Chances are, you probably know Daisy Edgar-Jones best from her breakout role as Marianne in Normal People – the Sally Rooney adaptation that entertained thousands of bored people through early lockdown, and made her and Paul Mescal into stars. Her next project, however, couldn’t be further from County Sligo. An extraordinarily gory romcom turned horror flick, Fresh starts with a cliched locking of eyes in the supermarket between Steve (Sebastian Stan) and Noa (Edgar-Jones), but the many unexpected twists that follow their meeting put forward a chilling and savvy dissection of dating culture and the power of female friendship. We caught up with the London-born actor to find out more.
Hi Daisy! Fresh is quite a complex film, was that what drew you to the script?
“Hi! Everyone can find something deeper in Fresh, it’s an allegory for many different things, but it doesn’t hit you over the head with its messaging. I found lots within the script that I was drawn to: like this shared female experience that we have of walking home with a key in our fist, and the fears around letting your guard down when it comes to meeting new people. I’m so excited to see what other people will find in it.”
Fresh is terrifying, but it’s also really funny. Do you think there’s a deeper link between comedy and horror?
“Dark comedy is such a great way of talking about darker themes. Those moments of levity allow you to enjoy it, weirdly. It was really important to ground Fresh in being truthful in order to earn those surreal, larger-than-life moments. Tonally, it doesn’t make you sit with anything horrible for too long. Every time you think it’s too much, it lets you off the hook a little bit.”
Sebastian Stan’s villain Steve is terrifying in the film, but what was your dynamic like off-camera?
“Oh gosh, I loved working with Sebastian so much. I think he’s such a brilliant actor, and so generous in scenes; he’s always so present. Chemistry is something I’m really interested in. What is a recipe for good chemistry? If you have a shared sense of humour and you’re able to be tickled by the same things, that can translate in a scene.”
There’s no big romantic hero who sweeps in to try to save Noa. Was that refreshing?
“The true love story in the film is between Noa and [her best friend] Mollie. I love the idea of taking the tropes and turning them on their head. You expect [Mollie’s ex-boyfriend] to swoop in and save them, but he doesn’t, and that’s really clever.”
In Fresh, Noa is American. In Normal People, Marianne was Irish. How did you get so good at accents?
“I grew up in a house full of accents: my mum’s from Northern Ireland, my dad’s Scottish, and I grew up in London. My grandad lived with us for a while and had a very strong Irish accent. So I’ve been practising my whole life, [though] not on purpose of course. I get quite shy when I have to say dialogue in my own voice ‘cos I feel like I’m really acting.”
Normal People was so popular that people joked about it being on the lockdown curriculum. Why do you think it had such a big impact?
“Sally Rooney has this incredible ability to observe the simple parts of being a human being that are actually really profound. Similarly, Lenny Abrahamson’s filmmaking is wonderful, and he’s able to cut to the truth and rawness of human emotions in such a powerful way. It came out during a time when we were very introspective [during lockdown], and I wonder if that’s why watching it as a viewer felt more intimate…”
Connell got an Instagram account dedicated to his chain necklace, while your character Marianne was scrutinised in more detail. They’re both flawed characters; do you think we’re sometimes less forgiving of flawed women?
“There’s more of a sense of having to be a polite, good girl – you grow up with that feeling. Perhaps we are more inclined to see a flawed woman as ugly, while we see male characters as rebels? I hope that’s starting to shift. We are all complicated beings: we’re not good or bad. It changes and it shifts day to day, and that’s ok.”
Finally – not to give too much away – but have you been able to look at a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs again after making Fresh?
“I’ve been fine, but it’s hard to remember [the dishes featured in the film] fondly because we had to eat those meals take after take, for hours on end. I won’t be able to eat paté again for a while, though.”
‘Fresh’ is now streaming on Disney+