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Midsommar’s William Jackson Harper Recounts The ‘Taxing’ Filming Process

William Jackson Harper in Midsommar
(Image credit: (A24))

Ari Aster’s Midsommar is a stomach-turning nightmare shot in the light of day. Aside from the jaw-dropping events that take place within the horror films runtime, audiences are also treated to some masterful cinematography as the young group of friends attend the summer festival. William Jackson Harper, who plays Josh, admits pulling off some of the more ambitious wide shot sequences were no easy feat to be part of. In his words:

It would take all day. I mean, he wants to get it right. Yeah. I mean… yeah, those days got long. We’d just be sitting in a field with big crazy looking spiders and tons of wasps just chasing us around. And it was, yeah, it was taxing. You know? I mean those crazy wide shots were really taxing. But having seen the movie, it’s worth it. It’s good. You need those. It also very clearly delineates the demarcation between our American paradigm and the paradigm of the horror bit. And you kind of need that bird’s eye view to kind of really take that in I think.

As an audience member, it's easy to forget about all the time that needs to be filled between the director getting their vision where they want it on camera. And for the Good Place actor, there was a lot of admiring nature (and its creepy-crawlies) as he waited. He told Collider that while it was a taxing shoot, the finished product makes it all worth it.

One scene that seems like it was particularly intense and technical to shoot was when the villagers took turns picking up their forks one by one in line at the long table. It featured a birds-eye shot of the lunch ballet of sorts. Because the film is set in Sweden during its long summer days, it could only be shot at times when the sun was high in the sky.

The actor knew they were stepping into an ambitious project when they signed on for Midsommar. Jack Reynor, who plays the lousy boyfriend to Dani (Florence Pugh), he said he couldn’t see “a clear path” for how they could pull if off but that was exactly why he was interested in being a part of it. When the cast screened the film, they were so amazed and shocked by the end product that they just sat in silence for 10 minutes taking it in.

Midsommar came just one year after Ari Aster’s debut film Hereditary. William Jackson Harper had just auditioned for Midsommar when his breakout horror flick was released in theaters. It only heightened his hope to nab the role. He was attracted by the ‘unnerving” quality of the writer/director’s work.

The horror flick has sparked a lot of discussion for it’s crazy cult rituals and polarizing ending that is open to interpretation based on the viewers own perception on the subject matter. Between its blood and guts, “WTF-did-I-just-watch” storytelling and beautifully complex shots, Midsommar also contends with loss and relationship turmoil.

Have you seen Midsommar? It’s still in theaters to traumatize audiences!

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.