I recently got the chance to talk to Tara Lynne Barr about her leading role in ‘God Bless America’. Here, Tara talks about what it was like working with the cast and crew on-set and how she got involved in the project…
Hey Tara. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me about your new film, ‘God Bless America’.
Of course! It’s my pleasure.
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
Essentially, the story follows a middle-aged, terminally ill man named Frank who becomes fed up with the mean people in American society and goes on a killing spree to wipe them all out. My character, Roxy, is equally pissed off at these folks and ends up joining him.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
Roxy is Frank’s young sidekick. She’s kind of a wild card. Her hatred doesn’t stem from a place of “why can’t we all be nice to each other” like Frank. Her motive to kill is mostly that she’s just crazy, but she’s also very sharp and different from your average 16-year-old, and that sets her apart from her peers. She was a real treat to play.
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
I auditioned! It was the pretty standard process: the audition notice came out for the role, my agent submitted me, and then the casting directors called me in to read. I had an initial audition with casting, and then two callbacks with Bobcat.
How would you say this film is different and unique?
I think this film is unique because it doesn’t really pander to anyone. It certainly doesn’t pander to conservative America because it attacks crazy right-wing political commentators. But it also blasts crazy liberals who are too PC. Frank gets in trouble at work because he sends flowers to a co-worker who had a bad day – (“sexual harassment” – Ha!). No one is really safe and in that sense, it’s pretty ballsy. Bobcat never sacrificed his vision in the hopes that more people would watch it or react more positively to it.
The film stars Joel Murray, your good self, Mackenzie Brooke Smith, Melinda Page Hamilton, Rich McDonald, Guerrin Gardner, Kellie Ramdhanie, Andrea Harper and David Mendenhall – with Bobcat Goldthwait onboard as director – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set with all the guns and weaponry? Any good anecdotes?
Working on set with those guys was always entertaining. Even when we had been working for 14 hours and everyone was so tired, it never felt like a job. There was a night when we had been working nearly all day and we were about to shoot a scene where I stabbed someone (guess who?! – and that whole sequence was a one-take deal, by the way). Anyway, I had to get bloodied up for the scene and while the makeup team was making a bloody mess of me, one of our PA’s started jamming on a keyboard and improvised what we lovingly called “The Blood Song”. It sounds lame, but we were all standing there laughing our asses off and having the greatest time while this super heavy scene was coming up and I’m getting drenched in fake blood. That basically sums up the atmosphere on set and as a newcomer, it was a hell of a time.
Let’s talk a bit about you Tara. What made you want to get into the industry in the first place?
What really inspired me to try acting was watching my sister in a play when I was 6 or 7. I thought it looked like a lot of fun so I started doing theater and eventually made the transition to film and TV, which wasn’t as easy as it sounds! My mom and I were so clueless, we looked for agents in the yellow pages.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to pursue a career in the industry?
It’s not very original, but all I have to say is do NOT give up. Success, for 99% of actors, doesn’t come overnight and if you happen to hit a dry spell – train, do theater, write! But don’t ever give up.
You’ve been in a number of different films and TV series, even a game – which actors/actresses have been your favourites to work with so far and why? Any good stories?
I recently worked with Sally Kellerman on a film and she was fabulous. I mean, she’s an incredible actress for starters, but she’s also a strong, sexy, confident woman and a really great role model. She got injured on the set of this film and her first reaction was “did you get the take?!” You can’t beat that dedication and enthusiasm! And of course, Joel Murray is a no-brainer. I learned a hell of a lot from that guy and we got along pretty well – (which was lucky, seeing as we only met about a week before we started filming!). That Russian Roulette scene in ‘God Bless America’ was totally improvised but the chemistry and the comfort between us was there so I think it worked. Oddly, that’s one of Bobcat’s favourite scenes and it wasn’t even written by him!
What’s currently on your I-Pod right now?
Way too much Led Zeppelin. I’m going through a 70s-80s rock phase. Lots of Led, lots of Pink Floyd. And of course, always profuse amounts of Jimi Hendrix. He’s my favourite.
If you could have dinner with three guests – (living or dead), who would you choose and why?
Jimi Hendrix would DEFINITELY have to be one because he’s Jimi Hendrix. Martin Scorsese would be another because the guy is one of the most fascinating humans alive! He’s an encyclopedia of film, music, and generally cool knowledge. Stephen Sondheim would have to be the last guest. He’s like the Scorsese of musical theater – brilliant, talented, and full of information. I would do very little talking at this dinner, I think. Jimi could give me a guitar lesson afterwards while Scorsese and Sondheim chatted.
On your off-days, how do you like to kick back and relax?
I play the guitar until it hurts mostly. I also see friends, read, and watch way too much ‘Family Guy’.
What’s coming up for you in 2012?
2012 has included doing more voice work for video games – (‘The Secret World’ is out now!), commercials and a new film with the stunning Sally Kellerman and Betsy Franco – (James’ Mom!), directed by the wonderful Ellen Houlihan, who I’m predicting will be a directorial force to be reckoned with. I’ll also be doing some travelling to promote GBA, and I’m still auditioning and looking forward to what the rest of the year holds!
Thanks for the interview!