False Positive spoilers: Ilana Glazer recalls the psychotic way she spent her birthday on set
Spoiler alert! This story contains major details about the ending of Hulu’s “False Positive.”
Most adults spend their birthdays getting dinner or drinks with friends and loved ones.
Ilana Glazer, meanwhile, rang in 32 covered in fake blood on the set of her chilling new horror thriller “False Positive” (now streaming on Hulu). The actress was shooting a climactic scene in which her character, Lucy, walks away from the fertility clinic where she just killed the sinister Dr. Hindle (Pierce Brosnan), who inseminated her without her consent or knowledge.
“I was like, ‘This is a nearly psychotic way to spend one’s birthday,'” Glazer, now 34, recalls with a laugh. “I think I needed a cigarette after – that’s my memory. It was so damn disturbing.”
A blood-soaked Lucy (Ilana Glazer) returns home at the end of Hulu's "False Positive." (Photo: Anna Kooris, HULU)
“False Positive” is a complete 180 for Glazer, who’s best known as the co-creator and star of Comedy Central’s “Broad City,” which wrapped its madcap five-season run in 2019. It was on that show she met John Lee, who directed a handful of episodes and co-wrote “False Positive” with Glazer. The film riffs on the 1968 horror classic “Rosemary’s Baby” as well as “Peter Pan,” exploring the timely subject of how women can be robbed of agency over their own bodies by a patriarchal healthcare system.
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After struggling with infertility for months, Lucy scores an appointment with top specialist Dr. Hindle, a friend and former mentor to her husband, Adrian (Justin Theroux). But Lucy suspects that something is amiss when she learns she’s pregnant with triplets and starts suffering from hallucinations. Later, she’s told it’s a high-risk pregnancy and must decide between keeping the two boys or one girl. Lucy chooses the girl, whom she names Wendy, but after delivering the babies, discovers that Hindle saved the boys instead.
Making matters worse, Adrian and the nurses were fully aware that Hindle used his own sperm to impregnate Lucy and other patients through IVF. Devastated, angry and spattered with Hindle’s blood after killing him, Lucy demands Adrian take the twin boys and leave. The film ends with Lucy crying and breastfeeding the fetus of her dead daughter as “Who Am I?” from Leonard Bernstein’s “Peter Pan” musical plays.
"False Positive" star/co-writer Ilana Glazer, left, and husband David Rooklin at the film's Tribeca Festival premiere earlier this month. (Photo: ANGELA WEISS, AFP via Getty Images)
USA TODAY caught up with director Lee and Glazer, who is pregnant with her first child with husband David Rooklin, to discuss that haunting ending and more.
(Edited for length and clarity.)
Question: What sparked the idea for this film?
John Lee: My wife and I had some difficulties getting pregnant the first time and I was reading “Peter Pan” at the time. There’s this section where the parents were just waiting inside the kids’ bedroom staring at the window, anticipating the kids’ return. That, to me, was just the darkest kind of notion. It made me realize the whole book is about a tragedy and Neverland is actually a delusion. It really made me understand, “Oh, something terrible happened to these children: They were either abducted or thrown out the window.”
We were going through the emotions of a miscarriage and understanding what that means for us. We were able to have two daughters, but that memory is still with us and floats around in the backs of our minds. So all that was swirling around, and I just started to come up with some images and see how kind of lost you are when you’re dealing with pregnancy in this country. There hasn’t really been a story that examined that feeling of confusion and loss. “Rosemary’s Baby” is one, but that goes into such a fantastical place and I wanted to stay more grounded.
Adrian (Justin Theroux, left) uses the term "mommy brain" to help gaslight his wife, Lucy (Ilana Glazer). (Photo: ANNA KOORIS, HULU)
Q: The term “mommy brain” is used frequently by Adrian and other characters, as a way to infantilize Lucy and dismiss her feelings that something’s wrong. How has your own pregnancy changed the way you think about that term?
Ilana Glazer: “Mommy Brain” was actually a title we were considering. But personally, I have not really been experiencing that. I think I protected myself from it, especially because of making this movie a couple years before entering my human-creation journey. (Laughs.) I’ve really sought out a de-misogynized education about pregnancy. I have spent so much time thinking about these types of violations that I really set up protecting myself from it. Because it’s really hard and vulnerable and takes so much strength to be pregnant, and I’m just shy of experiencing birth.
And it’s just too upsetting. I’ve found myself even angrier about the power structures, and even more incensed at the system we live in where women are second-class citizens across all socio-economic statuses, on a gradient of wealth and race and class. I’m angrier in my body because it’s going through this experience and I think that’s also made me more mindful of dodging that kind of (expletive).
Lucy suspects the charming yet disconcerting Dr. Hindle (Pierce Brosnan) has ulterior motives. (Photo: ANNA KOORIS, HULU)
Q: How did you land on the twist that Dr. Hindle impregnated Lucy?
Lee: Fertility doctors do this pretty consistently, and Ilana and I (learned) during writing that it’s not necessarily illegal, depending on how they do it. Some of them have been disbarred, but some of them, nothing’s really happened to them. And the pressure on the parents, like, what do you do? You can’t return the child. It’s the complexity of the injustice and the hubris of these doctors to do this.
(With Dr. Hindle), it wasn’t just that he was the father – it was that he wanted boys and made her have the boys. So it’s not just one twist, but two moments that make you realize this is a larger problem. It’s the compounded, “Oh, (expletive), men make women do whatever they want.”
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Abbi Jacobson, left, and Ilana Glazer in a scene from their beloved comedy "Broad City." (Photo: Courtesy of CBS Television Distribution)
Q: So much of this film is about loss: Lucy grieving her mother and wanting that connection with a daughter of her own. Was it actually quite emotional for you to shoot the final scene of Lucy breastfeeding Wendy?
Glazer: Yes, it was. I was very much in a moment of loss. This was right after “Broad City” had stopped airing, and right when “Broad City” started airing, I lost one of my best friends and I have not had that experience before. So that moment was all about loss for me. I mean, the end of “Broad City” was quite emotional for Abbi (Jacobson) and I to perform, and then to go into “False Positive,” it was a gift because it became this container for me to exercise my feelings. Both exercise and exorcise, I guess. I really got that experience that I think comes more with drama. I was really present in that moment.
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