To play a Sasquatch in Sasquatch Sunset, you had to attend boot camp. Jesse Eisenberg, Riley Keough, and Christophe Zajac-Denek broke it down.

All three actors are acclaimed in their own right. Jesse Eisenberg is a former Oscar nominee for his performance in The Social Network. Riley Keough is fresh off her star-making performance in Prime Video's Daisy Jones and the Six adaptation. Christophe Zajac-Denek has starred in several episodes of Twin Peaks.

And yet, the three have come together for their wildest project yet, Sasquatch Sunset. The comedy follows a family of Sasquatches over a year. David Zeller (Damsel) wrote the film and directed it with his brother Nathan Zeller.

Upon its premiere at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival, Sasquatch Sunset was acquired by Bleecker Street. The studio gave the film a limited theatrical release on April 12 before going wide on April 19.

Sasquatch boot camp

Sasquatch Sunset poster with Riley Keough and Jesse Eisenberg.

This boot camp helped the trio of stars grow comfortable with their parts. After all, Sasquatch Sunset is a non-verbal film. That placed more pressure on the stars to find intimacy in their performances.

“We actually did a Sasquatch boot camp where we had a movement coach come in, teach us how to move, teach us how to create — we created a dictionary of all the different grunts and sounds we make,” Jesse Eisenberg said, before demonstrating what they workshopped.

“So if we're trying to call out for like another Sasquatch in the forest, we would do something that would be good with like an echo, like, [vocalizes sound], or if we were angry at each other would there be growling the way like when you go near a dog and they don't want you to have some of their food,” he explained. “So, [we had a] vocabulary [and] we created the lexicon and a language for these characters, and then a movement consistency, and then just little things.”

His co-star and on-screen son, Zajac-Denek, also brought up key points as far as movements went.

“Christophe brings up something of, Do you turn your head or do you turn your whole body? When you're looking at something, is it like how we look, which is like, try to as try to have as little movement as possible, or is it clumsier and kind of less efficient than you turn your body?” he said.

Exploring what it means to be a Sasquatch

Christophe Zajac-Denek added to that point. Being in costume for the film helped him explore his movements for the character. That said, the costume was tricky given the glue and prosthetics used.

“I think too, when we got into the costume, a lot of it was [an] exploration of how are we actually going to be able to move in the costumes and how are we going to relate to one another with those movements? Is the child going to react the same way to the mother or the alpha male — how are those interactions going to happen?” he said. “Also, it took some practice to get the balance of emoting with your eyes and emoting with your face when there's so much glue and prosthetics that you're wearing.”

For Riley Keough, she called every day a “learning experience.” Having rehearsal days in place helped her grow even more comfortable with Eisenberg and Zajac-Denek.

“I think every day was kind of a learning experience in terms of what's working and how to emote,” Keough revealed. “We had the rehearsal days, which were extremely helpful, and I think that learning our relationships was helpful for me, the way we interact with one another.

“We kind of covered a lot in a couple [of] days with our rehearsals and we went into it with a whole language and movement. And I weirdly felt very knowledgeable when we started,” she concluded.

Living the Sasquatch [Sunset] dream

Sasquatch Sunset, obviously, depicted Sasquatches. For Riley Keough, an Oregon girl, Sasquatches were the urban legend. She did note that she'd go exploring for them with her father as a child.

“My father's from Oregon, so Sasquatches [were] kind of the thing,” Keough said. “When we'd go up there or drive up the coast, we would go into the woods and he would tell me Sasquatch stories and we would go looking for Sasquatch.

“I had that whole experience, so Sasquatches [were] my sort of dream,” she continued, laughing.

However, in addition to Sasquatch hunting, there was also fair hunting. “So, maybe a fairy story,” Keough ultimately conceded.

Jesse Eisenberg noted that he “loves what the Sasquatches represents.” For him, it's the “link between the human world and the animal world.”

“We're sitting in a room here on our phones and with air conditioning and we're so surrounded by what we've created that to get to play these characters, which were just so completely comfortable in nature, felt really aspirational,” Eisenberg explained. “It felt like, Oh, this is another way to live that's entirely legitimate [and] has its own wonderful aspects.

“And I think that's why the Sasquatch was kind of a relief to play, in a way,” Eisenberg concluded.

Other urban legends

As for other urban legends they would like to adapt on screen, Christophe Zajac-Denek has been “obsessed” with the Loch Ness Monster for years.

“I was obsessed with Sasquatches and I was also obsessed with the Loch Ness Monster,” he revealed. “I mean, the Loch Ness Monster just captivated my attention and my imagination as a kid. I'm from Michigan, and so if I was ever on Lake Huron by my uncle's cabin and it was dark at night, I would — probably at like six or seven — think I was seeing the Loch Ness Monster out.

“It was maybe a stick that was floating or something like that,” he added with a smile.

Sasquatch Sunset is in theaters.