“It was a runner that she would be sneaking behind statues and hedges and getting these calls,” Johnson recalls. “We shot it, and it actually took a lot of work to excise it from the edit once we were in there.” In the final version of the film, Helen is a southern teacher and the twin sister of the murdered tech genius Andi, but we don’t get to hear about her kids. According to Johnson, the reason they ended up cut from the film is pretty simple: “We pulled it out because the whole reason it was in there was to build in more empathy for the character, and we realized we didn’t need that.”
Johnson tells the Filmcast pod that he wanted to make sure there were elements of the second half of the film that were more engaging and unique than simply showing the same plot over again from a different perspective. “The intellectual twist wasn’t going to be enough,” he says, “So to me, the big thing was introducing the Helen character and getting you on her side, and I think this is all Janelle Monae.” Monae gives a brilliant standout performance as both Andi and Helen, and somewhere along the line, Johnson apparently realized their charming turn as the character was enough to make us root for her even if she wasn’t a harried, multitasking mom.