Megan Suri stars as Sam in It Lives Inside. The new horror film is now playing exclusively in theaters.
Sam is desperate to fit in at school, rejecting her Indian culture and family to be like everyone else. When a mythological demonic spirit latches onto her former best friend, she must come to terms with her heritage in order to defeat it.
I had the chance to speak with the actress over Zoom and we discussed bringing her own experiences to her character, the behind-the-scenes process of making a horror movie, why the screaming scenes were so challenging, her favorite memory from set, and more. Keep reading for everything she shared!
Thank you so much for speaking with me, Megan. I’m a huge fan of you and your work. You’re such an incredible actress and I really appreciate you taking the time.
Megan Suri: Dude, thank you. As to you, I appreciate you having me.
Of course. Congratulations on this movie. The performance you gave was amazing and I really enjoyed seeing you in the horror genre, so I kind of want to start off with that. What did you enjoy most about the genre overall and how did you find yourself approaching your character? Did you draw inspiration from something you learned on past projects or did you look to your own favorite horror movies and were like, “Okay, let me try my spin at this?”
Yeah — no, these are all really great questions. I’m a huge horror fan, so Bishal and I kind of immediately connected over that. So, to be able to be a part — and being part of horror was something that was already on my bucket list of things that I wanted to do in my career and I really hope this is just the beginning, I would love to still work in this genre. In terms of inspiration, Bishal and I really just had very extensive conversations about Sam and we really built — he had already written the character on the script and when we were talking about who Sam was, there were already so many elements that were very relatable to me. So I could definitely bring some of my own experiences to the table, but in conjunction with the conversations that I had with Bishal and our similar shared experiences, we really built and collaborated on a very rounded character.
I have to say, whenever an actor tells me that they got to collaborate on their character, that makes me excited because I feel like you bring so much experience to the table and to the character. I like hearing that you had a part in creating what we saw on screen.
Yeah, it’s my new favorite thing too and Bishal has now set a bar that I’m just like, “I wanna do this every time.” It’s so fun. It really does feel like an artistic process and sometimes as an actor like, yeah, it’s so fun and it’s part of the job, but there is something beautiful about building something with someone that you really respect and trust their opinions on, and Bishal is definitely someone that is that.
Now that I know you’re a horror fan and obviously, this was your first experience with the genre — you will do more and we’ll talk all about it when you do, but what was it like seeing the behind-the-scenes of horror movies? I feel like seeing the process of any movie or show must be so incredibly fascinating, but a horror movie is one of those genres where you see the finished products and you’re like, “How did they do that?”
It is and you know what, I had a little bit of a taste of it because I really loved The Texas Chainsaw Massacre growing up. It’s like, my sister and I, those were sort of our favorite gory, horror movies and I remember, not to be annoying and name drop, but when I was very young and I got the pleasure to work with Jessica Biel, I didn’t know her from anything other than The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and so, I was like, “I loved you in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Were you actually scared of the person?” And she was like, “No, we all become friends and you don’t do that.”
And I feel like that really set up my experience for It Lives Inside because on screen it looks like this terrifying thing, but Jenaya Ross, who is this incredible contortionist, artist person — just amazing what she could do with her body, she’s the sweetest being you would ever imagine, so sweet, literally talks like this [quietly and softly], and is just so cute and adorable, and she’s playing this ginormous, terrifying monster. And it was like, “Oh, it’s not at all what you think it’s gonna be. It’s actually really having to act and having to pretend like you’re doing something,” because Jenaya was great.
I like how you posed that question to her. It’s almost like, were you running away on the set away from that person?
I would and then she was like, “No.” It’s the same and in a way, I would even argue it sometimes can be a bonding experience because you’re doing such crazy things and you’re going through such a crazy array of emotions that you can’t help it. If someone can hear you scream and they stick around afterward, that’s someone to keep around.
That must be so therapeutic to get you to scream at your job.
Absolutely. Until you almost pass out, but other than that, it’s great.
Which scene was the most challenging for you to do and why, whether it was just something you had to get in a certain headspace for or something that you were more curious about how it was going to turn out and were like, “Oh, is this gonna work? Is this not gonna work?” Then maybe seeing the final version and being like, “Oh, wow. That was incredible.”
I don’t think I’ve ever watched anything that I’ve been in and been like, “Oh, wow, that is an actor.” No, I’m usually very self-critical, very hypercritical, anyone that knows me, knows that. I think truly, honestly, this sounds so generic and basic, but some of the scenes that I was most worried about were the screaming scenes because, to your point, it’s so therapeutic because we don’t do it very often and this was something that I feel like I discovered on like a psychological level when I was on set where I was like, if we actually just made it more societally and socially acceptable to just scream without thinking that something was wrong with you, I feel like the energy in the universe would shift a bit because everyone would just be a little bit more relaxed.
Sometimes you just need to scream, but doing that in front of 50 people is very vulnerable and it’s scary when you don’t do it often. And so, it’s a very private moment that I was very nervous about, but as I heard Mohana Krishnan, who plays Tamira in this movie, scream on day two, I was blown away by her incredible scream that I was like, “Okay, now I have to bring it. I can’t not bring it if Mohana is gonna be screaming like that on day two.”
I feel like the only way to really prepare for that is to take yourself to a haunted house.
Oh yeah, or a rollercoaster, you know what I mean?
The other thing I will recommend is I’ve heard that you can go to places and just smash everything.
I know those places, I’m trying to get a reservation because that would be also very cathartic. Maybe when this movie comes out.
If you do, let me know.
Okay, sick, we’ll let you know. We’ll pass on that info.
I’m a firm believer that in any movie or TV show, you can personally take away a message from the themes, the characters, or the story overall. Did you take anything away from this project that you feel like you’re gonna carry with you in your personal life or maybe an acting lesson that you hadn’t experienced before?
I think both, and there’s so many subliminal messages in this movie that are very apparent just from the get-go in terms of acceptance, in terms of getting help and seeking help, and helping others. As far as acting goes, I mean, we filmed this two years ago in 2021, which is insane to think about. My hair is exponentially longer, so there’s the proof but working with Bishal and working on this movie, this caliber, and this genre, I think all of those things as an amalgamation of just those all together, I think absolutely made me into, hopefully, a better actor because of what it took and what every day required out of me just physically. So, yeah, absolutely, I think that Bishal is one of those great directors that can — I mean, every day just felt like I was at school for cinema and I’m so incredibly grateful. I would work with him, hopefully, if he’ll have me again, any time. I think he’s a genius, and yeah, I consider myself really lucky for sure.
Do you have any favorite filming memories? I know that’s probably a difficult question because I feel like when you’re on a set, it’s probably like just a big fun summer camp, but is there a moment that stands out that you’re like, “No matter what, I’ll remember that from this experience?”
It’s definitely a tough one because it was such a lovely experience, but I will say pranking Bishal on set was one of my most cherished memories, and Ray and Sean, who are producers behind this at QC, it’s always a topic of discussion that like, “Oh yeah, I remember when I did it to Bishal,” where basically long story short, it was a stressful day for Bishal, but he’s a very calm and collected director, especially with his actors, to really everyone, but especially with his actors, he has like, “I’m gonna stay zen and calm even if everything is going wrong and all the elements are working against me.” And there’s a bike-riding scene in this movie and I remember prior to going out to Vancouver to film Bishal was like, “Have you ridden a bike?”
I was like, “Yeah, Bishal, I know how to ride a bike,” and he was like, “Maybe you should just go and practice a bit.” I was like, “No, no, I’ll be fine. You don’t ever forget how to ride a bike. It’s fine.” Bishal was like, “I think you should,” and I was like, “Okay, I’ll do it.” I never did, really bad and I go into the day of the bike riding scene and I come back to Bishal, and I’m like, “I can’t ride the bike, but don’t worry, don’t worry our stunt person, they’re gonna basically just add in some tricycle wheels and they’re gonna wrap it in green tape, and they’re just gonna CGI it out. Don’t worry, Bishal.” I see his face just go — like, thinking about all the logistics behind that, but still trying to stay calm and composed, “We’re gonna make this work. It’s gonna be fine.” Then I was like, “I’m just kidding, Bishal,” and the amount of relief that — I saw his blood drain and then come back out, it was the most amazing thing and we laugh about it. Bishal still to this day feels a way about it, but it was great. It was a great way for him to just be like, “It’s fun. This is a fun time,” but it was great.
That’s my favorite story ever.
Ray and Sean do a much better storytelling job of that, but it was really funny. Probably not funny to Bishal at the moment, but it was funny to me.
Thank you so much again for your time. It was such a pleasure speaking with you. You’re just killing it and I can’t wait to hopefully speak with you again. Congrats on the movie.
Thanks so much, Sophia. I really appreciate that. Thanks for having me.
Please note: this film was given an interim agreement from SAG-AFTRA. In support of the strike, please donate to the Entertainment Community Fund.