Don’t Leave A Stranger: Nicole Riegel and Jessica Barden on Holler | Interviews

Though internal, Ruth is a very passionate character, and I wanted to mark her with a color no one else had. In the film, you have Ruth’s mom and [her former co-worker] Linda, [played by Becky Ann Baker], who wear darker shades of her color; we dressed them in burgundies and really dark pinks. No one has red, but we kept the matriarchs in the same color palette to unite the “Holler” women, and we gave her brother the blue. There’s a beautiful transference of color that happens at the end of the film, but you could really watch “Holler” just tracking color. There’s a whole story told. It’s also red, white, and blue, which represents America. That was a piece of it. But red was so important to the leading lady and became her signature. We only let other things be red if there was a relationship between Ruth and that thing, like the truck, for instance. 

Scrap yards can be extremely dangerous. How did you go about achieving the level of documentary realism “Holler” has while ensuring everyone’s safety?

JB: I never felt unsafe, but I just trusted Nicole. I’ll let Nicole answer this, but we did a crash course there, so we were skilled scrappers by the end of it. I trusted Nicole wasn’t going to kill me, probably.

NR: I was actually going to pass it over to Jess, because the entire time I had such anxiety about her getting hurt. No one will ever know the anxiety I felt. She could not get hurt. And in one scene, you can see all these sparks flying, right at her eyes and over her head. Filming that scene, Jess was one of those actors who’s not afraid of the tools she’s using. 

JB: I was afraid of the sparks, but you said I wasn’t going to be set on fire, so I just got on with it.

NR: I said it wasn’t going to happen. I didn’t say it couldn’t happen. [Both laugh.] The whole time, I was watching the scene, five feet away, praying, “Please, God, please don’t let her hair set on fire.” What a terrible director I’d have been.

“Holler” features Phoebe Bridgers’ “Scott Street” at a pivotal moment, with those lyrics, “Anyway, don’t leave a stranger/Don’t be a stranger.” How did you settle on that song?

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