The film, which hits Netflix on Oct. 6, also stars Justin Timberlake, Frances Fisher, Michael Pitt, Sky Ferreira, and more.
By Lauren Huff
August 17, 2023 at 09:00 AM EDT
When Grant Singer set out to make his feature directorial debut, Reptile, there was one main concept he wanted to convey: deception.
“I wanted to create this multifaceted sense of deception that was both in the experiences of the characters, as well as in the structure of the storytelling. That was something that excited me,” Singer tells EW about the movie, which EW has a first look at below.
The resulting film, which Singer describes as a neo-noir crime thriller, kicks off with the brutal murder of a young real estate agent and follows a hardened detective played by Oscar winner Benicio Del Toro as he seeks to uncover the truth in a case where nothing is as it seems. By doing so, he dismantles the illusions in his own life. Singer — who has helmed music videos for everyone from Taylor Swift to The Weeknd to Sam Smith — shares screenwriting credits with Del Toro and Benjamin Brewer.
Del Toro was heavily involved in the project from its early days: He also serves as executive producer, and may or may not have played a prime role in getting Alicia Silverstone involved. In a somewhat ironic twist of fate, Silverstone and Del Toro previously starred together in the 1997 film Excess Baggage, in which he played her (accidental) kidnapper. Here, the two play loving longtime spouses.
Benicio Del Toro and Alicia Silverstone reunite in ‘Reptile’ | CREDIT: NETFLIX
Singer, at first, says he can’t recall the exact conversation when Silverstone’s name got brought up, but later admits he thinks it was Del Toro who first mentioned her. Regardless, casting Silverstone and thus creating the onscreen reunion of the two stars was one of the best decisions Singer made for the film, he says.
“We both felt like she would be perfect for the role,” the director says. “And then once we met with her it was very clear that she would bring this character to life in such a unique, interesting, and authentic way. Every time she’s on screen, there’s something so electric about her, but also with their dynamic, I think, because they have known each other for so long and have worked together.”
The reunion was oft discussed on set. “Reconnecting after so many years, of course that was something that we all talked about. It was a really heartwarming experience, I think,” Singer admits.
In addition to Silverstone and Del Toro, Reptile also stars Justin Timberlake, Michael Pitt, Ato Essandoh, Domenick Lombardozzi, Mike Pniewski, Frances Fisher, Eric Bogosian, Sky Ferreira, and more.
For the first-time feature director, working and collaborating with these actors was his “favorite part” of making the film, and the thing he remembers the most. In fact, although the film feels Fincherian in its sense of dark dread, the atmosphere on set could not have been more different, with Singer describing it as “a very jovial, fun, excited, happy set.”
Even still, some of that bleeds through into the film at key moments, which was very much done on purpose. “I didn’t want to make something that felt cold and clinical and sterile. I wanted to make something that felt alive and warm and relatable and human, and I think that was certainly an intention of mine to sort of counteract the suspense or the unnerving sense of unease with warmth,” says Singer.
Singer, who says he’s drawn to ambiguity in art and counts David Fincher, Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorsese, and Paul Thomas Anderson as some of his biggest inspirations, says he hopes Reptile both moves people and sparks conversations about what exactly they’ve just seen. “I think the movie will be exciting to people who like to watch something where you don’t know where it’s leading you, where a film is going to have twists and turns and deceive you. And people who like things that are intense and visceral and suspenseful, I think they’ll find something exciting in this.”
Reptile will have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 8 and will be available to stream on Netflix starting Oct. 6.
Source: Entertainment Weekly