Interview: Janet Varney on ‘Stan Against Evil’, Shooting Episodes Out of Sequence and Getting Vomited On
In Stan Against Evil, Janet Varney plays Evie Barret, the tough-minded sheriff of a small New England town who forms an unlikely alliance with former sheriff, Stan (John C. McGinley), when they both begin to realize something isn’t quite normal in their neighborhood.
The comedy-horror series, created by Dana Gould, is about to begin its second season and in preparation, the cast came to San Diego’s Comic-con to chat up the show. Varney sat down and talked about her character, shooting in the Georgia heat and being vomited on by a monster.
Stan Against Evil Season 2 premieres November 1st on IFC.
What was your reaction when you read the script for the end of season 1 and it ends on your grave? What was your thought process going into season 2?
Janet Varney: I was, I definitely was like, at least this is a weird imaginary universe where that doesn’t necessarily mean what it would mean in a normal one.
I think also, because, to be frank with you, and I’m sure he has acknowledged this as well, I think Dana said, “I don’t know how I’m going to get you out of this.”
So I was like, “Oh, good luck with that. See you in a few months, buddy.” But yeah, it was cool. It was cool. At the time, it was fun to wear something that wasn’t a sheriff’s uniform. I was wearing a heavy white cloak, but that felt like a nice change.
It gets hot in Georgia, so I can imagine it wouldn’t be the funnest thing to wear all the time.
Janet Varney: I’ll tell you, it was very, very hot. But inevitably, what would happen was I would be wearing, look, it’s a polyester uniform. It doesn’t feel good. It doesn’t breathe. And then you have this big heavy utility belt with the cuffs and the gun and all that kind of stuff, which weighs a ton.
So having the shirt tucked in and the high-waisted pants and this, it just felt like, I would ask the medic to have a bag of ice just standing by so that when we would stop shooting I would like lift my shirt to my stomach and just put the ice there to try to cool my core temperature down.
So I would be feeling really sorry for myself about all this, and then I would turn and look, and someone like Mick Ignis, who plays all these amazing creatures, who was in latex and make up from head to toe, in like a black lace gown with contact lenses to where you can’t see out of them, and he would just be sitting there, happy as a clam, “no, I’m fine.”
Someone would be like, “Oh, Mick, you must be so hot. Do you need anything? Do you want some water?” And he would be like, “I’m fine.” And I was over there like, my sheriff’s uniform is so hot.
So I learned to nut up a little bit and try not to look so bad and diva-ish when other people have it a lot worse than I did. And the guys carried, holding a steady cam, like holding a human person’s weight on your shoulder, and I’m like, “I declare.”
John was telling us that he tries to get all the actors the scripts before you guys head down to Georgia. How do you like being able to live with those scripts prior to going down there, as opposed to getting them on the fly?
Janet Varney: Oh, I love having them in advance. I think it’s great. I am used to the opposite. I’m used to kind of rolling with the punches and finding stuff out last minute and going, “okay, the energy is going to be very real because this is very new.”
But, especially for us because we shoot out of sequence so much and we block shoot, so sometimes, it’s like a dumb way to express this, but when you leave every day, you have an assistant director who has you sign out. You clock out, basically.
And so there would be days where we would be shooting like pieces of five different episodes, and it is broken down by episode, so you would just be signing, and for me that was like a really funny way of kind of representing and understanding how much we were getting done in such a short period of time, was her being like, you’d be like, “What’s my call time for tomorrow? Oh, there’s another one. Okay. All right, great. So you want me, oh, okay, just look back and go, did we shoot stuff on five different episodes today? We did! Okay, that’s intense.”
So, if we didn’t have them in advance, I think there would be so much of like, “What’s happening here? What’s going on?” So, at least you can have the complete arc of the story always in your mind, which is super helpful, super helpful.
Do you have a favorite or least favorite practical effect that was a problem or that you didn’t enjoy working with too much?
Janet Varney: Yeah, I did not love being vomited on for what felt like 1 million years. It was the first episode, I think, it started off with a big barf bag. I think they thought it was just going to be less in general. Like they thought the volume was going to be less and they thought it was going to last a shorter duration.
So, when someone tells you what to expect, that’s what you expect. I guess that works when it’s a doctor saying, “You might feel a slight pinch” and then it’s really painful shot. It’s like, okay, I get it, you didn’t want me to tense up or whatever.
But this was, I was prepared for like a handful of seconds of being sprayed with the stuff and it just kept coming out. It was going up my nose. The projectile was so strong that I was lying mostly horizontal. I think I had a mat under me so I was a little bit raised up, but it shot into my nose, but then it would shoot past and around me.
And then the force of it shot all the way down the collar of my shirt all the way into my underwear. All the way down my back. No one could understand why all the way down my back and then running down the backs of my legs, why did I have this goo. And it was because it was a little bit more powerful than we were expecting.
How many takes was that?
Janet Varney: We only did it once. It was like being water boarded, like I couldn’t breathe for what felt like a very long time. Yeah, and Dana came up and was like, “I hate myself so much. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry I came up with this scene while I was eating Peanut butter in my pajamas in my kitchen. It seems so funny then.”
Were you a horror fan before you were cast on the show?
Janet Varney: I was, yeah. Horror fan. I was, very much so. I will give almost any shark movie a chance, unless it’s like willfully silly like Sharknado. I get it, but I want to genuinely feel fear, like I love Deep Blue Sea still. I love it.
And I love the Aliens movies. I was telling these guys, I’m struggling a little bit with how nihilistic and existentialist they’ve gotten, to the point where I feel like there’s no point because it’s just so depressing.
So, I still like things, you know, I like having that, at least one character that you are pulling for, you know what I mean? And I think it’s gotten a little, those movies were so brilliant and they are very cerebral. And something has been lost for me where I’m not rooting for anyone. Instead, I feel more like I am like, well, sure.
For the full interview, check out video above.