‘M3gan’ Movie Interview with TikTok’s Brian Jordan Alvarez

Photo: Leon Bennett/Getty Images

In October 2022, Twitter gained a new CEO, a tech sociopath who revolutionized the social media platform forever. that person was m3gan, aka Model 3 Generative Android aka mother. When Universal dropped the first trailer for Blumhouse horror-sci-fi-satire m3ganunited Twitter users in obsessing over the fabulous little robotic doll with a slashing stare and a ferocious roundhouse kick.

In the midst of all the excitement for the new queen of horror of the dwollssome discerning M3GstAN noted that in addition to allison williams and a kid-robot killer, the film also featured comedian and actor Brian Jordan Alvarez. Over the past year, Álvarez has done the impossible: he’s made on-camera comedy feel new again, harnessing the creepy, wacky power of TikTok filters to create a cast of characters steeped in tradition, including wellness guru of the Angels. marnie tentrepreneur erikA celebrity Cook with a burning passion for onions, and the always enigmatic Mr. and Mrs. T. J. Mack.

in the trailer for m3gan, Álvarez looks refreshingly like himself, or a version of himself, while hung and strangled by his own creation, unfiltered. His role in the film is even bigger than the trailer lets on, as he plays Cole, the right-hand man to Allison Williams, a fellow robotics engineer. Álvarez spoke with Vulture about how m3gan it took the gay internet by storm, why it should be in more movies, and its place in the M3GAverse and beyond.

You’re in the movie from start to finish as Allison Williams’ right-hand man, and you’re kind of a father to M3gan. Did you have any idea when you were cast how big your role would be?
I love that, M3gan dad! Yeah, it was a big, awesome part. Actually, I don’t know if he should say this, but there were two parties on the table at one point. But I was so happy with this cool roboticist role in this sci-fi horror movie. Everyone calls it a horror movie, and it is, but I like sci-fi, especially slick, slick sci-fi like Ridley Scott’s. Alien Y Prometheus. And this is a science fiction movie. That is also why scares and laughter have so much reward. Gerard Johnstone and Akela Cooper and Jason Blum and James Wan take their time at the beginning, building up this science fiction that interests you. You have to wait a second for the movie to start going crazy.

You said you were ready for another role. I don’t know what role he was in, but if I had to guess, I’d guess he was the director of the toy company, played by Ronnie Chieng.
Brilliant casting.

My audience burst into laughter from the moment you and Williams are testing M3gan’s facial reactions and she smiles. They were all fully on board at the time.
And that’s the hard part. To make a theater full of 100 or 200 people laugh out loud is a great achievement. And it’s the more subtle things that make it happen.

The M3gan doll was portrayed in full-body motion shots by 12-year-old ballerina Amie Donald. So, in the montage where you take M3gan’s wig and poke it with a stick…
I legitimately don’t remember if I was pushing Amie or not. They used as many practical effects as possible and just used CGI to fill in the gaps. So they’d say, “Okay, you’re going to do it with Amie this time. Now you’re just going to do it on air. Now to the doll.

Did you have other scenes that were cut?
I do not think. It could even be that I was visually removed from a scene where I was only in the background. But I do remember that there was a scene where he was basically being ridiculous. I put on a pair of crazy glasses and a hat or something. He was spinning in his chair while something bigger happened that wasn’t in the movie, probably for the better.

While you were making this film, did you have the feeling that it would be as important as it became?
Yes, I do. The days I was there I was glued to the monitors. When they were photographing the doll, it was the most incredible thing to see. Because Amie Donald does all this amazing body work, but in close-up, she’s a real robotic doll. So Gerard would be doing this really subtle direction, like, “Tilt the doll’s head just a little bit. Okay now have him blink twice and then have him turn his head the other way. And then just a tiny smile.” So he was, in a way, acting through this robot, this puppet. This was all running at the highest level and on such a small budget.

Much of the movie is just a close up of her taking a beat and blinking. And she rules.
It’s so deadpan, so subtle. A writer friend of mine said it would be fun if M3gan started appearing in other movies, as an actor. Just assuming other roles.

Have you learned anything, as an actor, by watching the M3gan process?
Yes, I know M3gan. I know more M3gan.

Have you learned the M3gan dance?
I didn’t. I should learn it! I need to have it ready.

What was your M3gan growing up? What was that toy for you?
Tamagotchi! We were obsessed. I remember I would get distracted from class, I’d be like, I have to go feed my Tamagotchi! It will be starve!

“You do not understand it! I’m a single dad!”
Looking back, it’s crazy how few pixels it took to get us interested. That really is the power of the story. They said, “These two pixels need to eat,” and we said, Oh my gosh, I feel it in my soul!

Screenwriter Akela Cooper has hypothesized that m3gan it has resonated with queer audiences because it is about a non-traditional family. Others have theorized that it is due to the old adage that when a girl do some sociopath shit, her gays say, “Honestly, I work. Why do you think the film is so successful with queer audiences in particular?
I think it’s pretty simple: queer people have great taste. And when something is just amazing, they are often on the front lines.

I need you to fix something for me. My friends and I think that Allison Williams’ character has a queer code. She’s single and she’s got all those Tinder notifications, but they don’t say who. She wears those flannel shirts. She can open a jar.
I was watching the other night and I thought: Why open that jar? I assumed it was something beyond my comprehension. So I have no idea.

Your character is a bit banged up at the end of the movie, but survives an attack by M3gan. Do you think Cole will return for the sequel?
I would love to come back for the sequel. Let’s go party.

I want to talk about the comedy you’ve done on TikTok over the past year and how you’ve taken advantage of filter effects more than most other comedians.
It felt like something he had always been doing. I had been making these videos for myself and occasionally sent them to my friends. And I think there’s a lot of power in deciding, that funny thing you send your friend? Post that. Marnie T. was the first one that blew up, and early on, I made that video of Marnie T. saying, ‘It’s been such an amazing day,’ and I sent it out to a chat group saying, ‘Is this funny?’ And they didn’t answer. So I just thought Well, you know what, it’s okay. I’ll just post it. And I posted it. The world will tell you if it’s fun, but if it’s not, you can do something else.

Your characters are so funny in a way that confuses me. Take TJ Mack, a stay-at-home husband with an alpha wife who loves to hunt for deals and also has a burgeoning pop career: I don’t even know the type of person he’s trying to impersonate. What’s so funny about TJ Mack for you?
I don’t want to ruin my own comedy by analyzing it. I’m improvising most of the time. But when someone can do an accent, like I can do a really amazing Australian accent, that has a quality to it that feels like a magic trick. It’s hard to describe why, but your brain reacts like someone teleported or something. It’s that times three, because I’m transforming my whole look. And I’m transforming my voice, usually in one way or another. the other thing is that I love it people. And I am observant. I think once I absorb someone’s energy and process it, even if it’s 20 years later… I mean, I don’t even know who I’m channeling what’s coming out of me to. The joke is usually Isn’t this something someone who is like that would say? EITHER, Isn’t it funny that this is something that someone who’s like that wouldn’t normally say? You can not lose.

Is there an accent that is difficult for you to do?
Yes, a North England accent like Manchester or Leeds. And I think even those are quite different. I want to learn it and I have never been able to. However, I haven’t put much emphasis on that. Also, I need to learn a Kiwi accent. I was trying to do it, and I would just slip into an Australian accent all the time. In New Zealand, where m3gan was filmed, I was always told, “No, it doesn’t really sound like an Australian accent at all.”

On TikTok, people interact with your work by playing in the comment section as if your characters were real people. What are those interactions in the comments like for you?
I think that’s the best part, because it’s this positive feedback loop. I realize you’re picking up what I’m leaving. I’m, like, creating a world, and they’re going into the world and saying, “Hey, I’m a member of this world. And I also have some jokes to add.” Is so big. Just like with the Timothy videos, everyone is like, “Timothy, get out of there!” “Timothy is not what you think!” Or they say, “Timothy, this sounds great!” For the readers who don’t know who he is, Timothy is a character I do on my Instagram and my TikTok who just moved to LA from somewhere probably in the Midwest, and immediately met a boyfriend at Abbey, whom Timothy calls “the Abbey Bar and Grill.” And then his boyfriend, apparently, is using him in some kind of racketeering situation. Maybe he’s some kind of mule, I don’t know, Timothy’s an idiot, but the fans enjoy guessing that, or pretending they do too. they are ignorant.

M3gan is a movie about the dangers of AI. Many of your characters rely on filter effects, which in turn use AI to identify facial features and manipulate them.
I love all the positive aspects of it. I think it’s fun to imagine that maybe one day a show full of these characters could be made at a time when very high-quality CGI characters are easy to do, and an AI just does it for you. So instead of a Marnie filter, it’s a complete 360 ​​Marnie transformation. As far as doing things yourself these days, I’ve had this thing where I’ll have access to a really good camera, and then I’ll barely use it, because it makes so much more sense to do everything on your phone. And I’m looking forward to the meeting of these two things, where there’s no longer a difference in quality, really, between what your iPhone can do, including this AI we just mentioned, and an Alexa camera. So you can film something that looks as good as a real TV show on your iPhone. You and I are, I think, very, very familiar with the Internet. And as someone who likes to be on the cutting edge of these things, I’m like, My gosh, it’s going to be so exciting when all this gets even more advanced with ChatGPT and whatnot.

If I have learned anything from science fiction, it is that everything will be great and excellent.
What could go wrong?

This interview has been edited and abridged for clarity.

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