Interview with Clowntown star Lauren Elise
Eric Dinsmore got to have a chat to Lauren Elsie about her experience making Clowntown.
I see this is your first time working in a horror film. How was this experience different from other genres?
The horror genre is very, very different. Being that this was my first feature within the genre, I felt so many emotions during and after the shoot. I was so involved that it felt like I suffered from PTSD. I even had nightmares. On set, there were a lot of tears, lots of screaming and crying. I had never felt so vulnerable making a film like this which demanded a lot of emotions, honesty, and just really being afraid in the moment. And I don’t say all of this to sound negative; this was all a positive experience because that’s how immersed I was in the role of my character. The experiences on set felt so real and honest, and I certainly felt emotional throughout. But, yeah, I definitely took care of myself after: I got massages, watched comedies. It was such a powerful experience, but very worth it.
With a title like Clowntown, it may seem to audiences that the movie is purposely campy, and more of a horror-comedy about killer clowns. While parts are certainly funny and just plain fun, the movie gets quite serious. It is ultimately a terrifying and violent film. How did you and other actors bridge this fine line between camp and seriousness?
It was a fine line, finding the balance. Some days were very different than others. In comedy, actors are allowed to improvise…to really capture the tone of that scene. And those days are fun. But with horror, I really had to just listen. You just have to ask basic questions like what is it that you want from me in this scene? in order to really capture am emotion or terrifying event. It was 100% listening to the director [Tom Nagel], and sometimes doing many cuts to get it just right. So I had good days, and I had bad days. And the bad days, which were really just the harrowing scenes with lots of screaming and crying, created a lot of stress. But the director did such a good job telling me to use those emotions and transport them into my character, and that really helped me and the actors push through.
So how was it working with those creepy clowns? Your scenes with them seemed very physical, involving a number of stunts.
The physicality of the film I just embraced. We, of course, had a stunt coordinator who was very helpful. But I love a good challenge. I love to play sports, go to the gym… so I’m always about bringing on a good physical challenge. And I want to be one of those actors who always does their own stunts. I just love it.
The clowns, however, were a different story. For one, they never took off their make-up. One clown shaved his head down the middle and kept it like that for the shoot. And I mean the make-up was always on. I never saw the actors’ actual faces on set. And we were shooting on set in Ohio for about a month! At times the make-up thing was fun, but it also reminded me of the shoot at hand.
Looking ahead, I see you have other films in the works, including more in horror. Are you concerned that some of the terror you experienced during the shoot of Clowntown will arise in future projects?
Oh, I’m not terrified at all shooting another horror film. I loved what I did in Clowntown, and I got an opportunity to tell a character’s story in such a unique way. I live to tell stories, to live these roles, and I certainly want to tell them through the horror genre.
Any new projects that you’d like to highlight?
Yes, I have some exciting films coming out soon. One is not a horror film, called Created Equal, and I have the great opportunity to work with Tom Sizemore. I have another horror film, a very scary ghost story called Depraved. And another one coming out soon which is just such a fun, awesome film. It’s a horror comedy called Attack of the Killer Donuts. So far, audiences and critics just love it. It’s doing very well in the festival circuit, and I couldn’t be happier.
The film is in theaters on Sept.30th; VOD & DVD Oct. 4th