'A Quiet Place 2' stars break down that 'very emotional'

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It's the end of the world, but the kids are alright. 

In the final scene of John Krasinski's post-apocalyptic horror thriller "A Quiet Place Part II" (now in theaters), the deaf Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and her younger brother Marcus (Noah Jupe) step up and become the heroes of the movie, protecting the adults from the talon-clawed, razor-toothed monsters that are terrorizing Earth. 

Fleeing the creatures following a deadly rampage, Regan and fellow survivor Emmett (Cillian Murphy) find shelter inside an abandoned radio station, where Emmett comes face to face with yet another alien. Knowing the monsters' hyper-sensitivity to sound, Regan hooks her hearing aid up to the radio tower, creating a strident noise that temporarily paralyzes the beast before she fatally beats it with a metal pipe. 

The piercing feedback is successfully broadcast across the countryside, where Marcus and their mom, Evelyn (Emily Blunt), are backed into a corner by a monster inside an old steel mill. Just as the creature looks primed to kill the injured Evelyn, Marcus picks up a rifle and fatally shoots it. 

The kids' parallel acts of bravery pack a powerfully poignant punch, given that Regan and Marcus' dad, Lee (Krasinski), was brutally killed by an extraterrestrial at the end of the first "Quiet Place," released in 2018. 

"The events leading up to this were quite horrific, so I think for her, it was very emotional," Simmonds, 18, who is deaf, tells USA TODAY through an interpreter by Zoom. "Regan felt that she had to take over her dad's role now that he's gone and be sure her family survives. She ultimately wanted to do him justice, and that was her guiding point in helping navigate this world and develop as a young woman." 

Adds Jupe, 16: "It's a huge moment for Marcus, of him almost becoming a man. He's very fearful, but this is him being brave and trying to do what his dad would have done." 
The young actors admit their empowering final moments looked decidedly less cool in reality. Because the CGI aliens were digitally added later, Simmonds was sometimes thrashing at thin air on set. 

"If it was a straight-on shot, there was nothing there," she says. "But if they could, they'd bring in an actor in a green suit and he'd act everything out. They'd also bring in a soft pillow, so when I'm hitting him with a pipe, I'm obviously not hurting a real human being. I was just beating a pillow." 

Jupe, meanwhile, had never shot a gun before that scene. 

"I remember that being a big worry for me," he recalls with a laugh. "I practiced once and then they were like, 'OK, we're going to do it properly.' So I just remember being like, 'Is it gonna recoil? What's gonna happen when I shoot? Is it gonna explode?' It was quite an interesting experience shooting a gun for the first time." 

Marcus spends much of the film hiding inside a bunker and caring for his newborn sibling, played by twin babies who "were better (behaved) than me," Jupe jokes. His character is sidelined early in the movie by a horrific foot injury, after Marcus runs into a bear trap while trying to escape a monster.

"I lost my voice because I screamed a lot that day," Jupe says of shooting the gruesome moment, which calls to mind the equally squirmy scene when Evelyn steps on an exposed nail while walking down stairs in the first movie. 

"John was like, 'We're gonna give you the nail of "A Quiet Place 2," ' recalls Jupe. "I remember what a huge reaction the nail got in the first one, so if this was the equivalent, I was happy it was happening to me, which is kinda strange.

Krasinski wrote and directed both "Quiet Place" movies, but will be handing off duties to filmmaker Jeff Nichols ("Take Shelter") for an already announced third film. Jupe says he hasn't had any discussions yet about returning for No. 3, but remains hopeful because "Marcus still has a ways to go on his journey. Now that his mother is injured as well (after being gashed by a monster), he's having to deal with that and carry on from there."

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John Spacey

John Spacey