I recently got chance to talk to Lauren Schneider about her role as Sarah in ‘Red White & Blue’. Here, Lauren talks about the film’s violent nature and her experiences working with the cast and crew on-set, whilst discussing her role in a new horror film – ‘Creature’….
Hey Lauren. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me. ‘Red, White & Blue’ is in cinemas right now, and I’ve had the chance to go and see it myself recently. I thought it was quite harrowing….but for anyone who hasn’t seen the film, how would you sum up the plotline?
I would say the film is a terrifying glimpse of karmic retribution in the most immediate sense, a would-be love story gone terribly awry. It’s like watching a car accident, you are swept up into the lives of characters who are likable despite their flaws and by the time you realize what’s happening you can’t look away because you desperately want to believe that perhaps, somehow, they will find a way out of the impending nightmare…
Tell us a bit about your character and the role she plays in the film…
My character Sarah actually has quite a different experience in the film than any of the other characters – she narrowly escapes the terror, completely unbeknownst to her. Sarah is Franki’s ex-girlfriend and over the course of the film we see them possibly re-uniting and then, because of Franki’s mistakes, she really steps back and becomes more of a supportive figure to Franki, a light in his increasingly dark life trying to beckon him back to a better life…sort of the only hope he has to getting back on track, but…well, I’m sure your readers can imagine how it all pans out…hahaha…
What made you want to get involved with the project in the first place? Given the violent nature of the film, I wouldn’t be surprised if you had to think it over a couple of times before agreeing to do it…
I actually didn’t have to think twice! The director, Simon Rumley, was in both the audition and the callback, and it was his passion for the project and his specificity that made me want to be involved. He was so clear about what he was looking for and how he wanted to shoot the film and that is so important in my opinion, especially with this kind of material. Material as bold as this is unusual and Simon’s vision for the project was daring to say the least; I was excited to be involved in something that really pushes the envelope and challenges audience comfort levels. I come from a theatre background and theatre, originally, was extremely provocative, audiences were typically up in arms during performances, viscerally reacting to the material. What I love about ‘Red White & Blue’ is that it goes that far – in every screening I’ve been to – there are audible and physical reactions from audience members, it is never a quiet theater when this film is playing. I know the entire story intimately and even I was squirming in my seat and gasping during a lot of the scenes.
An IMDB review has said – “Red White & Blue’ are colours of an American flag – and this drama tries to demonstrate the quintessence and the undercurrents of the everyday life stateside. ‘Red White & Blue’ are also the colours of the three main characters’ souls – every one of which is psychopathic in one’s own way” – would you agree with this?
Wow. Yes, I think I would agree. The thing that’s scary about ‘Red White & Blue’ is the understated simplicity of the characters and of the horror that unfolds. There’s no alien or larger-than-life monster reeking havoc, the monsters are found within the normal, working-class characters who are living seemingly “normal” lives in Austin, TX, a very real place and also arguably a character in the film. The horror is in the plausibility and realism of this world and these people. The film really brings the possibility of terror into every American’s world by setting it in our own back yard as it were. We shot on location in Austin and the story is that much more unnerving because it is so specific and conceivable. We are all capable of making that one bad decision… I guarantee no one who sees this film will think of their neighborhood home goods warehouse employees in the same way ever again.
The film stars Noah Taylor, Amanda Fuller and Marc Senter – what was it like working on-set with them?
Amazing. Amanda and I have since worked together on another film, ‘Creature’, and she a fantastic actress, so present and brave in her work, as is obvious in her performance in ‘Red White & Blue’. Marc and I had a great rapport and it was such a positive and insightful experience working with him. His work is immediate and raw and we had a lot of fun experimenting and keeping our scenes fresh and alive. And Noah is a truly dedicated and thoughtful actor, I feel lucky to have been on-set to watch him work. I feel like I learned a lot from each of these thoroughly talented actors. I honestly can’t say enough about each of them as actors and as people, Simon did an excellent job putting together a talented cast of truly good people who dedicated themselves to the project and were so positive to be around. Despite the tough nature of the material, the mood on-set was extremely positive and supportive and welcoming, a gift in this business.
Let’s talk about you Lauren. What made you want to get into acting in the first place?
Acting was something I began later than most typically do, I was in college at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill when I decided to try acting and I was lucky to be in a place with such a wonderful acting program. UNC is the home of Playmakers Repertory Company so all of my teachers were working actors and visiting directors and there was also a plethora of student driven work which meant we got to learn all aspects of the craft. I had classes in everything from costume shop to directing, I really couldn’t have asked for a better program to serve as my introduction to acting. And I think what hooked me was the psychology of acting. I love delving into the messiness of human behavior and figuring out what motivates the characters I play. Making the connections and figuring out what makes people tick is such a thrill for me, especially when you connect the dots and solve the mysteries that aren’t immediately obvious. It’s like detective work, so thrilling and exciting and satisfying when you figure it out. And obviously getting to explore different aspects of my own psyche has been very interesting. Acting is a true adventure – the immediacy and unpredictability of reacting within the constraints of the text make it something that is always fresh and interesting and just out of reach. There’s always more to explore, more to delve into, and that keeps me hooked. Acting is invigorating to me, and one of the few things I do in which I find myself losing track of time.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to pursue a career in acting?
There are so many ways to tackle that question! First, I would say know yourself and trust yourself. It’s a tough business and to make progress I think you really have to have a strong sense of self and a confidence in your abilities. There will always be someone who you think of as being better than you in some way, more qualified or more talented, but you have to remember that you alone are capable of offering the unique interpretation that is inherent in your perspective. And the other piece of advice that I’ve heard repeatedly and that I actually think of most often is that perseverance is key. Talent and luck play a big part in success but the key ingredient is perseverance. Every teacher I had told me this, every working actor I have spoken with has re-iterated it, and as I progress in my career I know it more and more to be the truth.
What does a Lauren Schneider day usually consist of?
Every day is so different for me! But typically, when I’m not acting, I try to spend my time doing things that keep me inspired and focused. That’s the hardest part about pursuing acting – keeping yourself motivated and inspired in the in-between times. So I write a lot, I’ve actually gotten into writing screenplays and am beginning to produce too, which is really exciting. It’s empowering to realize you can actually create your own opportunities and I am lucky enough to have a close network of supportive and inspiring friends to create projects with. I also paint and dabble in photography. And my favorite thing to do, which happens to be the best thing about living in Los Angeles in my opinion, is hike. I live near Griffith Park and the hiking trails up there are magical; I hike almost everyday and I am beyond thankful to be able to immerse myself in nature in the middle of this big, crazy city. It keeps me sane.
You’ve recently finished production on a film called ‘Creature’ – what can you tell us about this project?
‘Creature’! I’m really excited about this film. It’s a rebirth of the monster movie, from the Bubble Factory – the producers who created ‘Jaws’. This film is a throwback to the classic monster movie done completely without CGI, which is a big deal these days when technology is so easy to fall back on. ‘Creature’ is the story of a group of kids traveling through the Louisiana bayou on a road trip who decide, last-minute of course, to search out some added adventure when they learn of the historical lore of the place. Their adventure goes very awry, as you can imagine, and the terror unfolds… The movie will be in theaters nationwide opening on September 9th and the buzz is starting to build; horror film legend Sid Haig is in the film along with Mehcad Brooks of ‘True Blood’ and Serinda Swan from ‘Tron’, and, as I mentioned earlier, Amanda Fuller and I got to work together again which was such a treat. Daniel Bernhardt, Dillon Casey and Aaron Hill are also in the film, and Fred Andrews directed and really did an outstanding job putting together a great cast and hopefully creating a fun and terrifying film. We’re really excited about it, it’s been a while since there was a good monster movie and I think ‘Creature’ will be a horror crowd pleaser. We’ve just started promoting the film so look for it in September in a theater near you!
What else is coming up for you in 2011?
Next for me is a film called ‘Somewhere Slow’, a drama that was written by and will be directed by Jeremy O’Keefe – starring Jessalyn Gilsig from ‘Glee’. We’re shooting that in July and then I’ll be working on a film I’m co-producing actually, called ‘The Alley’. It’s my first turn as producer so that will be a new adventure and I’m really excited to see how that goes. And after that I’ll be pouring myself into the first season of a TV show I’m co-producing as well called ‘My Brother Nancy’. I’m so excited about these projects, acting is such a joy for me and I feel so lucky to be making headway in this business, it’s definitely not easy but it’s absolutely worth the hard work. I honestly feel beyond lucky to be working and every opportunity is increasingly more exciting. Acting is definitely my passion and I’m thankful for every chance I get to play.
Thanks for the interview!