INTERVIEW: Elizabeth Mitchell, Will Forte, and the Cast of ‘Aliens Abducted My Parents’ Talk the New Film
Sometimes, movies are just so cute you can’t help but fall in love with them. And that’s what Aliens Abducted My Parents and Now I Feel Kinda Left Out is. The movie, which premiered at Sundance, is about a young boy named Calvin (Jacob Buster) who believes that his parents (played by Will Forte and Elizabeth Mitchell) were abducted by aliens.
Left alone to be raised by his grandmother, Calvin is the “odd” kid in school who will show up wearing an astronaut’s suit or just genuinely being labeled as a “freak” by his peers. That is until Itsy (Emma Tremblay) and her family move to town. She befriends Calvin at first to make enough money to move to New York and get out of there but then genuinely finds herself caring about him. And while the movie has some fun twists and turns, it is just a genuinely sweet movie about acceptance, finding companionship, and having hope.
Getting to talk with the cast and director Jake Van Wagoner prior to Sundance was amazing because they were all so happy the movie was going to be seen by audiences. And same! It’s so cute that you can’t help but love it. I spoke with Mitchell and Forte together in a zoom and then spoke with Buster, Tremblay, and Van Wagoner in a zoom together.
Elizabeth Mitchell and Will Forte stayed for the sweet story
Both Mitchell and Forte said they were brought in by friends to the role and that the two of them both loved the script and wanted to stay but each had their own unique way of coming to the project. “I was brought into it by a friend who said, I would love you to come work with these two amazing guys,” Mitchell said. “‘It’s gonna be a really sweet movie. I think you’re gonna love them in the way that they work’. And, I was like, sure. I just said yes right off the bat, and then I read the script and I was just telling Will it felt like a gift. I was like, ‘oh, it’s a really good one.’ It’s not like something where it’s like, ‘oh, sure, I’ll come and do this’ it’s more like, ‘oh, this is a gift. This is great.'”
For Forte, he came into for friends but was happy to be a part of the movie. “These are a couple good buddies of mine now,” he said. “Jake and I worked together on that movie, Don Verdean, he was a PA on that movie. And then years later we reconnected through BYUtv. I did this show called Showoffs, which is an improv show where Jake, the director of this, was acting with Maclain Nelson, who’s the producer on this, was an actor too. So we had a great time doing that together.”
Forte went on to talk about how close they all were and how it led to him wanting to do anything for them. “I just wanted to do whatever for them, you know, I just would’ve said yes without even reading the script,” he said. “It happened to be a delightful script in addition to that. I would’ve done it no matter what. And then every step of the way I was delighted that it was a great script. And then Jake did an amazing job directing and it was cast impeccably. So every part of this was just the great version of jumping into something that you would’ve done no matter what. You do some things for people sometimes because you love them and they don’t turn out great and you’re just like,’ I would’ve done it anyway because I love this person’. Well I love these people and they’re super smart and super talented and this is the really good version of that where you just get to be a part of something that you are really proud of and get to help out a bunch of outstanding people at the same time.”
The key are the kids
At the heart of the movie is Itsy and Calvin. The two were strangers who only really had each other and their relationship is the most important thing about the film. And asking why they wanted to be a part of it, both shared their love for their characters and the script as a whole.
“I think for me it was that it wasn’t really cheesy and like a one note story that as you kind of go through the characters really feel like real people and they have these moments where you go, ‘oh, okay, yeah, it’s a family friendly film’ and then all of a sudden it hits you right in the gut and you go, ‘oh my gosh, I can’t, like, wow,'” star Jacob Buster said. And those punch in the guts he’s talking about do come from his character’s journey. “And then you really see kind of their way that they view life and everything shifts all in like a quick second. And it’s so interesting.”
Calvin’s life is, in a lot of ways, sad. He’s alone, has no friends, and doesn’t know where his parents are. But he then finds Itsy and she helps him open up. For Tremblay, it was the fact that she couldn’t put the script down (written by Austin Everett) that brought her in. “Reading the script for the first time. I think I remember telling Austen this was the first script that I couldn’t put down. I read it in two hours and I was fascinated the whole time with Itsy and the storyline and Calvin and everyone,” she said. “And so getting to be a part of it was so interesting. Already loving the story and then being able to make the story was so cool. And then working with Jacob and Jake was so fun and them as like my counterparts for this job was just amazing because we were all so invested and all loved the characters so much and so we made a beautiful story.”
Finding the balance
In talking to director Jake Van Wagoner, his goal was to find the earned moments between the more outlandish instances we get to see throughout the film. And they are justified in such a beautiful way that it works.
“I think in real life that’s what it is. We’re never just the same all the time, but there are those heartfelt moments,” Van Wagoner said. “There’s also those humorous moments and sometimes, like Jacob said, we get hit in the gut and we’re like, ‘oh geez.’ And so mimicking kind of real life but also like walking away at the end of the movie with an ending where you’re like, ‘oh, I like that. Okay, cool. That resolves and I’m happy about that.’ It’s not everything gets sewed up perfectly, but it is, you know, life is like, you can take good things from everything.”
Aliens Abducted My Parents and Now I Feel Kinda Left Out is premiering at Sundance and is an adorable watch and a movie that will leave you with a smile on your face.
(featured image: Jim Bennett/Getty Images)
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