Home » Jodie Turner-Smith Talks Murder Mystery 2 & Joining the Star Wars Universe – Exclusive Interview

Jodie Turner-Smith Talks Murder Mystery 2 & Joining the Star Wars Universe – Exclusive Interview

by Ferdosa
Jodie Turner-Smith as Countess Sekou and Zurin Villanueva as Imani wear matching colorful dresses while drinking champagne on a private island in Hawaii in the comedy MURDER MYSTERY 2 on Netflix.

Upon its release in June 2019, Murder Mystery opened with a bang on Netflix. With nearly 30.9 million reported households engaging with the film, Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston’s shared star power broke records for Netflix at the time. Murder Mystery was Sandler’s most successful hit with the mega streamer, and would later extend his deal with Netflix and his production company Happy Madison Productions for more movies, including Hubie Halloween and Hustle. Enter Murder Mystery 2.

Murder Mystery 2 follows married couple Nick (Sandler) and Audrey Spitz (Aniston) as the two set up shop as fully-fledged private investigators. Audrey is studious, devouring novels and textbooks to hone her skills, while Nick is less than enthused by the whole endeavor. They have remained in touch with Maharaja (Adeel Akhtar) from their previous adventure, as he’s now invited them to his extravagant wedding on a private island in Hawaii. The destination wedding throws them in the middle of a lavish and dangerous lion’s den, with a new cast of characters and some familiar faces with a killer amongst them. When a murder evidently falls onto Nick and Audrey’s laps, the couple must act quickly to save a friend and avoid capture when they are accused of being the killers yet again.

Joining Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston for Murder Mystery 2 are Mélanie Laurent, Enrique Arce, Zurin Villanueva, Kuhoo Verma, and the always-stylish Jodie Turner-Smith. After her breakout performance in Melina Matsoukas’ feature debut, Queen & Slim, Turner-Smith has been one to look out for. Since Queen & Slim, Turner-Smith has made a splash in Koganda’s After Yang. She more recently became a style icon while promoting Noah Baumbach’s absurdist drama White Noise, which she also starred in. Turner-Smith played the titular Anne Boylen in the psychological thriller Channel 5 miniseries following the cursed Queen months before her beheading. Her performance was widely praised and showcased her ability to adapt to any genre she sets her sights on.

Next, we will see Jodie Turner-Smith in a galaxy far, far away within Leysle Headland’s new Disney+ original series from Lucasfilm, The Acolyte, and season 4 of Netlix’s hit teen comedy series Sex Education. But before we see her flex her acting skills in these highly anticipated shows, Turner-Smith tries her hand at comedy in Murder Mystery 2 on Netflix. Jodie Turner-Smith plays Countess Sekou, the Maharajah’s former fiancé, who is more than just a fashionable kilted ex-lover. We got the chance to sit down with Jodie Turner-Smith for an exclusive interview to break down not only her comedic feats in Murder Mystery 2 but what’s coming down the line on Netflix and in the Star Wars universe… and her endless love for Sex Education star Ncuti Gatwa.

Exclusive Interview with Jodie Turner-Smith for Murder Mystery 2 on Netflix

In Murder Mystery 2, you look amazing as you do right now and since you’re a fashion icon, that’s hardly surprising. So what was the process like working with the costume department for Murder Mystery 2 to develop the luck for the Countess?

Jodie Turner-Smith: First of all, thank you for those amazing compliments. I honestly didn’t have to do loads, she [costume designer Debra McGuire] already came in with such amazing stuff, and I was just like, “Okay, yes, yes.” I love that it’s a collaboration and that people are always open to me suggesting, what about this or what about that? But this time, Debra came in with some great ideas off the top.

My one little piece of input was that I really felt the Countess would have changed outfits in between the Sangeet and going into Nick and Audrey’s room to say who she thought the murderer was. I just felt like she would have had a look change. Everyone else would go to their room and then go to Nick and Audrey’s room, but the Countess would have gone to her room, changed hair, changed looks, and then run over there!

You can’t be wearing the same outfit for too long.

Jodie Turner-Smith: Never, ever, ever, ever be basic!

Jodie Turner-Smith as Countess Sekou and Zurin Villanueva as Imani wear matching orange dresses during an Indian wedding Sangeet ceremony in the comedy MURDER MYSTERY 2 on Netflix.
Jodie Turner-Smith & Zurin Villanueva in ‘Murder Mystery 2’ courtesy of Netflix

I will take that to heart, trust me. So what was it about the Countess in particular that drew you to the Netflix sequel?

Jodie Turner-Smith: “This seems like an opportunity to have a lot of fun.” That’s what my gut told me, and my instincts were right. Also, when Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston – two iconic actors, comedic heavyweights, and movie stars – want you to be in their movie, it’s kind of like a no-brainer. I was like, “Yeah, absolutely.” They want me to do this, yes! You know, I felt like no one had really seen me in this light. I was also interested in [Murder Mystery 2] for that reason. It just felt like it was going to be an amazing opportunity to learn something new, to grow, and to flex a muscle that I hadn’t really flexed before. I think I got all of those things in, and then the locations were insane, Hawaii and Paris!

It’s a famous saying that Adam Sandler’s films are like, basically, these amazing vacations for his family, friends, and crew. If I was a megastar, I would do that all the time.

Jodie Turner-Smith: Adam Sandler knows how to make a film. He knows how to live, and yes, that’s how it felt for me. And you get the sense that that is the case. You can see that this was the crew that he’s been working with, that they’ve all been working together over the years. Everyone feels like it’s a much tighter-knit environment that’s really loving and kind, which is really nice on a movie set.

Speaking of, Murder Mystery 2 was an opportunity for you to flex some new muscles. I was taking a look at your slate of projects in the past couple of years, and you never really do the same thing twice. It’s always in different genres too. What is it about these roles that kind of pull you in as an actor? What is the challenge you’re always seeking?

Jodie Turner-Smith: I think that, who I am, evolves and changes. Choosing a project in one moment, sometimes it’s just so much about who I am at that particular moment. For example, when I chose to do Without Remorse, I was newly pregnant and was having this insane thought, “Let me just do this.” I think a part of me wanted to really challenge myself in a way that’s absolutely absurd in hindsight, and prove myself in some way by doing this really difficult thing right before I had a baby. Queen and Slim, that was something where it’s like, I read the script and fell so deeply in love with this character. I felt so attached. I mean, I literally cried after every single audition I had for that movie – because I wanted it so badly and I felt so connected to it. I couldn’t live without doing that.

All of this is to say, it constantly changes. It’s also always about who’s involved that makes me choose something. But I too have this idea in my head that I kind of want to do all there is to do, or whatever it feels like it’s resonating with me deeply at that moment. I learned from each experience: “Okay, that worked or that didn’t work – I enjoyed that or I didn’t enjoy that.” Or, you know, this made me feel better about being an actor or worse. You live and you learn. At the end of the day, I think that there is so much dimensionality inside of me, so it’s impossible to do the same thing over and over again. Because I’m not even the same from one moment to the next. 

So in terms of the projects that you gravitated towards because of what you’re feeling at the moment, what was the thing that made you say yes to things like Sex Education Season 4, or even the new Star Wars series, The Acolyte? What is it about those projects that really make you go, “yes, I have to do that!”

Jodie Turner-Smith: For both of those projects, it was about who was doing it. I’ll talk about The Acolyte first because that came to me first. Right after I did Queen & Slim, I did a little movie called After Yang, which not a lot of people saw but was an incredible film. It was directed by an incredible man Kogonada, who is so talented and such an amazing filmmaker. I’m so grateful that I had the chance to work with him. One day, he phoned me and said, “Hey, I’ve been speaking to them about this Star Wars project, and your name came up to do it. Has anybody called you about this? Because if you’re going to do it, then that gives me more reason to say yes.”

I was just like, “Say no more! You’re directing?!” He told me what [The Acolyte] was about, and I was like, “You’re directing something in this world… and you want me to star? Yes!” You know, I trust him so implicitly. I respect him so deeply, I will follow him into any fire. So before I even really knew too much, that was a yes for me. Then I found out that Leslye Headland was the person who was executive producing, and she is incredible and talented. She has taken so much care with that project. It was just a dream to do it. I find that when you’re in the hands of an incredible director, honestly, you can do anything. And that’s how I feel when I work with Kogonada.

Then for Sex Education, I’ve long been a huge fan of that show, and especially of Ncuti (Gatwa) who plays Eric. I had the chance to meet up on a couple of occasions. On the last occasion when I met him, and when I say meet Ncuti, I mean accost Ncuti because I love him so much. I just want to give him his flowers every time. I’m like, “You’re amazing. I love you. Keep going. You’re so incredible.” So the last time I had this encounter with him, bless his heart, we ended up exchanging numbers. I was in London, getting ready to start The Acolyte. He wrote me and asked me to come onto Sex Education, which at the time, no one knew, but now we all know that season 4 will be his final season. I said, “Absolutely.”

I have so much respect and love for him as an actor, and for him to ask me to come on… I called my team and said, “I don’t know when these producers are going to make this offer, but I don’t care what they’re paying – I want to do it.” And because I knew that most of my scenes were going to be with him, it was just an absolute no-brainer. I think the world of him as an actor, and as I suspected, it was an absolutely incredible experience to work with him. I can’t wait to do something else with him. He’s so talented. He’s so talented. I mean, just effortlessly. It’s just he is walking truth in all of his characters, and I was just honored to get to come and play.

Murder Mystery 2 premieres on Netflix March 31!

Follow writer Ferdosa on Twitter: @atomicwick

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