In the new science fiction-action film Upgrade (out June 1), Logan Marshall-Green plays the victim of a vicious attack which leaves him paralyzed and his wife dead. Then, a revolutionary computer chip allows his character to not only walk but seek to vengeance against the people who ruined his life.
The film costars Betty Gabriel, who was unforgettable as the housekeeper Georgina in Jordan Peele’s Oscar-winning horror movie Get Out and whose credits also include The Purge: Election Year, Beyond Skyline, Westworld, and the next season of the JK Simmons-starring Starz show, Counterpoint.
“I play a down-to-earth detective who cares about justice, who cares about people,” says Gabriel of her role in Upgrade. “When I saw it, I was like, ‘Oh, wow, I’m really cool!’ But I’ve also played — what did I play a cop in? Oh, yes [laughs], my four lines in Beyond Skyline. So I’ve done a lot of research, actually, and a lot of interviews of police. I try to do real-world exploration.”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You’re also in the horror sequel Unfriended: Dark Web [in theaters July 20], where the action plays out on a computer screen. What was that experience like?
BETTY GABRIEL: I’m one of the young people that are hanging out, playing some sort of game via Skype. We rehearsed for a week, and then we just did our thing, so it was actually quite freeing. Sometimes TV and film work can be so technical. Here it was just, “Go!”
Before becoming a full-time actor, you had an encounter with your future Get Out director, Jordan Peele…
I was working in restaurants, I was doing sushi delivery — after graduating from Juilliard, which was pretty humbling. But not everyone comes out of Juilliard and is immediately Viola Davis. Not even Viola Davis was immediately Viola Davis after Juilliard.
Did he give you a good tip?
He did tip me well, but I didn’t leave thinking, “Oh, he’s a good tipper.” I left thinking, “Oh my God, that’s Jordan f—ing Peele!”
You’ve made a lot of films with Blumhouse, which is best known for its horror output, and I’ve seen you referred to as a scream queen. How do you feel about the term?
I never scream. I’ve, like, screamed in one movie. [But] I find it cool to be a genre person. We don’t see people of color as prominent representations in horror. We know The Stepford Wives, we know The Addams Family, The Shining, and they’re always white. I think it’s cool to be branded into people’s mind and scare them in their sleep — and be a black woman.
Exclusively watch an expletive-featuring clip from Upgrade with Gabriel, above.