It turns out, the script for the psychological thriller only referenced a “trigger song” to haunt Styles’ character Jack and his wife Alice (Florence Pugh) as they navigate a darkly sinister 1950s suburbia.
“In prep, Harry called me and said, ‘What’s the trigger song? Like, what’s the melody?’ I said, ‘I don’t know. I’m going to different writers to write it. Do you have anything in mind?'” director Wilde revealed to Variety. “And he said, ‘I’ll think about it.’ Five minutes later, he sent me a demo from his piano, and it was what ended up in the film.”
Wilde added, “He called me and said, ‘What about this?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s it. That’s it. And that’s really insane that you did that in five minutes.'”
Styles set out to write “something that could be both sweet and creepy, entirely dependent on the context,” much like the film itself.
“I remember first playing it on the piano, and it had a sort of homemade nursery rhyme feel to it,” Styles shared. “Applied to the different moments in the film, I think it takes on a couple of different lives — I hope.”
And while the Grammy winner doesn’t sing in the film, he does tape dance. “I feel like I’ve been waiting for someone to require a 35-second tap routine from me my whole life,” Styles quipped.
The “Watermelon Sugar” singer originally replaced Shia LaBeouf in the film. The “Dunkirk” actor’s performance on set even led to director Wilde crying tears of joy due to his passionate intensity as Jack.
“Harry took it to another level,” Wilde told Rolling Stone. “He was so fully in the moment, he began screaming the lines to the crowd, in this primal roar, that was way more intense than anything we expected from the scene.”
Wilde continued, “We were all gobsmacked at the monitor. I think even Harry was surprised by it. Those are the best moments for an actor — when you’re completely outside your body.”