For those who somehow lived under a rock (or in an overly noisy environment) and might have missed John Krasinski's breakout horror and directorial debut A Quiet Place, its sequel puts all that monster-surviving fallout on Evelyn (Emily Blunt), Regan (Millicent Simmonds), and Marcus Abbott (Noah Jupe). The family has been through hell, made only slightly more manageable by their experience with Simmonds' character, who is congenitally deaf and uses American Sign Language. A family fluent in a silent language has only slightly higher odds of survival in the franchise's dangerous world — but some of its stars told SYFY WIRE that the importance lies in how the family uses its traits to survive.
Speaking to SYFY WIRE at the A Quiet Place Part II junket, Blunt and Simmonds (the actress herself is also deaf) explained how deafness and ASL are inherently linked to the heroism of its heroine. Much of this is due to Regan taking on a bigger role in the sequel. While she was paramount to the first film's plot, the storytelling and action focused mostly on the adults. Now it's Simmonds' time to shine.
“She’s so powerful, she’s so arresting to be around. She’s also the coolest person ever," said Blunt of her co-star's expanded role. "I think that’s what John [Krasinski] responded to, certainly with the first film, was the idea of somebody’s weakness becoming weaponized in some way. For this kid who is hard on herself, who blames herself for what happened in the first film, the weakness becomes the weapon. The disability becomes the answer. I think Millie is such a powerhouse that this was always the intention, to put this second movie on her shoulders.”
Shouldering a blockbuster follow-up to a smash hit is a big ask for any actor, let alone an actor for whom the film would only be their third ... ever. But Simmonds accepted the challenges.
She told SYFY WIRE that Regan went through a lot between films. "Everything changed, her personality, her life mission," she said. "It affects her and her relationship with her family, and now she's having to gain her own confidence. She has a lot of pressure to become an adult very quickly." But, all that taken into consideration, her stunt work was still the hardest part of filming. Well, and the fact that when your "disability becomes the answer," you've got to be on the top of your signing game.
"I had an ASL coach to make sure my signs were clear, my articulation was clean, that I wasn't being lazy in my signing," Simmonds said of a role that gave her a "sense of pressure" from a representation standpoint. Keeping her communication clean kept her honest: It was part of "making sure that everyone could relate to me as a character," the actress explained. This was more important than ever during the follow-up simply because the message changed. Part II was no longer about parents protecting (or failing to protect) their children, but more about, as Blunt puts it, "that idea of children being the future, that idea of children being the answer to what the world needs."
A Quiet Place Part II sneaks into theaters on March 20.
Reporting by Kristy Puchko