One morning, lonely surfer Aidan (Tyler Posey, Teen Wolf) awakens to find that a global pandemic has turned most of humanity into bloodthirsty zombies. Just as he’s ready to give up hope, Aidan spots his attractive neighbour Eva (Summer Spiro, Westworld) across his apartment complex’s courtyard, and soon the two become “socially distant” friends. Trying to find a way to rescue her, Aidan confronts an eccentric neighbour (Donald Sutherland) who could be their salvation — or downfall.
As per Lionsgate and VVS Films, that’s the basic premise of the incredibly timely thriller Pandemic (formerly titled Alone), now available on EST and VOD in Canada, and Digital and On Demand in the States. It’s incredible to think that the movie was filmed pre COVID-19 and yet it perfectly encapsulates how we’ve all been feeling over the past year. Despite it having a zombie outbreak at its centre (thus making it a perfect Halloween watch), Posey and Spiro deliver visceral, passionate performances that ground the film in reality. I had the exciting opportunity to chat over Zoom video recently with the actor-musicians and the following is an edited and condensed version of our fun conversation with the Alone stars.
*This interview was originally published on October 16, 2020*
Brief Take: Hi, Summer and Tyler! How’s your quarantine been going?
Summer Spiro: Good! Well as good as can be. It’s good to be here.
Tyler Posey: Mine is going great. A lot of self learning and improvement that I’ve done. I’ve turned into somebody that I’m proud of during this quarantine.
BT: I think you both captured the sense of weariness and longing for connection in this film, which was shot over a year before this pandemic really hit. For those that don’t know, tell them about Alone and about the characters that you play in the film.
TP: Cool. Alone is a movie that we filmed before COVID-19 that’s all about a pandemic. The parallels between our movie and life right now are pretty astounding. The first half of Alone deals with Aidan, who has never been alone a day in his life, and he has to deal with being forcibly quarantined, otherwise he’s going to die by a Screamer. He really discovers how much of a coward he is, and he’s self-deprecating. He loses his family and the only reason why he’s hanging on is because he heard in a voicemail that he should stay alive from his family. So he’s exhausting all of his options – he’s got no more food, no more water – and it’s then that he meets Eva through social distancing, and she becomes his newfound rock and reason to stay alive, something bigger than himself. He has this whole rebirth and then wants to go save her. Well only if she needs it, and she doesn’t because she’s a very strong person.
SS: [laughs] That’s perfect.
BT: What did you like best about working with each other?
TP: Hated it! [laughs]
SS: It was the worst! The worst. Ugh, he’s the best. He’s so easy. He’s just so warm, so generous, so caring, so loving. He makes it look effortless. He makes it seem like he just gets out of bed and can just do this. He makes it look so easy and he’s just wonderful. So wonderful.
TP: I love you so much, Summer. Ditto. Completely likewise. I mean the fact that you even care enough to say that, it’s really sweet. You have a huge heart and you constantly want to grow and give it your all. You were such a great person to have on set. You wanted to just have fun and be there with us, and I admired that. You were down for anything. She did her own stunts and they were really scary, and you were super down and excited! You’re full of love and know how to appreciate love and give it back, and that’s a trait that not a lot of people have. I fuckin’ love you!
SS: I’m so lucky. We are lucky.
TP: Yeah, we are.
BT: You mentioned the stunt work and your director, Johnny Martin, his background is in stunts. So what was it like doing some of those stunt-heavy scenes? Particularly the action oriented end sequence.
SS: I just wanted to make him proud. I wanted to do it for him, you know? He was like “you don’t have to go over the balcony if you don’t feel like it.” And I was like “no, strap me in.” I didn’t even think about it because I just knew he would keep me safe because he’s safety first and such a Papa bear, he’s got such warm energy. So we just kinda went for it. There were just a few that I didn’t do, but he really just made us feel excited and very safe. I mean when can you ever really climb over your own balcony when you’re five floors up and feel safe?! So I was like, “I’m going to do it!”, and it was really fun.
TP: Yeah, you were a badass. But yeah, same thing for me. It was scary! So not only was I one of the top floor balconies for one of the stunts, but I had to stand on top of the railings so I was even higher than the balcony. And I had to run along there and then jump to another balcony, and like you said, how often do you get to do shit like that?! It was so much fun. But only if you’re in good hands and you feel safe, and we felt so safe. I loved doing the stunts and that was one of the reasons why I wanted to do the movie was so that I could get my ass kicked, you know? And I did. I went home with bruises every single day and I loved it, but it was scary though! [laughs] It takes a lot to look down on this balcony and jump off of it, and Summer and I both did it.
SS: And watching the other guys do it was just so enthralling. I was constantly in awe! So many people bringing their A game to just try stuff, to climb all the way up these buildings, it was just amazing to see.
BT: Do you have a favourite on set memory?
TP: I loved watching Summer do her stunt. I was super scared for you because I knew what it was like to be on that balcony, and that was not easy! Watching you do that was like “thank God we got this girl to do this role.” I really dug that moment a lot. I don’t know if I ever told you.
SS: That was fun. It was fun when we got to work with each other in the same space, that was my favourite, because I spent the whole first half on the other side of the apartment building not really interacting with anyone. When you’re on set, there’s all that energy, and I wasn’t getting any of that. I was just sitting there wondering what was going on. So when I fly over to your balcony and we fall, I was like “oh this is fun”. That was my favourite stuff to shoot.
TP: Yeah, I felt like we weren’t acting, you know? With our characters, everything stops for a moment and then it’s like “oh, hi”, and it was kind of like that for us too because we had been working opposite each other for so long and then we finally got to work with each other, and it just felt good.
SS: You know when we see each other and then we just hug?
SS: Right now, that’s like what you wish you could do with people. You just want to hug somebody. And I think we sensed that, we sensed that that’s what it’s like to be isolated. “I don’t know you but I want to hug you. I need to feel a human body that cares.”
TP: Yeah, and that was your idea too. It was badass.
BT: What was it like working with Donald Sutherland? And Summer, were you on set when those scenes were being filmed?
SS: I did. I got to watch. I went to set just to watch because I wasn’t going to let that day go by without watching. He has so much poise. But Tyler got to really be in there with him.
TP: Yeah, it was a lot of fun. We rehearsed our scene so much and he just wanted to be a part of this movie and really give it his all, and he did. I was just so impressed by him in every single way – in the choices he made during acting, and that he’s still so passionate about his career. I was just enthralled and I wanted to give him my all, and we both gave each other the craziest choices that we could, and it just became so much fun. We had some really bizarre moments in the movie, he and I, and he just made it so, so cool. He’s the man. He’s this legendary dude and I understand why, and I just loved working with him. He’s one of the most passionate people I’ve ever met. I was so blown away.
BT: How are you in regards to spending time alone?
SS: Because I live with my sister and have a big family, I’m almost always around people, so there are times I really need alone time. I’m an introvert and need time by myself to recharge and re-energize me. However, I think quarantining during a pandemic is a totally different feeling. Being alone isn’t a choice for some people, it’s necessary, and in that circumstance I think it’s much much more difficult on the psyche and the spirit.
TP: I’m never alone! I always have my two dogs keeping me company.
BT: I know music is very important to both of you with Ruby Summer and Five North, respectively. What music have you been listening to during this pandemic and what music do you think Aidan and Eva would be into if they could make sounds, of course?
TP: I think Aidan would have blasted Rage Against the Machine.
SS: While we were shooting, I made a playlist full of Sufjan Stevens ‘Carrie & Lowell’ album and Bon Iver’s ’22, A Million’ album. I was wanting a lot of soothing, otherworldly sounds. While we were going through our real life pandemic, I listened to a lot of bluegrass like Alison Krauss and Emmylou Harris and then dove into Jessica Pratt’s new album, and then Bon Iver’s ‘I,I’ album, which I couldn’t get enough of.
BT: Summer, I know you’re passionate about re-opening the Sandra Bland case, and Tyler, you’ve advocated for your fans to get out and vote. Can you talk a little about those causes that are important to you and that you’re using your respective platforms to advocate?
TP: I didn’t choose to have a platform but since I do, I want to be a good influence. Voting is something I’ve never been passionate about until now. I try to be neutral and love everyone but when Trump tweets these petty things, I don’t want to be led by someone like that. So for me, it’s time to make a change. Voting is important and people of ages should vote. Even though it’s my first time voting, maybe I can inspire people who are like me.
SS: The Black Lives Matter movement is incredibly important to me. We’ve watched so many innocent Black lives lost at the hands of our own system, and Sandra Bland’s case is just heart-wrenching. All of the cases are heart-wrenching, but when you see what just happened to Breonna Taylor’s case, that no one will be held responsible, and no one was held responsible for Sandra Bland, this is such a common outcome with the lives of Black women, and it’s not right. I believe in hope and I believe in justice and that’s what they deserved. I think voting can make a difference, not just for President, but for your own city’s representatives, your city council, your mayor, your district attorneys. I know it can feel overwhelming to vote for all those positions, but those are the ones that make all the difference.
BT: What have you watched lately that you’ve really liked?
SS: I loved My Octopus Teacher, 13th, Unorthodox, and I finally got to watch Pose, which I loved so much.
TP: I just re-watched Gravity and it’s my favourite movie. I’ve seen it seven times in the last two weeks. [laughs]
Alone is now available on Digital and On Demand, and arrives on Blu-ray and DVD on October 20