Allison Williams' friends told her to get therapy after 'Get Out,' 'The Perfection' roles
NEW YORK – "The Perfection" is so insane, its twists and turns are almost impossible to spoil.
"Go in expecting to be able to predict nothing," says Allison Williams, who stars in Netflix's new psychological thriller (streaming Friday). "And whatever you thought the trailer gave away, you're wrong."
The movie, which premiered last fall at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas, follows a world-class cellist named Charlotte (Williams), who is forced to give up her training to take care of her dying mom. She reconnects a decade later in Shanghai with her former mentor (Steven Weber), who introduces her to his new star pupil, Lizzie (Logan Browning of "Dear White People"). Charlotte and Lizzie's fast friendship soon spirals into jealousy and obsession as the film careens into full-on body horror and revenge fantasy.
"Perfection" is only Williams' second movie since the 2017 finale of HBO's "Girls," in which she made her TV breakthrough as the Type A Marnie. Her other film was also horror: playing the deliciously deceitful girlfriend of Daniel Kaluuya's character in Jordan Peele's Oscar-winning "Get Out."
Williams, 31, chats with USA TODAY about her unexpected scream-queen status and why the cello was so hard to play, despite her two-month training.
Question: What were your favorite horror movies growing up?
Allison Williams: I tried to avoid the genre because I'm very easily scared. However, at slumber parties growing up, I watched "The Exorcist" and "Poltergeist." And then right around "Get Out," I went through another wave of watching a ton of thrillers like "The Shining," "Rosemary's Baby," etc. Now I can say it's a genre that I love, but it was never something I pictured myself being part of. It really wasn't until I read the script for "Get Out" that I started thinking of psychological thrillers as a genre in which some of the most interesting characters exist. That's probably why I have now made two movies and both of them have existed in the genre, but I would not have predicted that.
Q: Did you play any musical instruments as a kid?
Williams: I played piano for quite a while, loved it and wish I'd kept it up. It was definitely helpful to have a musical background for music-reading purposes (in this movie), but the cello is such a difficult instrument. There are no frets, so you never really know where you are on the neck. They start you learning by putting pieces of tape there so you can remember where the notes are, but because we were playing prodigies, the tape was gone. So we had to just remember where everything was. Your posture, the way you hold the bow – all of it is so much harder than you think because the idea is that it looks painless and effortless and beautiful and sensual. Deep down, it's just deeply difficult.
Q: Is there anything that you're a perfectionist about?
Williams: Well, when I was younger, I used to redo my homework to make it look perfect, especially math homework. I would actually do the problems, work it all out and it would be messy with eraser. Then I'd get a fresh piece of graph paper and redo all of it – showing my work still, but just very neatly. That's time I'll never get back.
Q: Do you still get stopped by strangers who recognize you from "Get Out?"
Williams: Yes, I now have a whole other set of interactions with people who've seen "Get Out" that are very interesting. The odd thing about "Get Out" is that the interaction has a slight panic to it because they are both interested in talking to me about the movie but slightly scared of me at the same time.
Q: What have been some of the most memorable interactions?
Williams: Oh, I've been asked to hold keys in a photo. I've been asked to look scary while they make a scared face. I've had some interesting TSA interactions at the airport – all kinds of things.
Q: Do your friends or family treat you any differently, too?
Williams: After the trailer for "The Perfection" came out, a couple of people close to me just sort of looked at me and were like, "What is going on? Why are you always playing someone that we know is tricking us in some way?" They all started thinking, "Is that happening in real life? What is this about you and are you in therapy working through this? Because we need to make sure that we're all safe." But luckily they all understand that I'm an actor and this is what I do for a living.