Universal Pictures and Blumhouse have once again to deliver the perfect combination of chills and cheers in the upcoming horror film M3GAN. Stemming from a story by horror icon James Wan and a screenplay by Akela Cooper (who worked with him on Malignant), M3GAN is directed by up-and-comer Gerard Johnstone. After concluding its Halloween trilogy and making waves with The Black Phone in 2022, Blumhouse is looking to hit the ground running in the new year with its fun and freaky tale of an android doll whose love can kill.
Allison Williams leads M3GAN, returning to big-screen horror after her highly acclaimed turn in 2017’s Get Out. She plays Gemma, a toy company employee and robotics engineer who must take charge of her niece Cady (Violet McGraw, The Haunting of Hill House) after the untimely demise of her parents. Thinking she’s on the cutting edge of childcare technology, she invents an AI toy named M3gan to protect Cady from harm. Unfortunately, M3gan’s definition of harm may not coincide with Gemma’s.
Screen Rant spoke to Williams about her role as a producer for M3GAN, the differences between her child and doll costars, and surprisingly whether she prefers Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter.
Allison Willams Talks M3GAN
Screen Rant: I loved you in M3GAN, and I know you were an EP on it this time around. What does that mean for you? Did you get to have long important conversations with the director?
Allison Williams: Of course, I like to have those anyway. And I always find a way to just make everything my business on all of these movies, but this time I got to do it officially. I got to know everything that was going on from start to finish, as much as I could. I didn’t quite get to the place where I was going on location scouts; I would love to go on a location or a tech scout.
They are dreaded parts of our job, but I find them deeply scintillating. Being on the distribution lists for clearance, like what props and T-shirt logos we have clearance for? I didn’t even think about that stuff before. I love knowing all the minutiae, and it helps me feel just even more invested in the success of something like this.
Does that mean you will be directing in the near future?
Allison Williams: Directing is a very different skill set. I have never thought of myself in that way. I don’t look at my job from that lens, literally, of directing and bringing something to life. I love the combination of acting and producing, so I think that’s where I’m going to try to stick around. Although maybe the very bossy, deeply older sibling part of myself is just gonna be like, “I need to be in charge of the whole thing. Just doing it all.” Maybe that’ll happen.
Speaking of the older sibling dynamic, I know you and Cady have a great relationship. But I heard that you and Violet also do a little ribbing back and forth. What is that like?
Allison Williams: She is so funny and so intense. She’s very smart; she’s super sweet; she’s very cool. She loves Lord of the Rings, and a huge tactical mistake I made [was] she asked me… I’m back to make this mistake publicly, and I apologize to all of you. I am a dutiful millennial, and she asked me if I love Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter.
It’s just deep within me. It’s part of who I am. I was built partially by the stones of Hogwarts, which is very dramatic. The bricks of Hogwarts built my soul. And so, she asked me very casually, “Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter?” And even though we were in New Zealand—it was so stupid—I just said Harry Potter. I just watched me stop to matter to her in that one moment, and I spent the rest of our time working together just trying to get some respect back. You can ask her. I don’t know if I was successful or not. But it was the biggest tactical mistake I could possibly have made.
Finally, M3GAN herself. So much is happening there, and you’re acting opposite it. How do you deal with all of that?
Allison Williams: Thank you for asking vaguely; I really don’t want to ruin the magic for people of what M3GAN is. But it was a challenge, I will put it that way. Of all the costars I’ve ever had, all of whom have been lovely, she was by far the most temperamental and challenging.
But I will say that kind of effort literally took every department working together. And that’s the stuff that just brings a crew together and makes an experience really special from a meta standpoint. From an acting standpoint, if you’re looking for an uncanny experience, it’s very easy to perform against. It just rolls off the tongue.
M3GAN is a marvel of artificial intelligence, a lifelike doll that’s programmed to be a child’s greatest companion and a parent’s greatest ally. Designed by Gemma, a brilliant roboticist, M3GAN can listen, watch and learn as it plays the role of friend and teacher, playmate and protector. When Gemma becomes the unexpected caretaker of her 8-year-old niece, she decides to give the girl an M3GAN prototype, a decision that leads to unimaginable consequences.
Check back soon for our other M3GAN interviews here:
- Director Gerard Johnstone
- Producers Jason Blum & James Wan
M3GAN arrives in theaters on January 6.