The cast and director of Bug recently assembled at a Manhattan hotel to answer some questions about the new horror-drama, which I saw and praised on this site. Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon star as two small-town Midwestern people whose lives intersect one night at her trailer-park home and the match-up creates a sort of perfect storm of paranoia, discomfort, and ultimately, terror. She fuels his pre-existing fears about being followed by a shadowy government agency, while he perversely fills for her a deep-seated need to be taken seriously and to be listened to. It's hard to explain the movie any more specifically than that -- you have to see it. William Friedkin had the press eating out of his hand, photographers wasted everyone's time by insisting on, like, ten minutes of posed photos, and Judd talked a lot about her process of mental preparation. Here is a sampling of the various questions and answers asked by all the assembled journalists -- enjoy.

Ashley Judd

Was it an easy decision, for you to sign on for this one?

AJ: It was very easy for me to decide to do Bug. Billy had been good enough to send the script to my agent. Bug also had in common a producer who was producing Come Early Morning, which was the film I shot right before Bug. So there was a streamline simplicity to the process. Of course, Billy's wife was my mentor early in my career, provided my big break in Hollywood, so it seemed like there were a lot of auspicious things that were coming together around the script.

I really loved Billy's response to Michael. He was very clear and impassioned and firm that Michael was the actor for the film, as he had been unabashedly the actor for the play. I was really impressed with how Billy was just not willing to negotiate around that, and helped me be very comfortable talking with the financier of the film about how Michael was also who I would want to play with in the movie, so there was a lot that I really liked. There was a good backbone and positive energy surrounding the project, and my agent, when she sent the script to me to read, she said 'you might not want to go there' and immediately that intrigued me. I don't think she was intentionally using reverse psychology, but that's the affect it had and I think I became willing to take the part on before I had in fact read it. There's a part of me that gets really competitive with my own creativity, like 'Oh, you think I can't do that? Really ... '

Did you feel you were coming to the part at a disadvantage, with your co-star having done the play?

AJ: I felt I was at a real advantage, because Michael clearly knew the material inside and out, had a very well-developed and evolved relationship with the material. Billy had seen it, he responded so passionately, and we began acquiring the rights, and there was a tremendous and respect there, and I felt I was able to just slipstream in there.