Colin Ford and Ellie Bamber are the stars of the new dark comedy-thriller, Extracurricular Activities. The film follows Reagan Collins, a model high school student with a killer after school job. When the parents of his classmates become too overbearing, self-obsessed, or just plain inconvenient, Reagan arranges their “accidental” deaths. But when seasoned detective Cliff Dawkins starts to put two and two together, it becomes a battle of wits. Pop-Culturalist spoke with actors Colin Ford and Ellie Bamber about this must-see film.
P-C: Tell us about Extracurricular Activities, who you play, and what drew you to this project.
Colin: I play Reagan Collins.
Ellie: I play Mary Alice Walker.
Colin: The film is about Reagan Collins, who is a high school student that starts a business, which is to eliminate bad parents from their children’s lives in order to take an insurance payoff.
I was drawn to this project because it’s so different from anything I’ve ever done. It’s dark but also very funny. I was attracted to playing a character that wasn’t an all-American boy, which is something I’ve done in the past.
Ellie: I wanted to work with Colin, Timothy [Simons], who plays detective Cliff Dawkins, and our director, Jay Lowi. They’re all brilliant. I also love the fact that Mary Alice is an intelligent, forward-thinking woman.
P-C: Extracurricular Activities is a fun, unpredictable ride that keeps you guessing until the very end. When you read the initial script, what shocked you the most?
Colin: Besides the story being a total trip, I was shocked by Reagan’s ability to keep cool. Despite everything that Reagan does to the other kids’ parents per their wishes, he lives a normal life. This didn’t stem as a result of something going on at home, it came from a sensitivity to those feelings around him.
Ellie: I was definitely shocked by the twist! It’s an interesting development in the film.
P-C: Tell us about Reagan and Mary Alice’s relationship in the film and how it changes.
Colin: In the beginning, there’s a lot of mystery around their relationship. It’s a fun journey to go on because there’s an attraction at the start, but they don’t really know each other that well. Throughout this journey, we learn more about them, but individually.
Towards the third act, when the big twist happens, you don’t know whether Mary Alice is going to be on Reagan’s side or on Cliff’s. It’s such a big twist! Once that decision is made, you get to see their relationship come full circle.
Ellie: I love that Mary Alice doesn’t conform to gender roles. She’s not waiting for Reagan to ask her out. She goes for it.
P-C: How did the two of you approach the dynamic between your characters?
Colin: We had a little bit of time to get to know each other before we started filming. However, the dynamic between us…
Ellie: It needed to be mysterious.
Colin: Yeah, it needed to be mysterious.
Ellie: We made the decision early on that we didn’t want to spend too much time with each other because of this. It was important to have that distance early on. Then as it progressed, we spent more and more time together, and the relationship unfolded like it does in the film.
P-C: Reagan is a complicated character with different personas. Throughout the film, you question his moral compass. Colin, how did you prepare to tackle all his dimensions?
Colin: I always had a great relationship with my folks, but I had friends who didn’t necessarily always get along with theirs. That may have been a result of their own behavior, and sometimes, it was due to the behavior of their parents.
I think that we all go through a time in our lives when we’re growing up through this teenage limbo where you think that you’re an adult, but you’re really still a kid. You look and act like a kid. That time is difficult to navigate, especially if you don’t have a parent who’s helpful. At an extreme scale, Reagan eliminates that issue. I think a lot of us grow up wishing we could grow up without our parents, but that probably wouldn’t end well.
I think, at the end of the day, the takeaway is that we don’t necessarily all have to become our parents, act the way they do, or value the same things that they do. That’s not to say that their values aren’t noteworthy, but we can make our own choices.
P-C: Going back to Reagan’s moral compass, what is your take on him? Is he a hero or villain?
Colin: I see Reagan as a pro-villain, like Robin Hood. He’s doing good by people, but it comes at a cost.
P-C: Is there a scene that you’re excited for fans to see?
Colin: It doesn’t necessarily highlight me very much but I’m really excited for everybody to see the pool party scene with Bobby Lee. He’s so funny, man. [laughs]
Ellie: Yes, he’s hilarious! [laughs]
Colin: That scene is hilarious.
Ellie: It really is!
P-C: What do you hope audiences takeaway from seeing this film?
Colin: First, I hope they don’t take it too seriously—it’s a dark comedy. Second, like I said earlier, it’s important for this next generation to start new conversions, continue old ones, and revisit things that may not be working anymore.
Ellie: Yes! And we have to continue to challenge things moving forward. At the end of the day, we live in a quite broken world, and there’s a lot to fix about it, as corny as that sounds.