Riley Keough stars as a mysterious actress named Misty who plops into the intense drama between her boyfriend (Caleb Landry Jones's Ethan) and his estranged sister (Abbey Lee's Alice) in the poetic thriller "Welcome the Stranger," which is now available to stream online.
Family drama may be nothing new to the 28-year-old beauty, the daughter of Lisa Marie Presley and granddaughter of Elvis and Priscilla Presley. But unlike the characters at the center of "Welcome the Stranger," there's no estrangement between Riley and her siblings, even though her twin half-sisters, who turn 10 in October, are nearly two decades younger.
"We're really close," Lisa Marie's daughter with first husband Danny Keough told Wonderwall.com. "It's a funny relationship because it feels more like I'm their aunt or something because I'm so much older. They feel like my sisters, of course, but I have a brother who's closer to my age and we grew up together, so that's kind of what I associate as a sibling: someone you grow up with."
"But they're like my little babies," Riley continued of Harper Vivienne Ann and Finley Aaron Love, whom Lisa Marie welcomed in 2008 with then-husband Michael Lockwood.
(The former couple temporarily lost custody of their daughters during their bitter divorce battle. The girls spent nearly a year between mid-2016 and early 2017 living with their grandmother after Lisa Marie alleged that she found "inappropriate photos" on Michael's computer — and then went to rehab.)
"They're my nieces," Riley joked of Harper and Finley. "No, they're definitely my sisters, and we're very, very, very close, but it's a funny one because I'm more maternal to them whereas my brother and I are sort of more equal. I was a grownup for their whole lives, so it's more of, like, a caretaker relationship as opposed to an equals kind of thing being a similar age."
"I love watching movies with them," she said of the girls. "Actually, that's one of my favorite things to do. They love movies. I love watching movies with them and playing with them. I just like talking to them."
"I like hanging out with kids," continued the actress. "I prefer hanging out with kids to adults."
So far, the kiddos have only watched two of their big sister's movies: "Logan Lucky," which Riley called "the most PG thing I've ever done," and "Mad Max: Fury Road."
"We had to fast-forward some parts," she said of the 2015 action flick, in which she portrayed one of the five enslaved wives of the villainous Immortan Joe. "It's very feminist, so it was an interesting conversation, but basically I just said, 'There's a mean man who's enslaving [the women],' which they understood. … It's funny — they always wanna watch my movies, but they can't watch any of them."
Add "Welcome to the Stranger," which Riley also produced, to the list of films in which she's starred that are off-limits to little ones!
The Golden Globe nominee came to the moody drama, which she describes as "open for interpretation," through her manager, who also manages director Justin Kelly. She knew she wanted to work with the filmmaker after watching his feature-film directorial debut, the 2015 festival darling "I Am Michael."
Explained Riley, "[Our manager] put us on the phone and said, 'Why doesn't Justin come up with something and we can just go shoot it while you both have the time?' It was sort of a last-minute thing, honestly. We shot it in upstate New York. … Justin's really quick, so we worked together quickly. It was a couple months — he threw it together and we went up there and started hanging out and making the film."
The star of Season 1 of "The Girlfriend Experience" enlisted her "Mad Max: Fury Road" co-star and BFF Abbey Lee to take on the role of Alice, "So it was kind of a little family project," she told us.
The decision to produce "Welcome the Stranger" came naturally to the actress, who launched production company Felix Culpa with Gina Gammell in the summer of 2017.
"It's a big passion of mine — being able to put things together and development are really what I enjoy the most," Riley told Wonderwall. "We did this film, actually, before our company sort of started, and it was just a natural thing because ['Welcome the Stranger'] was a collaborative thing that we sort of put together. It was just kind of the way this one went from conception, I think."
As for why she's drawn to development, "I like working a lot," said the actress-producer. "I like calendars. I like figuring things out. I like movies — that's important! I've also got employees and co-workers and people who are able to help me because I do have an acting career as well."
"I am juggling, but I guess I like doing things and am in a better headspace when I'm working," she continued. "So I do work often. Movies are kind of my life."
"I have a personal life," she added. "But movies are my personal life too! I don't really need a balance. I like movies better than sitting at home and watching TV and hanging out. So I really enjoy my job."