'Euphoria' Star Barbie Ferreira Will Not Stay in Your Haunted Hotel Under Any Circumstance
While filming the HBO Max road trip abortion comedy 'Unpregnant,' Barbie Ferreira thrifted hard, ate hatch chile in New Mexico, and absolutely would not sleep in obviously haunted lodgings.
Barbie Ferreira does not mess with ghosts. So when the Euphoria star's latest project landed her in a supposedly haunted hotel during filming, she got out of there as soon as she possibly could. The supernatural doesn't really have anything to do with HBO Max's Unpregnant, a rowdy and sweet comedy about two teen girls who travel from Missouri to New Mexico when one of them needs an abortion, but those are the perils of documenting a road trip on screen.
Ferreira is best known to audiences as Kat, the fan-fiction writer turned cam-girl on the scandalous teen HBO series Euphoria, and here, she brings to life another wonderfully awesome Gen Z-er. She's Bailey, a sarcastic, anti-social media nerd who finds out her former best friend Veronica (Haley Lu Richardson) is pregnant in the first scenes of Rachel Lee Goldenberg's movie. When the prim and popular Veronica needs a ride from Missouri, a state with no scarcity of abortion restrictions, to Albuquerque in order to get the procedure without permission from her religious parents, she turns to Bailey. And over the course of their journey, they rekindle their friendship. As they travel southwest, they sing Kelly Clarkson, encounter fanatical pro-lifers, and get gas station slushies every chance they can.
Thrillist chatted with Ferreira over Zoom about thrifting on the road, eating hatch chiles in everything, and connecting with Gen Z.
Thrillist: Bailey's look is so rad. How did you build her?
Barbie Ferreira: I think my favorite part of getting into character is creating the look. I'm very much a costume person. I wore many costumes growing up in the middle of summer, not Halloween. A lot of what I wear reflects how I'm feeling, what phase I'm in. I had so many ideas for hair. I think alt, kind of rule-breaker outcast in 2020: green hair. The kids love to dye their hair. I do too. The clothes were very patterned and bright and didn't make sense and come from a gas station or a thrift store and that's how I imagine, if I was Bailey, I would dress. Not falling into any of the trends or same style as other people. I think she would pride herself on that. And the fuzzy hat. Still keeping it high school. But it's still experimenting with her style. That was really fun. I got to go all out and play my little emo girl Bailey.
What drew her to you on the page?
Ferreira: For me, I thought comedy was something that was uncharted territory for me and also a little bit challenging. I've always wanted to try it and give it a go. But I wanted it to be the right project that wasn't just kind of slapstick, funny physical humor. I think I avoid those because of the stereotypes that come with that. I wanted to do this movie because it's not only a comedy but it's also a fully fleshed-out emotional and heartwarming and also pretty political movie where there was a greater message outside of the movie. I just loved it. It was something that I thought was going to be challenging and also really exciting. I've never seen a script that treated abortion in that way where it was very normal. It wasn't taking up the entire storyline; it was more about these girls and their friendship.
Bailey's on Twitch. She speaks Klingon. How did you find your inner emo girl? Did you have an inner emo girl?
Ferreira: Yes. Yes, I have. I wanted to bring my teen angst. For me, I just kind of wanted to see if I was Bailey because I was pretty emo growing up. What is the 2020 version of that? Sort of like e-girl, but also the fact that she's anti-social media but plays video games. That's one of those teen things that doesn't make any sense, but we love it. Her having this rich life inside her head and at home and with her own interests and all these things. It naturally came. It wasn't necessarily in the script. She had teal hair and Doc Martens. I was like, let's switch it up. Let's make it 2020. I was trying to make it things I observed on TikTok. I'm Gen Z, too. I'm a little bit older Gen Z, I'm the cutoff year, but I feel like I'm still with the kids. I still know. I have my finger on the pulse of the children. I just got inspired by what I've seen and how kids and look and act these days.
What was the process of filming a road trip?
Ferreira: It's funny because my first big acting job, Euphoria, was mostly in a studio. Rarely on location, except for exteriors of high school, and this movie was entirely location. I was in the middle of the desert, for sure, during the winter, which is actually super duper cold. Dusty. We went to a haunted hotel -- I literally saw hand marks and it was known to be haunted. The front desk people were like, "There's ghosts in here." I was like, "Oh." Funny story: It was a boutique hotel in New Mexico. I actually made them put me in a Holiday Inn. I was like, "You guys, there are ghosts in this room."
Did you go into the room?
Ferreira: I slept there. Me and Haley had a sleepover because I was like, "I am not sleeping alone in this room." It literally looked like a haunted house. Victorian children paintings and spooky, spooky, spooky, spooky. I don't mess with ghosts. I was like, "I'd rather just go to the Holiday Inn, I know there's no ghosts there. Take me there, please. Literally, I beg you. You can put me in any motel. I just do not want to be in this hotel." We would do road trips to Texas to like Truth or Consequences, which is a random place in New Mexico which is very cool. Really just, like, desert vibes. It was really fun.
Did you embrace the road trip vibes? Were you drinking the slushies your characters did with blue raspberry, cherry, and a splash of Coke?
Ferreira: I did not. Unlike these teenagers, I am 23 and sugar like that does not make me feel good. I ate a lot of snacks. I would drink my little Diet Cokes or a juice. I was chilling. It was a van so I got to spread out a little bit and have my snacks and cooler. I would knit. Eating little bits of cheese on the way there.
Did you get any regional snacks?
Ferreira: Not necessarily snacks, but in Albuquerque I ate a lot of New Mexican cuisine. A lot of burritos, hatch chile. There was hatch chile in everything, sweetie, I literally feel like in my ice cream there was hatch chile. It was super fun to eat around there. It was such a strong culture in New Mexico.
So you slept over in Haley's room when the ghosts were there. How else did you bond over the course of the trip?
Ferreira: Well, things like that. We are both insane, crazy, funny, goofy, silly girls. It just was really instant. I think like first day I was already on her wave. I was like, alright, I understand. I get it. We went to a dance class that made me really sad because I was like, "I'm really bad at dancing." I did try. We did a lot of antique shopping. The antique shops there are next level. I will definitely be making a trip back there just to get antique stuff. There was a lot of thrifting.
What was the best thing you got thrifting?
Ferreira: I got a lot of things. I got cool ashtrays. I got turquoise from pawn shops. I got a turquoise pinky ring that I always wear. I got a lot of jewelry from the thrift shops, and clothes. Just like untapped thrifting and antiques out there.
What is your ideal road trip?
Ferreira: My ideal road trip would be somewhere with a body of water, a little creek. Somewhere I can splish-splash in. Love to splish-splash. And it would be really scenic and I would see lots of cows and horses.
Did you see any cows and horses during filming?
Ferreira: A lot. A lot of cows. We went to West Texas, which is all cattle. I was like, there are cows walking down the road by themselves. Seriously. And it smells of cow everywhere.
And that's good?
Ferreira: I was like, this is a little thick in the smelling, but I love seeing animals walk around.
In the movie, you belt Kelly Clarkson's "Since You've Been Gone." What was that experience like?
Ferreira: Singing, to me? I must be dedicated to my craft to put that out there because I do not sing. When I watched the movie, I literally had to "la la la la la." I cannot hear myself sing like that. That's hard for me. I'm like, "Oh girl, no. I don't want to hear that." But it's really funny. If I wasn't myself, I would probably be laughing, but because I am myself, all I'm doing is cringing.
Another moment of screaming for your character comes when she proudly declares she's gay on a carnival ride?
Ferreira: My favorite part of that is when Veronica says, "I'm so thankful you decided to come out to me," and Bailey is like, "Bitch, what? I've been out. Don't flatter yourself, sweetie." I feel like a lot of movies, the coming out part is like a really big thing, and it can be for a lot of people. But what happens when people are just gay and alive and existing past the coming out? I think there are a lack of stories that are about post-coming out and existing while gay. That was really what I loved about it. It's not this whole big deal because it's something she's already been through, and Veronica thinks she's this special person. It's like, "Calm down, sweetie. This isn't about you."
Was the ride fun? Scary?
Ferreira: It was nauseating because I did it eight to 10 times. I can't remember exactly how many. I also lose my voice quite often. I think it's just because I project too much. I lost my voice that day, so I had to get a shot in my butt of steroids to stop my laryngitis. Not the real steroids, the other one. I have to get steroids in my butt and a lot of Throat Coat tea to get through that screaming. There was actually one scene where I completely lost my voice, but it worked because we were thirsty and hungry. That was laryngitis. That was not me doing a voice.
You get a Thelma & Louise moment behind the wheel, too.
Ferreira: So, I don't drive. I don't have a license. I faked it. I acted. I have a permit, so I did drive a little bit physically because Haley was in the car. But a lot of it was a stunt driver, which was nice because I just can't seem to pass my road test. It's just this obstacle in my life. You don't understand how impossible it is. I'm like SpongeBob on my 36th try with Mrs. Puff. Truly, the biggest obstacle in my life is my road test. It always has been. It causes so much anxiety. I took my road test twice before I did this movie in the same week and I failed both times. And I cried profusely.
Euphoria was one of the first productions to shut down when coronavirus hit. Has there been any talk about starting back up again?
Ferreira: We definitely have to wait until this pandemic slows down so that we can have our 10 cast members and 300 crew members that make the really elaborate cinematography happen and the elaborate fantasy scenes and the intimacy. I think we have to wait until the pandemic is over, or at least until a place that is more manageable and more safe. We are doing an abridged season. I don't know much about that. I don't know much about much. I'm like, "I have no idea."
With both this and Euphoria, you are digging into the lives of members of Gen Z who are just a little younger than you are. What is your research process like?
Ferreira: My research process is living because I'm addicted to TikTok. I'm addicted to the internet. I know every meme. It's honestly exhausting how much information I take in all day. I grew up on the internet. I had a laptop by like 9 or 10, like a little Dell desktop at that point. I spend a lot of time on YouTube. Ooh, do I spend a lot of time on YouTube. I'm really into pop culture and internet culture and I'm always lurking. A little less now that I have more of a following on Instagram because it's a little scarier. I used to kind of joke around and be silly. It feels a little different just because it has more eyes. I'm always lurking. I'm literally always on TikTok commenting on things like, "Oh my god." I just know the kids.
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