Rachel Sennott on the Gen Z horror of Bodies Bodies Bodies, playing Lee Pace’s girlfriend and joining The Idol
If you weren’t already familiar with Rachel Sennott for her horny and hilarious dating tweets, her thotty e-girl Instagram posts or her tenure as a stand-up comic, then you’re about to be. In the buzzy Gen Z horror flick Bodies Bodies Bodies, Sennott delivers a breakout performance as ditzy influencer Alice, one of several privileged 20-somethings who gets caught in a backstabbing night of murder at a remote mansion party. What ensues is a night of chaos that taps into our society’s collective obsession with social media.
“I hope people see Alice as a little bit of levity in moments of darkness,” Sennott explains over Zoom from a hotel room in New York City. “I feel like I got to play this fun character who is real — you don’t always see this in a horror movie. I hope people relate to her.”
Bodies Bodies Bodies is the actor-comedian’s first film role since her standout performance as an aimless millennial-turned-sugar baby trapped at a shiva in the 2020 indie Shiva Baby, a cringe-worthy coming-of-age story that toed the line between comedy and horror made with her friend and creative collaborator Emma Seligman.
In an interview with AP, Sennott discussed the scariest thing that happened during the making of Bodies Bodies Bodies, reuniting with Seligman for her next project and who she dreams of collaborating with during her career.
You’ve been a very online personality for a long time. Did you draw from parts of your own experience for Alice, or did you have any influencers or celebrities that you used as inspiration?
Definitely my online experience and being a comedy person. I think Alice, also in her friend group, identifies herself as “the funny one, the smart [one].” Growing up, I definitely wasn’t “the hot one,” so I was like, “I have to pick something else.” And then you’re like, “OK, I’m ‘the funny one’ or ‘the interesting one.’” I used that [idea of] choosing that same identity within the group and how I would be if I was around my friends from high school. It’s horrible.
It’s been two years since Shiva Baby was released. How has your life changed since then?
It’s been wild, honestly. It was the day after the LA premiere of Shiva Baby. I wake up, I’m a little hungover and I got the call about this job [Bodies Bodies Bodies], and I was crying. I was so excited because I wanted this job so bad. I felt this very big shift where I was trying to build momentum pre-pandemic in my career. Shiva Baby was supposed to come out earlier, and then I felt this low, which I feel like everyone felt during COVID, where I was like, “It’s over. I’m going to live with my parents forever,” which would have been great because I love them. But Shiva Baby came out, and then all this momentum that had been on hold started rolling again. I shot this movie, and then Emma and I got greenlit. We just wrapped on our second movie that we wrote together. It feels like it’s been picking up pace ever since, but it felt very wild, getting a call the day after it came out. I was like, “OK, everything’s starting.”
What drew you to the character of Alice in Bodies Bodies Bodies?
I relate to her a lot. Alice and I have similar insecurities and similar anxieties. And at the end of the day, I love her. She just wants everyone to have a good time, and she wants to see the best in everyone — sometimes to a fault.
You and Lee Pace play a couple in Bodies Bodies Bodies. What was that dynamic like?
Lee Pace is obviously one of the most handsome men alive, but he’s also just so caring, very gracious, as an actor and as a person. I felt lucky to be paired up with him. It was just fun creating their chemistry and talking about their two-week relationship. Any scene that we had with Lee — like the scene in the gym — plays on our reactions to him. That was a long day, and the blood on Lee was ice cold and very sticky and gooey. It was physically strenuous, and Lee was so committed every time, even if he’s not on camera, because he wanted to give us something to react off of. He’s very generous.
Did you have any anxiety working with Lee?
Literally, I remember I posted a selfie of me and Lee on my “close friends” [on Instagram] when we were shooting. Instantly all my replies were like, “Bitch, what? Are you kidding me?” I’ve seen people on Twitter be like, “She’s not hot enough for Lee Pace.” And I’m like, “No one is hot enough for Lee Pace.” I think that and also I’m a fan of his. The only thing I was scared of is the Twitter stuff, but I feel like that’s all in good fun.
Do you have any funny untold stories about filming?
There was a moment with hot dogs where we’re filming the first death, I’ll say. We ran out into the rain covered in blood. We’re so cold. In my head, I never thought that rain would be that cold because it wasn’t that cold outside, but you get doused with water, then you’re dry, then you’re wet and then you’re dry. All of a sudden you’re like, “I’ve never been colder.” All of us just sitting there shivering, holding on to these little towels that aren’t doing anything; they’re obviously soaked. Dead silence for like 10 minutes. And there’s this weird smell in the room, and we don’t know what it is.
Then Maria [Bakalova] looked down, and there was a tin with paper towels over it. She pulls back the paper towels, and it’s just raw hot dogs on their own, and we were like, “What the fuck is this?” Then we came out, and a PA was like, “Oh, I put in hot dogs for you guys.” And we were like, “Why would we want to eat [that]? It’s 4 a.m., just like singular hot dogs.” That was a very dissociative moment, but a very funny memory.
What do you think the ending of Bodies Bodies Bodies says about our relationship with each other and our relationship with technology?
I think it says something about fear-based decision-making, which I know I’m completely guilty of. Or being in a bubble. These people get themselves caught in this bubble, and they can’t ever slow down. They think they’re thinking rationally, but they’re not. The reveal at the end is really devastating because you realize it almost could have all been avoided. Hopefully, it says to slow down and let yourself take a step back before you do anything rash.
So your next project is Bottoms, which you co-wrote with Emma Seligman. Can you describe your role in the film?
My character is a fake, confident, little asshole girl, which was really fun to play. She’s different from the characters I’ve played before. She projects this false confidence and tries to use it to help her and her best friends through the end of high school. We wrapped that in May.
Who do you dream of working with at this point?
There’s a lot of people I dream of working with. Eliza Hittman is one of my favorite filmmakers. Never Rarely Sometimes Always is so good. It’s one of my favorite movies of that year. Sean Baker, Janicza Bravo, Maggie Gyllenhaal [and] Sofia Coppola, obviously. The types of roles I would want to play, I always want to blend genres. I would like to play a mad woman who is the lead. Just someone who can be sexy and evil and funny and a bunch of things at once, in the same way of blending genres, blending character tropes. I think that would be really fun and interesting to play.
How does your social media presence reflect what you put into the roles that you’ve been in?
I guess my Instagram is a character of myself. Playing on the expectation of sexiness or women or what they should be or portray and then having my own take on that. I always want to be sexy, even if it’s in a horrifying, strange or weird way. I think playing on those tropes or expectations is always fun.
You’re also set to star in Sam Levinson and The Weeknd’s show The Idol. What can you say about your character?
I can’t talk about my character. I want to, but I can’t. It’s been so fun working with Sam and everyone on the show. It’s very freeing in a similar way with Bodies Bodies Bodies, where the way that we’re shooting has been so unique and fun and challenging as an actor. So I’m very excited about that.