The ‘Twisters’ Star on Chasing a Real Tornado, Working With Glen Powell and Why She Exited the Carole King Biopic: Daisy Edgar-Jones Storms Hollywood

Daisy Edgar-Jones became so fascinated by the world of storm-chasing during the filming of “Twisters” that she decided to hunt down a tornado herself

Published Time: 09.07.2024 - 22:31:31 Modified Time: 09.07.2024 - 22:31:31

Daisy Edgar-Jones became so fascinated by the world of storm-chasing during the filming of “Twisters” that she decided to hunt down a tornado herself.

After production wrapped in December on Lee Isaac Chung’s sequel to 1996’s “Twister,” Edgar-Jones — who plays Kate Cooper, a meteorologist haunted by personal trauma — called a team of trackers she’d met on set. Together, they followed a storm cell from Kansas to Oklahoma City.

“I was desperate to see one,” Edgar-Jones admits as she sits in a North London coffee shop on a drizzly summer day. She starts to take a sip of her Americano but puts the cup back down before it reaches her lips, her doe-like brown eyes widening as she recalls the moment a Doppler radar showed a cyclone forming. They were in the wilderness looking up at a pitch-black sky that was periodically illuminated by streaks of lightning.

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“There could be a tornado anywhere and I don’t know,” Edgar-Jones remembers thinking to herself. “I was like, ‘Oh, my God, I’m genuinely scared, but also exhilarated.’” But by the next scan on the radar, the storm had vanished. “I was like, I can see now why people do it. What a rush — all that planning for one moment of madness.”

It’s not too different from the whirlwind that Edgar-Jones has been swept up in since breaking hearts in the Hulu series “Normal People” — then shattering them again in the hit adaptation of the romantic drama “Where the Crawdads Sing.” In between, Edgar-Jones convincingly transformed into a Mormon woman who is brutally murdered in the crime drama “Under the Banner of Heaven,” demonstrating her range. But playing the lead in a potential summer blockbuster like “Twisters” offers the 26-year-old her highest-profile role yet. It also gives her another chance to shake things up. Having gravitated toward isolated, brooding characters in naturalistic dramas, she’s part of an ensemble cast that includes Glen Powell and Anthony Ramos, dealing with CGI tempests instead of tempestuous relationships.

With its big budget and flashy special effects, the film may be a departure for Edgar-Jones, but Chung says it was the “human vulnerability” in her previous roles that made her the perfect anchor for the film. “Her honesty makes us feel like we are living through many formative years through her,” he says. “This was the kind of long emotional journey that I needed for ‘Twisters.’”

This relatability shines through in our interview too: After talking through the irony of facing severe weather on the “Twisters” set and her enduring friendship with “Normal People” co-star Paul Mescal, she admits that she prefers London to Hollywood and counts people-watching while riding the tube as one of her favorite activities (though she’s being recognized in public more). As we’re finishing our coffee, her boyfriend, the photographer Ben “Pip” Seeds, gets locked out of her flat, sparking a dilemma about how she can hand off her keys and still make a fitting for the “Twisters” premiere. Fortunately — like something out of a movie — he arrives just in time to catch her before her Uber pulls up.

Why did you want to make “Twisters”?

I have a list of my favorite directors, and Isaac was far up there. I’d seen “Minari” during COVID and absolutely loved it, and so I messaged my team like, “What’s Isaac doing?” And they were like, “You wouldn’t believe it, but he’s doing ‘Twisters.’”

I like quieter, introspective stories, so I was interested as to why someone like Isaac — who similarly has pursued that kind of storytelling — would make something like “Twisters.” I wrote him a letter, and we went for coffee. The more we spoke, I was just like, “This sounds amazing,” but I knew he was seeing a few people. Then, in a very Isaac way, he sort of quietly offered it to me without me knowing if he had or not. He was like, “Yeah, so I’d like you to do it, I suppose.” And I was like, “Wait, what?”

Is your character, Kate, similar to the role Helen Hunt played in the original?

Kate’s arc is a little darker. She’s going through quite a lot, and it’s a real story of coming home — home to a place but also home to yourself or the person you might have lost. She’s also incredibly smart and feels more like Bill Paxton’s character in “Twister”, in that she has instincts and is a little more, like, feeling the wind she makes a waving motion.

What differentiates “Twisters” from the original?

It feels like a real next chapter, whilst also having so much love for the original. We have Dorothy the weather sensor device from the first film. We have moments and costumes that are mirrored from the original. A lot of crew who worked on the original worked on ours as well, including a large number of the visual effects guys. “Twisters” is a film set now, in 2024; it’s what chasing’s like now that we have YouTube chasers, we have new technology, we have better CGI.

Speaking of YouTube chasers, Kate’s love interest is a sort of tornado influencer played by Powell. What was it like working with him?

Glen, genuinely, is one of the most hardworking people I h -

ave ever met. I remember going into his trailer, and he had an extraordinary number of books on weather and storm-chasing. He was the best scene partner. We’re similar in our approach to acting — we bonded a lot over our shared neuroses of trying to get things perfect.

Did you encounter severe weather while filming in Oklahoma?

Constantly. One day, we were filming this scene where a tornado rips through a farmers market, and they made this amazing set full of these stalls. And this crazy windstorm came in and took the entire set out. We were hunkered down in the shops nearby, watching the whole set be destroyed, only for us to then film it being destroyed 20 minutes later when they set it back up again.

There’s a scene where Glen and I are looking for a tornado in the distance, and a “mothership,” or mesocyclone cloud, formed behind us. We looked like two of the most idiotic storm chasers, because we were like, “Where is it?” and it was literally just there. We all had to leave, and it produced a tornado. Isaac actually went out chasing and saw it. We weren’t allowed to for insurance reasons.

How did the cast bond on set?

We did a lot of line dancing. We went to this one particular club called “Cowboys.” It was amazing, people would be line dancing for like hours and hours, or swing dancing. And then every hour, they would turn the lights up in the club and everyone would move to the other side of the room and they’d bring out a live bull and actually bull ride in the middle of the club.

What was it like to film the crazy tornado-related stunts in the film?

It felt like being in a theme park, honestly. A lot of it was practical effects. There was one day of filming where they dumped an insane quantity of water on us because this water tower falls — and we were actually flung back from it. And there’s this movie theater scene where chandeliers are dropping and things are cracking in — they did it for real.

Did you have any injuries?

No, just really bad hair. I had a lot of stuff in my ears because things would blow in there. They would have to give me these weird ear drops and fizz out all the dirt.

What kind of training did you do for the movie?

I’m not good at running; like I have a weird run, which I was told as a kid. And for me, that was a big stunt — to try and make it look not pathetic. I did running lessons — isn’t that crazy? Actually, Paul Mescal and I were laughing about it, because he was training for “Gladiator II” and I was training for “Twisters,” and obviously he had to be huge and I was like, “Don’t worry, I’m going to be right up there with you.”

Paul Mescal was part of your crew at Glastonbury Festival, and you recently did a “Normal People” charity event together. Have you stayed close?

Paul is one of my lifetime best friends. He’s an incredibly grounded person and I am too, I think, so it’s nice to be able to have those touchstones and those people you can laugh about it with and be lighthearted with. We met when I was 20 and Paul was 22; I’m so excited to see where we’ll be at 32, 42, and what life will bring us.

What does it mean to you that “Normal People” still resonates with so many people?

Like at Glasto, the thing that I was recognized for the most is “Normal People” still, and usually people just say, “It meant so much to me.” The thing I love people saying the most is, “It made me contact my ex.” Especially when much older people say, “I just wanted to reach out to the person I was with when I was 17 just to say you were a big part of my history and thanks for being part of who I am, the tapestry of my life.” And that I really love, because I’m a massive romantic.

You were cast as Carole King in a new biopic. Any updates?

That’s no longer happening. I love Carole and I love that story, but it was a year ago that they decided to no longer pursue it. I did learn a lot of piano. I think it’s a gorgeous story, and the script probably needs a little more time in the oven. But I did meet Carole King on Zoom, and I was like, “This is the coolest thing ever.” She really enjoyed “Normal People,” so she was a fan of that and I was a fan of hers. I get so starstruck by musicians, much more than actors, and Carole was one where it was quite hard to keep my cool.

(Editor’s note: Sources tell Variety that the project is still in development at the studio without Edgar-Jones. When news of her involvement broke in 2022, her deal was not yet closed and last year’s writers and actors strikes delayed the project further.)

The ending of “Twisters” leaves an opening for a sequel. Would you return?

I mean, I’d have to read a script first and see what’s going on, but definitely. I love that world of storm-chasing. I think it would be fun to see what they could do next. I just don’t know what they would name it — would they just have to keep adding s’s to the end of “Twisters”?

“Twisters” premieres in theaters in the U.K. on July 17 and the U.S. on July 19.

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