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Shattered Star Cameron Monaghan Spills the Thriller’s Gory Details

The action-thriller Shattered asks how far identity theft can go, putting its main character Chris through no small amount of physical and psychological torture to answer the question. But while Chris was suffering through hardships on-screen, Cameron Monaghan, the actor who brought Chris to life, was drawing on the intensity of the accelerated filming schedule and the harsh winter weather to make the beleaguered appearance truly believable for audiences. The result of his work is a gory roller coaster that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats.

Cameron Monaghan spoke with CBR about his brutal role in Shattered and described the intensity of filming during the pandemic in Midwestern winter. He discussed what drew him to the character of Chris and what it was like to work with some of Shattered‘s cast members. Monaghan also discussed his previous work on Gotham and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and teased what he’d love to see for Cal in future Star Wars video games.

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CBR: How does filming a thriller like Shattered differ from some of your previous projects, especially coming off of a comedy-drama like Shameless?

Cameron Monaghan: The most important thing with a movie of this genre is having it feel immediate and having the stakes feel very high. The way to do that is just being as present as possible as a performer and allowing the performance to be the surrogate audience. With a character like Chris, he is quite literally strapped to a seat and he’s going along for this ride. That ride is extremely torturous, not only physically but psychologically. It was about really putting myself in the perspective of that character, getting to feel that things were dangerous and frightening, and allowing that vulnerability to really be as open and immediately accessible as possible.

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Chris starts out a little unapproachable and unrelatable — what drew you to him as a character?

I thought he was interesting because he’s not an immediately likable character. He’s a very wealthy tech developer who essentially gained success very young, and has sold his company, and now is living off the many millions that he made in this secluded home in the hills of the ski town. So he’s living in a gilded cage and he’s closed himself off from the rest of the world.

But I think the reason why we ultimately ended up siding with Chris is… Well, I guess there are two reasons. The first reason is he has an extraordinary amount of love and care for his daughter and his ex-wife, who are involved in the story, without giving too much away. The second reason is he goes through absolute hell. However much we might not like him on paper, I think at the end of the day we’re rooting for him because he is getting really, really messed up, both physically and psychologically. So it was fun to explore how far we could go with scaring the audience.

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Chris and Sky in a kitchen with well-lit window

Part of Chris’ torture is very physical — what was it like filming those gory moments and acting in a cast?

It was challenging. There was not really any way that we could fake the cast, so we ultimately ended up getting a real nurse to just cast me.  They put this cast on me and we would strap it on first thing in the morning, then I would wear it the next 12, 14, 15, 16 hours of the day. We were shooting a very accelerated filming schedule, so we shot the whole movie in four weeks, which meant that the hours were long and we were getting a lot of scenes done. It was very intense filming it.

We were shooting in Montana, in very early spring. It was extremely cold — there’s no way around that, you can’t really fake that stuff. It’s physically challenging. It’s very demanding, and at the end of the day, I was absolutely exhausted. But I think that that was a benefit in some ways because it allowed the performance to be very real. The character is supposed to be physically drained, so the fact that I was just helped contribute to that.

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John Malkovich’s character provides some moments of levity during such a tense movie — what was it like filming with him?

John is obviously an extraordinarily talented actor. But not only that, he was very kind and generous. He was also a producer on the project and he showed a lot of care and focus. He would go above and beyond to make sure that things were operating correctly. It was funny because I would see him contribute in a bunch of surprising ways that he absolutely did not need to, but it was very much appreciated. Because we were shooting on such an accelerated schedule, things just had to get done quickly. So he would be helping out as much as he could with props and locations.

I remember one time, there was a scene where he noticed that the floors were dirty. So he picked up a broom and he swept the floors while the shot was getting set up. It was surreal looking at John Malkovich cleaning up the set, but he was great. He was also very generous and really fun and exciting as a scene partner as well.

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Our readers will also likely know you from your voiceover work for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. What was it like joining the Star Wars universe and recording for the video game, and can we expect your return to the universe?

It was an absolute privilege to be able to be a part of the canon Star Wars universe. I think that Cal is a great addition to Star Wars, and I love how grounded Cal is and how his first story in Jedi: Fallen Order was an exploration of trauma and loss, and in many ways, getting over PTSD. I thought that was such an interesting aspect to bring into Star Wars. Going forward, I would very much like to see us continue to explore Cal, and also put him in very different situations, and see how he changes as he gets older, as he ages throughout a very dark period.

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You’ve also had the chance to step into the Batman universe as a proto version of iconic villain the Joker in Gotham. How did it feel to step into that role, and how do you feel about the franchise now — excited for The Batman?

That was such an honor. Obviously, the character of the Joker is one of the most prestigious, interesting villains in all of comic book history. At the time, no one had stepped into the role after Heath Ledger, so that was both intimidating and extremely exciting to be able to do that. I think that what’s amazing about a role like that is that every actor’s going to bring something wildly different to the role. It’s been really wild since performing it to watch different interpretations of it as they’ve been introduced. I’m extremely excited about the new Batman movie — the cast is fantastic. Robert Pattinson is always interesting in a scene. I’m a big fan of that director so I can’t wait to see what they do.

Strap in for the brutal psychological thriller Shattered hitting select theaters and debuting on VOD on Jan. 14.

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