Melissa Barrera Talks Bed Rest, Her Work As Producer, and a Gorier Scream 6

Jan 5, 2023

From writer/director Lori Evans Taylor, the supernatural thriller Bed Rest, which is available to stream at Tubi, follows Julie Rivers (Melissa Barrera, who’s also a producer on the film), as she learns to embrace impending motherhood in the new home that she’s just moved into with her husband (Guy Burnet). At the same time that Julie is ordered to remain on mandatory bed rest until her due date, she’s also having terrifying experiences that are making her question her own sanity, and whether she believes there could be ghostly forces looking to hurt her unborn baby.

During this 1-on-1 interview with Collider, Barrera talked about how this project came her way, why she wants to get more involved and have a voice in the work that she does, working with the pregnancy belly, what she felt about everything her character goes through in this story, and the challenge of having to react to scary moments while being stuck in bed. She also talked about what fans can expect from the gore factor in Scream 6, her action-adventure dreams, and branching out with some more comedy.
Collider: How did you get involved with this? Was it because the producers of Scream were involved? Did they bring it to you?

MELISSA BARRERA: Yeah, I was actually shooting Scream and William Sherak, one of our producers who was always on set with us, was like, “I have this script that I think you would be great for. We’ve been trying to do it and haven’t found the right person.” I was like, “Let me read it. I would love to work with you guys again because we already love each other.” If I can keep working with people that I love, that’s the best.

So, they sent it to me with this really beautiful presentation. It was bound and with images, and I was like, “Ooh, this is cool.” I read it, and I was weeping at the end. It felt rare to read a script that’s a thriller with hints of horror, that makes you that emotional. I was like, “There’s something really special here.” I always like doing things that feel different in the genre. I was like, “I wanna meet Lori [Evans Taylor], the writer/director, and talk about it. It feels like there’s a lot of heart in it.” I always like making people feel things, and if I can make someone feel the way that I felt reading it, at the end of the movie, when they’re watching it, that’s incredible. So, that’s how I got involved.

Image via Tubi

Now that you’ve done both, are you personally someone who gets more scared watching psychological horror, like with Bed Rest, or the slasher horror of Scream?

BARRERA: I get more scared with psychological horror, definitely. Sometimes that’s scarier because, with another being, like a murderer or serial killer, I feel like I can dismiss it. I can be like, “Oh, that’s fake. That’s made up.” But when you’re dealing with psychological horror, you’re like, “That could happen to me.” That’s scarier, in my opinion.

How did you also end up signing on as a producer for this?

BARRERA: It was because I fell in love with the script, and I was like, “I think there’s something really special there, but I have some thoughts.” We had a meeting, and we talked about the little tweaks that I would make, and things that I thought about the character to deepen the relationship with the husband. They were like, “These are great!” That’s when they were like, “You should be a producer on this, if you’re having so much creative input in it.”

You don’t always get that opportunity, but they already knew me, they knew my work, and they had worked with me before, and they knew my work ethic on set. They trusted me with making me a partner. That’s a delicate situation, making someone a partner, but it worked great. We worked on the script for a few months before taking it out and before STX bought it. It felt like teamwork and like a real collaboration to get the script to a place where we were like, “Okay, we’re ready to make it.”

Are you someone who’s always had that kind of confidence in your own voice, or is that something you’ve developed, the longer you’ve been in this business?

BARRERA: I’ve always been the annoying person that always asks questions. I’ve always known how to use my voice, and I’ve always been encouraged to ask questions without feeling stupid. Sometimes I think people are made to feel stupid when they ask questions. My mom always encouraged me to ask questions and be curious. Through that, I learned that there’s nothing shameful in raising your voice and making yourself heard. I never hold back, and sometimes that can be detrimental, but in this industry, it has helped me.

This is the first movie that I’ve produced, but I have a bunch of other things coming out that I’m producing, as well. It’s great to have a little more creative say because, as an actor, sometimes you can feel so powerless. You’re putting your image out there, and you have no say as to what the story ends up being. It’s your face, and it’s this message that you have no say in, with what’s being perpetuated around the world. It was always very important to me to take an additional step in having a little more creative say and feeling a little bit more ownership in the material that I’m putting out there.

Image via Tubi

You start this film already showing in the pregnancy with your character. What was it like to be fitted for that belly and to have to wear that around?

BARRERA: It was funny, I had never worn a belly like this one. It was so realistic looking. The weight of it and everything about it felt very real. Even the pressure that it would put on my body made me wanna go to the bathroom all the time. It actually made me feel like I was pregnant. It changed the way that I walked because of the weight of it. It changed the way that I sat. It just helped me get into it.

Because I’m not a mother, and I’ve never been pregnant, I was like, “Oh, my God, how is this gonna be?” It was easy because of that belly. And then, the costumes were pajamas, pajama pans and those little night dresses and gowns. It was fun to get fitted with the belly, but it was also weird because I was wearing that belly all the time. I felt like I was actually pregnant, and I would be eating for two, most of the time. I just felt like that’s what I was supposed to be doing. It was also so freezing cold in Winnipeg, so you eat more to stay warm. I was very method.

Did you ever have any mishaps because you forgot it was on?

BARRERA: Yeah. I was bumping into everything, all the time. I also would try to pick up stuff from the ground, and then find that I couldn’t do it. Lori told me, at the beginning, “This is either gonna wanna make you have kids right away, or make you wait a while longer.” This definitely made me wanna wait.

When you read this script for the first time, without knowing what was coming next, did you guess what was going on? Did you think she was crazy? What went through your head as it was unfolding?

BARRERA: I went back and forth, which is what happens in the movie, as well. You’re like, “Wait, she’s definitely seeing things.” And then, you’re like, “Oh, but maybe she’s relapsing.” It was a very frustrating situation, and that’s the beauty of the movie. Everyone around Julie is doubting her, and the audience is gonna go through that, as well. You don’t know what’s going on until the end, and then at the end, I was like weeping. I just think the message behind this movie is so important, with believing women or not believing women. That’s so relevant right now. Also, the idea of motherhood and what that means is so relevant right now. There are so many women out there that experience losses with their children and grief, and it literally haunts you. This metaphor that Lori built with this woman being literally haunted in this house, is all a metaphor for the grief that she’s carrying.

We also get to see this relationship between Julie and her husband, but so much has happened between them before we even meet them. How did you work out how you wanted that to affect her now and how that would inform their relationship?

BARRERA: There were a lot of conversations about that. That’s actually one of the biggest things that we worked on in the script, before we took the movie out. To me, that’s the central relationship. It is to them, too. And finding the actor that was gonna be my partner in this was really important because most of the movie is us, and he’s not the villain either. Yeah, there are conflicts, but it was very important to us for it to feel like a very real relationship between two people that are grieving in completely different ways, and how that can cause friction in a marriage, even though they love each other.

You can see very clearly, at the beginning, that they’re on the same team. They’ve been through a lot, but they’re still together. Marriages sometimes fall apart with the loss of a child because of people dealing with it differently. That can take a toll on a marriage. So, we wanted that to feel very real and nuanced in a way that didn’t feel like we’re exploiting the relationship for conflict, when that’s not the point. The conflict is internal. So, it was a whole thing with Daniel and Julie, but I’m very happy with where it ended

Image via Tubi

In so much of this film, with your character being on this ordered bed rest, you have to convey so much of the fear that you’re going through without being able to physically get up and move around and react. Was that difficult to do, or was it a fun challenge to have to do so much of that from bed?

BARRERA: It was a fun challenge. It was both hard, and it was fun because as the actor that was gonna be in almost every scene of this movie and in bed, I was like, “How am I gonna keep the audience engaged in her journey?” A lot of times, it’s internal because she’s by herself, and she’s not talking to anyone, which is what I had just gone through with Keep Breathing, as well. The fact that I had just done that show, where I was alone in the middle of the woods most of the time, helped me make the transition into this movie, with a different character and different situation. You have to convey a lot of things without saying anything, which is always fun. You have a lot of help. You have all these things that are going on around you, that are helping. Hopefully, they make it engaging with the editing, and we can keep an audience interested in watching the whole thing.

I was terrified by the moment where you’re passing the ball back and forth under the bed, thinking you’re playing with the cat.

BARRERA: I am a person that will never ever look under a bed. I just won’t. It’s one of those things where, when I was little, I would hear so many stories of things under the bed. There was this story when I was younger of this guy that had escaped from an insane asylum, that was pretending to be somebody’s dog and licking their hand on the bed. I won’t ever look under the bed.

So, when we were shooting that scene, I was like, “I would die.” The thing is that Julie’s not reacting like the victim. She’s trying to figure it out. In moments where the audience is gonna be scared, she’s not scared. She’s like, “Oh, my God, what is it? What is this thing? I need to see under the bed.” I, Melissa, would never ever look with a mirror to see what she finds. I would just put myself under the super magical covers where nothing ever hurts you because you’re covered, and wait until my husband came home. I wouldn’t do anything. But she is on this journey of proving that what she’s seeing and what she’s experiencing is real..

Anytime you bring back a franchise and even revamp it a little bit, like you did with Scream, you don’t know how fans are going to react to that. What was it like to see and experience the reaction of the film, and then get to return for a sequel?

BARRERA: It was fun. For me, the best part about it was getting to return to my family, because we made a family shooting Scream, and the idea of getting to do it again with all those people that I loved was the best feeling and such a gift. There’s also something really, really special and unique about the Scream fandom. They know that they’re a part of the team. They know that they have to show up for us, if they want another one, and they did. For the opening weekend, when we did a little bus tour around L.A. and visited some theaters, we ran into a lot of people that were watching it for the seventh time, opening weekend. That’s the kind of commitment that the fans have to keep this franchise going. I’m just super honored to get to be a part of that family, and I’m in awe of how the fans support it. It’s unlike anything else.

You’ve previously talked a little bit about how Scream 6 raises the fear level a bit because you’re in a new environment in New York and it’s a bit of a different situation. How does the gore level compare? Is there even more blood than there was the last time?

BARRERA: There was a saying on set because (directors) Matt [Bettinelli-Olpin] and Tyler [Gillett] were always asking for more blood and more sweat. They always just wanted more. “More blood spritz” was the saying because they would just always want more. With the last Scream, they were tip-toeing and trying to be very respectful of what the franchise had been, up until that point, and keeping their inner gory dreams at bay. But with this one, they were like, “We’re going all out.” It’s got the potential to be a hundred times gorier.

Image via Paramount

I always picture that, in slasher movies, especially one where the killer uses a knife a lot, there’s a lot of slipping around in whatever that blood is made of.

BARRERA: It’s very sticky. You get stuck to a lot of things. It’s complicated to go to the bathroom. You wash your hands, and some of it washes off, but some of it doesn’t. And then, the paper towels are stuck on you. It’s a whole thing. My phone is always covered in blood for the duration of the shoot, and I just leave it because I know it’ll eventually like rub off. But it’s fun. It’s fun to be covered in blood. I personally love being dirty and bloody. That kind of makeup is my favorite. I just think people look hot when they’re dirty and bloody.

Especially when it’s all acting and it’s not literal.

BARRERA: Exactly! When it’s not literal, yeah. That probably sounded crazy.

I first became of your work with Vida, and since then, you’ve done a really interesting array of projects and played so many different types of characters, in all these different genres, from musical to horror to thriller. Is there a type of project or a type of character that you would still love to do, that you haven’t gotten to do yet?

BARRERA: Yeah, I have very big action-adventure dreams. I wanna do a big, epic action-adventure movie with lots of stunts and crazy action sequences. It’s literally my dream to do something like RRR. And then, I also wanna do something period. I don’t care what period it is. I just did a movie set in the eighties, but I’d like to do something with a corset and dresses with a Pirates of the Caribbean or Game of Thrones vibe. Something way back in the day is on my bucket list.

I feel like, especially after your last few projects, there should also be some comedy in your future.

BARRERA: Oh, I have a comedy coming. That’s the next thing that I’m doing. I’m shooting a movie in February of 2023 that’s a comedy, so I’m excited to get back into that. I haven’t done proper comedy since I was in Mexico. Lyn from Vida was a little bit of the comedic relief sometimes, but the show was more of a drama. So, I’m excited to get more into comedy and the physicality of it because I haven’t done anything like it.

What is that project?

BARRERA: I don’t think I can say because they haven’t announced it. We’ll probably announce it soon. But it’s an exciting one. It’s also a weird, very out there movie, which is what I love to do. I love to do things that feel very different, and this does.

Bed Rest is available to stream at Tubi.

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