‘Barbarian’ Star Justin Long Opens Up About His Unexpected Horror Career

Even horror veteran Justin Long couldn’t believe the terrifying twists in his new movie “Barbarian.”

The Connecticut-born actor suspects the film about a woman’s spooky stay in a rental home in Detroit could affect real-life vacationers the same way “Jaws” freaked out beachgoers.

“It’s kind of like how you go to the beach now and there’s always a slight awareness that there might be a shark around,” Long told the Daily News. “At least I have this. I won’t speak for others, but I know that when I book my Airbnb from now on, I’ll check if there’s a basement.”

Ramping into theaters Friday, “Barbarian” tells the story of a woman, played by Georgina Campbell, who is surprised to learn that the house she is staying in has been double-booked with a man played by Bill Skarsgard.

Long’s character is the owner of the house, who hides disturbing secrets in his basement.

“You’re watching a horror movie and people are constantly yelling at the screen, ‘Don’t do this!'” Long, 44, said. “Characters make silly decisions – I made them myself – where it’s like, ‘Why would you come back there? You know it’s going to lead to something dark and bad. [Writer-director] zack [Creggers] was so clever in the way he wrote the main character. …He’s a smart character. It follows the rules of logic.

“Barbarian” is the latest in a long line of horror films for Long, whose breakthrough performance came in 2001’s “Jeeper Creepers.” He also starred in “Drag Me to Hell” directed by Sam Raimi and “Tusk” by Kevin Smith.

He says his path to horror movies wasn’t deliberate.

“When I started out, there was a big teen movie boom going on, so I auditioned for the whole thing, and I happened to get that role in ‘Jeepers Creepers,'” Long said.

“I remember auditioning with kids I’d seen in other teen movies. ‘American Pie’ was big then. There were just a lot of opportunities for young actors. … He find that I loved horror movies as a member of the public, as a viewer, but I would just take any job that was available.

Long is also known for comedies such as “Dodgeball” and “Accepted”, and for starring alongside Bruce Willis in “Live Free or Die Hard”.

The actor grew up 60 miles from New York in Fairfield, Conn., and attended liberal arts school Vassar College in Poughkeepsie.

“My mom was an actress, so I was lucky enough to grow up going to the theater a lot,” Long said. “There is great theater in this area. Westport Country Playhouse and Theater Artists Studio. Fairfield Teen Theater. … There were many opportunities for children who were interested in theater.

“At Vassar, it was so much theater,” he said. “Vassar’s social hierarchy was the opposite of my suburban experience, which was typical: the sportsmen and the rich kids, those guys were at the top, and then the theater kids were somewhere closer to the bottom. And then in Vassar, it was reversed.The children of the theater were cool.

“Barbarian” generated massive buzz after premiering at San Diego Comic-Con in July. Long says the film features “the most unexpected twist”.

“I’m a huge horror fan myself,” Long said, “and I’ve never seen anything like it.”

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