Add another one to the pile…of talented people who’ve agreed to answer my stupid questions!
I’m pleased as Hell to offer you an interview with Pollyanna McIntosh, who plays The Woman, in the Lucky Mckee directed film…well, The Woman. You know she’s stunningly beautiful, when she can still somehow look sexy, covered in dirt, with brown teeth, eating a fish whilst it still wriggles. And she’s going to have a role in the upcoming film adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s novel Filth. Hooray!
Yet, it was her role as The Woman in question which really caught my eye. I will go on record as saying that the best performance out of any film I saw in 2011 was hers. She managed to convey raw, animal intensity, while simultaneously exuding genuine human anguish, and terror. She was equal parts terrorizer, and terrorized in The Woman, and I know I’m going to love introducing new people to the film, in large part, because of her.
Oh, and that reminds me. The Woman is out on dvd, and Blu Ray, January 24th.
But enough seriousness, let’s get on to the cat, and cereal mascot questions.
What scares you?
Dog Day Afternoon.
Last week I had an existential crisis. One of those cliché ones where you ask yourself, what am I doing with my life? As an actress, have you ever had a time where you wondered to yourself about your chosen career path?
May you have many more, they are good for you. Hope you feel a little more sure now though. Um….Sort of never and always. I’m full of madness for choosing this path, well aware of it, but I have no choice!
Favorite phrase from Scotland?
My hearts in the Highlands, my heart is not here. My heart’s in the Highlands a-chasing the deer.
For Offspring and The Woman, did you study wild life, or certain tribes from areas of the world to prepare for the role? Or, did you just go method, and live in the woods, occasionally hunting and eating people?
All three! Quite seriously. Except the eating people bit. I considered trying meat again, after over twenty years of not but I had to draw the line somewhere!
Favorite nonsense word, or sound, from Offspring and or The Woman?
“Babeeeeee!”, of course.
Black magic gives all of the cats in the world super strength, and a desire to eat the flesh of humans. You are one of the last humans left alive. Armed with a magical super soaker, filled with mystical water that changes the super cats back to regular cats, you are charged with saving the world from the feline menace.
If this was a film that (somehow) had a great script, and a good director attached, would you star as the lead?
With Kristen Wiig and Paddy Chayefsky co-writing it, Frank Oz directing, Ryan Gosling as my love interest and Meryl Streep and Robert De Niro as the bad guys and Peter Dinklage as my father…I’m in.
Oof. The heart. Always.
Was it fun being in The Acid House? Was it…trippy?
It was trippy as all fuck, to quote Scotland style again. It was my first movie, I was sixteen, was paid 35 pounds for the day (less than my train fare to get there) and I had to act opposite a “real person” actor who had just been coerced out of a burnt out car where he was drinking whisky for the afternoon with his mate. I loved it. In fact, my next movie will be another Irvine Welsh film.
Was it hard adjusting to life in Portugal and Colombia, when you moved from Scotland?
I was so young and became so used to moving that it was all adventure. It was hard leaving, always, but I don’t remember it being hard to start. I remember thinking, “Now I can be a better person in this new place.” Precociously idealistic!
That kind of youth prepares you for an actor’s life. I feel very lucky to have had it.
If you could be a monster, what kind would you be?
I’d have fur like a Jellycat cuddly toy so I could just snuggle into myself and…I’d have a monstrous belly that meant tasty rubbish was good for me. I’d be able to turn dictatorial assholes good with a single scare and when I closed my eyes I could choose any movie to watch I wanted.
If you could resurrect anyone to have dinner with, who would it be?
My Nana. She was bloody funny and there’s a lot I’d have liked to have asked her as an adult.
Girlfriend (Emily) guest question:
Did you get to keep the clothes from that amazing Vogue UK shoot you did? Those green silk Tom Ford sandals were amazing.
Oh Emily! (sure Sean, I’ll call you Emily if you like.) I wish! They were goddamn beautiful! “Vertiginous heels” I believe they called them. Woof.
If there really was a Count Chocula, would he only terrorize chocolate, you think?
He’d suck on chocolate filled things like doughnuts…and small children the day after Easter.
Roughly how many terrible horror movies have you turned down at this point? Is it close to a hundred yet?
Not even close. Maybe fifteen. There are some corkers out there!
Do you think modeling helped prepare you for acting?
Yes: I met so many characters in that business and in my travels that have fed me as inspiration.
Perhaps if I hadn’t had the fucked up body bullshit that most models go through I would have had it later as an actress, which could have been more detrimental as it’s a career I value more than my previous one. As it is I’m glad I got it out the way young and learnt how precious it is to be healthy so that now no amount of Hollywood headfuck is going to start me hating on my body.
It is good to have had a grounding in another self employed, rejection filled business too.
No: I had to shake off a certain “poseyness” (new word) from my early work as an actor. As a model you know how to move in a certain way and it just looks daft on camera when you’re supposed to be honest. Ha ha. Thanks for bringing that memory back…
Generally the business can encourage a certain childishness born of insecurity as models are required to act like they are terribly important in front of the camera and have absolutely no say of any import in the job they are doing. It’s an odd dichotomy and I’ve seen plenty girls struggle to transition into adult life because of it. I think I’m doing okay….You know, actually, being an actor can do the same thing if you’re not careful. Madness proof once again.
Lucky Mckee wouldn’t tell me what part of Massachusetts you filmed The Woman in.
What part of Massachusetts did you film The Woman in?
Greenfield, Turners Falls and Deerfield. See Lucky, that wasn’t so hard!
Would you ever do voice over work? It seems like it’d be cool. You think you could show up drunk in your pajamas or something?
I’ve done a couple of video games. I’d like to do lots more. It’s very freeing, like mask work. Yes! To show up and not have to go through hair and makeup is a dream!
Is there any genre of film you’ve been dying to take a role in lately?
More comedy please.
Was there anything in particular that was hard to get used to when you moved to America? For instance, if I moved to the UK, I know getting used to driving on the left side of the road would give me trouble.
Culture is a wonderful thing but my own would sometimes backfire through misunderstanding. Back home if you say “thank you” the response is, “you’re welcome” but here it’s perfectly acceptable to say, “uh huh”. To me, that was like being slapped in the face. I still remember seeing that woman walk away and wanting to know why her sanctimonious ass had targeted me. Thank god I didn’t go after her. That’s when you realize you’ve been socialized in ways you never knew.
Has anyone ever made any bad apple puns around you?
They’ve asked me to put the kettle on a few times. Apples, not so much. Try me…
(Like to take a bite of that Mc…no, no, I’m not finishing that one.)
Thank you for agreeing to do this interview. I look forward to seeing you in a whole crap ton more films. Anything else you want to add? Any plugs, any general statements you want to express?
We all have our wisdom to impart. That doesn’t mean I have anything smart to say, just a fact.
Here’s my twittering whittering nonsense links if anyone wants to say hi: twitter and Facebook.
What really scares me the most, are stories about regular people, with dark secrets. Because despite the intellectual part of my brain explaining that no, if I go out to put a letter in the mailbox, someone won’t run up and stab me to death, the phobic part of my brain still screams in terror every time I do even the most mundane of tasks outside of what I think of as my “safe zone.”
An author that excels at true crime, realistic horror, the kind that get under my skin, is the woefully under appreciated Jack Ketchum. Ketchum understands that often, the scariest stories are about something as simple as a next door neighbor, with hidden, deviant desires. Time and again, Ketchum creates all too believable characters, who do terrible things because of very human motivations, like lust or insecurity. Some of these characters turn out to just be off their rocker. Yet, they never seem like characters in a book when you read Ketchum’s words. They seem like someone you know, a man or a woman you remember wondering about after a barbecue, or similar boring function.
Which brings us to Lucky McKee, another director who excels at horror tales more often than not, just about people. He stared this trend with his first film, May (first released film at least, All Cheerleaders Die still has yet to be released…), the story of an isolated young girl whose best friend is a doll she received as a child. Things go wildly out of control for May through out the course of the film, though I won’t spoil it for you if you haven’t seen it yet. McKee is a master of the human horror tale.
Kecthum and McKee decided to collaborate on a book together, and on a film, entitled The Woman. I’ve yet to read the book, but having seen the movie, my first reaction is simply “holy fuck.” That was my first honest review of the film after seeing it, just “holy fuck.” This is not to be taken lightly, my friends. I spend my life searching for the most disturbing films ever created. I spend hours reading about horrible murders, terrible monsters, ghosts. The Woman scared me, in the sense that it was far too close to home. It attacks through its depictions of an awful father, and the pain his family has to go through.
A sense that this could be a house down the street from you, has nothing to do with the specific location the work was filmed in. It has to do with the characters we meet, and it has to do with the painstaking length McKee goes to make these people seem real. Which is why we are ultimately so shocked when near the end of the film, all Hell breaks loose.
Hate to give plot synopsis, because I hate to ruin films for people. I’d prefer you went into The Woman relatively blind. However, in the interest of having you know at least something about the plot, I’ll give you a sentence. A terrible man finds a wild woman in the woods, and attempts to civilize her. Where the film goes from there is what makes it so fascinating.
The use of framing in The Woman is masterful. This is a film that knows exactly what it’s doing. Everything is deliberate. It makes the film that much more terrifying to watch. You know that McKee wants to scare you, just look at the way he has the camera right in this or that character’s face, as something terrible is happening off screen.
The use of editing aids in making you panic. I should know, it certainly made me very anxious. I nearly had a panic attack by the end of the film.
The only aspect of the film I was on the fence about, was the choice of music. Obviously, I don’t have the same musical taste as Lucky McKee. To be fair, I rarely like much of the music I hear in any movie. Much of the songs are done by the same person, and are in a slow, acoustic style, or an indie rock kind of a style. Sometimes, the musical tracks seemed to get a little too overt. The use of score, and sound effects is great. Really, I’m just a proponent of not using songs with lyrics in films. I find they instantly take you out of a film.
Usually, what really draws me into a film is the plot. For while explosions and T n A will drag me to the theater, it is the story that will have me re-watching the film, it’s the story that will make me want to buy a poster of the movie, that will make me want to campaign for a t-shirt to be made of the film (I’m looking at you Fright Rags, make me a The Woman shirt, dammit!). It is the story that hits me on that all important emotional level. And the story of The Woman is nothing less than the story of the uglier side of humanity. It is the story of our secret desires, and of the lengths that people will go to act out these terrible ideas. So, basically, it’s your typical Ketchum theme. I’ve heard some complaining that the humor in the film feels out of place, but adding humor to something as bleak as The Woman, only adds to the story. It makes the tale into a collaborative effort between Ketchum and McKee, and since I’m a huge fan of each artist, it’s a win win for my brain.
Finally, I want to talk about Pollyanna Mcintosh. Most of the “holy fuck” of this movie, revolves around her character, and her jaw-dropping performance. She plays The Woman with equal parts feral beast, and deranged, all to human, woman. Angela Bettis does a great job as a battered house wife, and so did the rest of the cast, including Sean Bridgers as the head of the household, and Zach Rand as Brian, the son that has learned every lesson his deranged father has taught at him. Likewise, Lauren Ashley Carter plays a very convincing daughter subject to abuse. Yet, it’s Mcintosh’s Nicholson-esque, penetrating gaze that haunts you, after you’ve gone home, and are lying down in bed. She owns every minute we see her on screen as The Woman.
I look forward to more Ketchum McKee collaborations in the future, or Hell, just more Ketchum and McKee in the future. These are artists that aren’t afraid of getting a bad reputation. Artists that know that first and foremost, art is not safe. That creative expression is often a terrifying thing in the horror genre, as it always should be. So, while more movies with sensual, teenaged vampires, and more terrible remakes are sure to come, take solace in the fact that there are still film makers like McKee, who want to scare the fuck out of you.
I first heard about one Mr. Lucky Mckee when I watched a film called May, several years ago, while I was still enrolled in college. I’ve been veritably obsessed with the man’s work since then, and I was even privileged enough to shake hands with Lucky at Rock and Shock several years ago. I just remember walking up, and asking if I could get a picture. Lucky was reading a book, and he put it down, and proceeded to stand up. It was only then that I realized how tall Lucky Mckee actually is.
Lucky typed all his answers in caps. In the interest of style, I have changed them to lower case letters. I just tend to assume caps means shouting, so it also helps you not to think he shouted his answers to me.
Anyway, off we go.
Have you ever thought about being a basketball player?
When I was young, sure. But I could never keep my head in a game, thoughts always somewhere else.
What’s your favorite horror movie?
Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
You seem to have a fascination with your doggy. Does he or she actually write all the movies, and do you simply take the credit for them?
She’s a storyboard artist.
You acted in Roman, which was directed by yo friend Angela Bettis. Do you have any plans to act in another Bettis directed film?
If she asked me to, I would. Acting is not something I actively pursue, just something I’ve had to do out of necessity in certain situations.
I heard you filmed The Woman around central Massachusetts, or somewhere close to that. I grew up around there, now do you realize how creepy Massachusetts fucking is?!
I loved it there. Really beautiful everywhere you look. It was really fun to make such an extreme film in broad daylight in such a pretty place.
You co-wrote The Woman with Jack Ketchum. What was it like writing a book? Also, how did you go about the collaboration? Did Ketchum write a chapter, and then send it to you to write the next one? How did it work?
We played to our strengths. I did the heavy lifting on the script, and Ketchum did the heavy lifting on the novel. Then we’d pass pages back and forth, and polish and throw in ideas. It was a wonderful collaboration.
If you could be any kind of monster, what kind would you be?
Favorite swear word or phrase? I’d assume it isn’t go fuck yourself.
Actually, go fuck yourself is a pretty handy one. But I also like shit-stick.
What’s the scariest book you’ve ever read?
The Girl Next Door.
What is your favorite movie with an animal as the star?
Tie between Cujo and First Blood.
Which commentary was it that I heard you talking about your love of animal movies in college? Was that for Sick Girl, The Masters of Horror episode?
Don’t know, but yes, if a real animal is doing people stuff in a film, they have a ticket sold to me.
Don’t you have a friend who acted in some of your films named Sean, and doesn’t he spell his name the same way as me? Also, on a related note, when the shit is there going to be a dvd out of your first film, All Cheerleaders Die?
When we have the ability to put it out ourselves. It’s a co-directed/written thing I did with my buddy Chris Sivertson, who is a helluva director himself. I grew up around a Sean that spells Sean like you spell Sean.
Who is your favorite Ninja Turtle?
The green one.
Why do you hate women …. sorry, that was a bad joke. But seriously, did you have a feeling going into The Woman how strong the reaction to the film would be, or are you a little shocked at the viewer reactions?
I knew it would freak some people out. I showed it to a variety of ages and types at my home before the fest. Like 4-6 people at a time who knew nothing about it. One poor girl just stared at the floor for an hour afterwards. So I knew there might be diverse reactions. I didn’t expect it all to happen so furiously on the first screening, but it did, and I can see why when I sit back and think about it objectively.
A lot of your films have had female leads. Are you a lesbian?
No, I’m not a lesbian. Unfortunately.
What the dilly yo?
I think the key is to show people that a relationship is a relationship, and they come in many forms and combinations, but we’re all pretty much the same. I’m just trying to show a diverse range of characters, that are not designed in a way to make you think a certain way politically, but in fact are simply there for you to relate to as real people.
Thank you so much for doing this interview. Truly, it is I who is the lucky one. Bad puns forever!
Ha. Goes with the territory. Thanks to you.