Inside Billie Eilish’s Terrifying Appearing Debut in ‘Swarm’ – Rolling Stone

There’s nothing on tv fairly like Swarm. This ultraviolent fever dream of a collection, from the Atlanta group of Donald Glover and Janine Nabers, tells the story of a tormented younger Black girl, Dre (Dominique Fishback, excellent), who idolizes Ni’Jah, the world’s largest pop star — or at the very least the one with essentially the most militant fanbase, who name themselves the Swarm and drown out any and all on-line detractors with bee emojis. If this all sounds acquainted, it ought to: the collection is instantly impressed by Beyoncé and her Beyhive, proper right down to the proficient youthful sister, elevator-attack safety footage, and a Black Is King-esque album with Afrofuturist visuals.

When Dre’s adoptive sister Marissa (Chlöe Bailey, herself a Beyoncé disciple) falls sufferer to her two-timing boyfriend (Damson Idris), Dre snaps, embarking on a cross-country killing spree that sees her dispatch anybody who besmirches Ni’Jah’s good identify with excessive prejudice. Alongside the way in which, she encounters a weird forged of characters performed by Rory Culkin, Byron Bowers, Kiersey Clemons, and Paris Jackson (daughter of Michael).

One of many extra eye-opening folks she encounters on her journey is Eva, a mysterious younger girl performed by none aside from pop famous person Billie Eilish in her performing debut.

“That’s Carmen Cuba,” Nabers tells Rolling Stone, crediting the present’s casting director for the discover. “We have been seeking to forged the episode and she or he steered Billie, and I mentioned, ‘Does she act?’ And she or he mentioned, ‘Yeah.’ And I mentioned, ‘What has she been in?’ And she or he mentioned, ‘Nothing.’ However what’s so unbelievable about this course of is that you’ve lots of people that work on the present which are multi-hyphenate and individuals who have so many various passions. We gravitate towards people who find themselves juggling a number of hats.”

Warning: Spoilers will comply with…

Eilish pops up in Episode 4 of Swarm, which is titled “Working Scared.” After Dre goes full “Hannibal Lecter on Ni’Jah,” biting her at a membership (once more, sound acquainted?), she arrives in Manchester, Tennessee. It’s April 2018, and Dre is determined to see her pop idol at Bonnaroo. However she doesn’t have a wristband. A tense run-in with a creepy cop leads her to hunt refuge with a coven of woo-woo (largely white) ladies — the sort that do all their purchasing at Erewhon and have bought multiple head-scratching Goop merchandise.

“I really feel so drawn to you,” Eva tells Dre.

Issues start to get creepy throughout a hike at daybreak, when the ladies all speak in confidence to Dre that they imagine Eva is possessed of magical therapeutic powers, in a position to remedy the whole lot from alcoholism to stuttering — bearing a placing similarity to a different cult chief, NXIVM’s Keith Raniere. (The ladies even have initials carved into their shoulders, identical to these in NXIVM’s sex-cult sorority DOS.)

In accordance with co-creator Janine Nabers, Raniere, who lastly obtained his comeuppance across the time the episode is ready, was the inspiration for Eilish’s Eva.

“While you have a look at the time of the present’s story, and the truth that there’s a true-crime component of each episode, that component of Episode 4 is NXIVM,” explains Nabers. “They existed in New York — in Albany — and that was the interval in our lives once they have been preying on ladies. It’s concerning the concept of a cult-like mentality of somebody that may be your savior, and also you see that mirrored in music. That was all the time a part of what that episode was going to be. We took the Keith Raniere character out of it as a result of we actually needed to concentrate on the ladies.”

Janine Nabers, Billie Eilish, and Donald Glover on the ‘Swarm’ premiere on March 14, 2023, in Los Angeles, California.

Tommaso Boddi/Getty Photos for Prime Video

Following the hike, Eva summons Dre to a personal room underneath the guise of self-help — solely to lure her in a triggering bout of mindfuckery akin to the “Processing” sequence in The Grasp (little question impressed by Scientology auditing).

“I’m gonna snap my fingers, and after I do, I need you to say your identify,” Eva tells Dre. “It’s what we name a ‘grounding level.’ And we’re going to maintain including to your ‘grounding level,’ so it’s sturdy — such as you.”

Earlier than lengthy, Dre is spiraling. She loses belief within the ladies, who’ve confiscated her treasured cellphone and cleaned the blood off the backseat of her automobile, and will get bloody revenge, working over Eva not as soon as — however twice — together with her automobile.

Once I point out the scene to Fishback and Nabers, they burst out laughing.

“Stunts did that! I don’t even received a license!” exclaims Fishback. “However that Eva character basically asks for it. Dre was attempting to depart. She needed her cellphone. She went into her thoughts with out her permission, received details about her sister that she didn’t freely offer you, after which that? It’s over for you. It’s over.”

Each Fishback and Nabers got here away extremely impressed by Eilish’s work ethic and skill on set, particularly given her lack of onscreen performing expertise.


“She’s so respectful of the craft. She got here in with concepts, wanting to speak about it, being sport to rehearse,” provides Fishback. “I feel she’s great. I’m such a fan of her as an individual because of what I skilled together with her on set.”

“She got here in and their chemistry was actually great,” provides Nabers of Fishback and Eilish. “This present, when it comes to ladies and violence, is so empowering for me, since you see it from such a masculine standpoint normally within the historical past of movie and TV. To subvert that with this, and with Billie, was nice.”

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