In director Mark Mylod’s The Menu, audiences are seated among a stellar ensemble cast at one of the most elite restaurants on the planet. Chef Slowik (Ralph Fiennes) has prepared a lavish menu for a group of distinguished guests, but as the night goes on there is more than meets the eyes. Each attendee, like a good dish, become more complex as secrets are exposed as the dining experience gets turned on its head.
One name on the guest list is Aimee Carrero playing Felicity, the assistant to a movie star (John Leguizamo), who is ready to make some career moves. I sat with Carrero to discuss working with that ensemble, her character, favorite dishes to prep and more. She also provided some behind-the-scene insights into what went into cooking up her character.
Having The Menu set in one room with the full cast present throughout add some challenges to the shoot. In order to keep the room lively and add more flavor to the characters, Mylod took innovative approaches with the cast. Carrero explained, “Mark Mylod sat us down, every table separately, and we talked about backstory – obviously things that the audience would never know. But it’s very helpful for the actors to sort of play at so he was really specific on having a little secrets between the table just to make it more authentic.”
Carrero also elaborated on the opportunity the cast had to expand on the characters building off of screenwriters Seth Reiss and Will Tracy‘s screenplay. “We had a lot of improv and this was just a delight because some sets are friendlier to improv than others. This one was very, very collaborative and very creative and our writers and mark my letter director, they really encouraged that,” revealed Carrero. Once we had the script version locked in and we got those takes Mark would then come out and say, “okay, freebie,” and then and then John (Leguizamo) and I would do like 10 minute takes. We would just go on and on. And it’s just impossible not to when you’re sitting across from like a master improvisor.”
Based on Carerro’s praises, her time on the film was a very positive experience, something which shines through on the film. She elaborated on how special experience was for her, “I wish I could throw John under the bus and be like, ‘he was a diva.’ But, he was lovely. And so was everybody else. It actually felt like the best summer camp experience you could hope for. She continued, “I just I think back on that time now and I’m on other sets and I’m like, “Man, that was such a pleasure and such a privilege.” I won’t know when I’ll have it again. But that’s what happens when all of it’s like lightning in a bottle. Like everything goes right. The script is great, so it attracts like people like Ralph Fiennes and it attracts directors like Mark Mylod.”
Watch the full interview below and hear one of Carrero’s favorite improv moments that made the film’s final cut. Be warned, the video interview contains some mild spoilers.
The Menu is now playing exclusively in theaters.