Known for her work on The X-Files, The Walking Dead, The Mist, Silent Hill and The Shield, actor Laurie Holden is next on screen in Pyewacket. Directed by Adam MacDonald, the film tells the sinister story of a teenage girl whom after a heated argument with her mother performs an occult ritual to dispose of her. She soon has a change of heart, however, and must race to save the life of her mother before the summoned entity – Pyewacket – gets there.
Whilst on paper the film might scream horror, it’s actually more of a dark twisted version of Lady Bird with a Hell of a cautionary tale about being careful what you wish for. With such an interesting premise we were itching to speak with Holden about the project; here’s what she had to say:
A lot of people will read the synopsis, see the mention of the occult and make assumptions that Pyewacket is a more genre-based film, but for me, Pyewacket felt very much like an alternative take on Lady Bird – what’s your take on the film?
I have always seen our film as a psychological thriller with an occult twist to it. And I love that you see it as an alternative take on Lady Bird…that’s how many of us feel about the piece as well. When you pull away from the window dressing of witches and black magic, it’s really a story about a mother and daughter who are at odds with the sudden death of the person they loved most.
This is only Adam MacDonald’s second feature, what was it that convinced you that he could pull it off?
I saw Backcountry, his first feature, and was knocked out by him as a storyteller. He has an elegance to his film- making and an honest deference to his characters.
The chemistry between you and Nicole [Munoz] seems completely authentic, did you have much time to work on the dynamic before production began?
We only got a chance to spend one day together in Toronto before shooting. But once we were on location we were pretty inseparable. We had a special connection as humans on this shoot…it was very soulful. I felt very protective of her, as if she were my own daughter.
There’s a lot of heavy emotional scenes for your character in Pyewacket, how did you go about getting into that mindset to shoot those scenes and what do you do to make sure that you don’t take it home with you in the evening?
There was a lot of internal preparation that went into playing this character, (as there has been with just about every character I have played). My approach to the work has always been to build an inner life from my imagination that feels so authentic and organic, that my mind and body don’t know the difference. What I mean is…I kind of “live” it for the duration of the shoot. Not in a ‘pretentious actor’ way…more in a ‘little kid living in state of wonder’ kind of way. I literally immerse myself in the world of the story and the skin of that character. So to answer your question, on the days where there were heavy emotional scenes, I just went on the emotional roller coaster of my character. I experienced it. And I ALWAYS took it home with me.
You seem to have a knack for picking projects that don’t conform to the typical ‘Hollywood’ ending – The Mist being the other standout – what did you think when you read that ending?
I thought it was the most nihilistic, depressive ending I ever read. I also thought it was FANTASTIC.
You’ve been both the voice in a video game, and starred in a film based on a video game – which was more fun?
Much more fun to bring a video game to life!
You are a prominent member of the organisation Operation Underground Railway, can you talk a little bit about the work that they do?
Operation Underground Railroad (OUR), is an organization run by Tim Ballard, and made up of a team of former CIA and military personnel, whose sole mission is to rescue children who have been sexually trafficked. They also work to dismantle the criminal networks that propagate this activity around the world. It’s an extraordinary organization that has had incredible results….SO MANY lives have been saved. Three years ago they invited me to go on a covert mission down in Cartagena where I helped rescue 55 children who were enslaved. It was the best thing I have ever done. I am committed to this work for life.
How important do you think it is that figures in the public eye support worthy causes and help raise awareness?
When you are in the public eye, you are in the fortunate position of having a platform. ..a means by which your voice can be heard. I think it’s critical and downright essential, (especially in these tumultuous times), to try and be the positive change you want to see in the world. Yes, It’s important to support worthwhile causes and raise awareness, of course it is…. but I also think it’s important to get out there and DO. Get in the trenches and take the bull by the horns…TAKE ACTION YOURSELF and lead by example.
What other projects can fans see you in next?
I am currently on the final season of The Americans, and have two films, Craig Zahler’s Dragged Across Concrete and the animated Arctic Justice:Thunder Squad, coming out later this year.