10 Cloverfield Lane

Monsters come in many forms.

Mary as: Michelle
Genre: Drama | Horror
Director: Dan Trachtenberg
Other Cast: John Goodman, John Gallagher Jr., Suzanne Cryer, Bradley Cooper
Release Date: March 11, 2016
Production Budget:
Total Worldwide Gross: $108.2m
Filming Locations: New Orleans, Louisiana

After a catastrophic car crash, a young woman wakes up in a survivalist’s underground bunker. He claims to have saved her from an apocalyptic attack that has left the outside world uninhabitable. His theories are supported by a mysterious stranger who is in the bunker with them, but as his increasingly suspicious actions lead her to question his motives, she’ll have to escape in order to discover the truth.

Production Info

Mary Elizabeth Winstead was the first and only choice for the lead role of Michelle.

Even cast members weren’t told the title of the movie during production, in order to preserve the secret for as long as possible.

The film’s life began as a script called The Cellar (which had nothing to do with the Cloverfield universe, and was at one time also known as Valencia). The script was acquired by J.J. Abrams’ production company Bad Robot and adapted to become 10 Cloverfield Lane.

The name of the gas station Michelle stops at to refuel is named Kelvin. This is an Easter Egg J.J. Abrams slips into all his projects, a tribute to his maternal grandfather Henry Kelvin who owned an electronics company and influenced Abrams as a boy.

The slushie brand Slusho from Cloverfield also appears in the window of a convenience store in this film.

All of the visual effects were done in-house at Kelvin Optics at Bad Robot studios.

Michelle drives a VW Bora in this film which is almost identical to the car she drives in Final Destination 3.

Character Quotes

  • Please don’t hurt me. Please. Just let me go, okay? I won’t tell anybody. I promise, okay? Please just let me go. Please.

    Howard abducted me. He drove me off the road and he dragged me here. So, whatever he’s telling you about the air, some big attack, the purpose of this shelter, is a lie.

    You asked earlier about regrets? Yeah, I’ve got some of those.

    A few years ago, I was at a hardware store. And there was this little girl with her dad. And he was in a hurry, and she wasn’t keeping up. So, he kept yanking on her arm. But really hard, you know? Too hard. I know that feeling. When my dad got that way, my brother Colin was always there to take the worst of it for me. And I thought, you know, seeing this little girl, I thought maybe I could do that for her. But I just kept watching. And they’re about to leave, and I’ve done nothing. And she slips. And it throws him off balance, and he hits her. And I wanted so badly to do something to help her, but… I did what I always do when things get hard. I just panicked and ran.

    Michelle: What is this?
    Emmett: It’s a bunker. Your room’s a little bit of a fixerupper, but at least you got a door. A scary door, but you still got a door.
    Michelle: How long have you been down here?
    Emmett: Couple of days, I think. You know, it’s actually kind of hard to tell with no windows or sunlight or anything.
    Michelle: I mean, how do we get out of here?

    Howard: I want you to apologize. To tell me you’re going to behave.
    Michelle: I will.
    Howard: You will what?
    Michelle: I’ll behave. And I’m so sorry.

    Howard: Have a drink.
    Michelle: What is it?
    Howard: Technically, it’s vodka. It’s sage. I distilled it myself. [Michelle takes a sip] I just said I distilled it, I didn’t say anything about it actually tasting good.
    Michelle: Yeah, that’s awful.

    Emmett: All right, let’s just think. Maybe we take away his gun. Tie him up, get him to confess to whatever it is he’s done.
    Michelle: Confess to who? The police?
    Emmett: Look, like I said, we can’t be the only survivors, right? The woman, she was able to get around, right? At least a little.
    Michelle: Yeah, until she died. Directly above us, making choking noises.

  • Quoting: Mary Elizabeth Winstead

    On her character’s predicament: She is tethered to the wall by a chain, and has this sort of horrible makeshift knee brace on, and has no idea where she is or how she got there. And so, as the movie goes on, it all kind of unfolds and you find out that there’s this man there who’s keeping her there, and saying that it’s for her own safety because there has been some sort of attack.

    On her character: You really see somebody going through this and reacting in a way that a normal person would. In a lot of these types of movies, I think we’ve seen, kind of, the cliché movie version of things. And I think Michelle is very level-headed and very human throughout the whole film.

    On the casting process: The casting came through my agents but it was a bit different. They called me, and they were like, “we don’t know anything about it, we are not allowed to read the script, nobody is allowed to read it.” It was this super-mysterious thing, they were just like, “someone is going to send you the script from Paramount and you are going to get this link and you are going to read it and as soon as you read it, it’s going to delete itself, so after reading it once you have to decide if you want to do this thing.” I read it and immediately loved it, but obviously wanted to meet with J.J. and Dan and talk about it. Once I met with them, I was completely on board.

    On her reaction to the script: When I was first reading the script, I honestly didn’t know where it was going from sequence to sequence. There were moments where you’re rooting for certain characters, and moments where you don’t like them, and you’re afraid of if they’re a villain or if they’re a hero. You really don’t know. And I thought that was really unexpected and interesting and exciting.

    On working with John Goodman: I grew up watching him and loving him, and the majority of his roles were lovable where you can’t help but love him and feel like he is part of your family. My mind and body were confused, they were like “no, you’re John Goodman! You’re the most lovable person in the world!” It took me a little time to adjust how that was going to feel, and seeing him as the character and not as John Goodman. He is so brilliant: he can go from being totally sweet, telling jokes, to having the most sinister, scary, terrifying voice that I’ve ever heard in my life. He can go from 0 to 60 like that, he is one of the actors that can do anything, I was very much in awe. I think it was such a brilliant choice of casting, it plays with the audience’s expectation, which is the point of the character. You still want to like him, although he’s doing things that seem strange and misguided. But there’s something that makes us think he’s trustworthy. He’s the perfect person to be able to vacillate between those things.

    On working with Dan Trachtenberg: When you are working with a first-time director, there is this unknown variable of how it’s going to turn out. When I met with Dan [Trachtenberg], especially once we started shooting, I could see he was so sure and in the mind of the character, which made it such an incredible collaboration, and I was so happy he let me in on the process and I felt we were going through the journey of Michelle together.

    Quoting: Cast and Crew

    Producer Lindsey Weber: Mary has been incredible to watch. And she’s so expressive, and there’s so much going on behind her eyes. And she’s so physical and fun to watch in these moments.

    Producer Lindsey Weber: The role’s very quiet. The character actually doesn’t speak that much in the movie. So, her performance has to be so subtle, and she has to convey so much with just her body and her face. And what’s going on inside her head.

    Producer J.J. Abrams: Mary plays this character with an amazing strength. Even when she’s terrified. Even when she is perplexed as to what move to make. And the beauty of that is, I think along the way, the audience is with her, every step.

    Critical Response

    Bill Zwecker, Chicago Sun-Times: This is a terrific movie that will keep audiences gripping their seats from start to finish, and a great deal of that is due to the magnificent acting jobs by Goodman, Winstead and co-star John Gallagher Jr., who plays the third resident of the bunker. We learn Gallagher’s Emmitt was Howard’s helper in building the basement shelter — but not whether his presence is voluntary or not. Clearly, Michelle is not in the bunker by choice — at least not initially — and Winstead’s interpretation of the character is a marvel to behold. Michelle is bright, feisty and always on the alert to find a way to escape, at least in the early stages of her captivity. It’s a delight to watch her move from terror and fear of the unknown, to moments of warmth, playfulness and even glee.

    Justin Chang, Variety: Winstead, a seasoned scream queen and one of the most undervalued leading ladies around, emphasizes the character’s quicksilver intelligence and refusal to give up no matter how bad things get (which is often very, very bad), and she gives the second half of 10 Cloverfield Lane its thrilling momentum as Michelle takes matters into her own hands.

    Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: Mary Elizabeth Winstead is dynamite and then some.

    Michael O’Sullivan, The Washington Post: John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher Jr. as a trio of subterranean bunker dwellers trying to hide out from an unspecified aboveground attack — are all top notch, delivering believably nuanced performances that range from the touching to the hilarious (and, eventually, to the harrowing).