Justin Long Discusses Streaming Release of Barbarian Amid Horror Movie

Just in time for Halloween, Barbaric is now available on streaming platforms. For fans of horror laced with daring humor, the acclaimed new film from writer-director Zach Cregger is not to be missed. Even if a sequel or prequel may not be in the cards, that shouldn’t deter viewers from tuning in to this unique twist on the typical cinematic scare fest. As the film kicks off, we follow rom-com-like characters played by Georgina Campbell and Bill Skarsgård who meet for the first time after both booking the same AirBnB for the same period. As the two try to figure out what caused their double booking, they decide to both stay in the house overnight before solving the problem in the morning.


The two quickly learn that the house they live in is not what it seems – and just as we have a senseless fear, none other than Justin Long takes the stage and sinks his teeth into perhaps his finest role yet. We recently caught up with the actor, who is usually the one playing said rom-com characters. In Barbariche takes on a whole new personality.

Overturning Expectations and Fighting Horror

MW: Going back to square one, what particularly attracted you to this project?

Justin Long: I had never read a script that seemed to break the rules of screenwriting like that. I thought it was so bold and written so naturally. The dialogue seemed to flow naturally. It was clearly written by someone who had a keen ear for how people talk. I just thought it was so unique and terrifying. I was so engaged with her when I first read that, and it’s so rare for me to have scripts like that, I think for any actor. The first 25 pages or so read like a very well-written romantic comedy, which is hard to do on its own. I mean, I know I tried to write these scripts, and it’s very hard to write realistically, two people falling in love with each other. It seems like a simple thing or an easy thing, but it really isn’t. It really requires sensitivity to how people speak. And it’s hard to be original. You know, every cute encounter has been made for the most part. And so just for that, I remember being really struck by.

And then, when it takes that turn, that real 180, I even got confused. I remember, I had to check my agent’s emails several times to make sure. I thought there was a mistake, that he wanted me to play the rom-com guy who dies early, and then Bill Skarsgard was going to play the character more. And I was so relieved to find, as Bill surely was, to find that we were being asked to do things that none of us seemed to have had so many opportunities to do. So it was a real blessing.

MW: Yes, given Bill Skarsgård’s experience with the This films, we say to ourselves “OK, I think I know where this is leading…”

Justin Long: Yeah! zack [Cregger] really plays on those expectations and subverts them, I think, so effectively. And he talked about his own casting choice, casting me, that he felt like it subverted people’s expectations of everything they had of me. So whatever the reason for the casting, I was really grateful to have been asked.

Related: Exclusive: Barbarian’s music video goes behind the scenes with Justin Long and director Zach Cregger

On character play

MW: Given your experience in the Jeepers Creepers franchise, then the Defense movie, which looks like there’s going to be another one, but having been in those horror movies. did you somehow feel more prepared to go into Barbaric?

Justin Long: Well, I definitely feel more comfortable with high-stakes scenes than I have in the past. And that’s what horror movies have a lot, you know? It’s a matter of life and death, and it requires a bit like full body performance, I guess. And that, I guess I was comfortable with. I wasn’t scared of any of that stuff, except for the specific scenes of a character doing something so heinous, you know? It wasn’t the “gross stuff,” with the suckling or the rat – which cut itself – like any of that stuff in the tunnels. I felt like I could relate a little bit, whether it was claustrophobia or just the fear of being in danger or, you know, being scared for my life, that kind of stuff that’s pretty universal. But it was the stuff that was specific to that character, when he looked at the nature of what he did to another person. Fortunately, I had no frame of reference for this. And so it was just about trusting Zach and trying to be present in that scene and imagining what that shame must have been like. But I was so happy to have the opportunity to explore this kind of darker element of the human psyche. I don’t often get that opportunity, and so I was just grateful that I was asked to be that part of the story.

My fantasy when I was a younger actor, the actors I liked were more character actors. They were like Phil Hoffman and Sam Rockwell and Steve Zahn, Ellen Burstyn, the ones you can never quite pin down. It’s hard to say, “Oh, that’s a classic Philip Seymour Hoffman performance!” They are just everywhere. And so I relish the opportunity to play different characters. And it was certainly different.

The small screen and future projects

MW: I also loved your Netflix series Giri/Haji. There were so many different components. How was it filming abroad?

Justin Long: It’s funny, when I was offered to do this, I was in Tokyo. And I read that it was shot in Tokyo and London. And again, he was such a different character from any I’ve played that I thought, “They must need an actor in Tokyo. They must need an American in Tokyo, and there probably aren’t many American actors in Tokyo. And they said, ‘No, all your stuff is shooting in London. So you have to cut your trip short,” which I was happy to do because it was such a fun part. But I remember having only had a few days to prepare. And I was playing the son of a Pittsburgh mobster. And I thought, “Well, I had been to Pittsburgh and spent time there, and they have a very unique accent.” This is called a yinzer accent. But I thought it would be a fun chance because I like doing different voices. And I thought it would be a fun chance to make it even more specific. And so I spent a few days watching stuff on YouTube and trying to lower the accent. And I introduced him to the director and the producers and stuff when I got there. And I said, “You know, I’ve been thinking about this, making it more specific and giving it a little hint like.” Not a full-fledged pitch as some of them have such thick accents it’s hard to understand what they’re saying. And so I tossed it around a bit and did a few lines with the accent. And they all said, “Sounds good to me.” And I realized they were all British, so they didn’t really hear the difference. I really could have done anything! [laughs]

MW: I grew up reading Goose bumps. Is there anything you would like to share about the upcoming series?

Justin Long: Oh man, we just started. The scripts are so good. Nick Stoller wrote the first one we are currently working on. And he’s just such a gifted writer. Children are also good. I mean, I play the old man, I play the teacher. And this is their show. It’s about those high school kids. And that’s my favorite kind of party because I can come in and do fun, weird stuff with dark characters. So it’s such a joy as an actor, at this point in my career, to be able to do that kind of stuff. So I think so far so good.

I’m kinda careful to say anything specific because I feel like I’m gonna get shot in the neck with a dart, you know? [laughs] But it’s funny, I just missed the books. I was just a little too old when the books first became popular, but for someone a little younger than me, every time I talk about it they go “Oh!” They really light up. So it’s, it’s cool to be a part of something like that, that people are already excited for. And it’s just a matter of doing it justice, of really doing our job.

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