The film is based on a true story Midnight in the switchgrass Chronicle of the serial kidnappings and murders of young women and the FBI agents trying to stop them. The directorial debut of Randall Emmett, the film stars Bruce Willis, Megan Fox, Emile Hirsch, Lukas Haas and Caitlin Carmichael. It is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.

Interview: Emile Hirsch speaks at Switchgrass at midnight and works with Megan Fox

“During another Florida case, FBI agents Helter (Willis) and Lombardo (Fox) are intersecting with state cop Crawford (Hirsch) investigating a series of apparently linked feminicides,” the official summary said . “Lombardy and Crawford team up for an undercover trick, but it goes horribly wrong, puts Lombardy in great danger, and puts Crawford up against a serial killer in a twisted cat-and-mouse game.”

Tyler Treese: Midnight in the Switchgrass is your directorial debut. What really attracted you to this project? Have you wanted to direct for a long time or how did that come about?

Randall Emmett: I creatively hit a wall a few years ago. I just felt like producing, I was dying a bit creative. My artistic self was somehow pushed aside. It’s going to be something of a business and I just wanted to challenge myself again and bring myself back to the kid I grew up with as an artist. I said let me direct it. Every time I thought about directing I got petrified and nervous and a lot of my director friends said, well, that’s the good thing. That means you are doing the right thing and you should really follow it up because as a producer I feel pretty comfortable. I’ve been doing it for a long time.

So that sparked interest in taking the plunge and directing it. I was nervous the whole time, until probably the last day of shooting, which I really think, this fear and nervousness of putting a different hat on after so many decades made me be prepared and work hard and get the best version being of myself. That is the love of directing, because I can bring my artistic self back to the fore. So that’s in a nutshell why I made the switch.

Was there anything that surprised you while filming? Something that was maybe more difficult than expected or maybe easier?

It was definitely a challenge. I also loved being really present. I think that was probably a challenge in the beginning. Then I just enjoyed every minute, but at first I thought I couldn’t focus on anything else in the universe than this movie. So that was exciting for me. The pandemic obviously made it the toughest movie I’ve ever made. Nine months of standstill and back and forth and new sets and different locations and several crews. That’s not what you want in your first film, of course, but I feel like it also showed me that I was committed to directing. If I hadn’t loved it so much, I don’t think I would have been so persistent and energetic in getting the film done. I was really ready just now. I was hungry and thirsty to really get back to my artistic self. I think directing gives me this vehicle and that voice to do it again.

I was blown away by Caitlin Carmichael’s performance. She’s been acting for over a decade, but she’s still so young. There are some difficult scenes where she was used and reenacting traumatic moments. Can you talk about working with her and getting her into these very physical scenes?

Caitlin, I’ll tell you, I put you through on the callbacks. I called her back about five times and she just kept crushing it. Every single callback. It was better than the next, or as good as, and I was so lucky. She was 15 when she signed up for the movie and was just turning 16 and I just couldn’t believe how, how smart and how well and how much she just wanted to know about the character. Just like Emile, Lukas and Megan, she wanted to rehearse and immerse alike and was ready to go anywhere. Every time I wanted to push her to do more in a scene, I would say, “Caitlin, you have to fight for your life. I need this to feel like it’s the end, ”and she just said,“ Okay, I have you, ”and she went back inside. It would be just about anything I wanted. She’s just so talented. I mean, she’s a superstar and I’m very grateful to have her in this movie. She makes me look good She makes my job very easy for me. So I am very, very grateful.

This film is just full of great accomplishments. Megan Fox has an interesting role because as an agent she’s used as bait, so to speak, but she’s also a total badass. We see her beat up Machine Gun Kelly in one scene. She can take care of herself. What was it like working with her and getting her physical and being such a strong personality?

That’s what drew her to the role in my opinion. I don’t want to speak for her, but I think the character is empowered. She’s not a victim until she’s obviously fighting for her life, but otherwise she’s the one fighting for her life, these girls. It was great. Megan, I’ve reached out to her sometimes and said that when you’re tied up, I really want to be authentic. Is that in order? Is it okay if we use the real chains and they are heavy and she would look at me and say, “Randall, have you seen some of the movies that I made?” As if she were all-in. She is not afraid of anything. She has made some of the greatest action films in the world.

So that was a very, very easy physical role for her. But what I love about Megan is that she is equally committed to character and an emotional arc. We had a moment when he was basically telling her she wasn’t going to get out of there. She kind of breaks down emotionally while chained up. I remember when I wrote on a piece of paper on the last take, she just gave me so much and I loved it. It was just so emotional and it was great. I wrote on this paper. I said you will never see your children again. I gave it to her. I said open this up before we get started. She just left it. This is Megan. She is ready to go where you want and more. She is so talented and I couldn’t have asked for a better lead actress and lead role in this movie than her.

When we talk about transformations, Lukas Haas as the killer in this film is just amazing. It’s intense and uncomfortable to watch. What was it like filming him? He’s so present there.

Lukas Haas is the most underrated actor in Hollywood. People will see this soon, but he’s just booked a big movie starring Brad Pitt. I tell you, I’m so happy for him because of what he did for this role of Peter and how he pushed me. Every day he came to my room. We rewrite every night. He wants the character to be better and more authentic. He and I pushed each other so far that we challenged each other on set on certain days. I felt like we were doing something special. What Luke brought into this role of Peter was a thousand times what I could ever have imagined. Another actor who made my job so easy. He’s so, so talented with so many levels, internalizing every part of every character he plays. I’m just glad people could see him again now doing what he is doing.

Interview: Caitlin Carmichael discusses Midnight in the real Switchgrass story

I know you have worked on projects with Bruce Willis before and you produced Out of Death which is coming out with him soon. What was it like to conduct it?

It’s a completely different direction. It’s like working with Emile on Lone Survivor and some other films, it’s a completely different game. I have appeared in 15 Bruce films and I never got nervous. When he first appeared, I really had to give him some vision and direction. I was like butterflies. It was like a fresh start. But he’s a friend and he was so generous and wanted to do whatever I needed from him. He was great. It was fun. Everyone enjoyed working with him. He is Bruce Willis. It just doesn’t get any better. Even as a director, it was the first time I worked with him. So I was really, really grateful that he did this for me. He did it for me to a number I could afford because if he had done it for his regular number I definitely couldn’t have afford it. So I was grateful that he supported my filmmaking for the first time.

You mentioned Emile Hirsch, it seems you have a great friendship over Pickleball. How did that happen? Did he introduce you to that?

What happened was my fiancée’s family friend, we were in Palm Springs and she was playing pickleball. I grew up playing tennis and she asked me to play pickleball. I figured I wasn’t playing a game called pickleball. That will not happen. She says you have to come out and you will play and it will be fun. I thought whatever, dude, pickleball, it just ain’t cool. That does not exist. I picked up the bat and was addicted a thousand times. When I went to film I found out that Emile loves Pickleball and Lukas loves Pickleball. They played for five years. So I started playing with them in Puerto Rico. Then when the pandemic broke out, it was the only activity you could do. It was outside at my home. We were aloof and so I started to take it pretty seriously and then Emile and I got really competitive. Now I kick his ass all the time. I hit him at my house two days ago, about six times.

That is amazing. Emile’s performance is so great and he has a lot of emotional scenes. He is fighting the case and reconciling his family life. Can you just talk to this character and his performance?

Well, I think what I like the most about Emile’s character is that he’s so simple, he’s so complex, right? Like he loved his family. He’s strong in religion and wants to go a straight line, but he also doesn’t want to let these girls have someone to defend them and be a voice. I feel like I enjoyed watching Emile’s uproar as it grew. It starts with a couple of corpses, and of course they have feelings for a cop, but it’s part of the job, but that turns into a serial killer. It evolves into young girls who are killed. I feel like his character is really coming to life here and really in pain and agony because these girls are being murdered and no one is there to claim them, no one cares. This is what society has pushed away from these girls. I think it’s such a beautiful story between him and Megan getting together and risking both their careers and their lives to get off protocol, be a cop or a law enforcement officer and risk anything to get these girls’ lives save.