In filmmaker Kevin Smith’s new horror/comedy “Tusk,” actress Genesis Rodriguez plays Ally Leon, the girlfriend of an insensitive podcaster named Wallace (Justin Long), who finds himself in a dire situation when he goes missing during a work trip to Canada. When Ally and podcast co-host Teddy (Haley Joel Osment) receive a phone message from a terrified Wallace, they try to track him down with the help of Guy LaPointe (Johnny Depp), an eccentric private investigator on the trail of a serial killer.
During an interview with me last week, Rodriguez, 27, who recently starred in such films as “Identity Thief” and “The Last Stand,” talked about why she became so obsessed with Kevin Smith’s screenplay and why she couldn’t look actor Justin Long in the face during certain scenes of the movie.
“Tusk” and Kevin Smith’s last film “Red State” are so different from what his fans are used to seeing from him in the last 20 years. Were you excited to see what he could do with a film like this?
Yeah, I mean, this is like the Renaissance of Kevin Smith. This is a complete rebirth. I really fell in love with this movie. It’s just the most bizarre, creative, original, incredible story. Kevin is the best boss anyone could have. It’s just so much fun to be a part of Kevin Smith’s world.
When you first read the script, what kind of reactions did you have? Did you laugh? Were you in shock?
I was laughing. I was in shock. I became obsessed with it. I had so many different feelings. The awful thing about it is that I read the script at midnight and couldn’t go to sleep. But, yeah, I became obsessed with this movie! I started writing emails to my manager saying, “I need to be in this effin’ movie right now!” My manager sent that over to the producer and they gave me the part. It’s been mindblowing to be a part of something I think is going to be a cult favorite. It’s just so different and odd and wonderful.
And pretty original, I have to say. I mean, it did remind me of a few other films, but then the movie goes completely insane.
Yeah, this is definitely not a remake or anything like that. I am very proud of that. This is what making movies is all about. It’s not about retelling the same story. It was inspiring for me to be a part of this. I’m excited for people to go see this movie in the theater because they’re going to have an experience.
You have a really emotionally revealing monologue in the film where you’re looking into the camera and apologizing for some of your character’s indiscretions. I’m assuming that had to be your most challenging scene, yes?
It was challenging, but it wasn’t hard to get to the emotion. The words fed me the emotion. I was so nervous that day. I was given that monologue the day of shooting. I had no idea I was going to do that scene. They put it at the end of the day so I could memorize it. It seems so planned out, but it wasn’t.
What message do you think a film like this is trying to say about human nature and how someone can evolve and change over the years? Or maybe you think it’s saying something else.
I think the message is about how man and animal are so alike. I think another message is that having success and fame spontaneously can come back and get you. I mean, Justin’s character is a podcaster who makes a living making fun of people. Karma got back to him in a very awful way. There is a message about how we can really lose ourselves and lose our humanity in our day to day life.
Would a podcast like the one Justin’s character hosts be something you’d listen to in real life?
The podcasts I listen to are like the SModcast that Kevin does. Those are my favorite. I also like The Nerdist and Neil deGrasse’s podcast and the Tech Talk podcast. I like to learn about things. I don’t think I could listen to someone bashing other people. That’s not my type of humor. It’s so cruel.
Talk about working with Johnny Depp and the scenes you share with him. His character Guy Lapointe is something else.
Oh my God. That was so awesome. I feel like Guy Lapointe lives and breathes and actually exists. He is so real and strange and different. He gave that character so much life. It was just so great to see him work and transform into this other being. The way he looks and talks and everything he does was so well thought out.
How were you able to interact with Justin during the scenes when he was transformed?
It was really, really hard to because it was so disturbing. I really couldn’t talk to him that much. I felt really bad for him. I felt really, really bad.
You’re explaining how hard it was for you, so I can’t even imagine how difficult it was for him, even to physically be able to perform in the state he was in.
Yeah, I mean, he can do so much with his eyes. I saw him during those scenes as fearful and animalistic. He was really in the zone. It was hard to look at him when he was in that zone because I felt so bad. It really was a hard job to be a walrus.