'Deadly Illusions' star Greer Grammer, director Anna Elizabeth James discuss female sexuality in new film

The daughter of Kelsey Grammer grew up on sets and now she's carving out her own path on-screen


"Deadly Illusions" is one of Netflix's latest hit movies. 

The thriller, written and directed by Anna Elizabeth James, stars Greer Grammer as a nanny, Grace.

The film follows Grammer's character as she becomes entangled in a wealthy couple's (Kristin Davis and Dermot Mulroney) life and as the logline teases, "The line between fiction and reality starts to blur."

Grammer and James spoke to Fox News about the drama's larger themes of female sexuality, mental health, and, of course, that cliffhanger ending. 

Fox News: Anna, where did the film's concept originate from?

James: I had some experiences in my former life as a stay-at-home mom that sort of percolated to the top. It just so happened that some real-life headlines coincided when I was writing the script. 


I also love Christopher Pike novels. I love this dark world that taps into the cerebral side of us. I wanted to create something that I wouldn't fall asleep to.

Greer Grammer as the mysterious nanny, Grace, in 'Deadly Illusions.' (Kiss and Tale Productions/Netflix)

Fox News: Greer, how did you approach playing someone who was struggling with a mental health disorder?

Grammer: I was lucky I had worked with my acting coach prior to filming so we walk through different beats together... where Margaret comes out, where Grace goes away, where the switch happens, what sets her off.

That was a really big thing because Margaret was set off by touch. So any time there was a touch that was remotely sexual, her Grace personality goes away and Margaret comes out. If you were to go back and watch the film, there are so many moments that you're probably not picking up on where I've already switched.


Fox News: Do you think the film vilifies someone who is struggling with a mental health disorder?

Grammer: It's been hard for us to hear [that criticism] because we showed that [having] compassion is the number one thing to have with people who are struggling. Grace is someone that's still in [the family's] life and they still treat her with compassion and love.

What does Grace want? What does she need? It's so evident in almost every scene. She wants to be loved. She wants to be a part of a family. And that's a core desire we all have. 

Fox News: The film features a number of intimate scenes between both Kristin Davis and Greer and Dermot Mulroney and Greer. Greer, how did you feel about the sex scenes and Anna, why were those scenes important to the story?

Grammer: Kristin was amazing but [the scenes] were also nerve-racking. She's such a pro that any anxiety that I had about it was completely eased and we just got to be actors and explore. It's really cool that was my intro into this world because I'd never done any [sex] scenes like this before in my career. [Dermot] is a dream and also so professional. 


James: The film is told from a female gaze. We wanted to highlight female sexuality in a way that was like less is more. Could we create something that was more tantalizing and intriguing than pornography? That was sort of an internal thesis I had. It's something that I'm passionate about and I'll probably always bring into my work is female sexuality. We wanted you to squirm in your seat. We wanted you to feel something. We want you to feel alive. We want you to be struck by it and say, why? Why is this hitting me so hard?

Dermot Mulroney, Kristin Davis, and writer-director Anna Elizabeth James on-set.  (Kiss and Tale Productions/Netflix )

Grammer: In this world that we're living in today females are having open discussions about their sex lives and about being sexual. And I think that's so important and I think it's so important to [have stories] be told from a female perspective. We're showing that less can be more. Your mind can go to more places, you can get more turned on. You can get all these things from watching it without having to see explicit things.

Fox News: Greer, you grew up on sets with your parents, did the teen TV landscape, and now have moved into more mature roles. Why did you pursue acting? 

Grammer: I grew up going to sets my entire life not only because of my dad [Emmy-winner Kelsey Grammer] but also because of my mom [Barrie Buckner]. She was a makeup artist. I loved it. That was where I felt the happiest, even as a kid.

Greer Grammer is the daughter of actor Kelsey Grammer and makeup artist Barrie Buckner. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Getty Images for Amazon Studios)

As I got older, I started in theater and that was really good for me as an actor to have that foundation. And that was really big with both my parents. They told me, 'Don't do acting because you want to be famous, don't do acting because you think it's what you're supposed to do.'


I want to keep trying to study [acting]. I think that's the most important thing for actors, is just continuing to study your craft and learn how to build a character.

Fox News: The movie ends on a cliffhanger. Can you tease anything about a sequel?

James: I think we set out to make like an indie art-house film. We never intended it to go this big. And we're ecstatic and we're grateful for Netflix because, without that platform, this never would have happened. We wanted to leave the ending open to interpretation. We'd love to do a sequel. We'd love to finish the rest of the story.


Grammer: We know where the story goes only because we've been starting to have those conversations after the success of the movie. I mean, we had we maybe talked about an idea or so while shooting, but nothing really serious. Everyone asks me about the ending and who is [the woman walking] and all this stuff. And I'm like, I don't know, there's no answer. That's for you to draw your own conclusion.

"Deadly Illusions" is currently available to stream on Netflix.