I can Explain
The I Know What You Did Last Summer star is basically a horror expert.
In Elite Daily’s I Can Explain… series, we’re asking celebrities to revisit their most memorable photos and tell us what really went down behind the scenes. In this piece, we chat with Madison Iseman, star of Amazon Prime Video’s new I Know What You Did Last Summer series reboot, about her love for scary roles and favorite memories from her career so far.
Like most horror fans, Madison Iseman started early. She recalls watching films like The Grudge and The Ring at a very young age, which may have scarred her for life, but also sparked her love for all things spooky. Now, Iseman is a star in the genre she grew up loving.
While demons and ghosts might scare others, for Iseman, horror films provided her with a new way of perceiving the world. “I was always the kind of girl [who] lived in my own head,” Iseman tells Elite Daily. “I was always into fantasy and escapism and was obsessed with Harry Potter. I think I just loved genres where no rules applied. And that very much fits in the horror world where anything can happen.”
Iseman didn’t rise to fame in the horror genre. Most fans first got to know her as Bethany in the 2017 blockbuster sequel to 1995’s Jumanji, titled Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. The movie became a massive hit (and went on to spur another sequel in 2019), but at the time, Iseman worried she wasn’t living up to her potential as an actor.
“I remember when [Jumanji] came out, it was one of the best projects I’ve ever done; it changed my life,” she says. “But I felt so typecast as the blonde bimbo with a phone in her hand, and I knew I was so much more than that. So for the next two years, I wanted to do projects that stretched me as an actor.”
And that’s exactly what she did. From Goosebumps 2 to Annabelle Comes Home to Nocturne, Iseman landed roles that were as fulfilling as they were spooky. Her latest project may be the most twisted — and challenging — yet. In Amazon Prime’s reboot of the ‘90s classic, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Iseman plays twins Lennon and Allison, who couldn’t be more different from one another. When a tragic accident changes the course of both twins’ lives, Lennon and her friends are targeted by a mysterious murderer who’s out for revenge.
As a fan of the original source material, Iseman was excited to work on this series, even though it was a big task. “Playing twins comes with its own difficulties,” Iseman says. “I felt like I was losing my mind half the time. You’re learning double the amount of lines and you’re there twice as much as everyone else. But it was something I signed up for. I was very excited to do it.”
Iseman is clearly jazzed about her show’s Oct. 15 premiere, and even says she’ll be watching it as she celebrates Halloween this year (a hot tip for anyone looking for some good spooky season content). But I Know What You Did Last Summer is only the most recent in Iseman’s long line of career highlights. Below, she walks Elite Daily through behind-the-scenes moments from some of her other favorite projects — scary and otherwise.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Clouds Premiere With Sabrina Carpenter & Fin Argus
Elite Daily: What’s the story behind this outfit?
Madison Iseman: [Clouds] was the first premiere I think we had since the pandemic [started]. To be honest, it was so stressful to find something to wear because I had not done any appearances in, like, a year. I remember the three of us were all texting, “What the heck are you wearing?” And then that picture too — we couldn’t even touch each other. It was really kind of sad, but we were just all very happy we got to be together. But the inspiration for that look was just fun. It just felt good to get dressed and go somewhere.
ED: What was it like working with Sabrina Carpenter and Fin Argus?
MI: They’re the two greatest people I’ve ever met in my life. Fin and I, we actually have been friends since I was 16 years old; he was one of the first friends I ever made in Los Angeles. We have stupid little covers up on YouTube together we filmed a really long time ago. So when we got cast together, that was like a bucket list [moment]. Then we met Sabrina through filming and she’s just the best. She’s become one of my really good friends. I think probably a big part of it was the pandemic happened literally right after we were done filming. We all got really close because we were kind of the last people we all worked with. [Clouds] was one of my favorite movies I think I’ve ever worked on.
ED: What made you want to take on the role of Amy?
MI: I think it was really the story itself. I’ve never really been part of something like that, you know? It told us a real story about a real kid and his legacy and everything that he accomplished and the whole family was involved. [Director] Justin Baldoni is just the best and he wanted to make the most of Zach and this movie.
ED: What was it like to have a drive-in movie premiere?
MI: It was great… besides that fact I couldn’t figure out how to keep my car radio on. I listened to half the movie without [sound], so that was a little stressful, but honestly, it was just fun to be with everyone.
ED: Whose car is that, anyway?
MI: [The studio] all rented us fancy cool cars to drive in. We all wished it was our car.
New Furry Friends At Jumanji’s Premiere
ED: You look so happy to be surrounded by these dogs! Whose dogs are they?
MI: That was at our Jumanji premiere. I’m a big animal person, so anytime there are animals around, I have to pet them. They were working — to be honest, I don’t know if they were drug dogs. I have no idea. But I asked the guy — because they were done working at the end of the night — I was like, “Can I hug them?” And he’s like, “Can I take your picture with them?”
ED: How were you feeling about this day?
MI: Oh my god, I was so nervous. I think that was the first big premiere I ever went to. To be honest with you, I blacked out the whole night. I had no idea what was going on, but it was so much fun. I remember I got to bring my whole family. My brother had been a Jack Black fan forever and he got to meet him. That was the kickstart of the Jumanji craze that took over the world. I had no idea it was going to do what it did, so it was nice to have one night of, “Oh, I can’t wait to see this movie.” And then it was No. 1 for several months. It was a pretty crazy couple of months.
ED: In addition to Jack Black, Jumanji had an impressive cast, including Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, and Nick Jonas. What was the experience like working with such big names?
MI: It was super nerve-racking, but it was so awesome. I really love those guys so much and I hope we get to do a third [movie]. They’re just the best. Unfortunately, we never got to work together because they all play us [as adults]. But during both movies, there was a transitional period where we would be coming in and they would be leaving, and they were always so nice and just the coolest.
ED: Did any of them give you any advice that has stuck with you?
MI: To be honest, I was too scared to ask. Just lots of good memories.
Behind The Scenes Of Annabelle Comes Home
ED: This photo is so cute, yet also very creepy! Who is behind that mask?
MI: Behind that mask is my favorite human in the world. His name is Alexander Ward and he’s a very talented creature actor. We all became such good friends [on set]. Annabelle Comes Home was full of the best people. Every day at work was so much fun, and so was Alex.
It’s so funny, we had worked so many days together, and he was dressed as this demon, and in my head — you know, I’d never seen what he looks like in real life — I imagined this 40-year-old man. I don’t know why. But I remember one day we went to lunch and there was this guy in his 20s sitting down eating. I went to introduce myself and he goes, “Madison, you know me.” And I’m like, “What?” I had absolutely no idea.
ED: I remember seeing memes of this photo.
MI: Yeah. It broke the internet for a second. I think the caption was, “Me and my sleep paralysis demon at three in the morning.” It’s my favorite picture I have from that set. It’s so funny. It’s so good.
ED: What was it like working on Annabelle Comes Home?
MI: It was a very spooky time, but at the same time, it felt like a massive sleepover. It was me, Katie Sarife, and Mckenna Grace. It was like the girls club. Every once in a while, Michael Cimino would come and even he would join the girl’s sleepover. It was just such a good time.
But there are definitely some creepy things that happened. When we were shooting in the artifacts room, there were often connection issues with the camera and it going wireless and some weird energy things. The doll would just randomly show up in different places and everyone was like, “Well, I didn’t move her.” We would work at the lot late at night sometimes. I remember one time, I was trying to change in my dressing room, and my lights wouldn’t turn on. And then when I was leaving, they turned on. Just stuff that makes you feel really uneasy.
ED: What is it like to watch yourself in horror projects like Anabelle and I Know What You Did Last Summer? Is it any different from seeing yourself in non-horror projects?
MI: Watching yourself is weird no matter what, in my book. I’m not the kind of person who doesn’t like to watch myself, because I know people who refuse to, but I can’t watch myself too much, you know? I have a three-picture rule. I usually watch it once and, like, black out and forget what I saw. I’ll watch it again, and I also use it as a learning tool so I can learn from it and grow. But then, after the third time, I definitely start picking up on things I don’t like and that’s not good for my mental health. So usually it’s a three-picture deal. But the thing with scary movies, I wish I could get scared by them, but I can’t, because I know everything that’s happening. I know the tricks. I know there was a wire there, and that’s not a real person, and there was nobody there when we filmed that. So, unfortunately, it’s not as fun to watch the scary ones because I’m in on it.
ED: Is that only for scary movies that you’ve been in, or has it transferred to all scary movies?
MI: It depends. And that’s how I know if a scary movie is really good, if I can’t pick out the tricks, because I look for them now. If I’m watching something and I’ll see some crazy scene I’m like, “Oh, this is how they did that.” And then I’ll start explaining to my boyfriend or whoever. And he’s like, “Well you’re no fun to watch movies with.”
ED: Your friends must be like, “Madison, stop.”
MI: That’s exactly what they do.