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HAPPY DEATH DAY

Make Every Death Count
The principal cast of Happy Death Day consists of our protagonist, as well as the people she comes across repeatedly throughout her daily journey. As Blumhouse films keep a close eye on production efficiency, it was necessary for the actors to be able to take on that challenge.

For Landon, it was a no brainer to turn to Jessica Rothe for the role of Tree, a character who is in virtually every scene of the film. The director explains: "Jessica is unbelievable because she had to run the gamut. She had to be the uptight bitch, but then she had to be this vulnerable girl trying to figure out her life. On top of that, she needed to be terrified while being hunted down by an unknown killer...and then she had to be empowered and fight back. Her range is incredible."

Blum was equally thrilled to have Rothe sign on to the project. The producer commends: "Jessica has auditioned for us a few times before, and we have tried to cast her in other projects. We were extremely lucky she said yes to this one."

Lobdell echoes Blum's praise, noting he worried just who could tackle such a didactic character: "I do not think anyone thought it was possible to get Tree from the page to the screen until Jessica walked in the door. She handled the horror, the comedy, the toughness, the vulnerability, the resolve and the spontaneity with such aplomb."

Rothe was immediately hooked with the story's ability to capture her imagination and allow her to experience and present such a range of emotions. "I love when I read scripts that truly pop off the page, capture your emotions and allow you to invest in the lives of the characters. This was one of those scripts for me. The amazing balance of humor, horror, action and heart is something you just do not find often."

The performer reflects on the exact moment she was positive she had to play Tree: "I knew I had to do this film was when I read the 'Tree dies six ways while looking for her killer and living her life like a badass set to upbeat pop music' montage," she laughs. "This montage is everything that is brilliant about the film. We watch Tree become an active participant in her life instead of a victim, but it is fun-at moments scary-and doesn't take itself too seriously. Tree is a true modern-day scream queen, and her transformation from bitchy victim to badass heroine is one you do not get to see often. I knew that I had to play her, get in her skin, move around and take her out for a spin."

"Our film is unique in the sense that the moments of heart-pounding suspense are sandwiched with humor, everything from biting wit to fart jokes," continues Rothe. "I have always found that the most effective films are those that utilize the juxtaposition of contrasting emotions to heighten each other."

When Tree is woken up by her cell phone ringing at the beginning of our story, the audience quickly discovers that it is her birthday. She is not thrilled about it being her special day, and is dodging her father's phone calls...for reasons that will soon allow for character sympathy. It quickly becomes clear that she is not a nice person-and one that has many enemies that might be interested in her vanishing. Landon sets up her personality: "Tree is initially your stereotypical sorority girl. The world that she exists in is all about appearances: She is focused on her looks, her body and her Instagram." He pauses. "Still, you get a sense that deep down that is not who she truly is."

When bleary-eyed Tree looks around, she finds herself in the dorm room of Carter-having slept in his bed after a night of drinking all the booze. Tree, having no recollection of the night before-and mortified to be in a dorm with someone younger than her-assumes she simply had a one night stand. Desperate to get away from him, she heads for the door to start her looped day. As she keeps waking up in the exact same place on the very same day, she comes to believe that Carter is her only ally.

Landon turned to Israel Broussard to take on the role of Carter, and the filmmaker was equally as thrilled about Carter accepting the part. The performer, who made his feature-film debut in the comedy-drama Flipped, brings to Carter an inexplicable amount of charm and honesty. Of his performance, the director commends: "Israel is so engaging in the movie because he is the ideal every man-he has this charming quality that makes you love him right away."

Broussard shares a bit about his interpretation of the character, who is equal parts nerdish and dashing: "Carter does his own thing. He is very independent, but has a good heart. He is different from the fraternity guys and the regular college guys. At the root of it all, he is a sweet person with good intentions."

When Tree wakes up the third, fourth and even fifth time, she realizes she is trapped in a horrifying time loop and confides in Carter to help her puzzle this out. Together, they develop a system to unravel the mystery of her murder-in order to put the terrifying ordeal to an end and save Tree's life. Landon elaborates: "Carter is the only one who believes Tree. He tries to help her solve her own murder, and is also trying to figure out how she got trapped in this situation."

Broussard reflects on how he approached reliving each day, as well as the challenges that come with it: "Chris set us up mentally for where we needed to be in each moment. For my character, it is the same thing every time. It is truly up to Tree because she is the one having the different experiences. My character's response is different only because of her actions-since she has already lived through the day. At first, I am there simply to say, 'Hey, you're up.'"

Reflecting upon our heroine's different behaviors as each day goes on, Broussard says: "Tree is a wild card. She can be crazy, but you get to see a bunch of different sides to her each day."

Landon gives an example of her blossoming personality: "There is a scene where Tree and Carter are at a diner, and she burps and farts in front of him because he is going to forget about it anyways. Since she is so buttoned up and worried about what people think of her on the outside, these changes were fun to explore."

To play the role of Lori, Tree's studious and responsible roommate, Landon enlisted actress Ruby Modine. Audiences first learned of Modine following her breakout role on Showtime's critically acclaimed television series Shameless. Modine introduces us to her character: "Lori is in the sorority and a nursing student, and she is a bit more off-beat than the other girls. Tree is messy and parties a lot; she is always coming home as odd hours of the day. Hence the way Lori always throws at Tree the phrase 'She finally rolls in...'."

Rothe appreciates Modine's astute assessment: "Tree is a total slob, and Lori is a neat freak. Lori aces all of her classes, while Tree is just coasting by. They are ships that pass in the night-roommates who tolerate each other but are no longer close friends."

Actor Charles Aitken, who recently starred in TV's The Knick, was selected for the role of Gregory, the adulterous college professor who charms Tree. She only enrolls in his class because she thinks he is attractive, and they end up having an affair-one of the many scandalous things Tree will admit to during her daily routine. Rothe shares: "Gregory is married, so the affair is not a good choice on Tree's part. Her decision to get involved with him is in line with her tendency to push boundaries...and truly seeing how far she can take things." She reflects: "I also think there is a part of her that is self-loathing and feels she deserves to be in pain."

For the role of the harsh and no-nonsense sorority president Danielle, production selected actress Rachel Matthews. Matthews thoroughly enjoyed inhabiting the brutally honest mean girl of Happy Death Day, divulging: "Danielle was a fun role to play. Tree is definitely her 'frenemy.' She is her best friend, but it is a love-hate relationship."

"Danielle and Tree do not trust each other, and they are always taking digs at each other-especially Danielle," Landon expands. "You can tell that there is a jealousy thing going on there, and that Tree has stolen countless boyfriends or love interests from Danielle. They are always at war with each other, and yet they have to pretend to be best friends."

The ensemble cast was completed by LAURA CLIFTON (Good Night) as Stephanie, Gregory's suspicious wife; ROB MELLO (The Magnificent Seven) as Tombs, an accused felon killer and wounded hospital guest; CALEB SPILLYARDS (Evan's Crime) as Tim, one of the many dates Tree blew off; PHI VU (Pitch Perfect 2) as Carter's mouthy roommate; and JASON BAYLE (The Big Short) as David Gelbman, Tree's exhausted father.

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