So busy it’s scary
Chris Messina’s on a roll as ‘Boogeyman’ heads to theaters
With Friday's Stephen King adaptation "The Boogeyman" Chris Messina, after decades of solid work, suddenly finds himself having a Messina season.
"Boogeyman," where Messina's therapist and his two young daughters must confront and survive the nastiest of demons, proved so successful last December in a test screening that it was pulled from Hulu to open in theaters.
That happened with "Air," Ben Affleck's springtime hit about the creation of Nike's Air Jordan sneaker which was highlighted by Messina's scenestealing, much-talkedabout role as Jordan's profane — and profanely angry — agent David Falk. His blistering phone call with Matt Damon's Nike veep leaps beyond hilarity to be a career-defining moment.
"Boogeyman," which counts King among its fans, found Messina doing in-depth therapist research — even though in real life, he said in a phone interview last week, "I have done a lot of therapy, which I loved and found very useful."
"When I read this script, I maybe stupidly thought, ‘He seems to be a very good therapist, why can't he deal with himself and his daughters?'
"So I talked to a bunch of therapists who said, ‘In many cases, it's very true to life. We're good with other people's problems and when it comes to ourselves, we can be quite stuck.' And that was a real jumping off point."
Messina, 48, credits director Rob Savage with giving him the insight on what makes a horror movie work. Or not. "He said, ‘You can't have the jumpscares and the screams and the yells when people watch without characters that you care about.'"
Messina rewatched and studied the Oscar-winning 1980 Best Picture "Ordinary People" where therapy helps a family heal. "I tried to steal both from Donald Sutherland [the therapist] and Mary Tyler Moore [the off-putting mother]."
Come June 8, Messina costars with Kaley Cuoco in the Peacock 8-part series "Based on a True Story" where, he promises, "You'll be laughing and then it turns itself on its head and it's incredibly tense, scary and, sometimes, emotional."
Then comes "I.S.S." which is, he revealed, "A sci-fi thriller about a group of astronauts, three Americans, three Russians, on the International Space Station. They're very much getting along until something goes down on Earth that changes their relationship. And things start getting really tense and dark.
"We had a great time making it. We were on harnesses for most of the movie — it takes place in zero gravity. I've never done anything like that!
"So, you'd call ‘Cut' and the director would give you a note and you'd be just hanging upside down."
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