SPOILER ALERT: This story contains major details about the new horror thriller “Fresh.”
“Fresh” is not for the squeamish. The new Hulu film stars Daisy Edgar-Jones as Noa, a woman who falls for Steve, a handsome surgeon (Sebastian Stan) she meets in a grocery store. Little does she know he’s a black market dealer of human meat who sells to enormously rich men who enjoy eating female flesh. Edgar-Jones’ character wakes up one day to find she’s been kidnapped, and her new beau has plans to cut off various body parts for his clientele.
I caught up with Edgar-Jones, who shot to fame during the pandemic for her work opposite Paul Mescal in the limited series “Normal People,” for this week’s “Just for Variety” podcast ahead of “Fresh’s” Los Angeles premiere.
“Post-‘Normal People,’ I was really keen to find something really different from anything I’d done before. And ‘Fresh’ certainly is that,” she says of the Mimi Cave-directed film. “It’s a very different character and a very different genre and also a very different accent [Noa is American]. There was lots about it that I was interested in.”
Are you a vegetarian now?
I’m actually not, would you believe?
Were you able to eat meat while shooting the movie?
I actually was able to. The thing that I got put off of from filming “Fresh” was actually eggs. I couldn’t eat eggs for a while because I ate this weird breakfast burrito in one of the scenes that actually I felt a bit squeamish about.
What’s the message of “Fresh”?
What’s wonderful about the film is that I think everyone who watches it will bring something to it, or they’ll take something from it that’s unique to them. For me, arguably it is sort of an allegory for the commodification of women, that we’re sort of reduced to just our physical, but it’s also a celebration of female friendships and how a shared collective experience can help you overcome situations. And then it’s also observing just the weird consumerist way in which we date now, through swiping on an app. So I think there’s lots about it that you can take. You can also watch it and just really enjoy it for a sort of film you’ve never seen before, in terms of its madness.
I really wanted to hurl during the meat grinder scene. How did you not take any of that home? How do you sort of wash that off at the end of a day of shooting?
I find watching reality TV really helps with that. I would go home every night and watch “RuPaul’s Drag Race UK.” That was what was on at the time. And I think that really helped… For me, switching off is definitely reality TV. That’s what I go to.
So who is your favorite queen?
I quite like Blu Hydrangea. She’s from the north of Ireland. I have a lot of family there.
What was it like seeing some of the fake body parts on set?
I mean, the props people were just incredible. There were so many parts in the script [where] I was like, “How the heck are they going to bring this to life?” And the detail was really clever, like tattoos and things like that, stuff I hadn’t even thought of. And seeing them create the dishes. I had read them and was thinking, “How the heck? What are these going to look like?” I was so impressed. They just did such a good job.
Steve does some really awful things to Noa. Is Sebastian the type of actor who says, “I’m sorry?”
Yeah, he would. We would also just play like random ’80s ballads or something just to cheer us up again after doing any of the darker stuff.
Was there karaoke going on, or is it just play the music, do a little jig, and then get back to processing meat?
There was a bit of karaoke. There was a bit of boogieing. I remember we would play “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” by ABBA quite a lot for some reason.
So let’s talk about a couple of other projects you have: “Where the Crawdads Sing.” My colleague, Matt Donnelly, said, “You must ask her about finding that Southern accent.”
“Fresh” was like East coast, sort of general American-y, and I found that actually really quite harder than North Carolina because it was so clearly an accent… We don’t really have general British. You walk 20 minutes up the road and you have an entirely different dialect. I loved finding that accent and also finding different versions of it too, because there’s a younger Kya, there’s a sort of older Kya and then there’s sort of a voiceover that goes throughout. I wanted to find the differences in those tones.
You also worked with Andrew Garfield in the upcoming “Under the Banner of Heaven.” Did he tell you that he was going to be in “Spider-Man: No Way Home?”
He didn’t. We asked. And he was so good. He was like, “No.” He was so convincing. He’s very good at keeping secrets.
And “Normal People,” will we ever see that sequel that everybody wants?
I don’t know. I mean, we finished the book at the end of the series, so I guess it’s really up to Sally [Rooney] if she wants to revisit those characters. I wonder if it would be cool to come back to them maybe in their 30s [at] a whole different stage of their life.
You could do like in their 30s, then in another 10 years you do their 40s and you just keep coming back every decade.
That would be great. I’m always going to be employed.
This Q&A was edited and condensed for length and clarity. Hear the full interview above. You can also find “Just for Variety” at Apple Podcasts or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.