‘Freaky’ Star Misha Osherovich on Gay Representation in Horror Films: ‘It’s an Incredibly Queer Space’
Misha Osherovich’s character, Josh, in Blumhouse’s “Freaky” (in theaters and on VOD Nov. 13) is more than just the gay sidekick. “Yes, he’s a gay best friend, but he’s also a commentary on a gay best friend,” says the actor and activist, who uses “they/them” pronouns, and has been seen in “The Goldfinch” and AMC’s “NOS4A2.”
In “Freaky,” a high school girl (Kathryn Newton) magically swaps bodies with a serial killer (Vince Vaughn). Osherovich’s visible role in a studio movie is empowering to the queer community, they say. Ahead of the release of the film, Osherovich talked over Zoom about coming out as nonbinary in quarantine and working with Vaughn.
What was your relationship with horror before “Freaky”?
I watched horror growing up. I love psychological horror, or downright sexy stuff. “Jennifer’s Body” is easily my favorite horror movie. But I mostly learned about horror through doing this. I’ve been talking to horror queers about what it means to have queer representation in horror, and I’ve learned so much that I’m geeking out about it.
Horror is so queer, canonically.
In horror you often see that trope of the person of color maybe dying first, the queer person maybe dies first, or they get shoved to the side. I’m learning that horror is an incredibly queer space. Vampire films and zombie films are like these queer powerhouse avatars. I feel like horror can really empower queers, but it’s also interesting to comment on the old tropes of the gay kid dying first.
When did you come out as nonbinary?
That was recently. That was actually over quarantine. I have been on my little queer journey for a bit now. I grew up in a really conservative household, and my parents are from Russia. So already the gay thing was a big to-do. My family had a big falling out over it, and it only recently got back to normalcy. Nonbinary was around March. Quarantine gives you time to think, and I was just weighing what my queerness has been like so far, and I said it out loud to myself in my apartment: “I think I’m nonbinary.” A weight lifted off my chest and shoulders. I was never allowed to be feminine or paint my nails when I was younger, so to be able to say it out loud and put it on social media and tell my friends felt so good. I move through the world easier now. My pronouns are “they/them.” I’m nonbinary. This is exactly who I want to be.
What was it like working with Vince Vaughn?
He’s a character and he’s also, how do I put this — intensely playful? He gets to set, and he makes sure you know that we are going to do all kinds of versions of this scene. He’s going to ad-lib; he’s going to improv; he’s going to ask you to do things that are kind of weird and out of the box. And lo and behold, of course it gets the best performances out of everybody. He was really game to work with younger actors, and it wasn’t like an annoying mentorship. It was a lesson in being a professional comedian.