M. Night Shyamalan’s latest, “Glass,” which hit theaters on Friday, represents the thrilling culmination of two of the celebrated director’s most cherished films, “Unbreakable” and “Split.”
It’s a 20-year journey that brings together Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis and James McAvoy’s iconic characters, as well as their just as important supporting characters played by Spencer Treat Clark and Anya Taylor-Joy. Sarah Paulson rounds out the impressive cast in “Glass” that truly feels special.
AOL’s Gibson Johns caught up with Taylor-Joy and Clark to discuss reprising their roles as Casey and Joseph, respectively, being part of the M. Night Shyamalan universe and what it was like getting to work so closely with Sarah Paulson.
Check out our conversation below:
How does it feel to finally have “Glass” hitting theaters?
Anya Taylor-Joy: Much like “Split,” I’ll just be excited to talk to people about stuff. With Night, you don’t say anything. You keep your mouth shut out of deference for other audience members. You don’t want to ruin it for them, because it’s such a cinematic experience. I think it’ll be fun to actually get to talk to people and not be all hush hush.
Spencer Treat Clark: Totally. We actually had an interview earlier where we could talk about spoilers and both of us were like, “Uh…” and, like, waiting for Night to pop out behind the couch. [Laughs] But, yeah, it’s exciting. We’ve both seen the movie, but not with an audience, so we’re both excited to get that opportunity at the premiere.
You’re both stepping back into roles that you’ve played before: Anya, you’re playing Casey again, two years after “Split” came out in 2017; Spencer, you’re playing Joseph again, almost twenty whole years after “Unbreakable” came out in 2000. What was it like for both of you getting back into the mindsets of both of those characters?
Spencer: It was insane. I was totally unaware that a sequel was possible at this point. It just wasn’t on my radar at all, and then it was a multi-step process from “Split” coming out “yes,” there will be a sequel, to Night calling and saying he had a role. I had no idea what capacity that would be in, but then I read the script and got to set and now this… it’s been surreal. Honestly, it becomes a little bit more real at each step.
Anya: Honestly, we’ve spoken about this so often, but I didn’t know. Nobody knew. We thought that was the end. For his movie, it was like “Unbreakable” — it’s done. For me, “Split” — it’s done. We didn’t think that we would get the chance to reprise our characters, and it was so emotional for me, because I’ve grown up on the road and I’ve been non-stop making movies, but that family in Philadelphia [where Night films his movies] — that crew — have been a real family to me. So, to get to just be like, “I’ll be in Philly for the next three months” and meet new people that fit into this family so perfectly … you’d assume things were clunky or wouldn’t work, but we all slotted into those positions within the family so easily, naturally and organically and that’s such a gift. Genuinely just shooting it was so great for my mental health. Like, “I’m home!”
Were there any differences that you noticed in working with Night now versus when each of you first worked with him as your director? Were there any changes in his process?
Anya: Night is a master. Nobody questions that. However, getting to watch a master geek out over his movie is pretty fun. Seeing Night get excited and know how epic it is that he’s doing something so amazing and pulling it off is so cool.
Spencer: It was not lost on him how excited we all were to be there. I was 11 when I made “Unbreakable,” so my experience with Night as the man was very similar. He’s the same warm, amazingly cool guy, but as a director, my experience was completely different, because I wasn’t thinking in the same terms when I was 11. In some ways acting was just a fun thing I did along with so many other things in my life, and now as someone who is interested in directing, the opportunity to be working with him really made me sit back and watch him and all these long takes, deliberate camera moves and his interactions with people. That was pretty cool. I hung around set a lot just to watch him do his thing.
When you both first read the script, did anything surprise you about where your character was? I was personally a bit surprised about how Casey has a sort of longing for Kevin.
Anya: I was worried before reading the script, because I had such a clear feeling [about where Casey would be]. “Split” ended, yes, but the second I knew I was coming back, I obviously stepped back into Casey’s skin and I was like, “Okay, where are we going now?” And my feet were walking in a very particular direction, so when I first got the script I was like, “Please let it be what I think it’s gonna be,” and luckily it was. Casey is a person that has never once doubted the validity of D.I.D. and her connection with the multiple people within Kevin is not the same as her connection with Kevin. The rawness of what they share, and the fact that they are mirrors to each other and no one else understands them is fascinating to her. She can’t explain it, but she’s drawn to him. It’s not a Bella and Edward [from “Twilight”] situation; it’s not romantic. It’s a kindred spirit and a “I can see you” and “” know that you saw me” thing.
Spencer: It’s interesting, because I didn’t have a whole lot of assumptions [about where my character was], because you learn to do that as an actor. But I think the pessimist in me was like, “I’m going to die in the first four pages” to up the stakes or whatever or that I would be bait-chained to a radiator. [Laughs] The fact that he was a fully-formed character was so exciting for me. But then there were two things that motivate my character, one being a spoiler that is a plot point that’s resolved between “Unbreakable” and “Glass,” but it was cool that the central theme to my character now and then is still his love for his father and his belief in him as a superhero. It was cool that that had stayed constant.
You both get to work a lot with Sarah Paulson in “Glass.” What was it like working with her?
Anya: She’s a bad a– b–ch. She’s incredible as an actor and as a human being. One of the funnest things about this set is that we’re all wordy and not necessarily the cleanest-mouthed people, which was pretty entertaining. [Laughs]
Spencer: Especially when you have [Samuel L. Jackson] to really loosen everything up. He’ll just come it and go, “F–k it!”
Anya: But, yeah, she’s such a talent and a formidable talent, but also as a human being she is so funny and warm and I think everyone just raised the game for each other. She was already a fan of “Unbreakable” and “Split,” so she walked in being like, “Oh my god, this is so cool,” and even Sam walked in like that. It wasn’t lost on any of us that we were having a really singular experience.
Spencer: It was cool. We had dinner at Night’s house after rehearsals and just before we started filming. Sarah was so jubilant and loose and so fun right off the bat and that was really important for the rest of us to see that, knowing we could really vibe from minute one. I remember when I read the script and getting to a scene where I have a 1-1 with Sarah’s character. Ever since Sarah’s profile has risen so much with all her Ryan Murphy stuff, she’s an actress that a lot of people would want to work with. It’s insane. When I read that scene I was like, “Hell yeah!”
Lastly, all of Night’s movies have fervent fans. What’s it like being a part of this universe from that perspective? What are your interactions with his fans like?
Anya: I have a funny one about this, because I didn’t realize. I’m a bit of a weird ostrich in that I live under a rock with big important things that just don’t come easily to me. I remember asking Night once if his fans ever get crazy, and he just sent me a picture of somebody that had Bruce [Willis’] face tattooed on the back of their head as the Overseer and I was like, “Oh s–t, it’s that level of fandom.” It does feel like such a privilege. Sometimes press can be exhausting or whatever, but we’ve had such a good time because we love it and we love each other and that’s so special. To get a chance to share it with the fans who hopefully love it as much as we do is just so exciting.
Spencer: Again, harping back to being so young when [“Unbreakable”] came out, I obviously knew “Sixth Sense” had been such a phenomenon, but “Unbreakable” was a movie that at 11 years old … your taste is so different. Even before “Glass” and revisiting that movie and appreciating him as a director, having these movies be connected was really unexpected. Nobody knew [it was coming], except for Night.
This interview has been edited and condensed.