Inheritance is director Vaughn Stein’s current film. Starring Lily Collins, Connie Neilsen, Chace Crawford, Patrick Warburton, and Simon Pegg in a real tour-de-force performance (really, it’s very surprising and awesome). It was supposed to premiere at the 2020 TriBeCa Film Festival, but due to Coronavirus, the festival was postponed. Thankfully, Vertical decided to distribute the film directly to VOD so audiences wouldn’t have to wait. I talked to Stein over the phone about all the ins and outs of Inheritance. Be sure to check it out on VOD on May 22nd.
I was supposed to cover the TriBeCa Film Festival…in person…you know, in real life…and obviously that didn’t happen, but Inheritance was supposed to premiere there (which is definitely one of my favorite film festivals by the way), so how did it feel when you found out you wouldn’t be able to present Inheritance there and how did you organize everything going forward with the VOD release?
Vaughn Stein: I feel exactly the same, I love TriBeCa. I think it’s a wonderful festival. I like the movies that come out of there. The film is a New York story so it found its natural home, so that was a huge disappointment. My wife and I were quite looking forward to cocktails on the terrace overlooking Central Park, but there are more important things in the world going on. So, Vertical, who were distributing it got it together very quickly, all credit to them. We thought, a lot of people are seeking comfort and solace in entertainment at the moment, so the idea of making Inheritance a movie that everyone can see as soon as possible. Hopefully, it gives them a chance to get out of their own space for a little while and enjoy a good thriller. It was disappointing but I think we pivoted well.
“…old-money organizations that wield this unhealthy power in our world and they’re able to hide their sins deep underground.”
So how did you get connected to the project? Did you know the writer, Matthew Kennedy, or how did this all come together?
I hadn’t met Matt Kennedy before, but we’re good friends now. He’s an incredible writer. It came to me through my agent. It was one of the first scripts he ever sent through to me, actually. He sort of earmarked it and said: “You need to read this one.” It just blew me away from the moment I first read it. I just think it’s so rare to read a script that is, on one hand, a very complex, very well written, beautifully executed, complex thriller but at the same time is this sort of dark fairytale. Sort of a strange fable about the monster in the basement, the skeleton in the closet. The idea of a film that has a great satirical edge running through it about the nature of legacy, the nature of privilege. These old-money families and old-money organizations that wield this unhealthy power in our world and they’re able to hide their sins deep underground. I found it fascinating.
Oh yes, for sure, and going into that without trying to give too much away, Simon Pegg’s performance was just unbelievable to me. I’d never seen him do anything like that and I wanted to know what you two did together to create the character of Morgan?
I will forever be indebted to Simon for what he’s done in both the films I’ve had the privilege of working with him on. When I first read it, I thought I would just love to share this with him. I think he’s a world-class actor and I think he has an amazing physicality. The line between comedy and horror is extremely thin. It’s all about timing, it’s all about the conceal and reveal. I think what he did in terms of everything. The physical transformation he went through. He’s a very slim guy anyway, very trim but he dropped 12 kilos and gained an enormous amount of muscle. We wanted to give Morgan this sort of wiry, prison yard body and the commitment for him to do that was astonishing. We talked about the character Tom Ripley (from The Talented Mr. Ripley) and that idea that he’s got this sort of chameleonic charm. He can be all things to all men. He comes in the guise of a mentor and a soothsayer to Lauren (Lily Collins). At times he’s very vulnerable and at other times, he’s visceral and venomous towards her. To be able to play with that mercurial, chameleonic personality was just amazing. I think he did the most astonishing job and I’m so grateful for him. It’s a pleasure to work with him. He’s so disciplined, he’s so funny, he’s work-perfect whenever he comes to set. He’s got great ideas. It’s an honor to work with him and call him a friend.