You might not be too familiar with the name Sydney Park, but if you’re a fan of The Walking Dead then you’ll definitely know the face. Park joined the show last season as Cyndie, the grand-daughter of Natania, the leader of the Oceanside clan. Last we saw her, Cyndie and her people were being ambushed by Rick’s posse for their arsenal of guns.
She’s actually been in the industry since she was six, when she started doing stand-up on America’s got Talent. Over the years she’s worked for Disney as well as being a main cast member on Nickelodeon show Instant Mom. Recently though, Park has been hard at work in new horror Wish Upon.
In Wish Upon she stars as Meredith, the spunky BFF of the film’s protagonist Clare, played by Joey King. Clare is gifted a Chinese wish box for her Birthday and soon discovers that the box does in fact work, granting Clare her heart’s desire. There’s a catch however, for every wish she makes someone will die. Mixing elements of Wishmaster, The Craft and Final Destination, Wish Upon is a genre film that taps into the teen zeitgeist, an area which horror has been moving away from in recent years.
We sat down with Sydney to talk about the project, her love of the horror genre, her spooky birthday, and of course about whether we’ll be seeing Cyndie again anytime soon.
You have a very horror genre friendly Birthday – Halloween – it’s like you were born to be a scream queen. Have you always been a fan of the genre?
It’s interesting because when I was a little girl I used to have my mom make me costumes and I loved dressing up and going treat or treating, but honestly trick or treating used to terrify me! So I wouldn’t last very long, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve started to appreciate the horror genre even more. Obviously working in the horror genre has kind of made me understand scary movies, but when I was in middle school I used to have friends come over and we would create little mini horror films on my computer. I would put chocolate milk in the sink to make it look like blood and my mum would hear us screaming and she’d be like – ‘are you guys okay?’ and I’d say to my mum – ‘you just ruined my shot!’ (laughs) So yeah I’ve actually grown to love horror movies now.
Do you have any particular favourites?
Oh my goodness yes, I LOVE The Shining, Pet Sematary, Rosemary’s Baby, Insidious, The Conjuring…the list goes on. I love a lot of them, but those are definitely my favourites – The Shining for sure is in my top. It just never, never gets old. I feel like Stanley Kubrick’s style of film-making is just timeless. I love watching it.
You started out in comedy, but recently seem to have been drawn to horror. What is it about the genre that appeals to you?
Well, I started out doing stand-up comedy when I was about six years old, and I did stand-up for maybe six or seven years, but during that time I was doing stand-up I was also working on sitcoms and Disney channel. I recently just ended my Nickelodeon sitcom, but I honestly think I just loved the idea of being in a horror film. I’ve always wanted to be in a horror film so having the opportunities such as Wish Upon and The Walking Dead, it was kinda kismet in a way. It just felt like it was meant to be. I don’t know, I love drama, I love doing dramatic work as well, but I think horror is definitely really fun and challenging and super intense, and that’s what drew me to it.
In Wish Upon you play Meredith, why did you want to play her?
Meredith is so sassy and I like to say that she has a big mouth, but you know what, she’s a loyal friend and sometimes her mouth can get her in trouble. She just says everything that everyone else wants to say. She’s very strong willed and hard-headed in that way. She’s just a fun character, she’s so funny. She’s kinda the comic relief in the movie which I love as well. John R. Leonetti, the director, I’ve been such a fan of his work, but when I was working on Meredith and becoming Meredith, we just had so many talks about her. He said to me – ‘Meredith is kinda like the truth of the movie. She’s always saying what’s on our minds’. I loved that, that Meredith is so truthful and funny at the same time. I think people will definitely get a kick out of her, as much as I did.
She’s definitely very confident…
Definitely. She kind of reminds me of me in a lot of ways too, and that’s what I love about her.
I’m sure you’ll be asked this a lot, but what would you do if you were to find a wish box?
Ow….I would definitely wish…..that cancer never existed. I feel that it’s just so unnecessary to have in our world. It affects so many people in such a negative way so that would definitely be my wish. I wouldn’t wish for anything shallow quite honestly, but I guess the wish box would be, would still have a price right? So that would be interesting to see the outcome of that wish.
What do you hope audiences will feel when watching Wish Upon? It seems to me that it’s been a while since we had a real teen-centred horror film. When watching Wish Upon it felt like a throwback to films such as Final Destination and The Craft.
Oh The Craft, yes that is definitely on my list too, I love The Craft! I think that the movie is timeless. We have these young characters and there’s a part of this movie that is just a normal teen movie, and then there’s obviously a very, very, very dark side. I think there are a lot of positive messages in this movie. Obviously be careful what you wish for, you can take that as a metaphor as well. But I think people will have a lot of fun watching it and watching how this story unfolds. Joey King, she did such a great job as Clare, and the evolution of Clare. How the box kinda becomes her and she becomes the box. It’s very interesting how the box is a character in itself. Mostly I think audiences will just have a really great time watching the movie and will take away some important messages too.
What’s it like filming your own death?
(chuckles) It is soooo epic! It is very, very cool. I loved it! I actually freaked myself out looking in the mirror a couple of times! Shooting that scene was so fun! So we shot my scene in different parts. It was like three separate days that we were able to shoot that major elevator scene, but dying on film is interesting – very morbid, but so cool.
Meredith hunts demons and such via an app, you’re other character Cyndie hunts zombies in person, which is easier?
Oh man, I definitely have to say the app is easier! But it’s interesting how that’s almost a parallel between me and my character on The Walking Dead.
Could Meredith be Cyndie’s origin story in some kind of alt universe?
Ooooh that is very, very interesting! Yeah maybe in a multiverse or… yeah that’s so cool…possibly, why not?! Yeah so the apocalypse definitely hardened her and probably made all of her humour go away, so yeah that would make sense.
What’s it like being part of such a globally successful show?
It is honestly the most amazing feeling. I have loved The Walking Dead since it debuted, actually on my birthday, Halloween, eight years ago. It’s a show that has been in my household for years so when I got the call to have an audition, I was so excited, but at the same time I knew how competitive it was gonna be. So my mom, she’s an amazing acting coach, she’s taught me everything I know, we coached together and we were like, ‘okay, we know the tone of the show, we know how to do this’, I go in and I have one audition. The casting director gave me maybe a note to just change it up and I was like cool. I went home and though, ‘okay I guess I did a good job, time for lunch.’ I just had to wipe my hands clean of it and then when I got the call maybe a week later to come to Atlanta I was crying. I know how this show is such an international phenomena and it has this incredible following. It’s the number one show and it’s also just so much fun to work on. There’s an incredible crew and an amazing cast, everybody is so kind and it’s been an awesome experience. It’s so wonderful.
Will we see Cyndie and her people in the next series?
(long pause) Well you’ll just have to see…you’ll have to keep watching.
How’s work on Altar Rock going?
I shot Altar Rock last summer in Massachusetts and it was very hot. It wasn’t too long of a shoot, I’m not too sure when it’ll be coming out.
Along with Patriots Day and Stronger, Altar Rock is another film about the Boston bombings. Patriots Day is a thriller about the investigation and Stronger is a drama about one of the victims. Where does Altar Rock fit in?
It’s more…there’s quite an element of romance in there, but it’s kind of an action thriller.
What else are you working on?
My new YouTube series is out later this year. It’s called Lifeline, it’s a sci-fi, action, thriller. It’s exec produced by The Rock which is super exciting. We finished shooting a couple of months ago and it’s an amazing show, it looks really incredible. My character Nora is so kick-ass and I think my fans will really enjoy watching me because this is a character they’ve never seen me play before. I have a Dreamworks animated series on Netflix right now called Spirit Riding Free.
Wish Upon is released in UK cinemas on Friday 28th July, 2017. Read our review of the film here.