Are you a big fan of horror films as a whole?
It’s really funny; I grew up on horror films. My mom likes to tell me that Bambi was the first film I saw, but my aunt is like, ‘No, it was Aliens.’ And my aunt, kind of raised me on scary movies, and she told me that, ‘It’s like going on a roller coaster—if you scream, you’ll have more fun.’ That’s the whole point of going into a scary movie: You want to get scared, you want to clench every muscle in your body until the jump happens. It’s like a ride. So I was kind of raised with that mentality, and then, as I got older, I started really getting into psychological horror films—the classics like The Shining, Rosemary’s Baby, and The Exorcist—that were really about the things that terrify us internally. Every parent is terrified of their child and with Rosemary’s Baby, every pregnant woman is really secretly terrified that that thing inside of her is actually the evil of all the world. So I became fascinated with these films and I started to stray away from just the jump-scare-and-gore [ones]. This is why I found Martyrs so interesting—it has all of these elements, like Saw or something, that are a little bit more sheer fun and gore, but it’s rooted in and mostly takes place within a psychological landscape. That is the type of horror that I lean towards.
There are so many different horror films where you get scared and then you laugh afterward and think “Why was I scared by that?” This film isn’t so much that—it’s terrifying in the fact that people can actually be thinking in this mindset and be doing these horrible things.
Playing Lucy made me realize that we are not very far from those executions of ancient Rome. It made me think about the cruelty that is still going on all over the world. There are still beheadings, there are still stonings, there are still these ancient, brutal ways that we are killing each other and that, to me, is a terrifying reality of our present time. I mean, yes, this is just a horror film, and as an audience member you watch it and then you get to leave at the end of it, but these kinds of things are really still happening. That was a reality that was difficult for me to let go of after shooting this film.
Did you watch the original French movie?
I didn’t want to because it was very, very different and I also know that my character dies midway through, so I just didn’t want it to affect me. Also, in everything that I read about the film—and I read a lot about it—it talked about how those two actresses really were so incredible and unforgettable in those roles. Then, after I made Martyrs, I was like, ‘I really don’t need to watch anything like this for a while.’ I had my fill of blood and gore for a little bit, so I just never got around to watching it, but I want to one day. Everybody says it’s absolutely incredible.
I would imagine the set was a lot different from the other sets that you’ve been on. Did you learn anything from being in a different environment?
I learned to be patient. I learned that fake blood is the worst substance on earth; I was covered in it every day. It dries in three seconds so before every take they have to come and just spray you down with bottles of cold water and put more blood on you. You stick to everything, your clothes stick to you, your hair sticks to your clothes and then it breaks off. Because we shoot Pretty Little Liars for nine months out of the year, I had to shoot Martyrs at the same time. For a full month, I had no days off. There was one night where we were out really late and we were shooting this crazy scene where I was stabbing somebody like you do, and I was covered in blood. We wrapped at 4am and I got in the car and I went straight to Pretty Little Liars. I took a shower, they did my hair all glamorous and then we filmed a scene at a blood bank. It was all four of us and I was looking at Lucy [Hale] and I had to make a joke with her about a cookie for my line and I was just like, ‘I’m so grateful that I’m not very cold, wet, and covered in fake blood right now, and that my job is to look very lovely and make a joke about a cookie.’ Normally I might have been really frustrated by that and been like, ‘This is all I’m doing today?!’ It gave me a really great appreciation for both sets.
Was there much interaction with the other actresses on the set of Martyrs?It’s difficult to do something that’s very emotionally extroverted when you’re surrounded by a crew that has to uncomfortably hold a mic over you as you sob your guts out or stab somebody. Once they yell cut, I feel compelled to immediately turn around and make a joke just so that they feel a little bit more comfortable. I’m trying to get out of that and just allow myself to have my process and be quiet. It was a really nice set because Bailey Noble who plays Anna was really amazing. We were both always on the same wavelength: When she needed to joke around, I was in the same place so we could joke around and have fun, and when she needed to be quiet, we were both just kind of finding ourselves and being okay being very quiet and letting the situation be what it was.
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