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Pollyanna McIntosh talks Darlin', The Walking Dead (Exclusive Interview) - Photo Credit: Tina Turnbow Pollyanna McIntosh talks Darlin', The Walking Dead (Exclusive Interview) - Photo Credit: Tina Turnbow

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Pollyanna McIntosh talks Darlin’ at NYC premiere (Exclusive Interview)

Photo Credit: Tina Turnbow

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The Natural Aristocrat caught up with Darlin’ visionary and Walking Dead star Pollyanna McIntosh before the NYC premiere of the film at What the Fest!?

Pollyanna McIntosh’s picture Darlin’ debuted in the big apple last Thursday (3/21) to a warm reception at the What the Fest!? film festival. Screening in New York’s renowned IFC Center, mere blocks from NYU and beautiful Washington Square park, the film was comfortably home at the art house cinema. The eloquent McIntosh would later do a Q and A with fans post-credit roll, with more than a few Walking Dead devotees of Jadis/Anne in attendance!

The Natural Aristocrat had an opportunity to speak with McIntosh who starred in, directed, and wrote the picture just a few hours before the film’s smashing NYC premiere on the silver screen.

Interview with Pollyanna McIntosh on Darlin’ :

The Natural Aristocrat [Nir Regev]: You wrote the script for Darlin’ and following in Jack Ketchum’s [Dallas Mayr] work, who sadly passed away last year. I was curious what that was like?

Pollyanna McIntosh: It’s a good question because I first started coming to the character of ‘The Woman’ by doing Offspring which was based on novel of his. The Director / Producer of that film just sent me the book and said “Read this” which is very smart. It wasn’t with an offer, he just said, “Read this,” and I was like, “Do I get to play that woman? She’s amazing!” So I love Dallas’ writing and him as a person. I have so much respect and love for the man. Lucky (McKee) and Ketchum and co-wrote The Woman together. And of course Lucky directed it, that was the second one, and then now with Darlin’.

I was very conscious that it was gonna be the third in a series inspired by Ketchum. In many cases, written by him. But I was also aware that I really wanted to make it my own and make it really personal. And as a Writer / Director, that it had to come from my experience somewhat. That I had to be really grounded in it as my own story. So I spoke to him about what I was going to write and the idea that I had, and actually Dallas wasn’t so keen on writing about religion. It was something he didn’t want to do in his work. But I absolutely got his blessing to explore that part of the world in this story.

We had him visit on set that December that we were shooting in. So only a month before he passed away he came to visit us from New York, we weren’t sure if he’s going to be able to with his health. It was so great to see a great big smile on his face and grinning away! He absolutely loved the experience of being there and seeing it come together. So I feel like we’ve honored him with this film and it’s dedicated to him. But yeah… It’s no small thing to follow The Woman!

That’s one of the reasons I made it very much my own like I say but also there’s some homages to Lucky’s work as well. To that Ketchum / Lucky world that they made in The Woman, which I won’t say anything about because that will be for fans to find out.

The strongest line of the movie for me was when the Bishop [Bryan Batt] said, “There’s no after without a before.” Especially, the whole scene where they tarnish Darlin’ [Lauryn Canny] and dirty her up for the camera. How often do you feel that happens in the entertainment industry in general?

In the sense of trying to make somebody appear one way for their own benefit? It happens all the time. I think it’s unfortunately, a very human thing we do. Where we try and manipulate others to be what we want them to be, often for nefarious gain. That goes along really well with the larger theme of the film, which is the idea of the church taking over a woman’s body. Which is unfortunately a very real horror in our world today still.

As far as shooting that scene, I could feel that it was really working! I mean Lauryn Canny’s performance is so incredible and she really went there in that cage. She absolutely went for it! It’s funny that you bring up the line, “There can’t be an after without a before, just ask Jesus!” (laughs) Bryan Batt who plays the Bishop is one of the most fun people to work with. He would often say, “Just ask Jesus!” as kind of a one liner. (laughs)

It was also a line that was actually questioned whether it should be cut from the film… I fought very hard to keep that line in because it is ironic and it is slightly cheesy. I was well aware of that. But the bishop’s denial of who he really is, also in his sort of dad-joke references, and his absolute assurance of himself, makes it a ridiculous line to say under the circumstances. I also thought it made sense with his belief that he was doing a good thing, him trying to mask his work in that.

That was important to him to be in that denial. And it’s often an abuser’s perspective that they have to find reasons that what they’re doing is right, in order for them to live with it. Which sounds ironic. But of course, it’s not a black and white being a bad guy.

“It’s not a black and white thing being a bad guy.”

For your Walking Dead fans, you have three cast members (Cooper Andrews, Sabrina Gennarino, and Thomas Francis Murphy) in the film, and especially I felt Cooper Andrews had a major role. You have great chemistry with him on-screen! I loved the scene in the car, it was quite funny. ‘The Woman’ was looking almost like a walker.

Oh thank you! Yeah, I know it’s funny that there was an image that went out online recently of me as ‘The Woman’ and a lot of Walking Dead fans were saying, “Oh, she looks great as a zombie,” and then I’m like “I’m not a zombie!” (laughs) But there kind of is a little bit of an undead look to her for sure.

Being a Director is typically pictured as this creative authority figure. Many will visualize that symbolic Director’s chair when imagining it. Is it surreal to direct your old cast mates, your peers, and friends? 

Yeah! It should should have been maybe weirder than it was. It felt very natural and right. I felt very confident in my role as Director on the film, especially with the actors because I’ve been there. I’m from that world. And of course, I was in that world in the film playing ‘The Woman.’ So it was like we were all in it together. I thought it was really ironic that I cast Sabrina Gennarino and Thomas Francis Murphy as a prostitute and a cardinal respectively because there’s a kind of British party theme that we have. It’s called “Tarts and Vicars.” And so I really cast them in the right and left of that and very different roles for them than the roles they’re playing on The Walking Dead with me.

Sabrina is such a delightful and excited fun actor, very focused into what she’s doing. She was a delight to to direct for that reason. Cooper wants to hear it straight like it is and one of the things he compliments me on is that I always did that. I think that’s one of the benefits of being friends as well. But also just being an actress, knowing that I’d rather hear it straight from the Director than be sort of babied in any way.

Cooper (Andrews) wants to hear it straight like it is.

So if something wasn’t working for me, I’d be quite clear with him, like this physical things happening or whatever and he appreciated that. I don’t want that to sound like he needed it or that he was doing all sorts of things wrong. (laughs) We all need direction, that’s the point. And that was something that worked pretty well. We just had such a laugh! Me and Cooper in that car is such a fun scene to shoot.

We were really enjoying it, actually we went too far in that scene. We lost our police escort and we got pulled over by the cops, me and Cooper with no driver’s licenses. Looking the way I did, and him being a big guy they thought that we were in a real fight together.

Was that police car chase in Darlin’ legit then? 

No, not the car you see! (laughs) But it did turn a fake cop car chase to a real cop car chase with another cop car getting in between us, and not realizing we’re filming. The car was swerving, you know? So that was that was bizarre.

I’d be remiss without going on about Thomas Francis Murphy, who’s just an incredible character actor. Though he doesn’t think he had much to do in the movie, it was so important that the Cardinal was believable and I thought he did a great job!

How do you compare directing Darlin’ to your directing experiences in the early days like The Woolgatherer?

Oh, thank you for your research! (smiles) I think the same joy, the same excitement, the same adrenaline rush of seeing people achieve great things. Which I definitely had on this film as well. But it’s very different directing theatre to directing film. Of course, I’m glad that I’ve had so many experiences as an actor on sets, where I sort of got free training in a way.

How do you feel you’ve evolved as an actress starting from the age of 16 to now?

I think I’m less self-conscious. I’ve gotten more brave and I guess just the same experience of growing up that most people have has happened for me and my career too. I feel more confident in what I’m doing and less afraid to take chances.

Whats it like meeting fans at the conventions, Walker Stalkers, and all that?

It’s the biggest joy meeting fans especially of this show. I mean with The Woman fans I always go, “Oh God, you love The Woman!” because you know I have such a loving connection with that film. And it’s the same with Walking Dead. I absolutely love respect the show and I think anyone who loves that show like we’ve got lot to talk about. We’ve got a lot in common.

It’s been an honor to experience it through other people’s eyes, their love of the show, by them just seeing you and going “Oh my god, it’s you!” I know that’s because of a bigger thing and it just feels really cool and lucky. It’s like a giant connector with people.

Do you feel you would do such a project like Darlin’ again where you write, direct, and star in it? 

Yes, I love it! I love it! I did want to ensure that ‘The Woman’ wasn’t the lead in this film, partly because I felt that we’d done such an amazing thing with her in The Woman (film). Taking a silent character into the city is gonna be a difficult way to do something new and to keep people for a whole feature with somebody who really doesn’t speak that much. I didn’t want to do the same thing that we’d done in The Woman. But I also was aware that I wanted to make sure I was behind the camera as much as possible.

I think there’s a good balance where she’s this shadowy figure and then she really lets it rip as well but she’s not the lead. So Darlin’ was that for me.

Did you select Lauryn Canny yourself for the role?

Yeah, I mean we had a great cast director David Guglielmo in L.A. who brought in a bunch of different young women for me to meet and audition. Lauryn was the first one that came in the room and she was the first one I met downstairs. I thought if she’s half as talented as she is beautiful, interesting, cool, kind and down to earth, somebody you really want to work with… You can see what a hard worker she is just from meeting her.

And I thought if  she’s all those things and a great actor, please let her be! Lauryn was amazing and blew me away with her performance! We auditioned a bunch of other people after but I really wanted her. She was the one.

We spoke a bit off camera about how fantastic you are at expressing a character on-screen through facial expressions and body language. Even if you don’t have many lines for a scene. How are you able as an actress to convey characters like Jadis and ‘The Woman’ so strongly without having those monologue-like lines to win the audience over?

Thank you, I’ll take the compliment! I think honestly, if you’re connecting and you’re feeling a great sense of reality and the experience that your character is going through. Who they are, what they want and what they’re trying to get, then you’re always alive with the character and with the drama of the situation. So to me it doesn’t feel that different doing that with less words than it does doing it with dialogue. Those are the kind of performances that always grabbed me when I was younger.

I’ve always wondered, why didn’t they pair Jadis up with Rick?

They tease it a lot with Rick! (smiles) They probably did me a favor because those Michonne fans, they they love themselves some Michonne! You know it’s a beautiful love story and it always has been. They’re so equal in their relationship and they work so well together. I think that would really tear people apart, if he were to just cheat on her with somebody else. I mean that just seems crazy!

I think you could have ruined it a bit.

Well, people have their different opinions. (laughs) But I think that toeing the line in the way we did with it was really fun and took it in unexpected directions. And I don’t know because of course, the continuation of the story may happen with the films that they’re making. So Rick and Jadis/Anne may very well be reunited in the first feature that’s going to be made.

We’ll have to see. But I don’t know if they’re necessarily going to be in a romantic relationship.

They should be!

Do you think so? (laughs) Do you want to write some fan fiction?

If you had to describe Darlin’ in one sentence for people who didn’t catch The Woman or Offspring, what would you say?

I would say it is about a teenage feral girl coming in from the woods and the Catholic Church getting hold of her, and wanting to prove their miraculous work through conversing her into a good girl and taking her to our holy communion.

I could really just say a sentence as long as I wanted! You said a single sentence, I really could just carry on right saying a whole paragraph! (smiles)

Is that an arrow on your finger by the way?

Yeah, I have an arrow here, these four quivers are for me and my three sisters. This is all the sisters. The moon is for my boyfriend who’s called Van Madden, his last name is Van Madden. He’s not called Van Madden that sounds like I’m dating Vin Diesel or something. (laughs)

Awesome, thanks a lot Pollyanna!

Thank you!

Pollyanna McIntosh’s Darlin’ is a Hood River Entertainment Production.

Follow Pollyanna McIntosh and What the Fest!? on social media

Be sure to follow Pollyanna McIntosh on Twitter at @PollyAMcIntosh and Instagram at @pollyannamcintosh.

Keep up with future What the Fest!? film festivals on Twitter at @whatthefestnyc, Instagram at @whatthefestnyc, and on Facebook.

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P.J. Soles talks Candy Corn, acting career, her life, Princess Leia audition

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P.J. Soles as Marcy Taylor in Candy Corn - Photo Credit: Epic Pictures
Photo Credit: Epic Pictures

P.J. Soles is back as Marcy Taylor in new retro-themed horror, Candy Corn, and spoke to The Natural Aristocrat about the film, her life as an actress and everything in-between.

The Natural Aristocrat [Nir Regev]: There was a time in your life when you stepped away from acting. What brought you back to the horror film genre and ultimately playing Marcy Taylor in Candy Corn?  

P.J. Soles: I was happy to do the fan conventions, which are wonderful, and spend time with my grandkids. I didn’t want to really work in movies anymore. I felt the conventions kept me connected to that part of my life. I was also busy doing other things, always toying with the idea of writing my autobiography… It’s just so hard to get going on a project about yourself! The first one to approach me for Candy Corn was actually Director Josh Hasty. He just made it sound so appealing and I liked him, we had a really nice conversation on the phone. But I laid it out! I said, “You know, I don’t work that great, I’m getting old, I might forget my lines!” It takes a lot of energy to pull it together. For me, making the moment real, being realistic on screen, and presenting a character that’s not you, not myself is important to me. But Josh convinced me! 

What struck me first about Candy Corn was the beautiful cinematography. I always look at that, then I look at the characters and everybody was just painted amazingly.  A great cast of characters! I liked the story and setting in the ’70s. I thought Director Josh Hasty was going for that retro look, which is appealing to me because it’s kind of familiar. [laughs] In terms of special effects, I thought they were beautifully done… If you can assign the word ‘beautiful’ to a ‘terrible’ special effect like someone’s spine getting ripped out.  You can say they’re realistic! [laughs]

So, Candy Corn was the first ‘Yes!’ but I actually filmed it in December. I did Hanukkah first, then Killer Therapy, which is actually going to have a screening this October. There’s been no press about it, they’re keeping it on the down-low. In the horror community these days, they wanna keep things kind of quiet until the project has been fully edited, music added, and really pulled together.

When I was watching Candy Corn, there seemed to be a relationship in the air between Marcy and Sheriff Sam Bramford. Thus, I was anticipating some kind of interaction between Marcy and the Sheriff’s son, the lead antagonist as well. It felt like a natural fit. How do you feel about that?  

Oh yeah, that would have been great! Well, it can’t happen in the sequel, if there is one. I live, he doesn’t! [laughs]

It’s nice to be in a horror movie and not get killed, right?

That’s actually my guiding principle now! I’m happy to play in any movie, I just don’t want to get killed. Not too many lines and no death scenes, that’s what I tell my agent! [laughs

I recall an interview with VH1, where you mentioned wanting to ‘milk your death’ scene (as Lynda van der Klok) in Halloween for as long as possible to get screen time. Do you feel that’s what it takes as an actor to get time out there?

It’s your swan song. When you do that last scene on set, they say, “That’s a wrap on P.J. thank you,” and I don’t want that moment to come! (laughs) When I was going out of frame in Halloween, I suddenly realized I’m not going to be on screen anymore… So, I just kept doing the choked noises till John (Carpenter) yelled Cut!

Speaking of that era… You did a commercial for Pizza Hut Tacos back in 1979, how do you reflect back on that?

(laughs) Oh my God! You know what’s so funny about that? The shirt that I wear in that commercial is also the same pink-and-white stripped shirt that I wore in some of the promos we shot for Halloween. The promos were taken back at the casting offices by Kim Gottlieb and I had that very shirt on! Obviously, one of my favorite shirts. When I first saw that commercial I was like, “Oh my gosh, that’s the shirt in all the Halloween stills!” 

I actually don’t eat beef and never have since I was a kid and heard beef comes from cows. Which made me sad. Every time I took a bite in the commercial I had to spit it out. There is a spit bucket for those of us who don’t eat what we’re advertising! (laughs)

That incident that happened on the set of Carrie, where you ruptured your ear drum… As an actress, did you have any regrets about doing the role at the time because of that? Obviously, it did lead you to getting a role in Halloween so things more than worked out. Do you have any permanent hearing loss from what happened on Carrie

What? (laughs) Just kidding! It was so painful… It was unbelievably painful to rupture my ear drum which was caused by a fire hose that the fire marshal said is not a good idea to use. Especially, (Carrie Director) Brian [De Palma] wanted it to bat my head around back and forth. So, Dick Ziker, the stunt coordinator, said, “Oh man, that fire hose!” It was an accident for sure but it went full force and I literally just blacked out, went down and slid down the bleachers. The grips came running and picked me up. It was the most intense pain I’ve ever felt besides childbirth! 

For six months, I went to the doctor and I got workman’s comp, they put drops in my ear. I can hear better than ever! I do have a little scar tissue there and I have go to my ENT from time to time but it didn’t leave any lasting problem. I’m definitely totally happy that I did the movie! Probably, would have rethought the firehose in retrospect. But it all worked out okay. 

It’s a good effect and talking about the last time you see me on the screen now, that was actually my swan scene on the film. I didn’t come back to the set after that. When you see me wince in that scene, that’s actually the pain, the initial pain of the ear drum. So, it’s kind of strange but these things happen.

Are you surprised how things work out, that John Carpenter noticed you for the way you said “Totally” in Carrie? I was even half expecting you to say it in Candy Corn!

Yeah, we talked about it but that would have been too much! (laughs) People expect me to say, “Merry Christmas, Totally!” now! It’s become my trademark! I wear the red hat in Carrie, I say “Totally!” in Halloween, and I have that awesome wardrobe in Rock‘n’ Roll High School. #1 fan of The Ramones. 

I told John  [Carpenter] and Debra [Hill] that I was going to push it and try to say it every time I spoke, and if it gets annoying to let me know. But they never did. I’ve never made an accurate count actually. But a group of college boys told me at a convention that they have a drinking game where they take a shot every time I say “Totally” and they’ve never seen the end of the movie! I said, “I didn’t say it that many times!” (laughs) I think the real number is eleven someone told me but it seems like more than that.

P.J. Soles Headshot – Photo Credit: P.J. Soles

Would you consider a role in a reboot of Rock ‘n’ Roll High School

Reboot? When is that happening?! (laughs) I don’t know, depends who’s making it. Years ago, Howard Stern wanted to do it. But I think that was 30 years ago. (laughs) Maybe a sequel? What happened to all of us. Can you even find another band these days like The Ramones? I don’t think so! God, I wish! Don’t you wish? Where are the new Rolling Stones and The Eagles, where is this generation’s music? Come on guys! I’m waiting for it!

In the VH1 interview above, you mention not being a fan of The Ramones’ music until you met them. How come?

Well, no because I’d never heard them.

How did that happen?!

Well it was 1979, and I was listening to The Eagles, Jackson Browne, and Joni Mitchell all those people at the time. The Ramones weren’t on the radar yet in California. Maybe in New York which is probably why Allan Arkush, the Director, knew about them. But they were just starting, they were just coming aboard the scene, definitely well known in the CBGBs and all that in New York but not in Los Angeles. So, when Allan gave me a cassette and I put it in, I just really didn’t relate to it and I didn’t know what it was… But I said, “Alright, I’m their #1 fan!” (laughs)

It took me I would say, probably ten weeks to two years to really hear their music and understand what it was. Now, it’s just so commonplace and amazing! I really love The Ramones! 

What happened at that Star Wars audition for Princess Leia with George Lucas?

We weren’t told what movies they were casting, we were just told there would be two directors at that time. This was back around in 1975. They weren’t really that known yet. I mean I think Brian De Palma had done a couple of movies but he wasn’t really an established director yet, at least not in the mainstream. Probably, again in New York City. So, I walked in, I had my red hat on! I had just moved to L.A. two weeks prior from Manhattan, where I had lived for five years and wanted to get into movies. I was living at the Magic Hotel in Hollywood, and my modeling agency sent me up on this audition.

Brian just looked at me and then looked at George and said I’ll put it on my list. Then he said, “Next audition bring your hat!” Then there were three subsequent auditions after that with the whole cast that actually ended up being in the movie. I don’t think he picked one person in all those three subsequent casting sessions and screen tests that didn’t end up in the movie. So, he had a very good eye I think for casting. A year later, we found out it was for Star Wars. But even then, it wasn’t what it was today. Star Wars took a while to catch on too at the time.


Was that the one role you wish you got?

No! Oh my gosh, I love my Norma! She wasn’t even in Stephen King’s book, there was no Norma in the Carrie book. But Brian De Palma had put the one line in, ‘Thanks a lot Carrie, ‘ when she blew the volleyball game in the beginning. I really was only on for a week. But after he saw the dailies for that… I had rainbow pins on my hat and I hit Sissy [Spacek] over the head with my hat.

The pins got stuck in her hair and I just yanked it out. So, it just looked so nasty! I apologized to Sissy but she said, “No, this is going to look great!” Brian laughed and thought it was so funny. He said she’s on for the rest of the shoot. I’m going to pair her up with Nancy Allen, the two of them are going to be my my little bad girls. [laughs] So, that was awesome! 

You mentioned wanting to work on your autobiography earlier. What are some parts of your past that you’d like to be part of it?

I went overseas for all of my childhood. My father was from Holland and my mother was from Englewood, New Jersey and they met in Germany after the war. Her first husband was killed and she went over there to help with the rebuilding as a secretary. My dad was helping Jews escape Holland and he was captured and put in a Nazi work camp. He was released by the American army and brought to the same base as my mother and so they met. 

It took a whole lot of circumstance for me to be brought into the world! I was born in Germany and then my dad got a job with a company where he had to open up branch offices for around the world. We moved to Morocco, Venezuela (Maracaibo) where I spent six years, and then Brussels in Belgium. 

I went to a high school in the International School of Brussels and learned French and Spanish. I was really on a writing and language track rather than an acting thing. Although, I had always acted in a lot of the school productions but it wasn’t something I thought was even possible. I hadn’t watched a lot of movies growing up.

I went to Briarcliffe College in New York state in the summer between my Freshman and Sophomore year, where I was going to transfer to Georgetown University in Washington. 

My roommate was from the city and I stayed with her for the summer because my parents had transferred to Istanbul, Turkey. I happened to come across The Actors Studio and there was a sign, ‘We’ll trade running spotlight for auditing classes,’ so I ran a spotlight on Joanna Miles and Scott Glenn that whole summer. I met a guy who happened to be Joshua White of The Joshua Light Show.


He told me, “Girls, on the catwalk probably shouldn’t be wearing short dresses!” [laughs] He convinced me to quit college and get serious about acting, and start acting, so he got me an agent. I did commercials, I was on a soap opera and it got everything Rolling. But when I think of my autobiography, I’d start with my life as a child because I think that was enough of a life… Without anything else afterwards. But then on top of that there was this wonderful acting career! 

Catch P.J. Soles as Marcy Taylor in Candy Corn out now on Blu-ray, Digital, and VOD! Be sure to check out more interviews on The Natural Aristocrat!

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‘Thanks for the Memories’ is reminiscent of Total Recall

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Thanks for the Memories film poster/banner - Photo Credit: DUST
Photo Credit: DUST

New sci-fi short film ‘Thanks for the Memories’ debuts on DUST today with a mind-bending plot seemingly inspired by Total Recall.

This article contains spoilers for film Thanks for the Memories.

Thanks for the Memories loosely explores the concept of trading in memories for experiences in a dystopian manner. The individual’s memories are sold to collectors the same way an art piece would sell at an auction. Mere commodities for the upper class to indulge in at the expense and exploitation of the proletariat. The company which provides the service compares the experiences to the same ones before the age of three. Meaning, the experiences make a life long impact though you don’t remember them in any tangible way.

The twist arrives when the protagonist Joel Fink played by Will Merrick, realizes he’d done the experience countless times before.
Ironically, Fink is steadfast in his naive initial belief that, “I don’t usually do this sort of thing.” It’s only when he catches a glance of eye contact with a girl [Thea Collings] exiting the premises that a flood of romantic memories awaken him.

As he signs on the dotted line, distortion takes over and viewers see an elder Fink signing once again… Presumably, for the first time in Fink’s eyes. Thus, the reasoning for his travel agent’s impatience at explaining the program. Quite Memento-ish.

It’s a shame the short is not a full feature as there’s so much territory one can cover with such an intriguing concept. Just as Total Recall’s Douglas Quaid once opened minds in his journey to Mars and left you wondering past the credits.

Thanks for the Memories stars Will Merrick (Skins), Jolyon Coy (Beauty and the Beast), Thea Collings (The Cake Maker), and Ed Jones in his film debut. The film is written by Felix Morgan and directed by Louis Norton-Selzer.

Thanks for the Memories Synopsis:

Joel Fink finds himself in a travel agent being offered the trip of a lifetime – anything he could ever want at whatever cost. It won’t cost him a penny but there is one catch: he won’t remember any of it when he gets back.


Why would anyone do that? The agent’s reply: it all depends on what you value more, memories or experiences? Joel decides experiences. It’s only when the agent opens Joel’s large file that we see it’s not the first trip he’s been on…not by a long stretch.

Visit the official DUST website to watch other intriguing, curated, independent Sci-Fi films (no subscription needed).

Be sure to check out The Natural Aristocrat’s interview with On/Off star Carole Brana which premiered on DUST this May.

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Luke Baines talks broken relationships inspiring A Dark Place

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A Dark Place - Pictured: Luke Baines as Alex - Photo Credit: Gravitas Ventures, a Red Arrow Studios company
Photo Credit: Gravitas Ventures, a Red Arrow Studios company

Luke Baines spoke to The Natural Aristocrat about drawing from broken relationships as inspiration for Alex in A Dark Place and healing from the process.

This interview contains spoilers to the film, A Dark Place.

The Natural Aristocrat [Nir Regev]: A Dark Place really felt like a story grounded in revenge. What did it feel like when you read the script?

Luke Baines: I think it’s interesting because I’ve played a lot of dark characters, so I was reading it more about a guy who was trapped in an uncomfortable situation. It didn’t feel you know, classically the bad guy, that I’ve played before. He really felt like someone who was struggling to be good and to have his life on track. That’s what I found most interesting about it. I love the fact that it is so grounded in reality and really focuses on human relationships and human dynamics. 

There was a key line Alex says in the film when he’s giddy about potentially getting a job and his girlfriend turns it around on him. “When did you start hating me?” It was powerful.

Thanks! That was literally the only line I came up with on the spot! (laughs)

What inspired that line out of you? Since it wasn’t in the script as you say.

I guess it’s one of those things where I just felt that at the moment. We were having this argument and she just kept coming at me and it’s something that we had worked on with Chris [Pinero]. Before we had shot that scene, Jazlyn, Chris, and me did the whole scene through just on subtext. That was something  that came out. This idea that Alex was always going to be on a bad foot with her. He was never going to be able to win.

There was really nothing Alex could do that would ever be good for her because at this point he’d just caused so much damage. That’s really what I felt like he wanted to say to her. That it was never going to be good enough, is it? “When did you start hating me?” I think that’s so important to a relationship because sometimes things happen in life that are never going to change. Sometimes, in a relationship you just can’t take it back. You can do all the work but the other person is just never going to forget it. There’s really no way back once a person decides they want out of a relationship. 

It feels like, especially from talking to my friends, that women really work ahead when it comes to relationships. They’re usually one step ahead of the guy. That’s kind of where that line came from.

Why do you feel Alex didn’t murder Theresa [Jazlyn Yoder] after he kidnapped her? Did Theresa tell Alex she was pregnant with his child? Since that was not shown on screen, it seems open to the viewer’s interpretation.

I just don’t think that’s who he is. Obviously, he is a murderer because he killed someone. But that seemed more like a crime of passion.  I think that the reason that he killed Mike Miller’s character (Keith) is because he was so thrown by what he heard, that he acted out in that way. All the hatred was directed towards him. I think that that’s something that we do in normal life. When something happens, I think we focus on one person and take it out on them. And I think once Alex had done that, he really regretted it. That’s why nothing happened and Alex didn’t actually kill or seriously harm his girlfriend.

A Dark Place – Pictured: Luke Baines as Alex – Photo Credit: Gravitas Ventures, a Red Arrow Studios company

When Alex has that moment after he killed Keith and says, ‘I’m going to turn myself in!’ Was that just to fool Shawn into helping him with the body? Or was he really considering turning himself in?

I think in Alex’s head, he always knew that suicide was probably going to be the end game. That he had explored the idea before. It wasn’t just the relationship. It was where he was in his life, not being able to get a job, feeling like a failure. The only thing that really was keeping him going on was his girlfriend and the idea of having a child. Getting to start a new life and create something else. When those pieces started falling away, that’s when Alex made the choice. So, I don’t think that he was manipulating his friends.

That section with Alex’s mom, was she supposed to have Alzheimers? It seemed that way when she asked Alex the same question about his girlfriend twice.

Yeah, I think so. We talked about the fact that she was teetering on the edge of some kind of memory loss and some kind of disassociation.

Chris [Pinero] told me he knew you were right for the role the moment he saw your audition. How did you prepare for the audition? Anything different than usual?

You know, interestingly this was one of the first auditions that I properly trusted myself with. Really because I thought I had no chance, the character was written a lot older than I’ve ever played. I was like I don’t know if they’re even going to take me seriously. I remember reading it and just thinking well if I was given the role, this is what I would do that. I played it exactly on my instincts that I got from reading the character descriptions and the actual script itself. And I I very much played that, as opposed to going into a room and trying to give someone what they wanted.

When it comes to number of takes, do you believe in reshooting a scene until you get it right? Stanley Kubrick The Shining style. Or do you prefer the pressure of knowing you only have a certain amount of takes and that’s it?

It’s interesting and it’s something that I’ve actually been working on recently. I do a show called Shadowhunters and on that you’re doing a lot more takes. I would say on average on Shadowhunters, you’re doing about 30 takes because of the different setups. So you do about five or six takes per setup and you have about four setups. On A Dark Place, we were doing one or two takes per setup so it was very, very different. 

What’s interesting about it though, was when you go from something like doing an indie film to doing a big production, a Disney show, where you get more takes… Is that when I first started doing that show, I would get all my good takes out in the first couple of shots. And then I get to two and a half hours, three hours later where we’re still doing the same thing and I have to keep doing it… Keeping up that momentum was really really difficult for me. 

It’s something I have to get good at and find different triggers to keep on going. Find new places to explore. So, I don’t know if there is one that is better. Maybe, an option C. Where I get a little bit more time but I’m not doing a ton of takes. (laughs)

A Dark Place – Pictured: Luke Baines as Alex – Photo Credit: Gravitas Ventures, a Red Arrow Studios company
What was it like shooting that scene in A Dark Place with the hammer?

It was intense and I really dug up some real stuff that I’ve been through. Which was interesting because I never really get a chance to do that normally. A lot of the stuff I’ve done has been very imagination based. 

When you use sense memory to emotionally recall traumatizing experiences, does it become weaker over time? Or is the impact always the same for you?

Yeah, for me it does. I lean more towards imagination based acting when I do it because I find that never gets stale. For me, I think acting sometimes is like therapy and when you use those memories you heal them a little bit. This film was definitely that for me. This is the kind of relationship stuff that I healed by doing this film. I just don’t think that they have the same triggers that they used to, that they would have now.

Were you disappointed your character got killed because you can’t really be in a sequel?

(laughs) I think that from a personal perspective sure! But Alex needed to go through that. So no.

What did it mean to you to get nominated for Best TV Villain at the 2019 Teen Choice Awards?

You know it’s interesting, It’s so lovely to think that so many fans of Shadowhunters spent the time to go online and tweet, and vote like they did. I find that really, really endearing, flattering and lovely! But at the same time, it’s like you know, awards are very weird. I don’t think that just because I got the nomination, I was necessarily one of the best villains on TV last year. It just happened to be, that I was lucky enough to be on a show that had a very passionate fanbase. I’m really grateful for that!

Thank you Luke!

Thank you! 

A Dark Place is available now on Amazon, iTunes, Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand. The film is distributed in the U.S. by Gravitas Ventures, a Red Arrow Studios company.

A Dark Place was named Best Thriller at the Manhattan Film Festival (2018), won Best Editing and Best Supporting Actor at the Hoboken International Film Festival (2018) and was the recipient of an Award of Excellence from the Accolade Global Film Competition (2018).

Be sure to check out our interview with Director/Writer Christopher Pinero on A Dark Place. read and watch more Interviews with talents across the Entertainment industry by The Natural Aristocrat!


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