Myha’la Herrold, who stars in A24’s buzzy new slasher flick, Bodies Bodies Bodies, is afraid of scary movies. She plays Jordan, one of the overly woke Gen Z’ers stuck in a mansion during a hurricane as a mystery killer takes them down one by one: “When I got the offer, I thought, ‘Dang, am I going to be too scared to film?’ ” The production was demanding, requiring stunt work and weapon-wielding and plenty of “blood and guts,” but the 26-year-old developed a coping mechanism: She went to sleep every night listening to Frasier. “There’s something about that old sitcom tone that is very soothing to me,” the San Jose, California, native tells THR.
Bodies Bodies Bodies hit theaters Aug. 5, just a few days after Herrold’s show Industry returned for its critically lauded second season. The HBO workplace drama has been building a dedicated viewership since its 2020 debut, and it was the actress’ portrayal of Harper, a trader at Industry‘s fictional investment bank, along with her theater degree from the prestigious Carnegie Mellon University, that scored her a meeting with the director of Bodies. “I got super lucky and I didn’t have to fight my way in,” Herrold says. “But I would have if I needed to!” She talks with THR about breaking into the business, what it was like behind-the-scenes of Bodies, and the hotly-anticipated Netflix adaptation of Rumaan Alam’s bestseller Leave the World Behind.
You were cast on Industry shortly after graduating from theater school; did the process feel difficult to you?
I hit the ground running pretty hard, auditioning for nine months before I got Industry. It was undoubtedly fast, and I’m never going to say it wasn’t. I’m a firm believer in the “right time, right place” mentality. The reality of this business is that hard work aside, all you can really do is audition and, like, be alive when the right project exists.
The Bodies cast — Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Rachel Sennott, Pete Davidson — seems like an extremely fun group for your first feature film.
We were essentially just with each other for the whole shoot. We filmed in Tarrytown, New York, this sleepy little town. There were strict COVID protocols and [the producers] begged us not to go out. Some weekends we’d take a walk through town, but we all stayed on the same floor of the hotel, so mostly we’d come back from night shoots, lie in silence in someone’s room and take in all the trauma we’d just lived together.
The movie satirizes our obsessions with social media — what’s your own relationship to being online, especially as you have to build your own brand?
It’s a practice all the time to have a healthy relationship with any kind of technology. I’ve always attempted to use Instagram as a sort of photo album. This is gonna sound vain as hell, but I really like going back in my feed and seeing what I was doing. I try to be as authentic as possible and think of it as a great way for people to get to know who I am, but I’m finding out that it’s so easy for things to be misunderstood or taken out of context. As people start to want to know more about me, there are things I don’t share because I’m not willing to sacrifice whatever damage it might do in exchange.
What struck you the most in the physical process of shooting Bodies?
The biggest difference in shooting Bodies compared to anything I had done before was that this was so much more physically demanding than any other work I’ve done. Not to say that Industry isn’t demanding emotionally, but there’s no running and screaming. There’s no weapon-wielding. There’s no blood and guts. All of that was new for me, and using special effects and stunt work was new. We shot with a roaming single [camera], so you had to be on all the time during the scenes. You had to be ready for our DP to whip around and there you are on camera.
Tell us more about the self-care routines you use to come down at the end of a day like that…
It’s especially difficult to wind down when you shoot overnights, and we did damn near four weeks straight of them. I put intentional energy into my routine to maintain a semblance of normalcy. I am very dedicated to my skincare, so every night no matter how tired I was, I would come home and double cleanse, tone, do a light facial massage, moisturize, do my light therapy, all that stuff. Then I’d get in bed and maybe do a little CBD gummy to guarantee a good night’s sleep. And of course a little scroll on the Internet. We love a little scroll, a little 20 minutes to get you going.
You’ve now done a feature in the U.S. and a series in the U.K. Did you notice any stark differences in the productions?
The biggest difference is actually in the approach to the business in the U.K. [where Industry films]. On set, they don’t go overtime. When the clock hits 7, or whatever, everyone’s like, “It’s time for me to go home to my family or to the pub for a drink.” They don’t answer emails on the weekend. They go live a life. I tried to learn from them, but in the same breath I’m on this email like, “Hello, so sorry for the delayed response, all my apologies, please love me.” It’s a battle. As a young actor, as a Black woman, I do feel I need to set those boundaries now, and demand the respect that I know I give to anyone I’m working with.
Do you think the audience should understand the financial elements of Industry’s plot?
I didn’t know anything about finance before I got the role and I still don’t know that much. But the show is really about relationships, so if you can’t get past the jargon either we’re not doing our jobs well or you’re not paying enough attention to those relationships. When I first read the script it felt relatable because I was also a recent graduate who was out here banging on doors trying to stake my claim. I gave up trying to understand the finance part pretty quickly. I’m never going to know what a P&L is.
Is there anything you can tell us about your role in Leave the World Behind?
Sam Esmail adapted the book into a film, and he changed the wife character to a daughter character, so that’s who I play. He realized there wasn’t really a millennial or Gen Z perspective in the book and thought that was important to add to the film. So I play Ruth, the daughter of Mahershala Ali. That was the biggest set I’ve ever been on. It was overwhelming in every way. I really felt like I needed to keep up with all those heavy hitter actors, which was a great challenge. Sam’s brain is so freaky. The way he shoots is so intense, which is funny because he’s incredibly chill. But what he makes the camera do is going to make the audience’s anxiety go through the roof.
Interview edited for length and clarity.
A version of this story first appeared in the Aug. 10 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.