Monos features Julianne Nicholson in a challenging new role, and she told Hidden Remote why she feels the international drama is unlike other movies.
Monos isn’t like any movie you’ve seen Julianne Nicholson in before. The Colombian drama follows a group of child soldiers and their American hostage, and it’s far from the usual box-office fare. Nicholson, whom audiences will recognize from her TV roles in Law & Order: Criminal Intent, The Red Road and Eyewitness, joined Hidden Remote to discuss Monos and why the movie has had such an impact on her.
She also spoke about the film recently being chosen as Colombia’s selection for consideration in the International Feature Film category at the 2020 Oscars, and her upcoming Netflix project Blonde.
Learn more about Monos in our interview with Julianne Nicholson below, then find the movie in a theater near you here.
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Hidden Remote: What was your reaction when you heard Monos had been chosen by Colombia for Oscar consideration?
Julianne Nicholson: I made the film three years ago and I thought it was special when I read it, and definitely when we were making it, and in fact when I first saw it. It feels big. It feels epic. It feels unique, and so I was hopeful that people would respond to it.
What’s so exciting is now seeing people and hearing people after they’ve seen it. because everyone is blown away. It’s not an easy watch, it’s not a comfortable watch, but you’re taken on a ride unlike any other movie that’s out there right now, so that feels exciting.
What was that original hook in the movie that made you know it was special?
It was just a wild coming of age story. There are eight teenage soldiers in adolescence, and dealing with all the turmoil that can feel like—in your life and in your body and how you feel in the world. And then they’re dropped in the middle of a war, which it’s not made specific in our movie.
Just the combination of those two things and how they deal with it and the experience of this kidnapped American woman. It’s just so completely wild and raw and exploration of a character like I had never seen.
Are there moments from Monos that particularly resonated with you?
Honestly every frame of this movie I’m proud of, whether I’m in it or not. It’s just a stunning film. We had a special screening last night and there were friends there, and one of the first things they said to me was, I can’t wait to see it again because it is so big and so visual, as well as being so emotional, that there’s a lot going on. And I’m proud of every frame.
With such intense subject matter and being in the jungle, what was it like for you to film the movie? Was it a challenge?
It was sort of like a wonderful hell. We were in Colombia—we were in the mountains, 12,000 feet up originally. It was freezing cold, wet all the time and very high altitude, so we were dealing with that. It was physically trying plus you have to drive an hour each way to get to our set, so that was pretty draining.
And when we were in the jungle I was there for three weeks with no electricity, no wi-fi, no refrigeration. I lived in a tent with pouring rain every single night. There were insane conditions that we dealt with on a regular basis, but I feel like that’s captured in the film and that’s half the story of where we were.
You’ve done several American independent films. How did shooting an international indie film like Monos compare to those experiences?
It felt very different, because in Colombia, you don’t have Mom and Dad watching basically. When you’re in the jungle there’s no SAG rep, there’s no union people standing by. So it felt very much like a team [effort] making the movie; people doing whatever they could and whatever they were best at doing. It definitely felt a bit more wild and old school, like 70’s style independent filmmaking.
There’s also similarities. You don’t have a lot of money and everyone’s there because they believe in the story and the director, and they’re trying to make it the best they can, which is hopefully true for the indie films I did no matter where I was shooting.
Are there some of those other films you’d like fans to check out after Monos?
I produced a film that came out about maybe a year and a half ago called Who We Are Now, and it’s another indie. The director I’d worked with before, Matt Newton, he wrote it for me and it’s one of the films and performances that I’m most proud of. Even though I’m in it, Zachary Quinto’s in it, Emma Roberts is in it, it’s not like a huge starry movie so it was hard to get eyes on it. But it was wonderfully reviewed and I would love more people to see that one.
They all hold a special place in my heart. August: Osage County was pretty great, to be in that ensemble of people, and Black Mass was fun to be a part of because I’m from Boston.
Next up for you is Netflix’s Blonde, about the life of Marilyn Monroe. What can you say about that project?
I’m a massive fan of Andrew Dominic. I’ve loved every movie of his. I’ve seen all of them and I think he’s such a unique talent with such a specific and clear voice, and I also always love the cast that he has in his films. I feel he makes really interesting choices and they always feel perfect. So to be chosen by him to be in this film that he’s been trying to get made for ten years, it felt like such a thrill.
Also I was obsessed with Marilyn Monroe for about I would say five years when I was in high school. I had pictures of her in my locker and [on my] wall, and I would watch her movies. So to be able to be a part of telling a version of her life story was exciting. Her mother was an extremely complicated woman and she had serious mental health issues, and the character really leapt off the page, so I was ecstatic to be invited to be a part of that.
Is there anything else you want to say about Monos?
I would say about this film, it’s a foreign film. It’s a Spanish-speaking film. And Nicole Kidman’s not in it, so it’s harder to get eyeballs on a film like this. I would just encourage people to go see it in the theaters. It’s one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever seen.
And when they do see it, tell a friend. There’s so much content out there, so much great television, so many wonderful films, just trying to get eyes on ours and sharing the word is really my great hope for this movie—because it’s a special one, it really is.
Monos is in select theaters now; find a theater near you and get tickets here.