Universal’s Dark Universe will reintroduce those classic Universal Monster films that terrified us as kids to a younger generation of audiences who might not be familiar with them. In this world of gods and monsters, the shadowy organization Prodigium works hard to find, examine, and contain these evil monsters. With Alex Kurtzman’s The Mummy opening in theaters this weekend, the film opens the door to an all new terrifying universe where those same gods and monsters that used to scare us now exist and live amongst us today.
In The Mummy, the first Dark Universe installment, Annabelle Wallis plays Jenny, an archeologist who uses two soldiers of fortune, Nick (Tom Cruise) and Vail (Jake Johnson), to find an ancient sarcophagus that has sealed away one of the most powerful evils on earth, Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella). But Nick’s reckless behavior unleashes that evil, and it is up to Nick, Jenny, and the rest of Prodigium to find out how to stop Ahmanet from succeeding with her plans to complete her ritual.
We were fortunate enough to participate in a phone interview with Wallis prior to the film’s release, where she talked about what it was like to film with Tom Cruise, the physicality of the shoot, doing her own stunts, what monsters scared her as a kid, and more. Find out what she had to say here below.
Geeks of Doom: What is it about these Universal Monster films that continues to resonate with audiences today and is there a monster that you were afraid of as a kid?
Annabelle Wallis: All great stories that are forever returning. They are ones passed down from generation to generation. These monster classics are a testament to that. The idea of unearthing them and breathing new life into them was just very exciting.
I’d say the one I was most scared of was Frankenstein. The way he comes together and all the grumsome pieces. There was something so visually, just like, shocking about him, but also I did feel epiphany for him. My moral compass was confused by the monsters. But that was the one I was scared of.
Geeks of Doom: This was a very action-driven horror film, and a new twist on the genre. Given that there are a lot of physical elements to this, how important was it for you to be a part of that in scenes like running at full speed with Tom Cruise and what was it like to work with him?
Annabelle Wallis: It was a dream come true. I grew up watching all his films. There are so many iconic moments where you quote Tom Cruise or reference him all the time. So when the opportunity came up to work with him, I was like “This is awesome.” I wanted to move into the action space. I knew that I loved it. I’m a real tomboy. I love sports. I am just an adrenaline junkie. I just wanted to push myself in the physical space with what I do. I got to do it with Tom Cruise. I was very excited. He brings so much every day. He supports you and we have the best team in the world to get you ready. I was already physically fit, and they were like “we’re going to take you to a higher level.”
With the running scenes, I read the script and I was like “Oh, there are running scenes. I’m going to run with Tom.” He’s the guy who runs on his own in every film, and I’m like “I’m going to run with him.” He was like “Look, I’m very picky about the running, and dah dah dah,” and when he came to the gym, I was running on the treadmill and he was like “Oh, you’re very good at that.” And then he added all those running scenes in.
Geeks of Doom: Speaking of space, can you talk to us about those zero-g scenes?
Annabelle Wallis: It was really taxing for the body. You go into zero-g, and you go up to 20,000 feet, and then 40,000 feet, and then you go into a parabolic arc. So we did it 64 times, and what that does to your body going in and out of gravitational pull, it’s really traumatic. So you find yourself trying your hardest to stay focused and do the scene. But you got this added physical thing you cannot intellectualize. You’re weightless and doing this for the first time. It’s a testament to Tom and his team, we went out and hoped for the best and got something incredible. It was a chance of a lifetime and I am so glad I got to do it.
Geeks of Doom: It looked incredible in IMAX, and since you did it 64 times, how did your body react when you touched the ground?
Annabelle Wallis: I was very tired. It was so exhausting. I was very depleted.
Geeks of Doom: So what did you guys do then to make things easier on the set while you weren’t shooting?
Annabelle Wallis: It was such a nice team of people there. Russell [Crowe] was there, and he got a nice pub built on the set. We would have like dancing to defuse from the long hours. It was a lot of fun to offset the hard work.
Geeks of Doom: Since it was a lot of fun while you weren’t shooting, who pulled off pranks?
Annabelle Wallis: Tom is always pulling pranks. Especially on me during the underwater scenes. He was like “Are you all right?,” and I say “Yeah [breathing heavily]” and then he’d dunk me down. It was always very sneaky.
Geeks of Doom: Yeah, Jake [Johnson] said during the scenes that he shot with you, that you were the target of these pranks.
Annabelle Wallis: Oh my gosh, they were relentless. I give it back just as good as they do.
Geeks of Doom: Your character is a very hands-on, no fear or shame, up the challenge kind of person. Was that what attracted you to the role?
Annabelle Wallis: I just wanted to play a different kind of heroine. I wanted to make sure she didn’t fall into a stereotype of any kind and play a heroine of now. A modern heroine. Well-rounded with gumption, and equality on screen. I wanted to make her my own.
Geeks of Doom: So did you bring anything from set back home with you as a memento?
Annabelle Wallis: I took so many little tidbits. Lille memories of these incredible sets we built. Especially from Prodigium. These little nicknacks. Whatever was available, I just took.
Geeks of Doom: So no one took the Dracula skull?
Annabelle Wallis: No, those might be used again. [Laughs]
Geeks of Doom: Does that mean you are going to be in any other Dark Universe films?
Annabelle Wallis: You might have to wait and see. You know. Sneaky suspicion. She might. I think if the people want us back. She’ll come back.
Geeks of Doom: Can you tell us about any upcoming projects?
Annabelle Wallis: I’m [doing] a film called Tag with Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, Ed Helms, Hannibal Buress. It’s a comedy. It’s a wild adventure where I play a New York Times reporter who gets wrapped up in this mad story of these friends who go on wild adventures across America to find this one particular friend who has gone rogue. I can’t wait to start. Yeah, it’s going to be good.