Your upcoming movie Running on Empty - in a few words, what
is it about?
It's about a mother who finds an unconventional method to get rid of
her pain and sadness after losing her child to a tragic accident.
What were your sources of inspiration when
writing Running on Empty? And is any of the story based on
personal experiences or the like?
Running on Empty's director Elizabeth Blake Thomas and I, whoíve worked together on
4 different projects, would always discuss what it might be like if we
could just remove the emotion of sadness entirely. We would talk in
length about how our lives would be affected. Our initial reactions
were that it can only a a positive thing but after lengthy
conversations we mused it may actually be very destructive.
What can you
tell us about the film's look and feel?
The film has a very stark look which reflects how Alice feels in the
world. We shot a lot in a big warehouse location. Itís a raw space
with very little lighting and again the big space compared to Alice
adds to her feeling on her own. Even though you hear Alice interacting
with other people in the film, you never actually see anyone else
other than her. We wanted the audience to feel the abject loneliness
Alice is consumed with.
also play the lead in Running on Empty, right? So what will you
draw upon to bring your character to life, and how much Asta Leigh can we
find in Alice? And have you written her with yourself in mind from the
For most of the film I have no make up on. And I donít mean the no
make up look where you still have make up on but it looks like you
donít. I had no make up on at all and it was a very unearthing
experience. Iíve always believed that getting to the truth of a
character is the job of us as actors. Alice is beyond devastated and
unable to live in the world without her daughter and of course her
appearance is the absolute last thing on her mind but when director
Elizabeth presented the idea to me about wearing no make up at al,l
which of course makes complete sense, I was resistant. I suddenly felt
very emotional and almost manic and eventually I had to stop and ask
myself why. I then realized that there was still a part of me that
wanted to look pretty. That there was a big part of me, Asta, that
still wanted people to look at me and think I was attractive. As soon
as I accepted that revelation I let it go so I could bring all of
Alice to the forefront. It was the most daunting and liberating
experience Iíve ever had. Each day I felt like I was shedding layers
of myself. I felt free. I didnít write Alice with myself in mind but
I certainly drew on my own experiences with grief and loneliness.
Any idea when and where the film might be released onto
the general public yet?
The film is hitting the festival circuit in the next few weeks.
Any future projects beyond
Running on Empty?
I just played a guest role in Heirloom, a short film co written
and directed by Paul Walter Hauser (I Tonya and BlacKkKlansman) and
co-written and starring Raleigh Cain (Longmire and Shameless) and
about to direct and star in a short film that I wrote, Perception.
What got you into acting in the
first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?
I started acting from a very young age and as soon as I could speak
all I wanted to be was an actor. I would wake my mom and dad up early
in the mornings so I could put on a show for them. Naturally they were
permanently exhausted. Sorry mom and dad! I trained at an acting
studio in London, England for a number of years before coming to Los
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Running on Empty?
I played a comedic role in a feature film, again with Elizabeth Blake
Thomas as director and It was a lot of fun. I worked mainly with actor
and comedian Mark Christopher Lawrence in the movie who is an
exceptional talent. I acted in a movie, Sand Angels, playing a mom
who lost a child to suicide and I played a woman in the military
whoís been raped and is afraid to speak out in Army Strong.
Besides making movies, you've also done quite a bit of stage acting -
so what can you tell us about your career in theatre, and how does
performing on in front of a live audience compare to acting in front
of a camera? And which do you perfer, actually?
I love the stage! I actually love both film and theatre for different
reasons but there is something quite special about getting the
reaction of an audience as you are on stage. I also love that every
night is completely different which means when itís going well
Itís an incredible feeling but when itís going badly, itís like
dragging yourself through chewing gum and you just have to go with it.
I also struggle with an abundance of nerves prior to going on stage
and itís something I always am having to manage.
How would you describe yourself as an actress, and some of your
techniques to bring your characters to life?
Iím an actress who likes to push boundaries and explore the depths
of the characters I portray. Even though Iíve failed and continue to
fail miserably at times, I wonít ever give up. Itís my aim to seek
the absolute truth in people, in stories and in myself, no matter
where that leads me. I will forever be on a journey of self discovery.
Actresses, filmmakers, whoever else who inspire you?
Iím obsessed with the work of directors Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu,
Barry Jenkins, Ava DuVernay, Lynn Ramsay, Darren Aronofsky. To work
with them would be an incredible honor.
Actors: Viola Davis, Regina King, Cate Blanchett, Elisabeth Moss,
Christian Bale, Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Shannon, David Oyelowo, Naomi
Watts, Ben Foster, Sam Rockwell, Michael K Williams, Chadwick Boseman,
Donald Glover, Lakeith Stanfield and Richard Cabral inspire me no end.
Your favourite movies?
There are so many movies I absolutely love so this is difficult... A
few of them are 21 Grams,
Requiem for a Dream,
If Beale Street Could Talk,
We Need to Talk About Kevin,
Dead Man Walking,
Short Term 12,
The Intouchables (French film).
... and of course, films you really deplore?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
I am not a horror fan at all, so all the Saw
movies I will never
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to
I just love the art of filmmaking in all its forms and I feel so
utterly blessed to be able to do what I do, thank you.
for the interview!