Jessica Henwick Says Regé-Jean Page Never Dropped His American Accent For "The Gray Man"
One reason Jessica Henwick wanted to join Netflix's newest action movie, "The Gray Man," was because of its "stellar lineup of actors," she tells POPSUGAR. The two people she got to work most closely with on the set of the Russo Brothers' film were Chris Evans and "Bridgerton" breakout Regé-Jean Page. Henwick and Page are both British and play Americans in the film, but they went about preparing for their roles pretty differently.
Page, Henwick says, stayed in an American accent the entire time they were filming. "We got along like a house on fire, and it was only when we finished filming that he broke his American accent, and then I realized our entire relationship was a lie," she jokes. "I never stay in character. As soon as the camera has cut, I'm back to speaking like [with my normal accent], whereas he would maintain it from getting in the car till leaving." Henwick wouldn't call it method acting exactly, but it does lean "in that direction." "That's his process and I totally respect it," she says.
Henwick thinks Page is unique in being able to keep the American accent up all the time while working with her. The actor remembers that when she worked with Nicholas Hoult on 2017's "Newness," he didn't give up the accent when Henwick came on set. "I met him and I went, 'Oh, hi. So whereabouts in London are you from?' And within five minutes, he'd caved," she recalls. "And that's been my experience with most British actors, they cave within the first day of hanging out with me." She adds, "But Regé, his willpower was just too strong."
Henwick says it was a joy to work with Page and to play villains together. "We kept joking that we were Team Rocket from Pokémon, because we would enter scenes, yell at each other, kind of f*ck things up ineffectively, and then leave," she shares.
Another major part of the movie for Henwick is her character Suzanne's relationship with Evans's Lloyd Hansen. Lloyd is the livewire, and it's Suzanne's job to always try to rein him in. Suzanne, Lloyd, and Page's Denny Carmichael are all school friends who entered the CIA together. "In the original script, it went into a lot of detail about specifically their relationship at school, and Lloyd and Suzanne had a very, very dark history. And so I was, even when we made it less explicit, I wanted to bring that to the table, that there had been something really turbulent and kind of insidious with her and Lloyd," she says. "Getting to do that with Regé and Chris was honestly a blessing."
And yes, she has an opinion on the mustache Evans grew for the film. "I ripped into him for the first week because it was pretty funny, and he would get food caught in it, but I think it works for the character," she says. "It's villainous without being too mustache-twirly. It's a look."
Henwick describes Suzanne as the "polar opposite" of her usual characters. "She's simmering with emotions, she wants to talk back, and she has to swallow her tongue so many times throughout the film," she explains. Plus, Henwick often plays characters who are heroes and rebels — she literally played a rebel pilot in 2015's "The Force Awakens." But in "The Gray Man," Suzanne is in many ways the embodiment of the system, even if viewers might sometimes identify with her struggles. "When we first get introduced to her, she's so undermined by everyone around her that you think, 'Oh, she's a victim. I feel bad for her,'" she says. "Then slowly as the film goes on, you realize she is a virus and she is so toxic as well, and that's so much fun to play." Henwick actually spoke to someone who works at the CIA to try to figure out why someone like Suzanne would have sacrificed everything to be in her position.
As for her hopes for Suzanne in a sequel? "I would love to . . . watch her become this supervillain," Henwick says.
"The Gray Man" is in theaters now and streams on Netflix on July 22.