You are playing one of the lead characters in the upcoming Christmas
with the Dead - what can you tell us about the movie and your role in
I play Ella, the wife of the main character (Damian Maffei [Damian
Maffei interview - click here]), and
essentially the catalyst of the storyline. The movie itself I found very
touching: A man who wants so badly to do right, and he’s not a bad guy,
just maybe a bit selfish. He loves his family but hasn’t always been the
best at showing it. When I read the script, I was really moved. I felt for
him immediately. So many of us want be who others see us as and just
always know how.
How did you approach your character, someone who's
essentially ... dead?
Ella in many ways is very, very
similar to who I really am - probably
thanks in part to my brother having written the script, and the original
story being based off of a work of my father’s.
As for the “dead”
don’t have much practice there. The director, Terrill Lee Lankford
[Terrill Lee Lankford interview - click here]
had an interesting and original take on the “zombies” of this film. He held a
zombie boot camp and had a run-through of the type of things he was looking
for. I had one scene where I had just “turned” as you will, and my dog
died that morning (in real life). It was a terrible day, 5,000 degrees
outside plus filming in a place where you had to turn off the air and had
the hot lights on top of you. I approached this as someone who doesn’t
want to melt alive and in a lot of ways, already felt I had died some that
Are you into zombies, personally?
up watching horror films. I always had an affinity for vampires
actually. I remember when dad let me pick the movie, I’de always say
scary, and 9 times out of 10, I was requesting vampires. (And no, I have
yet to see Twilight.) We would watch
Night of the Living
Dead, Dawn of the
Dead, Army of
Darkness, Return of the Living
Dead. Oftentimes the
simplicity is what makes it scarier. I think zombies had a comeback for me
personally when I saw them move quickly for the first time. That really
messed me up. I had always had a confidence of being able to survive
against those slow bastards, but you start running and I am out. Death
will surely follow. I am watching and loving Walking
Dead right now. I
think no matter the monster, any story about the human condition and the
way you present yourself under extreme duress will always be of interest
to myself and the world. The question of “would you act right and treat
everyone right, if there was no law of man to hold you accountable” is a
can you tell us about your co-star Damian Maffei [Damian
Maffei interview - click here], and how easy/difficult was it for
the both of you to bring some chemistry into your human/zombie
Damian was amazing. I remember the moment I
knew he was gonna pull this
off no problem. It was an emotional scene, just him, camera zoomed into
his face, and his eyes, and the quiver of his lip really broke hearts in
that room. It was a fascinating thing to see. The camera loves that guy.
He was great to work with. We had already been buddies via email for a
while since my father had met him in NY, so when I met him for the first
time in person it felt like we had been pals for years. I think the
chemistry was there. I think it was easier in some ways than imagined
because as a zombie, I still looked very much the same, just a little
more ragged. Like I had been left out in the rain and dragged around by a
truck for a while. You would have to ask him. And of course him for me,
he was the same, not all drippy and yucky, so I had the easy part.
Christmas with the Dead pretty much
sounds like a family affair, with a script by your brother Keith [Keith
Lansdale interview - click here] based on
a story of your dad Joe R. Lansdale [Joe
R. Lansdale interview, click here], who also produced. So how
would you describe the atmosphere on set?
I think you
nailed it. Family, metaphorically and realistically. Everyone
wanted the project to turn out good. Sure, we hit some bumps along the
way, had some tiffs, but that is what families do, then they gather up
their stuff and start again in a new day. The whole cast and crew is
still in touch. My costume was rather… short, so when you walk around
a month with your ass hanging out you either bond with these people or die
of sheer embarrassment.
A few words
about your director Terrill Lee Lankford [Terrill
Lee Lankford interview - click here]?
I love Lee. I
have known this man through my father for at least 8 years,
by name longer. He is truly one of the most kind, sweet people in
existence if you know him. This man swooped in when he didn’t have to,
on his big boy pants and whipped everyone in to shape. (Or just whipped
everyone?) He braved the heat, the locals, and the Lansdale family. This
man is a trooper.
that Christmas with the Dead was shot over some of the hottest days
of the year. In what way did that influence your performance?
was absolutely skin melting, vomit inducing hot. I’m from Texas and I
have never gotten used to it. The Biloxi Blues movie has a quote that we
use quite often here, “This is Africa hot,
couldn’t stand this
heat.” It is true. I am fair featured, so heat and I do not get along. I
usually don’t go outside unless I have to in this time, and I make sure
am going from AC building, to car, to home. Ultimately, we got in the zone
and worked through it, but I was lucky as all my scenes were indoor. I had
one day where I had to have a blanket wrapped around my head and I got so
hot I thought for sure I would vomit all over Damian. (Better luck next
time.) After that scene I went and curled up in a ball and slept on the
floor for about an hour. That was rough.
did you get into acting in the first place, and what can you tell us about
your acting experiences prior to Christmas with the Dead?
got into acting when I was very young at the community theater. I did
some commercials and local plays, and school performances. I think that
the arts go hand in hand. If you have talent, it is gonna ooze out in some
place or another, and a lot of times it is just gonna be whatever the
nearest outlet is. I took some acting courses in college and attended a
few programs in Nashville. In the last few years I have been in several
music videos, and small productions, and I think it reignited the flame.
are better known as a country singer/songwriter than an actress though...
am, that is true. I am a singer/songwriter who enjoys acting. When I am
on the stage, doing a performance, in many ways I am acting there. I am a
persona more than a person while performing.
So what can you tell us about
the musical aspect of your career?
can tell you
singing was my first love. I just recorded my ep at Warner Studios in
Nashville, and am going back into the studio this November to finish. I
am very excited about this project. I tour nationally and
internationally as a country blues artist and write songs for a company
on music row. My album launches next year, and my fingers are crossed!
also written two songs for Christmas with the Dead. What can you
tell us about those, and why did you think they, especially, would fit the
I knew they would fit the movie because I wrote them
specifically for the
film. This endeavor was a lot of fun, and it got started in a funny way.
Mason Douglas, my co-writer on one of the songs, Christmas Present,
were doing the back and forth dance of what to write and we veered off and
started talking novels. He mentioned being a fan of Rick McCammon and it
spiraled off from there. I told him I was looking to write for the
upcoming Christmas with the Dead film and three hours later, voilà. The
second song, Happiest Time of the Year was intended to be a hokey,
extremely exaggerated song as I was told it would be played during a time
in the film with intense irony. When Julie Gibb and I wrote it, we were
going for that feeling, and I think we achieved it, and lyrically, I find
it very funny. We even put a Griswold shoutout in there, and what is more
synonymous with Christmas (at least in the Lansdale household) than the
Musicians who inspire you?
hands down favorite as far as vocals and career model is Reba. I am
loving a lot of Pink right now. She is a really great writer and her
voice just knocks me over. I get inspired all the time, if it is a good
song, good vocals, I am there. I love all music. In my player right now I
have a Women of Blues compilation, John Mayer, B.O.B., LeeAnn Womack.
and your Christmas with the Dead co-star Damian Maffei [Damian
Maffei interview - click here] are currently getting an adaptation
of Brian Keene's Castaways off the ground, right? What can you tell
us about that project yet?
This came about during a brain
storming session after we had already
discussed embarking on a project with Thomas Jane and producing his play Suckerfish
alongside By Bizarre Hands by my father. I got a message from
Damian that asked how I would feel about being involved in the Castaways-project
Brian Keene is a pal and a very talented writer. I read Castaways, and
agreed that it would make a killer horror film, and we got to cooking.
Any other future projects
you'd like to talk about?
As a matter of fact… Besides my
upcoming album, I have a monster anthology
coming out late next year or early 2013 called Impossible Monsters. It
will be out from Subterranean Press and will be edited by me. I have a
great line up in there with some AMAZING stories. I got the word last
night about another anthology, but I have to wait for the details on that.
I also started a novel and am about 60 pages in, so we will see where that
ends up. Right now I am focusing on writing for the studio project this
Actresses (or indeed actors)
who inspire you?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Love Robert De Niro,
Morgan Freeman, Judi Dench, Diane Lane, Dustin Hoffman. Love these
Your favourite movies?
My favorite movie for nostalgic purposes is Wizard
of Oz. Singing, animals, shiny red shoes… This movie was made for
I love cartoons, Bolt, Tangled.
Also loved Batman Begins,
Gran Torino, True Grit (new), Rainman. The list
goes on and on...
and of course, films you really deplored?
cause the camera work made me sick.
Facebook, whatever else?
Anything else you are dying to
mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
Thank you for