Ashley C. Williams talks horror, her Human Centipede beginnings, and her latest release, Julia.
The Human Centipede launched her career with a disturbing role in stomach turning movie. She continues on with more roles in the genre but is making a decided turn to other, bigger goals as an actress.
TMS: So, you've got this new movie coming out, Julia. This is a perfect time for us to do this interview. A lot of movie sites are doing their own Halloween countdowns. We've got our own called 31 Days of Hell which we review one horror movie every day this month. If you could pick one favorite horror movie, what would that be and why?
AW: I always say The Shining. The Shining, I grew up with. I think it was probably one of the scariest things I'd seen as a kid. I think mostly because of the child in that movie and his experiences with what ws going on in that hotel. From a kid's point of view and how freaky that must have been, I loved every single second of that film from beginning to end. I thought it was this normal kind of family outing with some drama, then everything just turns in the most unexpected way. You totally put yourself in that situation, for me anyways when I watch that movie. It's just really powerful to me and scary. It's the idea of being stranded. Very isolated.
TMS: Continuing on that, if you could pick one project to work on or a director to work with, who or what would it be?
AW: Probably Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. He's one of my favorite film makers right now. He does incredible work. And I would just absolutely love to work with him. He doesn't do horror movies at all. I definitely want to venture out to other genres, so I'm very much looking forward to possibly working with him one day.
TMS: Your resume, a lot of it is horror. Of course there are some other variables in there but what exactly draws you to these roles in that genre?
AW: I don't necessarily think I'm driven towards horror. I am attracted to the story. When Julia was presented to me,I didn't actually consider it a horror film. I was just intrigued by the character's journey and her world. And the awakening she has. I like the darker, edgier aspects of story tellling and that perhaps does fit into that. I'm not necessarily interested in the horror genre. I was a part of The Human Centipede, but when you think of that movie, the concept is very unique. It's not a scary movie per se. It's like Julia. I guess it's horrifying but it's not scary. Because of The Human Centipede, I've been sent a lot of horror scripts. Mostly they're all the same. You know, cabin in the woods, they get lost, there's strange creatures in the woods. I'm really looking for unique stories. If someone wants me to continue working in the horror genre, it's going to have to be a unique piece of material.
TMS: We do a LOT of horror reviews. For some reason, people that make horror movies and their reps really put their stuff out there a lot more. I don't know if it's because its easier to make them on a lower budget, but we get a lot of them and I get your point. A lot of the stuff we get is repetitious or similar in tone. There's a lot of people that didn't enjoy The Human Centipede. I liked the first two but the third was a train wreck. So, I see where you're coming from. The first was more a body modification horror film. It wasn't a slasher movie. Tom Six had something to say and it made those first two unique. How would you say that role effected your career?
AW: Well, it effected me on all levels. I was looking to get into the film industry and that's exactly what it did for me. I had done stage work all my life up until then. So, when I did that film I did take that risk of 'this better be done really well' or it could make or break my career. Luckily, it was done very well. In fact, it was shot incredibly well, like really clean images, and really clear to watch. Ever since it came out and still to this day I'm known for The Human Centipede. It's done wonders for my career. I have to say I'm grateful that I was a part of it for that reason. I had no idea my first would be a horror film and had no idea my career was going to go in that direction.
TMS: What can you tell us about Julia, your latest movie?
AW: So Julia, she's a very meek and mild mannered, introverted kind of girl. She works as a nurse's assistant in a plastic surgeon's office. Something very traumatic happens to her. She grew up being sexually abused by her Father so she's already had a traumatic life. It's kept her in this victim's mindset. She doesn't have a lot of friends. She never goes out on dates. This guy at her work ends up asking her out on a date. She's very surprised of course. He's good looking. She's a little nervous. She doesn't have a lot of experience. She ends up meeting him at his place. Of course he has other intentions unfortunately. He ends up drugging her and getting his friends to have their way with her. Since that happens, she ends up not going to the police. She decides she wants to take it into her own hands when she finds out about this special kind of therapy. It's a very unorthodox kind of way of healing yourself. You're not allowed to take it personally. You're not allowed to take revenge on your attackers. She goes on this incredible transformative journey to restore herself and get control back in her life. She awakens this holy evil goddess of a creature. It's quite a powerful film.
TMS: As an actress, who would you say your influences are?
AW: Most of my life I looked up to (most actresses probably say this), but Meryl Streep quite a lot, not just for her brilliant, natural acting, but also the way she lives her life and for how she deals with Hollywood and the spotlight. She keeps to herself. She keeps family and career separate. It's something I definitely aspire to in my own life, when I get to that point. But she also chooses quality roles. Also, others in my generation. Someone like Natalie Portman, or Rooney Mara, or Elizabeth Olsen. These young girls have been around for quite a while but they pick quality roles, good scripts, strong women, and I definitely get excited every time a movie comes out with them and I aspire to do the kind of work they do.
TMS: What projects do you have coming up after Julia?
AW: I have a couple projects in the works. I'm still in negotiations so I can't really talk about them yet. And I'm also writing my own screenplay at the moment. I'm really excited about the story world that I've created. It will probably be for me to star in and to produce as well. It's a passion project of mine and that takes up a lot of my time. I'm really excited about the near future and what's to come.
TMS: Last question, how can people see Julia and when will it be released?
AW: It will be released in theaters this Friday, October 23rd. It's having a limited release. The first week it's only in California and Chicago. Then it's going to more theaters after that first week.
The Movie Sleuth thanks Ashley for taking time out of her busy promotional schedule to talk to us.
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