Interview: Anne Winters on ‘Mom and Dad,’ ‘Thirteen Reasons Why’ and Selma Blair Audition Stories

Actress Anne Winters

“Anytime I get a chance to play something completely different, or do something that’s so out of the ordinary, than I take that.” – Anne Winters on Choosing Her Roles

Anne Winters stars opposite Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair in the “crazy” new film, Mom and Dad. Winters (Tyrant, The Fosters) plays Carly, a young girl who has to survive the night after a mass hysteria causes parents everywhere to turn on their children. Cage, she said, was always relaxed and watching “his process on set and everything was super cool to watch.”

Winters, who also has a role in the upcoming season of Netflix’s Thirteen Reasons Why, chats about her new film, working with the cast of Thirteen Reasons and tells a hilarious audition story courtesy of  Selma Blair.

You seem to be way busy. You have so many things going on.

Anne Winters: Yeah, I do right now. Well, actually,  I just ended … right before Christmas, I ended three projects at once and it was the first time in my acting career where I knew I had a job since August, all the way through September. From August all the way to Christmas, without stopping and I worked weekends. It was insane, the most working I’ve ever done in my life. Yeah, it prepared me for really anything to come.

I’m an actor as well, and just knowing that you have something coming up is awesome.

Anne Winters: Right.

I would think that’s gotta be a fantastic feeling, but yet just like, “Oh my God, look at all this work that I have to do!”

Anne Winters: I know, it was just taking things step by step, project by project type thing. Yeah, the hardest was working on weekends or flying a red-eye and having to go straight to set and working that day. Those were ugh. I didn’t have to do it every single time, but it was a lot. It was a lot, but a lot of good stuff coming out this year so that’s good. The first thing is Mom and Dad, so I’m happy with that.

Yeah, tell me about that. I mean, it’s insane. 

Anne Winters: Yeah. It is insane, that’s a good word for it. I think that’s a perfect word. Yeah, it’s super crazy, super fun.

Tell me about it and tell me about your character. 

Anne Winters: Basically, my character is just you know, a teenage girl, she’s just trying to find who she is in high school. She’s trying to get in with the cool kids … trying to do things that she thinks she should do, but knows she shouldn’t do. You know, that whole thing. That only is for the very couple first minutes of the movie, then all of a sudden everything just goes haywire and there’s some sort of epidemic. We don’t know why, we don’t know what happens but basically parents want to kill their kids. At first, we don’t really know what’s going on. I’m kind of running from everyone, thinking that just people are trying to kill everyone, then I realize it’s only parents wanting to kill their own kids. Then from that point on it’s just madness in our house, running away from my mom and dad.

How is it working with Nicholas Cage? I would want to be around him any chance I got, just to watch him work and just to watch him be Nicholas Cage. 

Anne Winters: That’s exactly how it was. I just watched him work and I watched him be Nicholas Cage. I was like wow, he really is exactly like Nicholas Cage. He’s super crazy and super weird in his own way, but totally knows it and totally just goes with it.

He’s honestly been around for forever so just him being relaxed and knowing his process on set and everything was super cool to watch. It was really fun to work with him obviously, just going from zero to 100.

He keeps saying this in interviews and I’m just going to take it, not as my own but I just think it’s such a cool thing. Everyone always says, “Do you ever feel like you might go over the top” or this or that? He’s like, “I don’t think there is an over the top, you show me where over the top is and I’ll go above it cause I can create my own top, I can create my own over the top.” I just think that’s so cool, that’s so right. We can, we have that freedom as actors to kind of create whatever we want so there shouldn’t be a level of over the top. You know, if it’s real, if it’s what you’re feeling, which is what he’s feeling, then you know he just goes with it. I thought that that was really cool.

Selma is completely different, she is hilarious on set and we became really good friends. I genuinely loved working with her, except for when I had to cry and stuff, cause she’d make me laugh too hard.

You do a ton of screaming in the movie too. Does that kill your voice? Like, at the end of the day, you sound like a 60-year-old smoker? 

Anne Winters: Yeah, the funny thing is, before this movie, I’d never screamed. I was a singer as a kid. I always thought ‘don’t scream, don’t scream.’ I just had never really gotten a role that had screams in it, so I never screamed. I didn’t say that to anyone, I didn’t tell anyone, I just went for it and I was like, “Okay, I can do this. I can scream.” I screamed once I think, and then I was hoarse for the rest of the time. Then all of my screams from then on were like these hoarse sounding raspy screams, which I feel like kind of worked for it. But yeah, that’s the story behind the screams.

You’ve done a lot of cool stuff and you have a lot of cool stuff coming out. How do you choose what you want to do?  

Anne Winters: Honestly, it’s just case to case basis. It really just comes down to what the project is, what the role is, have I done this before, is it going to be challenging? How can I make this my own?

Mainly, I just want to do things that are different than not only other projects, but different for myself. I don’t want to look back and be like, “Oh, I was that same character for that, that, that and that.” Anytime I get a chance to play something completely different, or do something that’s so out of the ordinary, than I take that. Which was perfect for this one.

You are in the upcoming season of Thirteen Reasons Why. What’s it like coming in to a show that’s already a big hit? Where everybody already knows each other and you’re the new guy? 

Anne Winters: You know, I was a little bit nervous about that, but out of all shows this was probably one of the most comforting sets ever. Everyone was such good friends already, but at the same time you could tell that they just loved having new people come on to set. It was like new friends for them, and it was honestly the easiest time I’ve ever had making friends on set. It was just so natural. You could just tell that everyone wants it to be a good show, and everyone’s really passionate about it so there’s no reason to make it hard for anyone. Everyone was just super laid back and relaxed. I think it helped knowing that their show was obviously a hit the first season so they’re just like, “Yeah, this is great. We’re so happy with everything and we have a great season this season.” Yeah, it was great.

You’ve done TV shows before, what’s it like shooting a TV all the way through, not getting any feedback from the audience while the season’s going on? I would think it’s kind of liberating?  

Anne Winters: You know, I’ve actually never thought about it that way but I guess that is true. Normally, you know, in the middle of filming, you’re kind of starting to see the episodes. I’ve never thought about that. I guess it feels more like you’re making a movie, or just a really long movie.

Yeah, I’m excited to see what the audience thinks of it as a whole, instead of episode by episode because everyone binge watches it like a movie anyway.

What was your worst audition ever? 

Anne Winters: Oh my God, my worst audition ever. That’s so hard. There’s been so many that you just go in and you think you’re going to do so well, and then you just keep not doing what you think you were going to do. Yeah, there’s definitely been times where I’ll finish and be like, “Yeah, all right I’ll speak to you never.”

The funniest thing was a story Selma told me. I’m going turn on her because this is funny. She said that there were so many times where she auditioned and had such bad auditions that what she would say is “I’ll see you at the callbacks” or something like that. After she bombs it, she’s like, “All right, I’ll speak to you at the producer session. I’ll see you next week.” Just totally false confidence.

Yeah, I try to block all the bad auditions out of my mind, because it’s no good to think about them again so I just kind of you know, forget about them. After they happen I’m like, ‘All right, gotta go think about something else.’

Thankfully, those haven’t happened in a while actually. If I mess up or something, I feel a little bit more confident to be like, “You know what, can I just do it again, let me start over?” Normally, they’re super cool about it.

It’s when you get in your own head and you’re like, “Oh, my gosh. I screwed it up. I ruined this audition.” That’s when you actually ruin it, because in reality you really probably didn’t ruin anything, you just… in your head you messed it up a little bit, but just do it again. Whatever, who cares.

Mom and Dad is available to watch on all streaming services, including Amazon.

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