Watch: Alex Wolff on filming Old in a tropical paradise
The combination of pandemic restrictions and filming in the Dominican Republic during the hurricane season — which nearly washed away their beach location — made for a shoot that he describes as “both hellish and also paradise.”
Wolff, who made his name in psychological horror Hereditary and the Jumanji sequels, described the most memorable moment of the shoot to Yahoo Movies, and it was one of his favourites: “We’d all go swimming after filming,” he recalled.
“There was one moment which was pretty amazing, when we all put flowers in the ocean and thanked it for behaving so well towards the end of the movie. That was really special.”
But there was a dramatic side to making the film, one that was equally memorable but for other reasons. The hurricane season meant they were up against severe weather conditions. “It could be raining all day,” he recalled.
“At the beginning, the set was being washed away and, in that way, it was a nightmare.” The film’s sets were destroyed and had to be re-built but, while the beach itself had been eroded, part of it returned and the shoot was able to continue.
Read more: Old is scary 'but it's not a horror film'
In Old, released in UK cinemas this Friday, the actor is part of a family relaxing on a beautiful secluded beach, but it’s not the haven it appears. It’s a place where time works differently to the rest of the world and everybody ages rapidly, reducing all their lives to a single day. In the film, his parents are played by Gael Garcia Bernal and Vicky Krieps.
Making the film was the first time Wolff had worked with M Night Shyamalan and, despite the weather, he says he hadn’t “had such a smooth shoot maybe in my entire career.” Much of that was down to the rapport he established with the director.
“He’s in a league of his own. He’s a genius,” he said. “He’s one of the more technically genius and precise film makers I’ve ever worked with but he also gives you a lot of freedom to bring your own pain into it and bring your own history and bring your own freedom, so I felt I was very lucky to be part of that.
"That’s probably the exact balance I like to work with: a director with a really clear vision of what he wants to do but lets you bring your own pain and angst into it.”
Alongside Wolff, Bernal and Krieps, the cast of Old also includes Thomasin McKenzie, Eliza Scanlen and Rufus Sewell.
Old is released in cinemas on Friday, 23 July. Watch a preview below.