Storm Reid reveals how 'The Invisible Man' realised a hidden villain and explored gaslighting (exclusive)

Storm Reid as Sydney in The Invisible Man (2020)
Storm Reid as Sydney in The Invisible Man (2020)

The Invisible Man will go down in cinema history for being one of the first film releases affected by the Covid-19 pandemic - in March 2020, with cinemas suddenly closed, the movie was released to rent digitally early by Universal, just four weeks after its initial theatrical release.

It has also cemented its place in movie history for its innovative retelling of a classic movie monster. Reimagining the horror story of HG Wells’ 1897 book, The Invisible Man for 2020, the psychological sci-fi horror stars Elizabeth Moss as Cecilia, a woman who is believes she is being stalked by her abusive partner after he commits suicide. It’s a brilliant, modern interpretation, not only successfully bringing the story up-to-date, but which is made all the more chilling by examining themes of real-world manipulation and abuse in relationships through the sci-fi set up.

Though a version of the reboot has been in the works since 2006, the 2020 movie is the first of what will be an anthology series of retellings of classic Universal Monster movies, with new Dracula and Wolfman movies in the works too, each a standalone story based on the iconic lineup of Universal Monsters.

With The Invisible Man released to own on DVD and digital, Yahoo Movies UK caught up with Storm Reid in lockdown. She plays Sydney, the teen daughter of Cecilia’s childhood pal and confidant (Hidden Figures’ Aldis Hodge) and she opened up about the challenges of facing up to someone you can’t see on screen.

Yahoo Movies UK: In The Invisible Man, we see Sydney get attacked by the titular villain. What’s actually happening on set when you’re acting against the Invisible Man?

Storm Reid: It's quite challenging, because you have to really imagine the unimaginable. Especially in my case – for the scenes where we had to interact with the Invisible Man, sometimes you'd have a stunt man who was in a green or blue suit who was physically there, or you’d have stunt people wearing special effects costumes so that they could be edited out later.

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But in my scene, I didn't have that, so I really just had to act like I was being tortured by the Invisible Man; I had nothing to work off of. So that was a little challenging, but I'm, I'm always up for a challenge. And I like being able to learn new things about stunts and VFX, so being able to work with the team that I got to work with was pretty incredible.

That must be a pretty fun acting exercise, to have a fight scene with no one at all…

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 24: (L-R) Michael Dorman, Aldis Hodge, Elisabeth Moss, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, and Storm Reid attend the Premiere of Universal Pictures' "The Invisible Man" at TCL Chinese Theatre on February 24, 2020 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
(L-R) Michael Dorman, Aldis Hodge, Elisabeth Moss, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, and Storm Reid attend the Premiere of Universal Pictures' "The Invisible Man", February 24, 2020. (Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)

Exactly, because you have to be very emotional, but also you have to be very physical as well. I really had to push myself to my limits, but it was a lot of fun.

The scene where the Invisible Man comes to Sydney and Cecilia while they’re sleeping is such a good horror scene with really creepy effects, and again, in it, there’s a lot of interaction between the actors and no one. Could you talk us through how that was filmed?

Yeah – they have a person off camera yanking the sheets off the bed! And even when you see the Invisible Man’s feet stepping on the sheet, of course that was somebody stepping on it. So there were scenes like that, where we did have a visual of what was going on.

Still, when you're trying to be in the mode of being scared, and then you see somebody in a green cube, it can be kind of distracting. But the producers and the stunt team did a great job of letting us know what would happen and what it would look like, and really trying to help us focus on our emotions - and then they would work on the rest later.

So much of this movie when you're filming it must be in your mind's eye, how does what you see on screen now compare to what you were imagining when you were on set?

Storm Reid as Sydney in The Invisible Man (2020)
Storm Reid as Sydney in The Invisible Man (2020)

Right, it's totally different to see everything come to life. When you’re imagining the unimaginable, sometimes what you imagine is totally different from what is portrayed on screen.

To see the amazing work that the team at Blumhouse and Universal did with the film was super duper special.

The Invisible Man was released digitally early, because of the pandemic. COVID-19 will inevitably affect the whole industry - how have you felt the effects of that so far, and have you had projects postponed?

Aldis Hodge, Elizabeth Moss and Storm Reid in The Invisible Man (2020)
Aldis Hodge, Elizabeth Moss and Storm Reid in The Invisible Man (2020)

Yeah, I think everybody in the entertainment industry is feeling it, especially for people who are about to go in production. We are about to start filming season two of Euphoria, and that of course got pushed back, so it's been interesting and a little hard not being able to get up and go to work and do what you love every day. But I think that the world needs to take a break.

Even though it is hard, I think it's necessary and I'm glad that we're taking the precautions that they need before we are able to go back into production.

Similar to The Invisible Man, Euphoria examines deeper, dark real-world issues, too – is that something you purposefully look for in projects?

PASADENA, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 22: Storm Reid attends the 51st NAACP Image Awards, Presented by BET, at Pasadena Civic Auditorium on February 22, 2020 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Storm Reid attends the 51st NAACP Image Awards, February 22, 2020. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

I just love to be a part of a show, that is entertainment, and is visually stunning, but also, where we're talking about real things that are going on in the world, where you're talking about the things that young people are going through and trying to bridge the disconnect between adults and teenagers. I feel like that's what The Invisible Man did as well. We did create a genre film.

But also, we were talking about gaslighting and what women are going through in the world today. With any project that I'm working on, I just want it to be purposeful and have a meaning behind whatever we're trying to portray on screen.

People might not expect it from the title, for The Invisible Man to explore those relatable, real relationship issues...

Exactly, we did try to reimagine the classic monster, but I think it's important, because I think that's what makes it scarier, is being able to add those realistic elements to it.

The Invisible Man is out now on Blu-ray, DVD and digital.