The Midnight Club gives rising horror star Igby Rigney more to chew on
Igby Rigney has finally joined the Stephen King bandwagon. The 22-year-old actor is racing through the Dark Tower series at the moment and has made it to the last entry, The Wind Through the Keyhole. Audiobooks are just about all that gets him through the bumper-to-bumper life of a Los Angeles commuter — a new experience for the trouper who's used to riding Metro North trains from his home in Westchester, N.Y. to Manhattan for auditions.
"I had no idea when I started this whole journey it would get to where it got," Rigney says of the Dark Tower saga. "I love the driving because I get to finish my books so much quicker, but that's really the only upside of being stuck in traffic for hours at a time."
He has Mike Flanagan, who cast Rigney as the young Warren Flynn, one of the only characters to survive the terrors of the 2021 Netflix miniseries Midnight Mass, to thank for his King appreciation. The filmmaker has adapted some of the author's work for the screen in the past (Doctor Sleep, Gerald's Game) and regularly turns to the horror maestro for inspiration. Flanagan's relationship with Rigney has since extended to this year's new Netflix series The Midnight Club, which gives the actor a more starring role, and the impending The Fall of the House of Usher, in which Rigney tackles the works of Edgar Allen Poe in a new setting. Their own book club, which includes actress Kate Siegel, Flanagan's wife and muse, is flourishing. "He talks about Stephen King all the time," Rigney remarks of Flanagan. "I just decided to go all in and now I'm obsessed."
Rigney has been reading a lot these days. He's just coming out of the lifestyle of a vagabond actor. While working toward a professional studies degree in film history and psychology at New York's Pace University, he was regularly flying around the country for various jobs, such as the role of Chance in 2020's Joe Bell opposite Mark Wahlberg and as young Jesse in 2021's F9: The Fast Saga. Rigney has since settled in one place, a still bare-bones LA apartment with no wall decor to be seen from his Zoom screen. He's hoping to make this new setting work, at least for a little bit. As he says, "I just think it's definitely something an actor should experience at some point: living in LA." With the release of The Midnight Club around the corner on Oct. 7, it feels like the right time to do it.
Flanagan has enjoyed a career in remixing literary works to create fresh modern adaptations. Such was the case with the Shirley Jackson inspiration for The Haunting of Hill House and the Henry James source material at the base of The Haunting of Bly Manor. The same goes for The Midnight Club, which takes elements from the works of Christopher Pike.
Rigney stars as Kevin, one of the terminally ill teen residents of Brightcliffe Hospice. It's a role that plays up Rigney's own boy-next-door quality. Kevin used to be a popular track athlete in high school, while Rigney had his own friend group in Westchester playing covers of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones on guitar in his teacher's band. Once Kevin is diagnosed with his terminal illness, he starts to lose those relationships and his physical prowess. He finds new friendships at Brightcliffe, especially with its newest addition, Ilonka (#blackAF star Iman Benson), to whom he feels cosmically drawn. But of course, since this is a Flanagan series, supernatural happenings are going on.
Eight of the kids — including Ruth Codd's Anya, Chris Sumpter's Spencer, Aya Furukawa's Natsuki, Annarah Cymone's Sandra, Sauriyan Sapkota's Amesh, and Adia's Cheri — form what they call the Midnight Club. Every night at the stroke of midnight, they sneak into the Brightcliffe library and tell one another scary stories — each one dramatized as vignettes based on one of Pike's books. As the kids face the reality of their own deaths, they search for evidence of life beyond the mortal plane. They make a pact that if they should die, they will somehow give a sign to the others from the afterlife. That's when their ghost stories start to feel more real as the mysterious history of Brightcliffe comes to light.
"In The Midnight Club, Igby is playing to strengths I knew he possessed for a lot of the time — his character, Kevin, is earnest, thoughtful, and has to tap into wisdom that is beyond his years as he deals with his terminal diagnosis," Flanagan writes to EW in an email. "But he also stars in a separate story, based on Pike's novel The Wicked Heart. Kevin tells this story to the rest of the club over the course of the season, and we get to watch it all play out. It involves Igby as a teenage serial killer, and I was delighted to see how well he tapped into that darkness. It's playing drastically against type, for sure, but he's a strong performer and it showed us all a side of his charisma we hadn't seen yet."
Rigney is still trying to find that confidence others, like Flanagan, see in him. Whenever he feels excitement over an audition, he believes he somehow messed it up. That's how he felt when Midnight Mass came around. (Obviously, he was wrong.) He got to meet with Flanagan and his producing partner, Trevor Macy. Before long, he was in Vancouver shooting the show in 2020. The city would also be home to the set of The Midnight Club.
"I remember watching Igby's audition for Midnight Mass and thinking, 'This kid could be a star,'" Flanagan writes. "He was vulnerable, honest, and authentic, and I recall being struck by how effortless it seemed. There's an ease to how he approaches his work, and his life, that is very rare. He's one of the most earnest actors I've ever worked with. I knew about two weeks into Midnight Mass that we'd want to work with Igby again, and it was a no-brainer to plug him in as Kevin in The Midnight Club. I think Igby is bound for great things, and I'm grateful to have been a stop along his path. I hope to work with him many more times."
Rigney says he was "incredibly grateful" when Flanagan approached him toward the end of filming Midnight Mass with his next job already planned out. "It's scary to not have something coming up," he remarks. He had the added benefit of much of the cast and crew from Midnight Mass, people he had already bonded with, returning for The Midnight Club.
After playing Riley, the older brother of Rigney's Warren in Midnight Mass, Zach Gilford now becomes Mark, a nurse practitioner managing the kids' daily treatments at Brightcliffe. Samantha Sloyan, having played the twisted church official Bev Keane, now plays Shasta, a neighbor of Brightcliffe who runs her own naturopathic company using healing ingredients found in the area. Cymone, who played Rigney's on-screen love interest in Midnight Mass, appears in The Midnight Club as one of the Brightcliffe kids who uses her religious faith to deal with her diagnosis. Rahul Kohli, whom Rigney secretly fawned over as an iZombie fan, also returns for the new series with Matt Biedel.
"I thought it was really cool to see a community of young people come together in such a creative way while going through the terrible experience of being terminally ill," Rigney says. "The Midnight Club really explores how they have a support system and are able to share some of their deeper fears and anxieties in a way that's playful and fun, but also gives everybody in the group a chance to process what every individual is going through. This is Mike's first time, I think, doing something centered toward young adults, so you can feel that aspect in the show. It had almost more pop, I think would be a good way to say that, where Midnight Mass was very introspective and very dark. Not that Midnight Club isn't introspective and dark, but there's also the moments where you realize they're just kids trying to do their best."
He also appreciates the mystery of the show's concept. Just like in Hill House, where it wasn't clear who was or wasn't a ghost, Rigney says, "There are definitely moments [in The Midnight Club] to pay attention to where it is a little ambiguous and you never really know what's a sign and maybe what's not a sign."
Rigney tries to take lessons with him with every production. With Midnight Mass, he learned about the importance of creating a community on set with other actors. One bonding experience he remembers was huddling around an electric heater with his costars while filming night scenes in Vancouver during the winter. With The Midnight Club, he learned tricks about hitting his marks from Heather Langenkemp, the A Nightmare on Elm Street horror legend who plays Dr. Georgina Stanton. "She would walk backward from her mark to wherever she was starting," Rigney recalls. "That way it was already in her head exactly how many steps she was gonna take." With The Fall of the House of Usher, which wrapped filming in July, Rigney says it's "a thousand-degree turn" from the work he's done so far.
"It's still very much a Flanagan project," he says of the Poe-inspired series. "I think all of the things that have brought fans to him are very present in House of Usher. But similar to Midnight Club, he's combining a whole lot of stories by the same author into one collective narrative. It's a little different. I think he was experimenting with a new idea, and I think it's gonna be really exciting when everybody sees it."
When Rigney was younger, he had what he calls "the Black Bible," a hardcover collection of all of Poe's stories. That marks another entry in his book club with Flanagan. "I might have badgered him a little bit, being like, 'Anything! Please! I just wanna be a part of this,'" he says of the TV adaptation. Whether he truly believes it himself, Rigney doesn't have to do so much badgering to find his next meaty role.
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