As the teaser for “Cloverfield” suggested, the first 20 minutes of the movie are spent meeting a group of attractive young Manhattanites at a farewell party before all the monster stuff kicks off. One of them is Marlene (Lizzy Caplan), who Hud (T.J. Miller) — our cameraman for the evening — has a crush on. Marlene doesn’t know many people at the party very well, including the guest of honor, Rob (Michael Stahl-David), who is off to Japan to start a new job. When New York suddenly comes under attack from a vast city-stomping creature, she ends up tagging along and trying to survive.
Caplan had her breakthrough role a few years earlier in the hugely successful “Mean Girls,” and her part in “Cloverfield” doesn’t come up that often in interviews. When she does get the chance to speak about it, she seems to remember the production with fondness, including the unorthodox audition process devised by producer J.J. Abrams to maintain secrecy. She went in to read for her part thinking it was a role in a romantic comedy, she told MovieWeb:
“The scenes that they gave us for the first part of the audition were just in the party scene, so it was like ‘We’ve gotta get this place ready for a party!’ That was like the biggest drama going on, so we just assumed. We saw character breakdowns and the characters were there but it didn’t say anything about a monster anything like that. It was just, ‘We’ve gotta get this ready in two hours, so stop messing around.’ It was totally lame.”
Caplan and the other candidates were not provided with scripts ahead of the clandestine auditions, and she only found out that “Cloverfield” was a monster movie after she got the part.