Interview by Kayla Caldwell
Theo Germaine (they/them) plays Jordan in Blumhouse and Peacock's new film THEY/THEM, a transgender and non-binary camper from a religious background who has made a deal with their parents to legally emancipate if attending a "gay conversion camp" doesn’t “work.”
CK: Are you personally a fan of horror?
THEO: Yes I'm a fan of horror. I'm such a fan of that. When I was in the fourth grade during Spirit Week, I convinced all of my teachers to let me wear a Scream costume and a mask all day in school. And I even went to gym class in my costume. I am nuts about horror and nuts about getting scared and scaring people. I'm very academically interested in what the genre means and what we can do with it.
CK: What are some of your favorite horror movies?
THEO: It always changes because like, I appreciate so many different so, so, so many different films. Something that I was really, really impacted by was the Nightmare on Elm Street film series when I was a kid. And we're talking like ages 12 to 14. Like, I just couldn't stop watching these movies. I really think that watching those films specifically helped me deal with some traumatizing things that I experienced at that time in my life. And also, I've had chronic issues with insomnia, and I always have been really, really, really, really obsessed with dream analysis and dream interpretation to the point that in high school, I would do it for other people. I love that. I love that Nightmare on Elm Street talked about different realities. I also love Donnie Darko. I was really, really impacted by that movie and really interested in how weird that rabbit was. I loved its weird presence. I would get on eBay and try to find a costume just like the one in the film.
CK: When I first heard about this movie, I was excited but a little nervous because I didn't want this movie to follow the trope of disregarding/murdering gay characters. And it was so cool that the film goes against dated horror tropes and has the LGBTQIA+ be the heroes instead of being the killers. I think that aspect will be really exciting for a lot of people.
THEO: No, I totally, totally, totally understand and validate the apprehension of watching the film because of what we know of how most films have gone in the past. And it's not that. It is not a bunch of kids going to the camp and them getting slashed. That's not what's happening. And that's also why I'm really excited specifically for horror fans to see it because there's so much to digest and there are so many little references here and there for people to pick up on if they are really knowledgeable about slasher films.
CK: One of my favorite scenes in They Slash Them is the Pink performance sing-along. I feel like a lot of times musical numbers can come off as cheesy, but this one started so organically, this scene was so joyful. Especially because this song had so much meaning for everyone in the room.
THEO: It's cool because one character literally has just been gaslit and was really messed up by an adult. And then another character is like, you know what? We're going to sing about this now and feel better now. There is nothing wrong with us. That's how it is sometimes, what happened in that scene really does happen. I've had it happen in my life a lot and it really does mess with your head. There's a lot of anti-trans rhetoric out there in the world and I would be lying if I didn't say that it really messes with my head and it can be hard to stay strong. In the movie, there's not even a chance for this character to let that get inside of them. Not only are we good, but we're actually perfect. Even if it's kind of cheesy, the message of it is really, really important to me.
CK: Horror has always had an element of camp to it. And that's one of the many things I love about it.
THEO: When I watched the film with an audience in the theater and everybody was laughing at different points, I was like, "oh yeah duh", Slasher films are also kind of funny.
CK: Another thing that was great about that scene and then continued throughout the movie was the idea that the queer community is often faced with having to choose our own families. Maybe our families don't understand or support who we are, but we find our people and they become our chosen family. Seeing that in the film was very beautiful and felt very real.
THEO: I very specifically made the decision that when my character Jordan shows up at this camp they're out to look out for other people, but they don't expect that other people are going to look out for them. And by the end of the film, through all of this hardship that happens to everybody in these crazy and ridiculous circumstances, they learn what it feels like to find people who accept you for who you are.
CK: What was it like on set? Because although there is so much joy and humor, this is also such a heavy topic.
THEO: Being on set was fun, honestly. And there's a lot of hanging out that a lot of the cast members did outside of filming. There wasn't a lot that we could do just because we were trying to be really, really COVID safe, but we would get ice cream together. A lot of us stayed at the same hotel and there was this little patio area that was behind the hotel with a little fire pit, and we would sit out there and play games or just talk during our down time. There's so many connections that I made on the set that I don't know if I was able to make in previous jobs that I worked on because it takes a long time for me to really feel comfortable being myself on set. Sometimes I can be a little bit reserved. But this time I was eager to hang out with everybody on set. And I'm really grateful for the connections that I made. I got to learn something from everybody on the set as well. From every single one of my costars I learned something about what I love, which is creating. If there were ever any issues with anything Scott Turner Schofield, who was our executive producer was also the Vibe Checker on set. He would check in with everybody, make sure everybody was okay and would try to fix something if anything was going wrong. He really would take care of anything so that everything would go smoothly.
THEY/THEM is now Streaming on Peacock