Mena Suvari has been one of the busiest people in Hollywood over the past few years, putting in solid performances in Paramount Network's American Woman, as well as a flurry of movies. One of those recent films is Don't Tell a Soul, a dramatic thriller available on VOD and in select theaters. The movie, a Tribeca Film Festival selection, sees two boys (Jack Dylan Grazer and Fionn Whitehead) steal some cash to help cover their mother Carol's (Suvari) medical bills. However, a security guard (Rainn Wilson) catches them in the act and runs after them, only to become trapped in a pit. The boys then have to weigh helping the man out or letting him die.
From writer-director Alex McAulay, the movie's an intriguing, twisted-filled flick that sees Suvari, 41, playing a vital role in the boys' story. The American Beauty and American Pie actress is almost unrecognizable at points, as she gives her all to capture Carol's deteriorating condition as her boys' dilemma starts to complicate the family's lives in unforeseen ways. PopCulture chatted with Suvari on Tuesday about the film, where she dove into what attracted her to the role and what it was like to work with Grazer in some of Don't Tell a Soul's most emotional moments. We also talked about the 20th anniversary of her Saturday Night Live hosting debut, as well as her pregnancy. (She's expecting a baby boy with husband Michael Hope.) Watch the full PopCulture @Home interview above, and scroll through to read the full Q-and-A with Suvari.
So, before we get into it, I have to ask, you're pregnant; how's how's the pregnancy going?
Yeah, it's good. We are 30 weeks today, but everything is good. I mean, I have my basic tiredness and little things, but overall, I feel very lucky everything seems to be good. And I'm healthy. And yeah, so that's all that matters.
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Are you anxious at all for once the baby's here?
No. (Laughs) Of course. I'm terrified. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it's very surreal. My husband and I have been putting everything together. And so many people have sent us things and been so lovely. And he's very popular, so I feel very blessed. But for sure, I mean, I'm still just processing all of it. And I think it's just going to be a very, very wild experience to see half of me and another human being. And so I just hope to do him justice and just get to know him. I mean, I've always thought that about children that I would just love to learn from that. Who are you and what are you here to teach me? Because they have a lot to teach us. So I'm very excited and open. But yeah, it's going to be wild. I mean, having a little dude with me everywhere I go now.prevnext
As a son myself, I wish you all the best of luck because I know I've caused my mom and dad some stress over the years.
Yeah. Yeah. Right. I mean you hear that all the time. There's going to be some moment where he's like, "I hate you." "Oh, you were my baby." But we try our best up until then. (Laughs)
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I would like to talk a little bit about your new movie, 'Don't Tell a Soul.' So, first one of all, what attracted you to this project? ... It's a little bit of an odd story, but it's really thrilling.
I love anything that's as odd as possible. I think it just, the overall story, I thought it was just really unique. And something that you would think was very simple in a way and easily relatable, but yet, it's highly complex. And I loved how you had no idea where it's really going or what to expect next; all of the wild surprises that came about. And I was just really touched and felt very grateful that they thought of someone like me for Carol. Those are the types of roles that I really enjoy playing and taking on, something that is so transformative. So it was a mix of all of that.
And I mean, getting to work with an incredible cast. They were already put together and then came to me at the last moment to find Carol. And so, I mean, all of that was just really exciting. And getting to know Alex, our incredible writer-director; he's just so awesomely talented. And it's special. I guess just I've been doing this for so long, you get a sense of when something is really special and unique and rare. And it was definitely all there on the page beforehand.prevnext
You mentioned this is a really transformative role because the mother, she's not well. A lot of health issues. How did you get in that head space to play someone who's just having a really rough go of it, to put it mildly?
I mean, ironically enough, I had worked on a project before that called Grace and Grit, where I played a woman who was dying of cancer. So, here I was dying of cancer again, already processing those extremely heavy emotions and wondering what that was all about for me to have these experiences come into my life. But it takes a village. It was really our awesome crew that put everything together for me. And having an incredible wardrobe and hair and makeup. And our production designer who created this world and helped put the character together as well. All of that was such a gift to me because it just made it complete. And I could only bring my ideas to her, but then everyone else needed to compliment it. And again, that's what we were so lucky on with this film. We shot locally in Kentucky and got to use a lot of their incredible talent. And that was just very special. It's very rare. It doesn't always happen like that.prevnext
Another one of your costars, and is Jack Dylan Grazer ... You share some really emotional scenes, also some really intense scenes. What was it like working with a up-and-coming actor like him?
I cannot tell you how much I adore him. I mean, just I felt so blessed to play his mom and it was so special. And he would give me hugs in the morning and say, "Hi, mom." He's such an angel, that boy. I mean, he's such a sweetheart. He's such a good kid. And I got to know his mom as well on the production. I was only there for a limited amount of time, filming Don't Tell a Soul. I was only there for maybe a quarter of the whole production. And so I came in and went out. But I got to meet his mom and just, I was so impressed with their relationship and their dynamic.
And even after getting to know one another and work together on Don't Tell a Soul, when I came back to LA, the premiere for IT Two was happening. And Jack sent me a message and he invited me and a guest. I mean, just he's such a sweet, kind person. And it was so beautiful to see because I mean, I did my first commercial at 7. And I came out to L.A. right before I was 15. And just seeing someone at that age, obviously, being such a professional that he is and working so hard, but also being given all of these incredible opportunities that are unbelievably successful. And just seeing him be like a real kid and be real nice. And just down to earth and personable, it was so impressive. It was so lovely. It made my onscreen momness so proud. Like, "My son!"prevnext
While I do have you on the line, I'd noticed something when I was doing some research for this interview. Almost 20 years ago to the day, it's the anniversary of your SNL hosting gig.
Oh my God. Is it? I have this account that I follow on Instagram. And I have never met the person, but the handle is @MenaIsMyMom. It's hilarious. And they posted something the other day with some of the images from SNL. My favorite was "Rap Street," where I was Aaron Carter.
That was such an incredible experience. It's one of the best of my life and my career. It was before Will Ferrell left and Molly Shannon. And everyone was just so sweet. Chris Kattan, I mean, everyone was just so welcoming. And you think about how many times they go through that. And how it's always a new person that comes in. And they were just so welcoming. And really guided me and took care of me. I mean, I didn't know what the hell I was doing. It was like, what a wild experience. I invited my family and they're watching me in the audience thinking, "How the hell did she get up there?" I don't know. It's like one of those surreal moments, but I loved that. I loved that kind of work opportunity because there was just something that I wished I could have done more of. I mean, I grew up obsessed with Tracey Ullman, that kind of sketch. And it was so fast. It was so wild, but it was extremely exciting. I loved it. I wished I could have done more of it. ... It was so fun. I loved it. It was amazing. And being in New York then. Those were the days.prevnext
Before I'll let you go, what's next for you? I know you have the Ronald Reagan biopic that you have a bigger role in.
Well, [Reagan] I finished working in October. I worked on a film called Inheritance in August. And then, I have a film called Grace and Grit. That was the one that I mentioned earlier, where I played Treya Wilber, who's Ken Wilber's first wife. Who, after a five-year battle with breast cancer, passed away. And he wrote with a lot of her writings included in this incredible book called Grace and Grit. And that'll be coming out soon. That was an unbelievable experience to really get into that world and experience (working with) Stuart Townsend (and) Mariel Hemingway. And then with Reagan ... I play a lot of real-life people. It's very, very interesting. But I'm so honored. I try to live in the gratitude every day. I feel really lucky to get to do what I do and get to learn from all of these incredible people. And these stories and what they add to my life.
Our full PopCulture @Home interview with Mena Suvari is available to watch at the top of this article. Don't Tell a Soul is available now via on-demand and digital providers, such as Amazon, iTunes and Google Play. If you're willing to go out to a movie theater, you can also watch the film in select theaters around the U.S.prev