Interviews: Lin Shaye Talks Her New Horror Film Abattoir and Insidious 4

Last week, The Movie Sleuth had a chance to sit down and talk with Lin Shaye, an actress whose resume is decades long and full of dynamic roles and choices. 

We had a few minutes to discuss her new release Abattoir and the upcoming Insidious 4 which is being helmed by our good friend, Adam Robitel. Check out the interview here and look for Abattoir on demand and in limited theatrical release.

TMS: I want to get this out of the way. You're a star. I'm not going to lie. You're an absolute talent. You can change characters at the flip of a switch. You make wise acting choices and always rise to the top in every movie you star in. Even when you've just got a bit part or a cameo, you're the high point of the movie. Where would you say that drive and ambition comes from? And how do you adapt to so many genres?

LS: First of all, thank you for the compliment. I don't really know that answer one hundred percent. I think I have a very strong, cynical sense about life and the world which has probably gotten deeper and richer as I've gotten older. I love walking into other people's personalities and trying to see the world through their eyes rather than just my own. That sort of broadens my view about life. I think I do have a gift that I'm able to do that. It gives back to me so much. 

TMS: What can you tell us about acting and how you prepare for a role?

LS: Acting involves so many more elements than people think. It's storytelling in a unique way that makes you think about life and yourself in a different way. When I get a new character, I have to go back to some of my acting roots. There's a lot of psychological questions that I try to answer myself. It's all rooted in the details of the story that's written. It's an extraordinary process. Sometimes you'll go, 'there's the key'. You'll find something that opens up information about the character and story. 

TMS: What's a key scene from the Insidious movies that sticks with you? 

LS: There was a scene in Insidious 3 where I'm supposed to be eating at the table. My husband is supposed to be dead. And I said 'you've got to set a place for Jack' even though he's not there. There was something really wonderful about that, whether the audience received it or not, the idea is very emotional. It was very magical. And very wonderful. And very cerebral. I'm so full of gratitude to have all these opportunities that I do. 

TMS: You've been doing this for decades now. 

LS: Nobody is more surprised than me. Swear to god!

TMS:  Your ability to adapt to horror, to comedy, to drama, and to do all these different things is a prize. It's something you can be proud of.  A lot of actors and actresses get in a rut and they do the same thing over and over again repeatedly. With the diversity of all the movies you've been in, do you have a favorite project?

LS: Wow. (laughter) Kingpin was a turning point for me. (laughter) They've all been unspeakably great gifts to me. Kingpin was a turning point for me in my life because of the Farrelly Brothers. I had done a little part in Dumber and that's a long story. We could be on the phone for an hour. Bottom line is, they had the script and the character was described as the angriest, ugliest woman that god had ever let loose on the planet. I read that and thought 'I gotta do that' because of those extremes, I've got to be able to find that somewhere. I started working on the character in my bedroom and they wouldn't see me. They said 'we love your work...but we don't see you as that character'. And I thought, 'I'm not done'. 

Working....and.....working......For six weeks I sat on my floor in front of my mirror. I put stuff like eyelashes coming out of my nostrils for nose hairs. I put egg on my face. I was insanely obsessed. You have to be. Meanwhile, they weren't going to see me. Finally, I called one of the producers. I got him on the phone and he said 'I'll bring you in on Thursday'. So I went in dressed as Mrs. Dumars. I auditioned. I poured my heart out. And I got the job. It's probably the biggest departure from my physical self and the fact that I worked like a demon for all those weeks without knowing for sure that anything was going to happen. Those elements made it my favorite movie. Plus, it's a fabulous character. 

TMS: And that cast? Seriously. Legends.

LS: Woody Harrelson. You just want to take him home with you forever and do scenes with him until the end of the day. He's such a great team player and so welcoming. I was so scared of him. I had never met a big star like that. All those elements. 

TMS:  Beginning with Nightmare on Elm Street, you've done tons of horror. What would you say draws you to that genre?

LS:  I think it's the stories. Mostly for me, it's a good story and a good character. The horror community is so tight. I have friends there now who trust me. They offer me things. If it's not a good story and I'm not interested, they're okay with that. Fortunately, I've been invited into some beautiful films, Abattoir being one. I'm drawn to the people involved and the story telling. 

TMS: You probably don't know this, but I'm a Michigan native. So are you. How do you think Michigan shaped your career?

LS: Well, you draw from your childhood no matter where you're from. I did go to the University of Michigan which was a fabulous experience for me. I did a lot of theater when I was there and was an art history major. 

TMS: Darren did some of the Saw movies and he did Repo: The Genetic Opera. He's got a great visual style. What would you say is unique about working with him?

LS: He's a hot potato! Meaning that like he's always cooking when he's on set! He's totally open to your suggestions and has a very strong spine for what he's creating. I think he's a visual artist. He's really into music also. He's a true storyteller. He's a great collaborator. 

TMS: You're currently working  on Insidious 4. How will Adam Robitel's vision differ from what we've seen before? And will it revitalize that property for its fans?

LS:  Believe it or not, there is a formula with a franchise. You have to fulfill certain elements. Your fanbase kind of requires that. There's a real corporate philosophy about doing a franchise in general. 

TMS:  I had a chance to interview Adam back when he was doing The Taking of Deborah Logan. I adore that movie. Tell us what a great director he is. 

LS: He did a phenomenal job. He's a great listener,,,,a better listener than I am. He's a great collaborator and a creative force. It was his vision but he was also aware of the franchise rules. He brought new energy. Deborah Logan was one of the scariest films ever for me as well. I think he's a brilliant filmmaker and this was a great opportunity for him to work on something that was already successful. 

TMS: We've had a couple discussions in the past via social channels and he's always positive. It's a nice change from what we usually see on FB and other platforms. 

LS: He's tireless. He doesn't complain. Ours were 16 hour days. His were 20 hour days. The guy is cooking on all burners, nothing but a phenomenal team player, and a beautiful independent spirit with a creative vision. The film is going to be amazing. 

TMS: Where can people see your latest, Abattoir?

LS: It's going to be on all the VOD formats.