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That Time 10 Cloverfield Lane’s Mary Elizabeth Winstead Didn’t Even Know She Was Starring In A Cloverfield Movie

Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Michelle in 10 Cloverfield Lane
(Image credit: Paramount)

When Mary Elizabeth Winstead signed on to star in 10 Cloverfield Lane, she had no idea that she was becoming part of a major franchise. The original script had no connections to the Cloverfield universe and went through two title changes before producer J.J. Abrams decided to expand the story. But when did Mary Elizabeth Winstead find out about the switch? 

Mary Elizabeth Winstead recently stopped by Collider Ladies Night to chat about her latest action film Kate and past projects including 10 Cloverfield Lane. The new mother revealed that she’d had no idea the latter was part of the Cloverfield universe until right before the film’s release in 2016. According to Mary Elizabeth Winstead, 10 Cloverfield Lane was supposed to be its own standalone project. That is, until JJ Abrams and director Dan Trachtenberg did a little rebranding. She explained: 

It was all definitely after the fact because I didn’t know it was a Cloverfield movie until just before it came out. I had no idea it was a Cloverfield movie! [Laughs] It was an idea that was floated around but wasn’t something that was really, officially like, ‘This is part of that universe.’ It was its own standalone film and then, just before the movie came out, spoke with JJ and it was like, ‘Oh no, this is gonna be part of the Cloverfield franchise.’

Talk about a bombshell. While it’s a bit crazy to think that no one told Mary Elizabeth Winstead about her film’s relevance to Cloverfield until its release, it’s not exactly unheard of. For example, many Marvel actors have been known to shoot scenes without knowing what movie they’re for. Luckily, there are no hard feelings between Mary Elizabeth Winstead and the production team of 10 Cloverfield Lane. She even praised the story for its clever nods to the source material: 

I really didn’t know what to think of it at first because I hadn’t really wrapped my brain around it and then, once everything got laid out and it made sense and the marketing for it came out, I was like, ‘Oh, I see how this fits together, this kind of puzzle,' and it’s actually really smart.

10 Cloverfield Lane follows Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s character Michelle after she wakes up in a sealed underground bunker with two unfamiliar men. The duo insists that a mysterious attack has left the Earth inhospitable and that the bunker is the only safe place left for human habitation. Naturally, all is not as it seems: Howard (John Goodman) has decidedly unsavory intentions, while Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.) dismisses Michelle’s initial misgivings. 

The script for 10 Cloverfield Lane, originally titled The Cellar, was renamed Valencia when it began production in 2014. As the creators began to flesh out the world of the film, they realized it had the potential to tie into the larger Cloverfield universe. Ironically, the same thing happened toThe Cloverfield Paradox, the third installment in the Cloverfield franchise. The project began development under the name God Particle until JJ Abrams (quite literally) flipped the script.

You can rent 10 Cloverfield Lane on Amazon Prime Video. Kate is available to stream now on Netflix. 

Rachel Romean

Actor, singer, and occasional dancer. Likes: fashion, books, old buildings. Dislikes: cilantro, the NJ Turnpike, sneaker wedges.