Bad Trip star Michaela Conlin on the Netflix comedy’s hidden-camera hilarity

BAD TRIP(2021) Michaela Conlin as Maria Li. Courtesy of Netflix
BAD TRIP(2021) Michaela Conlin as Maria Li. Courtesy of Netflix /

Bad Trip was a “really special” experience for Michaela Conlin, she told Netflix Life ahead of the movie’s premiere this Friday.

The actress stars in the hidden-camera comedy which features Eric Andre as Chris, who embarks on a wild road trip to find his high school crush—if only he hadn’t stolen his sister’s car and pulled his best friend along for the bumpy ride.

Michaela plays the object of Chris’s affection, Maria Li, and spoke about getting to do more comedy, working with people who don’t know they’re in a movie, and her experience with the rest of the incredible cast. See what she had to say before Bad Trip drops tomorrow on Netflix!

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Netflix Life: What was it about Bad Trip that got you interested?

Michaela Conlin: I loved Eric Andre’s show on Adult Swim, so that was probably the first sell. But I’ve been wanting to do comedy for such a long time, and it was such a fun script and such a fun process of getting the job. Those two things were probably the selling points.

NL: You hit the nail on the head—your best-known roles, like Dr. Angela Montenegro on Bones, are dramatic. What was it like for you to not only do a clear-cut comedy, but one as outrageous and genre-bending as Bad Trip?

MC: It was honestly the best way to do it I think because they just throw you in and you sink or swim. Thankfully I feel like I swam, but it was great. Working with real people and bystanders who had no idea what was going on was actually really freeing and such a unique situation to be in, and to have these environments that the production team would set up that you could essentially improvise within was really special and so cool.

But it was definitely a lot of learning on the fly. Just okay, here’s the shot and we have 10 minutes, go. It was a lot of that. Eric and everybody involved were really supportive and it was a great process.

NL: So much of good comedy is chemistry and timing. How did you navigate that with real people who didn’t know you were even filming a movie?

MC: It was actually in some ways a lot easier, because it was such pure reactions from people. There was no acting going on with them. It was actually easier to react to people really reacting in some ways than it was to have lines rehearsed and to know the script.

After the job was over, I was like oh my God, I want to keep working with real people, because it was just great. Then you have Lil Rel [Howery] and Eric and Tiffany [Haddish] sort of creating the structure that we could work within. It was sort of the best of both worlds.

NL: Eric Andre also co-wrote and produced Bad Trip. Did that help you as an actor, to have one of the writers be the co-star who’s next to you on set?

MC: For sure. A lot of times we had ear buds in [and] most of the time they would say, “Okay, say this line, do this, try it this way, do it this way,” as we were shooting. It was great to have them because there were many nights that we would come up with ideas and they’d shoot some of them the next day. Not all of them [but] it was just such a creative thing to be a part of that.

I was really glad to be able to see that side, especially [director, co-writer and producer] Kitao [Sakurai] and Eric, because they’ve worked so closely together for so long. That was really cool. They really trust each other and it was cool to see them come up with these crazy ideas. Just constantly crazier and crazier.

NL: Are there any particularly crazy moments you want to tell Netflix viewers to not miss?

MC: The scene with the priest, I’ll just say was a real don’t miss. The zoo, I would say that they shouldn’t probably miss. There’s many of them…There’s a couple car crashes. There’s a lot going on. Just watch the whole thing. (laughs)

SPOILER ALERT: The remainder of this interview contains a spoiler for Bad Trip.

NL: In comedy movies, sometimes the love interest follows a very specific arc, and isn’t well-developed beyond being the love interest. What is it about Maria that stood out to you as being different or that you really loved?

MC: I love that she sort of turns at the end. I think she gets very set up at the end, which I really liked seeing. I liked that it wasn’t this faux idea of this love interest that’s one thing throughout. But I liked that they had history and that they knew each other. I think we all have those people, like the one that got away or the one that we think about.

I liked that she was the start of the journey for them and that you hear about her throughout the movie. Then at the end, I think his fantasy becomes reality, obviously. I liked that we get to see that side of her. That was a fun thing to do.

NL: You mentioned how this is a departure for you; are there other roles you’ve loved doing that you’d recommend for people to check out? Other things they might not know?

MC: I did do this crazy documentary series called The It Factor, which was a really long time ago, but I don’t think anyone will be able to find that. I would say probably MDs. I was also in The Lincoln Lawyer, which was really fun, which I think is kind of having a McConaissance. I feel like people saw it when it came out and now it’s like people are seeing it again.

NL: Is there anything else you want to say to people before Bad Trip arrives on Netflix?

MC: Given the events of everything that’s happened recently with all of this hatred towards Asian-Americans…That hits very close to home. It’s obviously very disturbing and we need to take some serious steps towards trying to change this.

That, and that this movie is crazy and really funny and I hope that everybody enjoys it.

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Bad Trip is available to stream on Netflix starting Friday, March 26.