Sosie Bacon admits that reading scripts is not her strong suit.
“I have a hard time picturing everything, said the 30-year-old actress in a recent MVPs of Horror interview with Yahoo Entertainment.
Smile was different, though. Just like with its buzzy trailer, which no doubt helped propel the new horror sensation to over $100 million and counting at the worldwide box office, once you see those creeptastic smiles (or in Bacon’s case here, read descriptions of them), they’re hard to unsee. (Bacon also had the benefit of watching the 2020 short film Laura Hasn’t Slept, on which writer-director Parker Finn based Smile.)
“It was written in a way that really got under my skin and disturbed me,” Bacon says. “But also, it's rare that a horror movie with this many jump scares and this much fun is also this in-depth, and particularly in-depth about one character.”
That character is Bacon’s psychiatrist Dr. Rose Cotter, who watches in horror as a new patient describes paranormal horrors she’s encountering, flashes a profoundly ghoulish smile and then proceeds to slit her own throat. As a result, Rose finds herself in a The Ring-like death chain, haunted by an evil entity that she discovers is forcing people who witness these suicides to then kill themselves within one week, but not before a grueling amount of psychologically visual torture.
Between its terrifying scares, Smile also features a star-making performance from Bacon, the daughter of Hollywood veterans Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick who’d previously starred in her father’s 2005 directorial debut Loverboy, her mother’s long running procedural The Closer and Netflix's adaptation of Jay Asher's 13 Reasons Why. Bacon is in every single scene in Smile, minus some short flashbacks.
“Yeah, typically, even if you’re the lead, you’re not in every single frame,” she acknowledges. “So I’ve had nothing close to it.”
It’s a remarkable feat, especially given the emotionally grueling material. It had to be taxing.
“It's so funny cause people ask me that [a lot]. I'm like, ‘Geez, I must have really looked f***** up. It was quite taxing because normally you kind of get a break for your brain to go ahead and be yourself for a minute. But with this movie, there were a lot of complicated camera moves. And we did a lot of it on a dolly. And I wanted to stay for them, even when they were lighting it and getting the shot ready because I didn't want them have to readjust it once I got back. So I didn't really take a break, you know what I mean? So it was amazing, but also exhausting."
The actress revealed the unorthodox approach she took to getting into character.
“I had creepy pictures, basically horrific real pictures of dead people on my phone,” she reveals. “I actually forgot to erase them off my phone. So the other day I was looking through old pictures and I was like, ‘Ahhh!’”
Bacon pauses for a moment: “Sorry. That is such a dark story.” (And yes, she deleted them.)
By starring in Smile, Bacon is following in the footsteps of her beloved father, who famously appeared as a pot-smoking victim of Jason Voorhees in 1980’s Friday the 13th and has never stopped making horror movies since; see Flatliners (1990), Tremors (1990), Stir of Echoes (1999), Hollow Man (2000), You Should Have Left (2020) and this year’s They/Them.
That’s not to say his genre work necessarily inspired Sosie.
“I really don't watch his movies only because I didn't when I was little,” she says. “Because they were all R-rated. And then as I grew up and was mature enough to watch them, I was like, ‘I’m not gonna go back and watch all my dad’s movies.’ It just felt [odd]. I would like to see Stir of Echoes now, though. Because everybody loves that.
“But I think that what did inspire me was just the fact that horror, and the genre, and just a love for the genre, was in our household… It was a horror family.”
Smile is now playing.