Barbarian's Georgina Campbell And Justin Long On Their 'Intense' New Horror Mystery [Exclusive Interview]

Any horror movie worth its salt is anchored by its performances. Script, cinematography, production design, score — all those things play a major part, of course, and you obviously can't make a film without them. But to make things really pack the punch necessary to be effective in the genre, you need top-notch actors who can take us there. Enter Georgina Campbell and Justin Long, two of the leads in the upcoming horror-mystery "Barbarian." The pair bring a nuanced sense of character to two fairly stereotypical archetypes in this film, and their command of those personas give the movie a firm foundation on which to build its absolutely bizarre and terrifying story.

"Barbarian" follows Campbell's Tess, a woman who, upon arriving at an Airbnb she rented in Detroit, finds a man named Keith (Bill Skarsgaard) already staying there. Against her better judgment, she decides to stay the night at the house, but she quickly realizes that there is something far more sinister going on in the home she rented than a harmless double booking mix-up — something that has been brewing for decades.

I sat down with Campbell and Long to talk about what draws them to the types of projects they gravitate towards, how "Barbarian" measures up in that arena, and to even dish a little on a potential "Tusk" sequel. Yeah, you heard that unexpected tidbit correctly.

'It plays better than I would've imagined'

I need to know right off the bat: How many surprises did you encounter with this movie? Because the mystery of the film is obviously such a huge part of it and that's what makes it stand out.

Long: The only thing I was surprised by [was] how some of this stuff cut together and how it played with an audience. I think about the measuring tape stuff. I remember thinking when we were shooting that, well, he's having me do this a lot, this measuring, and I didn't realize how funny it would be once the audience knew of the danger that this guy was surrounded by. It plays better than I would've imagined.

'I like the idea of exploring darker stuff'

Justin, your character, AJ, is cut from the same cloth as your character Wallace from "Tusk." Weirdly, that's one of my favorite movies.

Long: That is weird. [Laughs]

It's a great movie. I think it's really underrated, and I think you play these kinds of characters so well. So I'm curious, why are you drawn to these kinds of guys? What do you like about playing these roles? Because you really do knock them out of the park, and that's not a bad thing. You're a great actor.

Long: That's so nice of you. I like the idea of exploring darker stuff, because any of those flaws, any kind of narcissistic tendencies, you like to put a lid on or at least temper, or, if you can, completely eliminate through therapy. But with characters like that, it's fun to really lean into the douchier aspects of a toxic male personality. I hope it doesn't come naturally. It doesn't feel like I live with that stuff, but I have narcissistic tendencies and things that I'm not proud of that, with characters like this, I can just kind of lean into and give myself over to. Weirdly, it's fun. It's kind of liberating.

'I have a very vivid imagination'

Georgina, you're known for a lot of hard hitting roles in the UK. You have a BAFTA for really intense drama ["Murdered By My Boyfriend"]. It seems to me that you're drawn to these really sort of laborious roles, and this clearly is one of them. What makes that exciting for you as an actor? What are you so drawn to about that?

Campbell: I think the thing is it's like a cyclical cycle. You do them and then someone watches it and they're like, "Oh my God, she can do that." And then you get offered another one and another one. So it's kind of ended up being something that I do get offered a lot and I'm also drawn to, and this has been really interesting because it's a fun film. It is intense, but it's also fun and entertaining and humorous. So there's more kind of light to play. It's not like a very intense drama, which I have done in the past. But I just think I have, like most actors, I have a very vivid imagination. So I kind of find myself being able to put myself into those scenarios and think, how would I react if this was happening to me?

'They're doing Tusk 2, I think'

Thank you guys so much. It was a pleasure. 

Long: Thanks, Lex. You'll be happy to hear, Kevin [Smith] just announ– I mean, I guess they're talking about it. They're doing "Tusk 2," I think.

Are you for real? Are you joking with me?

Long: No. He texted us all the other day, Haley [Joel Osment] and Genesis [Rodriguez], and he told us that he wanted to do it, and I thought it was a joke. And then I realized he was being serious. And then one of the [other] interviewers said, "Yeah, he said the same to me."

All right. Well, now that you've spoken to me, you're committed. You must do it. You have to.

Long: I don't know how that would work! [laughs]

"Barbarian" arrives in theaters on September 9, 2022.