Thrill & Kill: Pollyanna, you are THE WOMAN in Lucky McKee’s movie of the same name. How can you describe the role to those who haven’t heard of the film yet?
Pollyanna: The Woman is a feral woman, unsullied by modern society’s concepts of femininity and propriety. She is a hunter and has raised a large family though they are no longer with her.
At the start of the film she is injured and somewhat vulnerable but she is a strong creature and a survivor….
Thrill & Kill: You also appeared in the prequel OFFSPRING. In the first part you were one of the hunting cannibals, this time you get caught by hunters and are imprisoned by them. You are playing the same person in two different situations. Did you prepare differently or did you just continue from where OFFSPRING ended?
Pollyanna: I went back to some of my original preparation methods before Offspring (animal study, working out, growing my hair!) and was lucky enough to already have the character deep in my bones but I did further study of our ancient myths going back to primitive man and how and why we came up with myths about hunting and animals. The book was, A short history of myth by Karen Armstrong and it’s fascinating! This gave me a lot to draw from as far as my inner world was concerned and my judgement of the family, especially Cleek was partially informed by this too. I owe Sitting Bull’s defiant stance and vein straight into the earth for inspiration too.
Thrill & Kill: We heard about people going crazy during a screening of the film and some call it misogynistic. How do you feel about this (especially as a woman)?
Pollyanna: There was just one guy who went a little nuts at Sundance and many female voices in the audience asked, “Are you a woman? You do not represent me so please shut up and let the filmmaker do his Q&A!” To be honest I don’t usually watch horror as I don’t deal well with gore and violence, especially where women are involved in a gratuitous nature of films such as modern popcorny horror. But The Woman is a wholly different experience. You may feel a little sick at times but so you should! This is a true horror: the horror of misogyny, of abuse and of dehumanisation of „the other“. Lucky’s respect for his audience is palpable and I heard from many at screenings, including those who don’t consider themselves horror fans, how much they got from the film. The violence is used very cleverly and creatively in The Woman. There are moments when it’s heartbreakingly sad, moments of visceral shock and at other times it’s darkly thrilling as the audience root for the victim turned victor. This is a filmmaker using all he’s got to engage his audience’s minds and tell a human story – not just deliver a few “awesome kills”.
I am a firm feminist and therefore believe in equality of the sexes. I think The Woman comes from that place and I dig it.
Thrill & Kill: Do you think THE WOMAN is somewhat realistic or is it just an over-the-top horror-movie?
Pollyanna: That’s a tricky question. I think the themes covered, if you choose to engage with them, are very realistic, yes. I think the structure within the family is realistic too. I guess, as I try to answer this question, I realise that what’s being asked suggests realism: good, fantastical horror: bad. If it’s not “realistic” does it mean it’s an “over the top horror”…and is an “over the top horror” always something shallow and dismissible? The Wizard of Oz can be seen as a kid’s musical full of crazy silly characters or as a horror allegory for growing up so whether it’s realistic or not depends on what level you choose to take it on at. Is Rosemary’s Baby entirely realistic? Is The Shining? As a blossoming horror fan I do get frustrated with the perception that horror cannot be artful or valuable as story telling.
Thrill & Kill: What was the most special thing that happened during the shooting?
Pollyanna: For me, the new relationships I have begun which feel permanent. With Angela Bettis,
Sean Bridgers and with Lucky.
Thrill & Kill: After being a cannibal for two movies. Do you still eat meat 🙂 ?
Pollyanna: Ha ha. I actually haven’t eaten red meat since I was nine years old! I thought about
trying some before taking on the character but I decided I didn’t need to be that method.
Thrill & Kill: We also did an interview with director Lucky McKee recently. What can you say about him and how was working with him different compared to Andrew van den Houten who directed OFFSPRING.
Pollyanna: Lucky and I had a lot more time to collaborate before we started shooting The Woman , swapping notes on everything by phone and email as we were in different countries. I was shooting Burke and Hare in London with John Landis and Lucky was in Oklahoma where he lives. However, Andrew had already directed me before (in Headspace) when we started on Offspring so we already had a language and an understanding.
I was still working with Andrew here as Andrew produced and he and I are old friends now so I was glad to see how happy Lucky was with the freedom afforded him by Andrew. The three of us have been cracking each other up as we go round the film festival circuit. Lucky and I like to dress Andrew up in my hats and watch him transform into a hilarious new character. All three of us have acted before so we like to play.
Lucky is a gentleman and a scholar. He’s a passionate movie aficionado and a big kid and he loves women so he’s just a bloody pleasure to work with.
Thrill & Kill: You played in several horror-films already. Are you a horror-fan?
Pollyanna: I’m learning more about horror. I used to think it was silly and irrelevant to me, plus too scary to watch! Now I’m realizing some of my favourite, most affecting films have actually been horrors. Rosemary’s Baby, The Shining, these are films that affected me strongly growing up and whose directors I admire greatly. Rosemary’s Baby particularly as I connected with Rosemary’s character very much. I think every woman understands how she felt at some point, brushed off as weak, hysterical or talked to quietly like a child. What an inventive way to use the build of fear and isolation and Mia Farrow is impeccable in it. Stylistically I love it too. I was 12 when I saw that and it blew me away. I saw The Omen by mistake when I was 6. Wow! I haven’t seen it since but I can remember it almost scene by scene. Anything with Gregory Peck in it has my vote but the conflict of the parents’ feelings about their child was what really got me and scared me. I loved it! I guess those are both good examples of what “true” horrors are to me.
I used to read INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE comics when I was in school and loved them so that film was another exciting one for me. I think character and story and humanity interests me so when a film, in whatever genre, can deliver that and make me think and feel then I’m a fan.
Thrill & Kill: Do you already know what your next project will be?
Pollyanna: I’m shooting Love Eternal right now, written and directed by Brendan Muldowney who did Savage. My character is trying to be upbeat in the face of tragedy and I’m really enjoying playing her. Dutch actor Robert De Hoog (Skin/War Horse) plays opposite me and the crew are all fantastic. I have a film called The Obsession coming out next or possibly Carlos Spills the Beans or Famous Joe will be out before it. These are three indies I shot this summer in LA and I’m proud of all of them.
Thrill & Kill: Thank you for the interview!