Tell me about the film Starry Eyes.
The movie is about a young actress named Sarah Walker. She unwittingly sells her soul to a demonic cult that is masquerading as a film studio. The character of Sarah herself is very much a lost soul. She’s devoted to her work and has great work ethic and takes it very seriously, but she lacks the sense of identity and the self-value that makes her an easy target for the exploitation that she is faced with.
Did you see a correlation between the film and the real-life industry?
Oh yeah! It’s almost a stylized version of what a lot of actors face. You have the anxiety of sitting in the waiting room, sizing up other people until you get called in where you maybe falter and then you leave and agonize over every single moment. Getting even more general than that, it’s just dealing with the constant rejection because that is a big part of it. Basically, the slog of supporting that lifestyle. It’s nice that they show acting in the primordial aspect of it.
In what sense is Starry Eyes a classic horror movie?
Well, a lot of the soundtrack is very much reminiscent of the heavy-synth horror movies from the 70s and 80s. The variety of things that the audience experiences on this journey is very reminiscent of something like Possession or Rosemary’s Baby where you really do go on a ride. One of my favourite things about the movie is the pacing, to be honest. It really doesn’t let you go; it doesn’t give you even a moment to stop and pull yourself out of it.
Knowing everything Sarah goes through and everything that is on the line, in terms of her entire career, do you understand why she would make that deal with the devil?
I don’t blame her. My job in bringing her to life is to justify every decision that she makes and find a way to see the reasons behind it. It was a challenge, but also so interesting because I feel like I haven’t experienced it first. But I know that the stigma exists for a reason. I’m sure there are people who have had to deal with things like the casting couch. I wanted people to understand that she’s not a bad person, she’s just doing what she thinks is expected of her because she never cared about herself enough to make her own boundaries.
When I was reading the synopsis for this movie I thought it was a really interesting idea for a movie because it’s classified as horror, but it sounds like something pretty true to real life.
Absolutely. There’s a real element of human drama to it. I love horror movies but that is really what drew me to this character and to this project. It was an opportunity to explore that element of the human condition and explore something that is so often dismissed. That really appealed to me about it.
What would you say are the hardest parts about filming a horror movie? It’s so different than any other genre.
That’s completely true. This movie in particular, was very physically taxing. There were multiple takes of falling or running or dragging myself across a floor [laughs]. I won’t give anything away but the climax of the film especially involved a lot of physicality. One thing I love about the horror genre is how much it demands of actors.
What are some of your favourite horror films?
Where to begin? I love The Shining,The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,Rosemary’s Baby, Possession. I loveHour of the Wolf by Ingmar Bergman, which was the only horror movie he ever did. But I like some of the campier stuff too like Hellraiser, Gremlins and, honestly, I liked the second one better than the first.
Now, I have to ask this next question because I have a KISS fan in my family. One of your co-stars in Starry Eyes was Nick Simmons, son of Gene. Tell me everything.
That’s too funny. Nick and I have been friends for a number of years. I actually got him the role in this movie. He was helping me with my callback audition for it, so I brought it up to the directors and they were totally on board to bring him on. Our line producer is a huge KISS fan, too. Nick is awesome. He’s such a goofball and he’s a really smart guy. He’s a total teddy bear.
Have you met Gene?
Yes! He’s very fatherly. I’m sure that’s his approach to me because I’m his son’s friend. He’s actually given me advice a few times. As long as you have something to say, he’s very approachable and cool. He’s a dad, you know? The whole family is lovely.
What’s coming up for you?
I have another movie coming out called The Divine Order in which I have a smaller part, but I’m sort of the comic relief, which was fun. And right now I’m working on a film, but I can’t even talk about it!