“The Menu” – An Interview with Actor Peter Grosz


Laila G., Co-Editor-in-Chief

The Menu will leave you hungry. Directed by Mark Mylod, and written by Will Tracy and Seth Reiss, the 2022 horror/thriller features a young couple and a group of the ultra-rich who take part in an opulent, carefully-planned,  multi-course meal on a remote, but picturesque island. Visually phenomenal and armed with a spectacular cast, the film can best be described as intelligent and unexpected; a satisfying satirical roast *pun intended* of the wealthy with its smart dialogue and shock elements prompted a second trip to the movie theater. After watching it a second time, it’s hard to understand how it was pulled off. I was eager to get the accomplished actor, and The Menu’s restaurant sommelier, Peter Grosz’s take. 

This interview was condensed and edited for clarity. 

Can you speak to why this project stood out to you?

I knew one of the two writers of the movie, I knew Seth Reiss – he works on Late night with Seth Myers (which I also worked on) – was writing the movie and separately had mentioned that I should audition to the producers. I did the audition and when they gave me the part, I had to leave and go shoot in Savannah, Georgia for a couple months. That was a “should I do this, should I not do this” moment but then I looked at who was going to be in it and I read the script, knew it was going to be great, so it was a no-brainer. 

Coming from a writer’s perspective, what was your initial reaction to the script? 

I thought it was great, really well-written. I was really impressed throughout and I thought that the ending was really good – that they sewed it all up perfectly. 

Was there a lot of improvising?  Watching the movie almost felt like watching a play – did it feel that way? 

Not really, there was a little as far as the script goes. There was some improvising at the tables. There were three or four couples and one threesome they let the cameras roll on as they had improvised conversations but for the most part it was pretty straight. At one point in the movie, where they’ve sat down, before the food comes, and they did let people improvise with that. A lot of it didn’t make it – I would walk up and offer people wine; they would ask me questions and I would improvise responses, but none of it made it into the final movie. It did king of set the tone for the whole piece because we shot it in order (which is pretty rare for a movie: usually you go with whatever locations you can get and you jump around – you may shoot the last scene first) but for this, they shot pretty much the whole thing in order because we were in one set and location. In that aspect, it did feel like a play. 

Because everyone remained in character even while they weren’t necessarily the star of the scene, was it kind of like method acting? Did you like that?

Yeah, I thought it was pretty fun. On a movie set, the take only lasts maybe a minute, two minutes at the longest so you focus in short little increments. and it wasn’t that hard to stay in character. Normally I’m in a lot of funny things so it was fun to be somebody who’s sort of part of that crazy, maniacal death plot.  

This movie was one of the few times I felt the audience was actively engaged; we were laughing at points, and there were collective gasps. Were there any surprises for you in the filming process/anything that kind of shocked you? 

I think there were surprises as I initially read the script (when I hadn’t read it before) but once we started going, everything was pretty much what had been written down on paper, so no major surprises. There were some stunts (like a gunshot) and I didn’t know what that was going to look like so the first time it happened it was pretty cool – I knew it was coming but the way that it actually turned out was really interesting.

How did the stunts work? 

There’re total professionals – they just give everything over to them when it comes time to fake a gunshot or any other effects. When the guy shot himself, and it splatters on that screen they had somebody behind essentially squeezing a tube that would propel something he had something in his back so that when he had the shot, it was just a loud gun sound – there was no round in there, it just makes a noise, and they time it so something like splatters. 

Was the initial take for the gunshot scene the final take? 

Well they shot that and then they had to break it all down and then shoot us so it wasn’t exactly all right on top of each other but they had a loud bang – somebody would hit a piece of wood on something to recreate the sound so we could react to that as well. 

What was your favorite part of filming? 

I think overall, I liked being in Savannah, Georgia – it’s just like a really cool place. It’s really great, it was fall, so it was not super hot down there. I really like the cast and the comradery – it was a really good group of people. But as far as my favorite part of the movie, I liked the part where we were outside and they let the men run away. I just love the way that whole set worked and I got to hold that egg timer and send the guys out. It was also just a beautiful scene/setting so I think I like that part best. And I really liked the ending. 

What was the tone like on set in these more stressful scenes/you’re character brings some more satire/lightheartedness to the really tense scenes. 

Everybody was really good at being one way – being very scared, or tense and in some ways, because that was such a strong mood that they were creating, it’s easy to just go in the total opposite direction. Somewhere in the middle maybe it’s a little harder but just to come in and be like business as usual, everything’s fine, that made it really easy, so it was kind of fun actually. 

What’s your take on ultra-fine dining? 

I’ve been to some nice places that are obviously nothing like this restaurant, but where you get something like five or six courses and you’re spending a couple of hundred dollars, but it’s such a rare thing you get to do – I really like and appreciate good food but it doesn’t have to be like the level that’s attained in this movie; that’s never something that I’ve wanted to go to. I like that type of thing but obviously, it’s fun to make fun of the ultra-rich example of it.