Jessica Rothe | How Many Times Do You Think She Could Die?
For those that missed Jessica Rothe’s self-obsessed sorority girl transform into heroine in Happy Death Day, you’ll be able to see the 31-year-old actress take on the role once again. Rothe will play her character of Tree Gelbman in the sequel Happy Death Day 2U, which premieres in theaters February 13; along with also starring in the upcoming 80s classic musical remake, Valley Girl.
While it was her role as Alexis, the roommate of the character played by actress, Emma Stone in La La Land that broke her mold from the thriller and crime genre, her background in theater studies and trained ballet provided her with her versatility to transcend into performances starting on stage to musicals and lead roles in horror.
The 2017 slasher-comedy flick Happy Death Day gave Rothe a completely different experience from previous projects, and it was the complexity of her character that gave her the incentive to come back for the sequel. “The thing with Tree is she's such an unexpected scream queen. She’s this sassy, brassy, multi-dimensional human being whose flawed. She drinks and she has sex and she makes mistakes and sometimes she's really bitchy, but at the end of the day she has a new heart,” says Rothe. Appearing in nearly every single scene in the slasher definitely doesn't come easy, being that majority of the film consists of her running, screaming, and in this particular case, repeatedly dying on screen. “I definitely spent a lot of time on the elliptical and drank a lot of tea because I was screaming a lot. But the truth is, it was just fun for me because I got to be funny, scared, rageful, and heartfelt all in the same film, and it was something that I feel especially in this genre women don't get to do,” she says. “We always say the thing about Tree is most girls in a horror movie run away from the killer, and Tree picks up an axe and runs towards him screaming.”
Happy Death Day, which is a combination of Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day and horror film Scream, takes the story of Tree Gelbman, whose life takes a turn for the worst as she is continuously stalked by a masked murder who kills her 16 times within the time loop premise. The sequel, Happy Death Day 2U, picks up right where the last one left off, except this time director Christopher Landon expands that nightmare and throws in sci-fi elements and new characters who experience what Tree has been dealing with since the beginning.
It’s no surprise that Rothe’s performance in the thriller-comedy secures her a spot as a scream queen, but in no way does she want to be boxed into one genre. While her character Tree had Rothe wearing the same outfit throughout the film, which she describes as, “easier, but by the end of the shoot you're ready to burn every single piece of clothing,” her upcoming role as Julie Richman in Valley Girl involves over 60 costume changes of a revolving wardrobe of shoulder pads, pastels, and all things obscenely 80s.
She desires to take on characters that appear unreliable, the ones that keep you guessing. She mentions her love for the 2018 drama The Favourite, the 18th-century period piece starring Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz as role inspiration. “That's what I want to do because that was such an incredible film with three badass women just taking the reins,” Rothe says. “It’s just unique and beautiful, that a film like that was made because I don't know if 15 years ago that movie would have been green lit because it’s all women and because of the story. I think it shows where we are as a culture, that we were ready for a film like that and that is so exciting.”