Maggie Q: 'Fantasy Island' is twisting thriller conventions (exclusive)

Rebecca Lewis

New Blumhouse thriller Fantasy Island (in UK cinemas Friday, 6 March) may, on the surface, look like another standard horror-thriller but star Maggie Q believes the female-focused film is actually twisting conventions of what we think we know of the genre.

In the film, from Truth Or Dare director Jeff Wadlow, Q’s Gwen Olsen is – at first – the emotional heart of the film, a woman who has deep regrets over a past love and constantly considers the “what ifs” of her life.

The Island of the title allows her to live out her ideal fantasies, but as Gwen’s appears to offer her a ‘happy ever after’, the other guests’ fantasies become nightmares – until all of their lives become entwined in ways they never imagined.

“This film is character-driven which is interesting as it’s a writer/director and [Jeff Wadlow] had very specific ideas of how he wanted to develop each character and what their emotional journey was, and you don’t see that in horror films, it’s so rare,” Q tells Yahoo.

A still from Fantasy Island (Sony Pictures)

The film has a real female-focus – from the stars of the film to behind the scenes – with Jillian Jacobs joining Wadlow in the writers room.

“The men are supporting the women in this movie,” says Q.

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“There were two male writers and one female writer, and it’s always nice to have our voice in there. I’m not saying men can’t write for women but it’s always nice to have women in there understanding how empathic we are, and how we feel, because we feel very differently to men - it’s not the same thing.”

Maggie Q in a promotional photo for Nikita. (The CW)

Maggie Q is most famous for her work on action-thriller Nikita, and most recently alongside Kiefer Sutherland in Designated Survivor.

In the ten years since Nikita began airing however, the TV and film landscape for women has changed dramatically, and Maggie admits that she has been “chasing different battles from different sides”.

“There’s a few fights, right? There’s equal pay, equal screen time,” she said.

(l to r) Lucy Hale, Portia Doubleday and Maggie Q in Columbia Pictures' BLUMHOUSE'S FANTASY ISLAND. (Sony Pictures)

“When I started all the roles were supporting men, there was nothing that indulged in what our stories were – well nothing I was being offered  – so it’s a series of things you have to turn down to chase something that really matters to you.

“The other thing going on is you are female but there’s the minority aspect, so you are chasing different battles from different sides and just trying to be seen as an actor or an entity in some way.

Maggie Q in Columbia Pictures' BLUMHOUSE'S FANTASY ISLAND. (Sony Pictures)

“But strides... [the industry] is unrecognisable, it’s not the same industry. One of the things that excites me for the movement for females in Hollywood is the writers and directors, I really want to see more female directors and that needs to be encouraged.” 

So is going behind the camera something Maggie is interested in?

Maggie Q in Columbia Pictures' BLUMHOUSE'S FANTASY ISLAND. (Sony Pictures)

“Absolutely! I love working with actors, so even when I am on sets and just someone’s co-star, the process is so exciting.

Fantasy Island is released on 6 March, 2020.