Dan Trachtenberg directing 10 Cloverfield Lane

If there’s one thing we’ve come to expect from a Bad Robot production, it’s heavy-duty secrecy. Producer J.J. Abrams loves his mystery box, to the point that we didn’t know 10 Cloverfield Lane was even coming until two months ago. And even then, the trailers and TV spots left a lot to the imagination. What kind of strange and twisted horrors might await the characters in the new movie?

Well, you’ll have to find out for yourself when the film opens this weekend. But there is one surprise that really threw us for a loop, and it had nothing to do with monsters or aliens or zombies or whatever else you’re imagining. It’s a cameo by a certain A-list, Oscar-nominated movie star. Speaking to director Dan Trachtenberg this weekend, I got the details on how said star ended up in said role — as well as some tips from on surviving the apocalypse. Find out after the jump.

Note: Minor spoilers after the jump. This cameo is probably not even something you would recognize when seeing the film.

In the very first scene of 10 Cloverfield Lane, we see Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) hurriedly packing a suitcase so she can walk out on her fiancé Ben. He is not present in the scene, and we don’t ever actually see him in the movie. But we do hear him later on, when he calls Michelle as she’s driving away. The voice sounded familiar to me, but I couldn’t quite place it until the end credits revealed it was Bradley Cooper we’d heard on the other end of that line.

10 Cloverfield Lane has a pretty small core cast — Winstead, John Goodman, and John Gallagher Jr. — so it was a surprise to realize someone as big as Cooper had snuck into the film. When I sat down with Trachtenberg at the 10 Cloverfield Lane junket in New York this past weekend, I seized the opportunity to ask how that cameo had come together. Here’s what Trachtenberg had to say:

You know, he heard about the part, and he kept showing up and auditioning, and we kept on turning him down, and he was insistent. Which is crazy… No, I’m just kidding. J.J. and him go way back — they had worked on Alias together. And just one random day, we still didn’t have a voice for the role, and J.J. thought, ‘Hey, I wonder if Bradley would want to do this.’ And we were like ‘Bradley?’ and he’s like ‘Cooper.’ And we were like ‘Oh, cool!’ So yeah, he called him up and he was stoked to help us out. It was really cool.

Moral of the story: it helps to be friends with J.J. Abrams.

Trachntenberg and I also discussed the nascent “Cloververse,” including 10 Cloverfield Lane‘s connection (or lack thereof) to the original Cloverfield and his thoughts on fan theories. He also reveals what he’s learned about prepping for doomsday, and offers some advice for surviving the apocalypse. Watch our full chat below.

10 Cloverfield Lane Dan Trachtenberg Interview

  • 0:03: Whether Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane take place in the same timeline.
  • 0:45: What he thinks of all those 10 Cloverfield Lane fan theories.
  • 1:12: How and why 10 Cloverfield Lane came under the Cloverfield banner.
  • 2:03: Whether he worries audiences will expect a Cloverfield sequel.
  • 2:38: How Bradley Cooper wound up in 10 Cloverfield Lane.
  • 3:18: What he’s learned about prepping for doomsday.
  • 4:04: Advice on surviving the apocalypse.

10 Cloverfield Lane is in theaters March 11.

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