Kristen Stewart is taking the plunge.
The actress stars in the new monsters-go-Jaws horror thriller Underwater, and on Tuesday night Stewart and the cast hit up the premiere of the film in downtown Los Angeles. SYFY WIRE caught up with the seafaring crew — which includes costars Jessica Henwick, John Gallagher Jr., and Mamoudou Athie, as well as director William Eubank — to chat about working underwater and the incredibly heavy suits they had to wear.
In the film, a crew of six are trapped in a flooding structure seven miles below the ocean’s surface. Not only do they have to walk across the ocean floor, but they’re being stalked by sea predators that are ready to take them out.
Stewart didn’t mince words when it came to performing in a film that was set underwater. "I’m really scared of the water. I’ve never done anything that I thought was going to be super easy or comfy, so it makes sense that I chose this, but in a literal sense, it’s ridiculous that I did this movie," she spills to SYFY WIRE.
"Yeah. No, like, really ridiculous. It was not fun. I hated it. Like, I would usually not be allowed to say that, because you’re like, ‘Oh no, highlight the good parts, at least.’ It’s a horror movie. I hated it. It was awful. It was really hard," she playfully explains of the challenging shoot, and laughing as she recounts it all. "I was scared the whole time.”
Eubank also opened up to us about Stewart’s fear of water, and how she overcame it. "She actually really doesn’t like water. Doesn’t like underwater, so she really took it as a challenge to get into this thing and do these underwater scenes, and really push herself to a wild place that I think comes off on screen,” he says.
The suits that you see the cast wear in the trailer were difficult to work in. Jessica Henwick tells us that, though she didn’t use much of her fighting training (which you may remember from Iron Fist), it did help her with her endurance in terms of dealing with the suit. “I know it weighed more than half of my body weight,” she explains. She joked that when the cast lined up, “we looked like a conveyer belt of Buzz Lightyears.” The cast couldn’t have them on for a long time, though. “We all started to have physical ailments from the suits.”
Gallagher tells us that the cast was taken to a dive shop outside of New Orleans, where they shot. He says that they had to wear the suits for about 80 percent the filming. “They were brutal. I’ve kind of made peace with it in retrospect, but there were days where it was like — I remember the car ride to the set, just dreading, knowing I was going to have to get into this big giant suit and walk around it in. We all stepped outside of our comfort zone in this movie, which, at the end of the day, is a fun thing to do.”
Claustrophobia was another factor to consider — and something Henwick was keenly aware of.
“One of my earliest memories of feeling claustrophobic in a cinema was in one of the first Star Wars films when they’re in the trash compactor," she recalls. "When I read the script, I thought, I really hope that we feel that feeling that I felt then.” She says that the James Cameron documentary about The Abyss was being passed around the cast during the shoot, and that they were all favorably comparing this shoot, which lasted around two and a half months, to that film, which took six months.
Athie said that the suits were the least of it for him. “It was the cold, dirty water that Kris and I had to lie in while we were shooting the first part of the movie. It was real uncomfortable until they were like, ‘Oh, we’ll turn up the heat.’ That was an option? Cool!” he quips with a laugh.
Underwater surfaces in theaters on Jan. 10.