Ellie Kemper reveals horror movie past on Conan


Conan O’Brien shows a 12-year-old Ellie Kemper’s horror movie role

Ellie Kemper is best known for playing sweet, lovable characters in shows like The Office and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, but she demonstrated that she could have a career as a scream queen during Tuesday’s visit to Conan. The actress’ interview included lost footage from a horror movie she made with her younger sister and childhood friend when she was just 12 years old.

Host Conan O’Brien began by questioning why Kemper had never starred in a horror movie before since her sweet, innocent demeanor seem well-suited for the genre.

“You’re very pretty and wholesome, and you look like you’d be very good at [saying], ‘Oh my God, there’s a monster,'” the comedian said, with his sidekick Andy Richter chiming in that she looks like prey. Kemper concurred, responding, “I scream victim.”

While she agreed that she never starred in a horror movie that’s been released in theaters, she did reveal that she starred in one that went “straight to video” in her childhood home in St. Louis when she was 12 years old that was called The Man Under the Stairs. She made it along with her then-8-year-old younger sister Carrie and her best friend, Katie, and came up with the idea due to the construction that was taking place at her house that left their stairs exposed.

“So we thought let’s put a man under there. Let’s dress up my younger sister Carrie as a man and put her under those stairs,” Kemper explained. She added that she not only served as the film’s lead, but also its director, prop master and line producer, although she admitted that she overacted in the role even though (or because) she was the only one of the trio that wanted to grow up to be an actress.

O’Brien then introduced the world premiere of The Man Under the Stairs. The clip opens with a close-up of Kemper screaming to the camera with her hands to her face, before cutting to her slowly going down the stairs and getting her leg pulled by the titular character. It ended with a hysterical Kemper wondering whether she should tell her parents or call the police, and then once again yelling the film’s title at the top of her lungs. Watch the footage below:

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Conan went on to point out that Kemper intentionally moved her leg so her sister could reach it in the clip, while the pregnant actress mocked her outfit – which included moccasins and an Earth Day t-shirt – explaining that she was going through an “Earth-saving phase,” and noted that she was “giving it way too much” in her portrayal.

“The real horror of that was a bunch of children playing around exposed insulation,” O’Brien joked. “That was the part that had me scared.”

Conan airs Monday-Thursday at 11 p.m. on TBS. Upcoming guests include Timothy Olyphant, Jerrod Carmichael, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele and Zoey Deutch.