With Curse Of The Witching Tree released this week, David Martin chats to Sarah Rose Denton about the film and kicking serious witchy ass...
"Hi Sarah, thanks for chatting to me today, Witching Tree has landed in the shops this week and seems to be enjoying the sort of reception it deserves.How did you get involved with the project?
It's a pleasure, and thank you for your support with the film so far. It's amazing to see how well it's been doing both over here and in America during it's first week of release. I had worked closely with James before and I had already been offered a smaller role in the film during the casting process. Horror is definitely James' genre, it's something he knows and does well, and this project is something he was evolving for some time to get just right. The role of Amber was originally written as a father's role but I think it became clear when tweaking the script that the relationship between mother and daughter, rather than father and daughter changed the whole dynamic, and possibly added some extra vulnerability to the piece. The role was offered to me when my baby was five weeks old so it was all a bit of a whirlwind when I got the call from James offering me Amber. Lucy contacted me when she found out I had been cast and I was instantly reassured that taking the role was the right choice, I felt a connection with her straight away, her professional work ethic and talent were a joy to work so closely with over the coming months.
Amber Thorson is such a multi layered character isn't she? grieving for her husband yet trying to keep her family together. How did you prepare for such an emotional performance?I think any parent has many layers to them. Children give you the ability to swing madly from one emotion to the other, and as a real life mother of three, I found it useful to tap into that spectrum of emotions. There's something quite primal about your instinct to protect your children and rally round in a crisis. I can relate to the exhaustion Amber feels, but add tragedy into the mix with grieving for her husband, it had to be taken up a notch. Sometimes even the strongest of people can get worn down and start to show cracks and I think you start to see Amber unravel from steely and strong, to slowly starting to crumble under the pressure of holding everyone together. Spiking off of Emma's character helped a lot...a lot of the dialogue is full of her teenage angst towards Amber, and James built up a lot of clashes between them in his writing.
Amber spends the bulk of the film disbelieving Emma's concerns and grows increasingly frustrated with her. She feels like Emma holds her responsible for the events that unfold, by moving the family to the farm, and by lashing out at her just furthermore creates a wedge between them. She feels ganged up on when her mother in law questions her decision in letting her husband continue to fight for his life, and it's one of the scenes where you see that change of emotion in her, and her vulnerable side. It's only later, when the more serious events unfold and the evidence is there for Amber to see that she fiercely changes tack and regains her strength. She would lay her life on the line for her children, as any parent would.
Amber's relationship with Emma is fractured, understandably, but is so brilliantly portrayed onscreen. How did you get on with the cast members? You make a very believable family.
The cast were fantastic, all of them. Sometimes the tension in the room when shooting was so high that in the midst of it all we lost ourselves and genuinely believed we were Amber, Emma and Jake. Many teenage daughters have fraught relationships with their mothers, and Amber struggles to cope on her own with Emma's rebellion. Even when the cameras weren't rolling we all had a fantastic relationship. It's so important to have that underlying bond, as during filming you spend more time with them than your own family. I genuinely felt like Lawrence's mummy at times, worried if he'd been eating between scenes and helping run lines.
I think one of the strengths with Curse of the Witching Tree is that you really care about the characters and what happens to them. That's so rare with horror films today. What was James direction for you?
James initially wanted to see how we developed and bounced off each other and how we naturally gelled as a family after our initial script reading, and he was careful to ensure I kept a softer side to Amber, rather than hard faced throughout, he wanted the characters to be likeable and relatable and I hope that translates onto the screen from the page. The family are the backbone of the film, and portraying that caring side was important as even with Amber's heavy emotional load, she is still a caring mother.
Lawrence Wells performance is just stunning, what was your experience with working with him?
Lawrence is incredible. He has so many qualities that remind me of my own son, and I totally related to playing his mum, I felt very protective of him. His acting is superb, and he will go far; he is so grounded and humble which is very refreshing in a child actor. I can't wait to see what he does next, I'm so proud of him.
You are an incredibly talented and versatile actress, what have you got planned for the future?
Thank you. I am involved in the pre-production stages of a TV Pilot called Knobs which has an amazing team behind it. It's a great script, and a comedy so I'm really looking forward to channeling my more light hearted side. Watch this space!!
I think being a mummy I've forgotten how to relax! I love having time with my family, they are very important me as that's what stays constant in your life, they are your support and what keeps your head from being upon the clouds. I love dining out, that's definitely my "me" time!
Finally, what was the last book you read?
The last book I read was last night with my daughter about making sandcastles! It's all rock-and-roll here!!
Thanks for your time and congratulations with Curse of the Witching Tree"
Curse of the Witching Tree was released this week and you can order your copy from Amazon or in store at Sainsburys and Asda. American customers can download from iTunes and purchase in store at Walmart and Target.
Images from IMDB and Curse of the Witching Tree
Follow Sarah Rose Denton on Twitter @sarahrosedenton
Follow David Martin on Twitter @ventspleen2014