Exclusive Interview: Pat Healy & Ethan Embry on Cheap Thrills

It was almost a year ago that Cheap Thrills premiered at South by Southwest and rocked the buzz in Austin. Drafthouse Films picked it up and we reviewed it at Fantastic Fest, where we also interviewed the cast. Now you’ll finally have a chance to see Cheap Thrills at home when it premieres on VOD services February 21. Pat Healy and Ethan Embry play two friends invited to play a game with a wealthy couple (David Koechner and Sara Paxton) in which they each compete to accept escalating dares for money. Of course, the actual dares themselves are part of the film’s cheap thrills, so Healy in particular was expert at describing his role without specifying any of the things he actually does in the movie.


CraveOnline: Over how many nights did you shoot Cheap Thrills?

Pat Healy: It was a 14 day shoot but three of those days are outside of the house so basically, the core of the movie inside the house is 11 days, overnights, usually with a couple splits, so starting in the afternoon and going ‘til the middle of the night. Really very, very short period of time. The minimum on other low budget movies that I’ve done is 17, 18 days. This was a 13, 14 day shoot. Just nonstop, no time to really mess around. So that made it intense. It was intense to begin with but that made it doubly intense. Plus it was in the middle of a heat wave last September so it was 100 degrees outside. We were in a house with no air conditioning so it was about 120 degrees in that space.


Were takes ruined with sweat?

Pat Healy: That whole thing, I don’t want to ruin it, the big moment in the movie where something happens and it’s crazy and the aftermath of that, somebody lost it and we had to do it again two days later. It was the most difficult and most rewarding piece of acting I’ve ever done, but it got me to the scene which is after that, which is the quiet scene between the two of us that is my favorite thing in the movie. It was gone. My heart shattered and it was gone.


I just meant with continuity, if you start sweating in one take but not in the next ,it would be a mess.

Pat Healy: Well, A, those people, the makeup and wardrobe people on this movie were fucking top notch, like great, on it all the time. We knew that on a movie like this, you’ve got to just know everything that you’re doing and chart everywhere you’re going to be. So we always knew, “Oh, I had sweat here.” They were great with that, the script supervisor was great with that, the makeup and wardrobe people were great with that, the art department was great with that but we always had to know. Luckily we mostly shot it in sequence so it was easy to chart that but I know that I was always being sprayed with glycerine and water, I was always being sweated up.


With 11 or 14 days was there a lot to memorize for each day?

Ethan Embry: For me, it’s kind of like a muscle in a way. Words, memorizing words, once you’ve been flexing that muscle for a long time, then no matter how much you work it up, it doesn’t get sore. I say it out loud once and I’ve got it.

Pat Healy: Sometimes we could run things together, but actors don’t know how to answer that question because it is a thing like, “How do you know how to get to work every day?” You just do.


I guess people ask me how I sit down and write a review, and it’s not even a question for me.

Pat Healy: Correct, you don’t think about it. It was more just a question of making sure you had the stamina and the energy to do it. I know for me I had to be very healthy in what I ate and exercising and drinking a lot of water and not drinking alcohol and making sure I got eight hours of sleep no matter what every night because it was physically taxing as well as emotionally taxing. So those were the things that for me were more important. then I knew I’d be able to know the lines.