SXSW Interview: Evil Dead’s Jessica Lucas on Zombie Coaches, “Uncomfortable” Makeup and Shooting in New Zealand

jessica-lucasThe Evil Dead is freaking awesome. I’m not even a fan of horror films but this one was great. I saw the premiere at SXSW and it’s funny, the effects look absolutely real and the cast – you actually believe they’ve been friends forever.

Evil Dead was directed by Fede Alavarez and produced by Bruce Campbell and stars Jane Levy, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, Elizabeth Blackmore and our friend, the always awesome Shiloh Fernandez.

At SXSW, I talked with Jessica Lucas about shooting the film in New Zealand, getting a zombie coach, the “uncomfortable, awful” makeup and one of her worst auditions ever.

Jessica’s from Canada and she got her start there as a kid doing local theater and from there she got an agent and she’s pretty much been working ever since. She’s recently  appeared in the CW’s new version of Melrose Place, Friends with Benefits and Psych but now, she’s going to scare the pants off you in Evil Dead.

For the full interview, click the audio link above or download it from iTunes 

Evil Dead comes out this Friday!

What was watching the film like? I mean, you’re sitting in the audience and people are screaming and some have that nervous laughter. How satisfying is that?

Jessica Lucas: It’s amazing. Yeah, because you’re, you know, we’re obviously nervous. We hadn’t seen it, the cast hadn’t… I think Jane had seen it, but we hadn’t seen it yet, so we’re already really nervous going in and to have that kind of support from the fans felt like, “Ok, maybe we didn’t fuck this up.” Excuse my language, but maybe we did it.

Do you like watching yourself?

Jessica Lucas: Hate, hate.

Do you?

Jessica Lucas: In fact, I think I left for a good solid 20 minutes.

Really?

Jessica Lucas: I just was like, “I can’t.” And the whole beginning I just was like, “Oh God, oh God. Make it stop, make it stop.” I’m the absolute worst at watching myself.

So you don’t like to go back and look at your playback?

Jessica Lucas: No, no. And actually on this movie we didn’t… Fede didn’t really let us watch playback. He didn’t want us to get in our heads and be self conscious. It wasn’t that kind of a movie, so he just didn’t let us, which is fine by me because I don’t like it anyway.

You had some sort of a zombie coach?

Jessica Lucas: We did. We had a woman come in, a woman and a guy come in, to just… it was called movement classes, but it was to teach us how to be a zombie. So we would meet once a week and Jane, Lou, Liz and I would meet once a week with this woman and we’d just really stretch out our bodies and then just talk about different things. They wanted us to all have a similar feel when you’re a zombie, but also have our own way of moving too. So it was crazy. I mean, there’s tape, there’s footage, of us doing some crazy stuff that’s out there somewhere that I hope does not end up on TV. Because that would be terrible. But it was great because I think we were all very anxious about being zombies, because how do you be a zombie? And it was nice to have that kind of support.

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Did you guys have any other rehearsal?

Jessica Lucas: Yeah, we did… I think we did about… I got there later than everybody else because I was filming something else. So I left Vancouver and went straight… finished filming, left Vancouver, and went straight to New Zealand and they already had been together, I think, for, like, 4 or 5 days and then I think I had a week and a half of rehearsal where we all just hung out. It was more important for us to just hang out together, bond, talk about the scenes. We mapped out most of them, we rehearsed them, and we went and bonded, we did a little cast trip and we just became really close and I think that comes across on screem.

I totally think so. A lot of times in movies, especially horror movies, it’s like you’re supposed to be best friends and everything. You can completely tell, you know.

Jessica Lucas: Yeah, they just met.

The chemistry of this film, you could… everyone felt like they were friends for a while.

Jessica Lucas: I think filming it out of town helped. You know, we’re all in New Zealand, so we didn’t have other people around, we only had each other, and we were all really excited and nervous so we really leaned on each other for support and everyone was so supportive of each other. Like, I’ve never felt so supported by a cast before. I mean, we were just all there for each other and, yeah, it made the experience really memorable.

So, makeup. By the end of the shoot, were you just like, “Oh my God, I can’t wait for this to stop.”

Jessica Lucas: Yes. And all I could think, to be honest, was, because I did it for about a week. From the time I got vomited on to the end of the bathroom scene was about a week and a half of just being covered. Because from that point on in the film, I’m covered in vomit every day or in makeup. And I was so ready for it to be over. It’s the most uncomfortable, awful thing. And all I could think was, “Jane has to do this for 3 months.” And I… a week and I was just ready to scream. And I’m usually really even keeled on set, and it takes a lot for me to lose it.

Getting out of it takes forever. It’s like an hour. It’s a whole process of taking the prosthetic off and then you have to shower forever and then you’re, like, finding blood in your ears days later. It was awful.

What’s your nightmare audition? What’s the worst audition you had?

Jessica Lucas: I think… I auditioned for Owen Wilson for that movie. I can’t remember what it’s called. It was a comedy and I had to dance in the audition and they… and it wasn’t even an important thing in the script, so I thought, “Maybe they’re not gonna actually get me to do it. It’s not a core part of the scene, so maybe I’ll do a little bit but nothing crazy.” And I walk in there and they had a laptop with music and they played it and they wanted me to just get really into it. And so then I did it and I did the scene and then I did the other scene and they were like, “Ok, let’s go back to the first scene. You didn’t dance enough.” I was like, “Oh my God. When is this gonna be over?” I made a complete fool out of myself in front of him. So that was bad.

Auditioning in general is just really… It’s a completely different thing than acting on set. It’s a completely different art. I mean, you’re either really good at it or you’re not. It can be unfortunate because it’s what gets you the job.

Do you think you’re good at it now? Obviously you are.

Jessica Lucas: I mean, I book stuff. I guess. But I still find it difficult. I like the tangible things. I like the set, the props, and the other actors, and that’s all how I get into it. So having none of that is difficult for me.

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How much effort do you put into your auditions?

Jessica Lucas: Tons. I’m one of those people that kind of obsesses over it. And I… as soon as I know I have an audition, I’m pretty nervous. I still, to this day, 12 years of doing this and I still get very nervous for auditions. And I prepare like crazy. I mean, I never ever use my sides in auditions. Unless I, like, completely blank or something goes wrong. But I like to know my stuff.

When I audition, sometimes I get so nervous that I forget every… I know the lines at home but as soon as I walk in it’s like gone. Poof.

Jessica Lucas: Yeah, it can be difficult. So you just have to stay really focused. And, of course, there’s those times when you’re gonna blank, but you just… as long as you kind of make it fun and make a joke out of it and laugh it off, I think then the room doesn’t turn on you.

How did you get your start? When you were a kid did you always know that you wanted to do this?

Jessica Lucas: I guess I did. I started when I was 7. I did a lot of local theatre. I’m from Vancouver, so I did a lot of local theatre. And I just loved being on stage and out of all the activities I was a part of, which was a lot, it just felt the most right to me. And so I just always stuck with it, I was in a great children’s theatrics program for years, got an agent when I was 13 and I worked while I was in high school and I’ve just always done it. I don’t know anything else.

What’s your advice to actors?

Jessica Lucas: I mean, just stick with it. I think, you know, this industry can get you down really easily if you let it. And it’s a roller coaster ride and I think as long as you understand there’s gonna be peaks and valleys then just ride the storm and you’ll be fine.

Shooting in New Zealand. How was it? Had you ever been there?

Jessica Lucas: No. It was my first time and it was so amazing. It’s so beautiful. Just so beautiful and the people are incredible. I mean, the crew was one of the best crews I’ve ever worked with. We were so well taken care of. I feel like I lucked out.

You mentioned earlier shooting out of town, it’s gotta be the greatest thing because it’s all you concentrate on.

Jessica Lucas: It really helps. It really, really helps. I mean, we really did just spend a lot of time together. I’m actually kind of… it’s hitting me now that this is gonna be over soon. It’s kinda sad.

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