Many of us casually refer to our phones as our life lines, but for actress Storm Reid in psychological thriller Don't Let Go, that term is literal. In the new film, Reid plays Ashley, a teenager who becomes the victim of a brutal crime. When her devastated uncle Jack (David Oyelowo) gets a phone call from Ashley days after her death, he realizes that he can save her by communicating with her from the future, before her murder took place. Uncle and niece work together to change the past in order to save Ashley's future, as they investigate, on two separate timelines, the shocking truth behind her murder.
Over the phone, Reid — who stars as Gia on HBO's just-renewed teen drama Euphoria, and as Lisa in Netflix's When They See Us — talked to Refinery29 about the brutal scenes in Don't Let Go, her relationship with Euphoria co-star Zendaya, and why she's thrilled to play a young woman who can save herself.
Refiner29: What attracted you to Don’t Let Go?
Storm Reid: "I thought it was an amazing script, and I had never done a psychological thriller before, which was an attractive component to me. I loved that it was about family and what you would do to save your loved ones. David Oyelowo being attached was the cherry on top."
How did you prepare for the film's dark, violent scenes?
“It was all about stepping into my character’s shoes. I haven’t gone through anything [so traumatic] in my life, and I hope I never go through the experiences that Ashley goes through in the movie. I had to become her and decide how I would feel in those moments, but I had to also step outside of her and be Storm. I had to remind myself that her reality is not my reality, and get back into a happy place."
How much of the stunts in Don't Let Go did you do? Was anything created with the use of CGI?
"We didn’t use any green screens in this movie. Everything was very realistic and grounded, so basically everything [you see on screen] was done [without the use of CGI,] whether that was by me, or by a stunt double. I tried to do every stunt [I could] by myself, but some things were just too dangerous. I was happy I got to be in the moment rather than being in front of a green screen when you can’t really imagine what’s happening."
You and David Oyelowo's character communicate in many scenes, but aren't always physically in those scenes. What was it like acting off someone who wasn't present in the scene?
"David and I made a pact at the beginning of the movie to always be there on set, even if we weren’t [in the scene]. We were always in the vicinity of each other while we were filming. That’s what really makes our connection stronger throughout the movie. As an actress it’s important to feel that connection. You’re doing such emotional scenes, so I’m happy that I was able to be there for David and [vice-versa,] because it made our scenes more believable for not only us, but for the audience as well."
In this movie, Ashley is an active participant in saving her own life. Was it important that you play a young woman capable of saving herself?
"Yes. People are doing a great job right now including women in front of and behind the camera. However, not all women are represented [in TV and film] are presented in the right light. Many are the same stereotypical ‘women’ roles, where [a woman] has to be saved, or swept off her feet by a man. That's not what a real, strong woman represents. It doesn’t represent how all women are. To play a strong female protagonist who saves herself and ultimately saves her uncle, is [great.] I’m happy I was able to portray Ashley in that way, and portray other characters who have their own story."
What does season 2 of Euphoria hold for Gia?
"Gia is in the background for a lot of the first season. I see her as an observer. She’s taking everything in, having to do with the trauma that her sister Rue [played by Zendaya] has gone through. In season 2, she’ll become [more of] a person [in her own right]. We don’t know if she’s going to go down the right path, or follow in her sister’s footsteps right now, but you’ll see a lot more of Gia in season 2."
You and Euphoria co-star Zendaya play sisters. Do you lean on her for support and advice?
"I’m so fortunate to have Zendaya in my corner, as a big sis on TV and in real life now. Whether I have questions about the entertainment industry or just navigating the world or Hollywood as a 16-year-old girl, I’m glad I can lean on her and text her or call her whenever."
Don't Let Go is in theaters now.