Brand New Cherry Flavor: Rosa Salazar & Catherine Keener On the Netflix Thriller - VRGyani News and Media

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Monday, August 23, 2021

Brand New Cherry Flavor: Rosa Salazar & Catherine Keener On the Netflix Thriller

[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers through the season finale of Brand New Cherry Flavor, “Bodies.”]

From creators Nick Antosca (Channel Zero) and Lenore Zion, the Netflix original series Brand New Cherry Flavor follows Lisa Nova (Rosa Salazar), as she comes to Los Angeles with the goal of directing her first feature film. After believing that Lou Burke (Eric Lange) can make that happen for her, she quickly learns that he’s more predator than producer and turns to the mysterious Boro (Catherine Keener) to set a curse in motion that threatens everyone and everything Lisa has ever known.

During this virtual interview with Collider, which you can both watch and read, co-stars Salazar and Keener, who are so all-in with their performances that it makes all of the insanity that ensues quite a wild ride, talked about why they were excited to tell this story, how acting is like free-falling, that “Keener magic,” why it always comes back to the art for Lisa Nova, the rock stars that Boro was inspired by, and what the title of the show means to them.

Collider: This show is completely wild, in the best way. I appreciate you making me sit there and go, “Oh, my God, what is happening?” more times than anything I’ve ever watched.

ROSA SALAZAR: You’re welcome.

When this project came your way, what got you most excited about it and what were you most scared or nervous about?

SALAZAR: I think that we live in an age where there’s just so much content. There are so many things to binge and we’ve gotten really used to just throwing something on and then scrolling through our phone. And when I read these brilliant scripts by Nick Antosca and Lenore Zion, these minds, I just said, “This is something that you cannot and you will not – whether you vibe with it or not, and whether it’s your cup of kitten blood or not – scroll through your phone on it." The audience will be captive no matter what, and that was important to me. I wanted to make something that cuts through all of that. It was exciting. I’m a huge horror fan. I’m a huge fan of their work already. It was a no-brainer for me. And I liked the character. I liked the fact that she is fallible. I like the fact that she is dynamic, in this other way. It’s not just a strong woman. She makes big mistakes, and I wanted to see that. I wanted to see a character like this. Also, I wanted to work with Catherine [Keener] again, this is our second time together. Catherine is my Boro, baby.

CATHERINE KEENER: I don’t know what was happening with the history of these characters. I was told every day because I had lost track. Obviously, it has a lot to do with what when women go through, societally and with the system, but what did you say about Lisa Nova?

SALAZAR: “You fucked with the wrong filmmaker.”

KEENER: Instead of the wrong woman.

SALAZAR: We wanted to transcend that.

KEENER: It was about the work and the art and, “Fuck you about my personal life.” I did appreciate that. I’ve done things, I always feel, against sexism, but it was cool that this was about art, mostly, and the vengeance of people in power and how we want to avenge our souls too, in a way.

Did anything actually scare you with it, or were you just all in?

SALAZAR: For me, I look at acting like free-falling. Someone just gives you a shove off of a very tall building and you really have no control, and that’s what it’s like, inviting a character in. You just go, “Okay, inhabit this vehicle.” It’s like Boro, where this person jumps into your body and you get lost. And so, that was terrifying for me, the entire time.

KEENER: Yeah, we didn’t know what the hell was going on. She did because this woman came ready to go, every single day, and just ran away with it. It was just keeping up, really. It was incredible to watch.

SALAZAR: I wasn’t nervous about setting everything on fire. With Catherine there, it was very helpful.

Catherine, when we first meet Boro, she doesn’t have the surface qualities that we traditionally associate with power in our society. She’s soft-spoken, she’s this woman with wild hair and smudged lipstick, and she’s carrying a cat, representing that “crazy cat lady” trope, but because of your performance, we never doubt her power. What is the secret to playing internal power rather than external power?

KEENER: The secret is if people imbue you with that. Part of it is in the writing and support. You can’t do it without a director. You can’t do it without your cast. A lot of it is just Rosa telling me that I have the power. I don’t know if that answers your question.

SALAZAR: I think it’s that Keener magic. I’ve met a few Keeners now, and they’re all very powerful people.

KEENER: I try to stay present and loving nature, and stuff.

RELATED: 'Brand New Cherry Flavor' Creators on Explaining the Show's Wild Mythology, Finding the Perfect Cast, the Ending, and the Cats

Rosa, your character’s acceptance of every outrageous moment is so vital in keeping the audience grounded through all of these wild twists and turns, but you also have to react in a way that feels genuine rather than just being blasé about it. How did you find a balance of staying authentic while honoring Lisa’s ability to just accept the nightmare logic of anything that comes her way?

SALAZAR: That sounds like my real life. Don’t you do that on a regular basis, Christina? Don’t you react to things authentically, even though they’re bonkers insane? We accepted a lot of things in 2020. We took it on the chin and we took it while reacting authentically. I just try my best to do that, and like Catherine was saying, to be present and to be authentic. But the main thing that always pulled me back with Lisa was, what is the focus here? The focus is always the art. So, any reaction and anything that happens, is accepted because it’s like, “Well, I’m on the way to make my movie. I’m gonna place a curse on someone. There are zombies over there. That’s fine. Maybe I’ll use them in my movie.” It always comes back to the art. That’s what was so great about playing Lisa. She is, almost to a myopic degree, so laser-focused on making this film and knows that she can. Everything extraordinary that happens, she reacts to it because how could you not? These things are really happening to you. These things are extraordinary, but they’re not more extraordinary than the dream. As an actor, myself, and as an artist, myself, wanting to be in this place that I am now, working with Catherine Keener, there were many things in my actual life where I had to go, “Ah, but okay, there are real-life vampires and real-life predators.”

KEENER: That’s true. Often, on a set, you don’t do it intentionally, but somehow you start inhabiting the character and you start acting nuts, if the character is like that. It just really mirrors it. Boro was the same way as Lisa. I wasn’t really interested in helping you. I needed to get something from you. You fascinated me, but I had my own thing. I had my own objective.

Catherine, when I spoke with Nick Antosca, he told me that Boro wasn’t really inspired by any particular real-world occult or mythology, but more of a hodgepodge of many influences. What inspirations, influences, and references did you turn to, in creating a backstory and understanding the character and figuring out how you wanted to live in that?

KEENER: Well, the mythology that they provided me with was wide open. So, bad dreams. For me, it was a mash-up of Yoko Ono and Jimi Hendrix, if they combined. I don’t know. I was very psychedelic, in that the challenge was to expand your mind, but also as a six-year-old, where there are no limits. If you’re gonna play Darth Vader in something, you go. No one can break it. It was just fun. We talk about how it’s play, and play is limitless. But to be honest, they did fill me in a lot, not that it really counted. They freed me up a lot to just do. They were so accepting. Sometimes I just thought, “I don’t know what the hell is going on here. I really don’t know.”

SALAZAR: Yeah, it was a wild ride. You shoot everything out of sequence too. It was a wild ride to shoot it.

KEENER: And I would say to Rosa, “Is this wrong? Is it just completely fucked up? I don’t know.” You wanna stay true to the character and represent, in any way, evil, good, and all of us in between. You wanna do it justice, but these people weren’t people I really know, so that’s where the mythology came in. Historical or literary characters who I’ve come to love, they help.

Rosa, this is billed as a limited series and Lisa’s story feels satisfying and resolved. But from a character standpoint, what do you think her new goals are, for the future, as she walks away from this? What is her headspace, in those final moments of the season?

SALAZAR: Well, L.A. is a black magic town, or it can be, and it’s filled with predators and vampires. We just showcase those things in a heightened way, but I think that town can really chew you up and spit you out. So, by the end, she’s like, “You know what? I have some internal investigation to do. I’m gonna go home. I’m going to find my mom.” I don’t think she ever stops making art. I think she goes to Brazil and makes a movie there, to be frank with you.

KEENER: Everybody does Ayahuasca, and you make that movie.

SALAZAR: Gandja Monteiro, who directed Episodes 2 and 3, her father leads Ayahuasca ceremonies, so we talked a lot about that and a lot about Brazil. She’s Brazilian. So, I think she does go do Ayahuasca, and I think she makes another movie there. This is just an allegory for how vicious L.A. can be.

What does the title of the show mean to each of you guys? Does it have a special meaning, or do you like that people seem to not be quite sure of the meaning of the title?

SALAZAR: I love it. First of all, it’s the name of the IP. It’s the name of the book. For me, it was like someone who just steps off the bus and is brand new, and here comes this brand new cherry flavor. But it’s also just very vague, and I really like that too. I don’t even wanna prescribe any kind of answer. It’s open for interpretation.

KEENER: I have no idea. I really have no idea, except that I saw her lips and they looked cherry. I don’t really know. I really don’t know. I’ve never asked, and I’ve never been told. I apologize to the author of the book because I’m sorry.

I feel like it’s okay.

SALAZAR: Lou says it in the book – because in L.A., they’re always looking for the next big thing and the next auteur – “You are this brand new cherry flavor.” That’s essentially where it comes from. But I liked that it was open for interpretation and people are like, “What does it mean?” It fits so well and it doesn’t really need to have an explanation.

KEENER: It just fit the series really well. It does. Because look at her.

Thank you guys. You’re both rock stars, and I have mad respect for everything you did in this.

SALAZAR: Thank you.

KENNER: Thank you so much.

Brand New Cherry Flavor is available to stream at Netflix.

KEEP READING: ‘Brand New Cherry Flavor’ Trailer Reveals Netflix’s Limited Series About Revenge, Witches, and Dark Magic



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