Based on the 2016 book of the same name by Grady Hendrix, the film version of My Best Friend’s Exorcism (read our review – HERE) is a ton of fun. It’s full of nostalgic 80s references, strong female leads, a bitchin’ soundtrack, and an enviable pair of best friends. Enviable, that is, until one of them because possessed by a demon.
The year is 1988. High school sophomores Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fourth grade. But after an evening of skinny-dipping goes disastrously wrong, Gretchen begins to act… different. She’s moody. She’s irritable. And bizarre incidents keep happening whenever she’s nearby. Abby’s investigation leads her to some startling discoveries-and by the time their story reaches its terrifying conclusion, the fate of Abby and Gretchen will be determined by a single question: Is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil? (IMDb)
To celebrate the release of the film, I chatted with stars Cathy Ang and Rachel Ogechi Kanu via Zoom, and we discussed what intrigued them about the film, and what they learned from their characters.
PopHorror: I loved My Best Friend’s Exorcism. I’m a huge fan of the book so I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. I’m super excited to speak with you.
Cathy Ang: Yay!
Rachel Ogechi Kanu: Thank you!
Cathy Ang: Thank you for having us!
PopHorror: What intrigued you about the script, and made you want to be a part of the project?
Cathy Ang: For me, I got to audition with Glee’s confession scene. I think knowing that this was a young girl in a Catholic school in the 80s who is very conservative actually, I was very excited to see a gay Asian-American come out. I think that was really, really beautiful and necessary so I immediately wanted to be a part of the film. And on top of that, it’s just about four girls figuring out their friendship and having each other’s backs, which is the key to survival for everyone. I loved this script a lot.
Rachel Ogechi Kanu: I think the script was definitely the first thing for me too. I received the sides and I had to do my big special scene near the end of the film for my audition, and I was just so confused. I didn’t know it was a book. I was like, “I have to book this just so I know what’s happening and why she has this in her.” I don’t want to spoil it! And so I think initially it was just I was curious. Just curiosity. And then through the process I realized it was a book. Grady (author Hendrix) created such a tangible world to enter, especially as someone who didn’t grow up in the 80s, so I feel like he really put me there. To bring me into a world I kind of wanted to exist in a little bit and getting to do that through the film was just such an incredible process so definitely the 80s aspect. The holistic world that Grady built was what drew me to the project.
PopHorror: I really like that you mentioned how it’s about four friends. What really made me love this are the strong female characters that are in it. And being a member of the queer community, the gay character is always a plus so that was a huge thing that I loved about it. What did you learn from your character?
Rachel Ogechi Kanu: I think one of the biggest things I learned from Margaret is just the idea of putting projection. Like she projects a lot of her insecurities on the people that are closest to her and the people that love her the most. Just that type of self-awareness, like looking at her and having to play her. I thought that was really interesting. I got introspective into that, especially with Glee, who is the most loyal like Cathy says. She’s the most loyal friend – sweet, supportive, everything Margaret needs – someone who is saying you’re enough, like I love you. And Margaret rejects her so much because that’s what she can’t accept about herself. I think that just that type of depth in a character that looks like me on screen, I think was just something incredible to have. I think I learned to sort of look at why you aren’t responding to people in your life, because they might be showing you what you don’t love about yourself. I think that they did a really good job of showing these big life lessons about projection and self-love through the character of Margaret and that’s sort of what I put together.
Cathy Ang: I feel like for me, her decision at the end – this is a spoiler – but I just feel like even at the end of the movie, after she has gone through so much heartbreak, I find it absolutely incredible that she is still caring for her friends and for the person that she loves. I wish that I could constantly be mustering that kind of strength. It’s quite a wonderful dichotomy because Glee does seem like she’s just the follower, that she’s the meekest of them all and at the same time, she has this explosion of love in the movie that I think keeps her alive and gets her through. I really appreciated that about her. Every person who has to grapple with their identity and who they love experiences something different, but I’m holding on to that from her.
PopHorror: I love that a lot.
Thank you so much to Cathy and Rachel for taking the time to speak with us. My Best Friend’s Exorcism is now available on Amazon Prime.