Exclusive Interview: Jodie Turner-Smith Discusses Murder Mystery 2 and Joining the Star Wars Universe

Jodie Turner Smith

Jodie Turner-Smith Discusses Murder Mystery 2 and Joining the Star Wars Universe.

Murder Mystery premiered on Netflix in June 2019 with a bang. Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston’s combined star power broke Netflix records at the time, with nearly 30.9 million reported households watching the film. Sandler’s most successful Netflix hit was Murder Mystery, and he later extended his deal with Netflix and his production company Happy Madison Productions for more films, including Hubie Halloween and Hustle. Murder Mystery 2 has arrived.

Murder Mystery 2 follows married couple Nick (Sandler) and Audrey Spitz (Aniston) as they start their own private investigation firm. Audrey is a hard worker, devouring novels and textbooks to hone her skills, whereas Nick is less than enthusiastic about the whole thing. They’ve kept in touch with Maharaja (Adeel Akhtar) from their previous adventure, and he’s now invited them to his lavish wedding on a private Hawaiian island. The destination wedding places them in the middle of a lavish and dangerous lion’s den, complete with a new cast of characters and some familiar faces, including a murderer. When a murder clearly falls into Nick and Audrey’s laps, the couple must act quickly to save a friend and avoid capture when they are accused of being the murderers for the third time.

Mélanie Laurent, Enrique Arce, Zurin Villanueva, Kuhoo Verma, and the always-stylish Jodie Turner-Smith join Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston in Murder Mystery 2. Turner-Smith has been a rising star since her breakout performance in Melina Matsoukas’ feature debut, Queen & Slim. Turner-Smith has made a name for himself in Koganda’s After Yang since Queen & Slim. She became a style icon more recently while promoting Noah Baumbach’s absurdist drama White Noise, in which she also starred. Turner-Smith portrayed the titular Anne Boylen in the Channel 5 psychological thriller miniseries that followed the cursed Queen months before her beheading. Her performance was widely praised and demonstrated her ability to adapt to any genre she chooses.

Exclusive Interview with Jodie Turner-Smith for Netflix’s Murder Mystery 2
In Murder Mystery 2, you look fantastic right now, which is unsurprising given your status as a fashion icon. So, how was it like working with the costume department on the Countess’ luck for Murder Mystery 2?

Turner-Smith, Jodie: First and foremost, thank you for your wonderful compliments. I honestly didn’t have to do much because she [costume designer Debra McGuire] already had such amazing stuff and I was just like, “Okay, yes, yes.” I like that it’s a collaborative effort and that people are always open to my suggestions, such as “what about this or what about that?” But this time, Debra came in with some brilliant ideas on the spur of the moment.

My one thought was that the Countess would have changed outfits between the Sangeet and going into Nick and Audrey’s room to reveal who she thought the murderer was. I just had a feeling she’d change her expression. Everyone else would go to their room and then to Nick and Audrey’s room, but the Countess would go to her room, change her hair, change her appearance, and then run over there!

You can’t be wearing the same outfit for too long.

Jodie Turner-Smith: Never, ever, ever, ever be basic!

Jodie Turner Smith and Zurin Villanueva in Murder Mystery 2 courtesy of Netflix
Jodie Turner Smith and Zurin Villanueva in Murder Mystery 2 courtesy of Netflix

Trust me, I’ll remember that. So, what drew you to the Netflix sequel in particular, the Countess?

“This appears to be an opportunity to have a lot of fun,” says Jodie Turner-Smith. That’s what my instincts told me, and they were correct. Also, it’s a no-brainer when Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston – two iconic actors, comedic heavyweights, and movie stars – want you to be in their film. “Yes, absolutely,” I said. Yes, they want me to do it! I felt like no one had ever seen me in this light. For the same reason, I was intrigued by [Murder Mystery 2]. It just seemed like an amazing opportunity to learn something new, grow, and flex a muscle I hadn’t really flexed before. I think I got all of those things in, and then there were the locations, Hawaii and Paris!

It’s a famous saying that Adam Sandler’s films are like, basically, these amazing vacations for his family, friends, and crew. If I was a megastar, I would do that all the time.

Jodie Turner-Smith: Adam Sandler knows how to make a film. He knows how to live, and yes, that’s how it felt for me. And you get the sense that that is the case. You can see that this was the crew that he’s been working with, that they’ve all been working together over the years. Everyone feels like it’s a much tighter-knit environment that’s really loving and kind, which is really nice on a movie set.

Speaking of, Murder Mystery 2 was an opportunity for you to flex some new muscles. I was taking a look at your slate of projects in the past couple of years, and you never really do the same thing twice. It’s always in different genres too. What is it about these roles that kind of pull you in as an actor? What is the challenge you’re always seeking?

Jodie Turner-Smith: I think that, who I am, evolves and changes. Choosing a project in one moment, sometimes it’s just so much about who I am at that particular moment. For example, when I chose to do Without Remorse, I was newly pregnant and was having this insane thought, “Let me just do this.” I think a part of me wanted to really challenge myself in a way that’s absolutely absurd in hindsight, and prove myself in some way by doing this really difficult thing right before I had a baby. Queen and Slim, that was something where it’s like, I read the script and fell so deeply in love with this character. I felt so attached. I mean, I literally cried after every single audition I had for that movie – because I wanted it so badly and I felt so connected to it. I couldn’t live without doing that.

All of this is to say, it constantly changes. It’s also always about who’s involved that makes me choose something. But I too have this idea in my head that I kind of want to do all there is to do, or whatever it feels like it’s resonating with me deeply at that moment. I learned from each experience: “Okay, that worked or that didn’t work – I enjoyed that or I didn’t enjoy that.” Or, you know, this made me feel better about being an actor or worse. You live and you learn. At the end of the day, I think that there is so much dimensionality inside of me, so it’s impossible to do the same thing over and over again. Because I’m not even the same from one moment to the next. 

So in terms of the projects that you gravitated towards because of what you’re feeling at the moment, what was the thing that made you say yes to things like Sex Education Season 4, or even the new Star Wars series, The Acolyte? What is it about those projects that really make you go, “yes, I have to do that!”

Jodie Turner-Smith: For both of those projects, it was about who was doing it. I’ll talk about The Acolyte first because that came to me first. Right after I did Queen & Slim, I did a little movie called After Yang, which not a lot of people saw but was an incredible film. It was directed by an incredible man Kogonada, who is so talented and such an amazing filmmaker. I’m so grateful that I had the chance to work with him. One day, he phoned me and said, “Hey, I’ve been speaking to them about this Star Wars project, and your name came up to do it. Has anybody called you about this? Because if you’re going to do it, then that gives me more reason to say yes.”

I was just like, “Say no more! You’re directing?!” He told me what [The Acolyte] was about, and I was like, “You’re directing something in this world… and you want me to star? Yes!” You know, I trust him so implicitly. I respect him so deeply, I will follow him into any fire. So before I even really knew too much, that was a yes for me. Then I found out that Leslye Headland was the person who was executive producing, and she is incredible and talented. She has taken so much care with that project. It was just a dream to do it. I find that when you’re in the hands of an incredible director, honestly, you can do anything. And that’s how I feel when I work with Kogonada.

Then for Sex Education, I’ve long been a huge fan of that show, and especially of Ncuti (Gatwa) who plays Eric. I had the chance to meet up on a couple of occasions. On the last occasion when I met him, and when I say meet Ncuti, I mean accost Ncuti because I love him so much. I just want to give him his flowers every time. I’m like, “You’re amazing. I love you. Keep going. You’re so incredible.” So the last time I had this encounter with him, bless his heart, we ended up exchanging numbers. I was in London, getting ready to start The Acolyte. He wrote me and asked me to come onto Sex Education, which at the time, no one knew, but now we all know that season 4 will be his final season. I said, “Absolutely.”

I have so much respect and love for him as an actor, and for him to ask me to come on… I called my team and said, “I don’t know when these producers are going to make this offer, but I don’t care what they’re paying – I want to do it.” And because I knew that most of my scenes were going to be with him, it was just an absolute no-brainer. I think the world of him as an actor, and as I suspected, it was an absolutely incredible experience to work with him. I can’t wait to do something else with him. He’s so talented. He’s so talented. I mean, just effortlessly. It’s just he is walking truth in all of his characters, and I was just honored to get to come and play.

Murder Mystery 2 premieres on Netflix March 31!

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