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

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

Photo Credit: Epic Pictures

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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

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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Marc Menchaca on Alone: ‘Probably, the most physical thing I’ve ever done’ (Interview)

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Marc Menchaca talks Alone - Jules Wilcox and Marc Menchaca in ALONE, a Magnet release. Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing.
Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing

Marc Menchaca spoke to The Natural Aristocrat about portraying one of horror’s darkest, colossally twisted villains in Alone and the final, muddied fight being one of the most physically demanding things he’s ever done.

This interview contains spoilers to horror picture, Alone.

The Natural Aristocrat : Your character in Alone caught me off guard a bit because I was so used to Russ Langmore on Ozark. Russ was good natured but troubled, while The Man is pretty much entirely a monster. The sharp contrast was quite jarring. Did you have any outside inspirations for The Man?

Marc Menchaca: They both have some good in ’em! I’m sure elements of other characters were playing subconsciously but I can’t think of something specific off the top of my head. The film had a pretty quick turnaround, so I’d say my inspirations were still within the script.

There’s an intense scene in Alone where The Man is driving and ambushed from behind by Jess. What was it like shooting the scene? Was it primarily a stunt double there?

No, I did all the stunt work in this film outside of one thing. It was definitely intense and it was as fun as can be doing it! The whole film was taxing when it came to the physicality of it. Obviously, the car was controlled as well in that scene. We were able to have a good time with it and thankfully, I didn’t break Jules’ nose or anything in the process.

Jules told The Natural Aristocrat the last fight scene didn’t need any makeup applied, that it was all down in the mud for real. What was it like filming that final climatic 1 on 1 fight between Jessica and The Man?

I think it was probably the most physical thing I’ve ever done. It was raining that day… I’ve never been that muddy in my life, not even as a kid! I remember when I took my coat off at the end it was soaked, it was coated in mud. There was a layer that stripped off. My shoes weighed about 10 pounds a piece and we had these buckets with warm water that we’d place our hands in, in-between takes because it was so cold.

Jules Wilcox in ALONE, a Magnet release. Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing.

For me, the strongest scene in Alone was when The Man tries to manipulate Robert into believing Jessica is his sister and is having an ‘episode’. Essentially, discrediting Jessica’s story by anchoring it to bipolar disorder. I asked Jules about this moment as well. I was wondering your thoughts, being on the other side of this pivotal scene?

I love that part of the movie because you kind of find out that he’s (The Man) actually a good actor as well. I felt I had to be so convincing in order to get what I wanted. I had to really play that card that she’s actually just off her meds or whatever. I loved that scene in particular. It was just another obstacle to what I needed to get.

Jules Wilcox in ALONE, a Magnet release. Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing.

Why do you feel Jessica doesn’t take the gun when The Man is offering her a chance or perhaps challenging her to take it? Despite being hurt, it seemed like it was Jessica’ only chance at survival at the time.

You know, that’s a good question! I think because I know that she’s hurt… I think there was a moment in there when he was at his breaking point in that scene. The last thing that can happen for him is to be exposed. There very possibly was an element of ‘Just take me now, and I won’t have to deal with it.’

I thought there were some definite Ted Bundy vibes to The Man when his arm is in the sling and you approach Jessica’s car early in the film. Did you watch any documentary or film footage of him for the role?

No, I didn’t. I know who Ted Bundy is and I will say there was obviously an element of Ted Bundy in this. But I can’t really say I watched him in something beforehand.

You mentioned earlier that you feel there was some good in The Man like Russ Langmore on Ozark. Certainly, The Man’s double life gave him some ambiguity in his other ‘real life’ so-to-speak. He was at a loss for words when Jessica turns the tables and dials up his girlfriend. What did you think about the mysterious nature of the character?

I think it worked for the film, I don’t think we needed to know anymore about him other than what we find out in the phone call. Because then the film would become a completely different film instead of focusing on just the chase. Which is what I really like about the movie, that it just kind of boiled down to the barebones would I think it would have become a completely different film. Instead of focusing on just the chase, which is what I really liked about the movie.

It was just kind of boiled down to this barebones film. This is who this guy is, this is who this girl is, and we’re going to show you this chase that happens! I think that was one of the great things about the film, that you got a little bit of information about both of them. Even though that does inform you about who the characters are, the film doesn’t majorly focus on that part of their lives.

Marc Menchaca in ALONE, a Magnet release. Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing.

I thought the scene where you first captured Jessica and bring her to that basement was one of the most brutal scenes I’ve seen in any horror film. Everything from the one-minute-too-early 911 call to when you tell her to strip and mock her pleading with you… Jessica’s tragedy with her husband. You just get the sense there’s nothing she can do at all, no immediate escape routes. That’s difficult to accomplish properly for any horror film. How did you feel about the way that whole moment?

Jules Wilcox in ALONE, a Magnet release. Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing.

I feel what happens in the basement is you’re seeing The Man be intimate, it’s another thing for her but that was The Man’s way of intimacy. I think he finds peace in that grotesque manipulation.

Would you like to make a cameo in the last season of Ozark? A flashback maybe?

I’d love to! Put the word out!

Thanks Marc!

Thank you!

Theatrical one-sheet for ALONE, a Magnet release. Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing.

Alone Trailer and Where to watch the Film:

Be sure to follow Marc Menchaca @marcmenchaca and the film’s official account, @AloneMovie, on Twitter!

Alone can be seen now in select theaters and on Video On Demand services. Rent Alone on Amazon today!

Disclosure: TheNaturalAristocrat.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

– Be sure to read more interviews with the entertainment industry’s top talent in The Natural Aristocrat®’s Interviews section.

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Jules Willcox talks Alone, breaking her foot for real in film (Interview)

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Jules Wilcox in ALONE, a Magnet release. Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing.
Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing

Jules Willcox spoke to The Natural Aristocrat about portraying Jessica in Alone, one of 2020’s darkest psychological thrillers, and breaking her foot for real during shooting in a reversed ‘life imitates art’ moment.

This interview contains spoilers to horror picture, Alone.

Jules Willcox illuminates Alone with her portrayal of Jessica, a woman forsaken by fate. You never know when you’ll meet the wrong person that sets off internal alarm bells across your chest. When you can’t shake an icy gut feeling about an unsavory individual. What if every cloudy intuition, every ‘don’t talk to strangers’ childhood lesson you ignored ended up being true? Perhaps, no scene in Alone encompasses this better than when Jessica believes her car is being followed by the film’s unknown antagonist and dials 911. She informs the operator it’s a false alarm after the car behind her passes but it wasn’t… Jessica had just dialed a minute too early.

Thus, the audience can easily place themselves into Jessica’s shoes, their worst fears escaping the nightfall jail of their 3 AM nightmares. Forcibly shipwrecked on land via a slashed tire. Only the will to live, to survive, driving Jessica to escape her island, her captivity in an unmarked basement. After all, if you scream in a forest and nobody is around to rescue you, did you really make a sound?

Interview with Jules Willcox:

Jules Wilcox in ALONE, a Magnet release. Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing.

The Natural Aristocrat : For me, the strongest scene in Alone is post-escape when The Man claims you’re his mentally ill sister and that you’re having ‘another episode’ to a third party. Naturally, the third party (Robert) is confused & unsure who’s telling the truth. There’s so many layers to this twisted interaction. It’s a commentary about society not explicitly believing those perceived to have bipolar disorder or otherwise. As if the label disqualifies their credibility instantly. What was it like shooting that moment?

Jules Willcox: It shows how manipulative Marc’s character is… He’s playing chess, you know? I don’t even think Jessica realizes how sick of an individual he is! He really took it to another level. In a way, it also presents Jessica as an unreliable narrator of her own story.

It was a tricky scene and it showed what depths The Man was willing to go down to. He was working on a physical level and on a psychological level. It’s not only ‘Woman Against Nature’ as we find with the river scene but ‘Woman vs The Physicality of a Man’ & also on a mental level.

When Jessica takes that big plunge into the river, was that you or a stunt double?

It was both, Michelle Damis was my stunt double and she is incredible! Michelle had to do quite a bit more than she thought she was going to do because I broke my foot in the second week of filming. So, two thirds or three quarters actually of the film I’m in a walking boot which you can’t see in the final edit.

You broke your foot while filming on-set?

It happened during filming, it happened during a stunt. It was just a freak thing! I was running barefoot in a cleared path, when I was running away from The Man and getting out of the house, and we went for a couple of takes. Then they’re like, ‘Let’s do one more and then we’ll throw your shoes back on,’ you know because they wanted to see the bare feet. The stunt coordinator was amazing and he had cleared everything, and we’d walked the path several time. And that one last time… I hit a root that was sticking up out of the Earth!

Jules Wilcox in ALONE, a Magnet release. Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing.

Wow, so it was practically just like what happens in the movie?

Yeah, we had to improvise because the really bad wound that Jessica was supposed to have, was the gunshot through the shoulder. But because I broke my foot, we had to put that limp in that I naturally had. That’s when they rewrote the scene of Jessica stepping on that.

I thought the opening of Alone was captivating. The film was really able to build this foreboding sense of being stranded just like its namesake. What was your routine to get into this anxious, panicked state for each take?

We were shooting in the Pacific Northwest and it was beautiful of course and it’s wide open. I was living in Manhattan at the time so I didn’t have a ton of time to prep on the film. It happened really fast! So, I flew out to Oregon, and I’d worked with the director before on a television show. They needed an actor who could do all the grueling physical stuff and also the emotional stuff, and so he contracted me to do it. I really connected to the grief that Jessica was experiencing. We’ve all experienced grief in our life and it’s such a universal experience. She’s really running away from her grief in the beginning with her husband killing himself.

Jessica’s wanting to get a new start, she’s not wanting to talk her mom because her mom is going to want to talk about things and emotions… And she doesn’t want to deal with all that. When you’re alone, you’re confronted with the truth in your mind whether you like it or not. I think Jessica does whatever she can to try to push things away. But ultimately, having The Man show up, forces her into a very present state, where she has to be active. She has to fight.

I think I really prepared by being in nature, it’s such a beautiful place. You wake up really in the morning, 4 AM, whenever the call time wise and watch the sunrise. I’d just put myself in the circumstances of where Jessica was, having lost someone and trying to escape from that.

The scene where Jessica freaks out initially and calls 911 when she thinks she’s being followed really throws viewers into a loop. For a second when the car passes, you really think she’s okay. Then the film pulls the rug under out from viewers, before relief washes over the audience. What did you draw on outside of the script to craft that moment?

We question ourselves all the time when something really crazy happens or even just in an abnormal way. I find myself wanting to have the benefit of the doubt for the other person, probably because I’m mid-western! (laughs) Surely, they didn’t mean that! There’s a little bit of, ‘Am I blowing this out of proportion?’ There’s a little bit of her questioning herself and I can connect to that in my own mind. Can people really have such harsh, mean intentions? I’m a glass half-full person, so I hope for the best! I think in that scene there’s almost a disappoint when seeing, oh that wasn’t what I thought, maybe I am ‘blowing this out of proportion.’

Jules Wilcox in ALONE, a Magnet release. Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing.

Have you ever had such a gut instinct about person like Jessica does in the film? There was some definite Ted Bundy vibes when The Man approaches Jessica’s car with his arm in a sling and asks for assistance.

Gosh… I think probably in the early days of moving to Hollywood! (laughs) Again, being a midwestern girl, I had to be quite careful and skeptical of people’s intentions. We were actually shooting when all the Weinstein stuff was coming out, really the height of the Me Too movement. We talked about that a lot, all the gas-lighting of women and how they’ve been taken advantage of for so long. I’m from Missouri, the ‘Show Me’ state, ‘Show me who you are with your actions.’

Jules Wilcox and Marc Menchaca in ALONE, a Magnet release. Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing.

I’m curious how were you able to film that final fight scene with a broken foot? Were the scenes shot in narrative order?

We shot in order, which was crazy! I was in the Whitewater rapids with a broken foot, with a boot on. (laughs) Our stunt coordinator would help me. I was in crutches most of the time with the boot, and the stunt coordinator who’s just a massive human being, lifted me up and put me in the water. (laughs) I knew he felt bad every time he did it because it was so cold, we were shooting in November in the Pacific Northwest.

Director John Hyams filming a scene for ALONE, a Magnet release. Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing.

That last fight scene was on our last day of shooting. We had rehearsed the fight in the fight coordinator’s jiu jitsu gym. We practiced on mats several times, and between me and Michelle my stunt double, we just did it all. It’s also choreographed to be very scrappy. We’re not professional fighters, Jessica doesn’t have any training. She is just relying on pure adrenaline and at that point, so was I. We were in our costumes, I also had layers of freezing cold mud.

So that wasn’t makeup on your face, that was legit mud?

(laughs) Oh, it was legit! That was legit! When I was crawling out of the car, they were like, okay are you ready? I was like ‘Oh jeez, I’m putting my face in mud!’ My skin has never looked so good, it’s like a spa treatment. But the mud weighs a lot, once it starts caking on to your clothing, so the movement starts to get so much harder. You’re like basically caked down in clay.

You’re rolling around on the ground, the kind of stuff that Michelle, the stunt person would be doing would be like kicking with both legs because I could only kick with one leg. We really went for it! Thank God it was all on the last day because I was exhausted after! (laughs)

Why do you feel Jessica doesn’t go for the gun when The Man offers her an opportunity to even out the playing field in the forest?

I think at that point, she didn’t trust him at all. There’s a perceived opening but why is that and why? She’s going by instinct, period.

The scene where The Man takes Jessica to the basement is one of the most brutal scenes I’ve seen in a horror movie because it looks like she has zero chance. Usually horror movies leave the door open a little bit but Alone makes it clear Jessica has nowhere to go, no immediate escape routes, nothing to plead with her captor… Then The Man tells you to “remove your clothes.” Viewers are definitely going to have strong, unsettling feelings about that whole section. What was it like filming such a traumatic moment?

Yeah, she’s caught in a trap, Jessica’s a helpless animal at that point! She’s just trying to do whatever she can do… You know, she asks The Man, ‘Can I go to the bathroom?’ to buy time. You’re left wondering, how many people has this happened to?

Jules Wilcox in ALONE, a Magnet release. Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing.

A friend of mine, he’s a playwright, wrote a play about a person being held captive because he was so influenced and traumatized by those young women who were held captive in Cleveland. They were released several years later. Unfortunately, this happens, these things happen. I really had to put myself in this person’s shoes, what are you going to do? How can I manipulate in any way? Can I beg, can I plead? She does all this and there’s utter hopelessness at this point.

You understand that it’s not just brute force he’s after… He’s playing this sick mental game by leaving her there, and confronting her with her emotional trauma, as opposed to physical trauma. I truly think The Man is one of the most evil characters I’ve ever seen, just how twisted and dark he goes. And Marc Menchaca is the most lovable person on the planet!

Marc Menchaca in ALONE, a Magnet release. Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing.

I was definitely surprised because I was so used to Marc Menchaca’s character on Ozark!

I know! (laughs) He does such a great job. That monologue when I’m in the bog in the forest is just pure evil!

Did you enjoy Jessica’s final revenge on The Man, when she calls his girlfriend?

Oh yeah! I think what was so shocking is when Jessica escapes, she can hear The Man talking on the phone and his life is totally normal. He’s making a sandwich. It’s like ‘Hey Buddy, you know that normal life you think you can have? No way! That doesn’t exist anymore!” At that point she thinks ‘I’m going to die. Hopefully, someone will come to get me but if this guy is coming after me, I’m definitely going to try to kill him.

I’m going to try to survive! But odds are… I’m not going to make it. So I need somebody to get my body and get Robert’s body and let Robert’s wife what has happened to him.’ Jessica’s an ethical person, she’s not like The Man. She’s trying to escape at the beginning but she’s moved by the kindness of strangers, by Robert taking her in and helping her. Even though she’s skeptical because she’s been through so much.

At first, when Jessica gets in the car with Robert post-escape, I thought he was going to drive her right back to The Man. That Robert was in on it. Did you think that’s where the story was heading initially?

Oh God, I’m glad you think that because I thought that too when I was reading the script the first time! (laughs) ‘Oh no! He’s in on it!’

I felt The Man’s civility while on the phone with his girlfriend, preparing the sandwich was part of what made Alone work as a film. It was just so convincingly real, you’re left wondering, ‘How many people like this live double lives?’ It reminded me of the film The Strangers a lot, that film also didn’t give direct names to its antagonists, preferring Man in Mask, Dollface, Pin-Up Girl like The Man in Alone.

Yeah, it’s this alter-ego. It’s not who he is in ‘real life’ but what he does on the side ‘anonymously’. There was the documentary recently on HBO about the Golden State killer (I’ll Be Gone in the Dark) and The Man reminded me of that. That somebody could have this kind of evil double life.

I feel Alone’s grounding in reality will hit people harder because they can picture the possibility of it happening to them. No matter how low the percentage of that is… The situation is not impossible and that stays in your mind. It resonates with a person’s core fears of random strangers.

I think during this time in quarantine, when people are feeling isolated and alone the film is timely in a way. As if we’re confronting ourselves.

Thanks Jules!

Thank you!

Theatrical one-sheet for ALONE, a Magnet release. Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing.

Alone Trailer and Where you can watch the Film:


Follow Alone star Jules Willcox on Twitter and Instagram! Be sure to also follow @AloneMovie on Twitter!

Alone can be seen now in select theaters and on Video On Demand services. Rent Alone on Amazon today!

Disclosure: TheNaturalAristocrat.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

– Check out The Natural Aristocrat®’s exclusive interview with one half of tomandandy’s composing duo, Tom Hajdu, on The Strangers soundtrack.

– Be sure to read more interviews with the entertainment industry’s top talent in The Natural Aristocrat®’s Interviews section.

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Film

Fantasia 2020: Kakegurui is a Flashy Joyride, Cult Classic (Review)

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Minami Hamabe as Yumeko Jabami in Kakegurui - Photo Credit: GAGA International Sales
Photo Credit: GAGA International Sales

Kakegurui is dripping with personality, its ‘gambling meets private school’ premise an instant conversation piece. Actress Minami Hamabe shines as calculated, seemingly reckless gambler, Yumeko Jabami. While Murasame’s struggle to never gamble again, shows the low points of moralistic Solipsism when faced with external stimuli. When you take the higher ground all the time, there’s nowhere to go but down…

This impressions review contains spoilers to the live-action film adaption of Kakegurui. The film screened at this year’s Fantasia International Film Festival.

Kakegurui leaps into its high stakes rollercoaster immediately from curtain open, no waiting around for long winded narratives, the way a good bet should be. Instant gratification. The film introduces a private high school where students either gamble away their lives with a misplaced wager or prosper off the misery of others by reigning victorious. In Kakegurui’s ultra capitalistic hierarchal system, for someone to enjoy immense wealth and a great life, someone else must sit at their heel.

Students that gamble and lose, sit in debt, while being humiliated by their classmates as servile “Doggies” & “Kitties” (as they’re called in the film). They find themselves working under the boot of their richer & higher status superiors, while being mocked for it. A subtle allegory to current society perhaps, and a cruel twist of fate. Or Lady Luck, depending on how you look at it.

There is no ‘fairness’ in Kakegurui, in fact, one character named Itsuki Sumeragi pays her peers to let her win and buys student electoral votes. Sumeragi even has a pricey humanoid robot as her partner, showing that those who came with means to the school have a clear advantage. Circumstances do not reset to zero upon admission and this has a linear impact on the student’s success in Kakegurui. Even the odds can be shaped in one’s favor through various means of manipulation, either through currency or deceit.

Minami Hamabe as Yumeko Jabami in Kakegurui – Photo Credit: GAGA International Sales

The system is mostly unfettered and runs unrestricted outside of the whims of Student Council President Kirari Momobami . Who did a great job of portraying the school’s sophisticated, untouchable queen bee, reminiscent of Erina Nakiri on anime series Food Wars!

Those that abstain from gambling in life, end up doing so indirectly

For every standard bearing culture and pecking order, there’s a counter culture brewing by those disfranchised by their position in the hierarchy. Enter ‘The Village’ a group of students led by Jueri Arukibi , a cult-like group dressed all in white who’ve declared abstinence from gambling. Arukibi attempts to recruit the best gambler on campus (outside of the Student Council’s President), Yumeko Jabami to their cause, an important point later in the film. Arukiba promises to rescue those who’ve fallen prey to their gambling debts, shielding them through sheer number against their ‘debtors’ inside ‘The Village’. Wearing all white Arukiba appears to be morally righteous at first.

The Village’s true leader however is Amane Murasame, who secretly once defeated the Student Council President Kirari Momobami and left gambling behind. Murasame’s driving force was his sister’s debts, which he wiped clean with a victory against Kirari but it was not enough to save his sister from her own shame. She jumps off a staircase with Murasame desperately trying to grab her, falling himself. Murasume receives a permanent scar from the event.

Yumeko Jabami goes into a confessional-like area to prod Murasame to return to gambling during a visit to The Village but he stays silent. The wildly unpredictable Yumeko Jabami comments earnestly that all she wants is some good desserts in the school cafeteria. That it is ‘such a shame a fine school would have such mediocre desserts’, one of the only times in the film Murasame smiles.

Minami Hamabe as Yumeko Jabami in Kakegurui and Hio Miyazawa as Amane Murasame – Photo Credit: GAGA International Sales

The Student Council decrees new elections through a combination of votes and gambling duels to those seeking power. While at the same time, threatening to throw a wrecking ball at The Village. Forced eviction. Thus, The Village has two choices, go down as pacifists, or gamble to change the culture and direction of their school by gaining power themselves. In Murasame’s words, he would just become another kind of monster should he gain power.

Eventually however, he comes to Arukiba’s ‘rescue’ fearing The Village will be destroyed without his intervention. Only to be betrayed in one of the film’s biggest twists. Arukiba, who loses to a game of Blackjack to Kirari (21) at the onset of Kakegurui, was intentionally throwing their paired game against Yumeko Jabami and her plucky, always worried sidekick Ryota Suzui . Arukiba believed humiliating Murasame in front of Kirari would win her favor… But Jabami accurately saw the move as cheating the thrill of gambling, deciding to play to lose herself to nullify it. Murasame takes the ultimate victory and with the blank life slate/book, writes Yumeko Jabami’s wish for better desserts as his only wish.

Minami Hamabe as Yumeko Jabami is a definitive highlight

Actress Minami Hamabe is exceptionally charming as Yumeko Jabami, frankly taking the spotlight of every scene she’s in. It’s of no surprise there’s already a 2021 sequel in the works for Kakegurui because Minami Hamabe can carry this live-action adaption of the franchise to new heights. Excellent facial expressions, a lot of likeability factor you can’t teach in acting class. Minami’s high point comes with a monologue to Murasume about no one ever actually wanting to be ‘saved.’ That there would be no fun in having someone else have that level of control in your life.

Yuma Yamoto as Jun Kiwatari was also a standout in the film, doing a lot of physical acting, noticeably advanced body language work when he’s on-screen. He added a lot of humor to Kakegurui.

Keep in mind… Kakegurui is quite faithful to an anime structure on-screen, meaning there are some exaggerated mannerisms by some characters. Depending on if you’re a fan of Anime, you’ll either see it as entertaining or overacting.

Kakegurui’s appeal is in its Japanese presentation and flashy style. From the clothes, sets, art style to even actress Yurika Nakamura (Sayaka Igarashi) saying “Open” a certain way at every card set.

Conclusion:

If you’re looking for a fresh premise with a twist, are a gambling aficionado, and constantly in-motion, high stakes entertainment. Kakegurui is a sure bet. A cult classic in the making.

Minami Hamabe as Yumeko Jabami on Kakegurui Film Poster – Photo Credit: GAGA International Sales

– Follow the film @kakegurui_jp on Twitter and visit the official website, kakegurui.jp to learn more about the film. The film is directed by Tsutomu Hanabusa and distributed worldwide by GAGA Corporation.

– Follow lead actress Minami Hamabe on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and her official website.


– Learn more about the films that screened at Fantasia International Film Festival 2020 at this link. Kakegurui screened at Fantasia Fest 2020 on August 26th at 19:00.

Be sure to read Fantasia Fest 2020: Tezuka’s Barbara is a stylish, decadent elixir of dystopian cool (Review) and more coverage of Fantasia Fest at The Natural Aristocrat®’s Fantasia International Film Festival 2020 section.

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