware woman who knows she's falling for horror's most notorious tropes. Though Tess chastises herself for her horror blunders, she gets double-crossed by her empathy.

Long began his career with a bang in the early aughts, immediately scoring high-profile projects like "Galaxy Quest," "Crossroads," and the horror film "Jeepers Creepers." He went on to win roles in movies like "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story," "He's Just Not That Into You," "Live Free or Die Hard," and "Accepted." The actor has starred in plenty of TV series, too, cementing beloved characters on shows like "New Girl" and "Ed." Campbell is no stranger to Hollywood, either — she's taken on roles in shows like "Black Mirror," "Broadchurch" (2017), "Krypton," and "Suspicion," among films like "All My Friends Hate Me." It's safe to say that alongside "It" actor Bill Skarsgård (Pennywise), Cregger wrangled a top-tier cast for the movie.

Long and Campbell spoke to Looper during an exclusive interview for "Barbarian," where the duo discussed working with Bill Skarsgård, parodying Hollywood stereotypes, and how Cregger and the film tackle toxic behavior.

Hollywood's insidious inspiration

Justin, you play a caricature of a Hollywood jerk, and a lot of your roles tend to be good, wholesome guys. What was it like to play this darker role? Did anyone you know, or any characters in pop culture, help inform your persona?

Justin Long: It was fun. It was a blast because he's a despicable person, and it was fun to be douchey. There were a couple of people that I knew that informed the character. I've been in Hollywood for a while, so occasionally, you'll meet some people like that. It definitely reminded me of some people. 

I've never done anything, fortunately, like this character has done. That was something I had to find. That was tough to relate to. It was awful, [the] things that he does. But it was a challenge. It was a really fun challenge.

From Barbarian to Pennywise

Georgina, you have significant screen time with Justin and Bill Skarsgård. How did those on-screen dynamics compare, and what were some of your favorite moments during filming and off screen?

Georgina Campbell: [Jokingly] Well, let's compare. Justin and Bill ... [Laughs] Who was better? 

No. Oh, my God, it was amazing. I was so excited when I heard [that] Justin Long and Bill Skarsgård were in the cast. I couldn't believe my luck. It was incredible. 

We started with the stuff with Bill, which was great. He's such a talented actor, and he made those scenes so fun and comfortable, and we got that natural back-and-forward, and it was great. [It was] very different than when I worked with Justin, where we're both on level 10 of like, "Oh, my God" — life-or-death situation all the way through. It was great. I felt so comfortable with both of them, and they're both such talented actors. It was easy and fun.

Long: Georgina, do you remember the bone I picked with you about Bill? I said, "What about your outgoing message?"

Campbell: What?

Long: I said, "Surely you got Bill Skarsgård to do your outgoing message as Pennywise?"

Campbell: Oh, yes!

Long: And she hadn't ... I was like, "Oh, Bill would be perfect — Georgie." [imitates a Pennywise voice] "This is Georgie's phone. Georgie can't get to the phone."

Subverting power dynamics

Justin, your character is an archetype of some of the darker traits of Hollywood, between supreme narcissism, sexism, and assault. Why were these important subjects for you to shed light on, and how do you think this kind of transparency can help change the industry?

Long: I thought it was an interesting way to explore those unfortunate truths. It was an interesting way to subvert the power dynamic that those truths spring from. It was a way to kind of mock a person like that, especially the guy who advertises himself to be a good guy: "I'm a nice guy." 

Zach [Cregger] plays with a lot of the nuances of a situation like that in a way that is really smart, and he sheds a light on it that makes a person who does things like that and thinks a certain way seem so absurd and comical. The situation's not funny, but the level of narcissism that this guy is displaying is almost funny.

It is funny sometimes. I loved how he explored that. Zach is very sensitive and very perceptive. Many times, he'd say something and say, "Oh, I'm sorry if that was offensive. I shouldn't have said that." He was constantly examining his own behavior, and he's an actually sweet person, as Georgie can attest to. But it was so interesting what he did with that story and how he shed a light on it in a way that was playful but also condemning it.

"Barbarian" releases in theaters on September 9.

This interview was edited for clarity.