Interview: Danielle Lilley | BLOOD WIDOW

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The horror genre is one that is full of iconic killers and scream queens. So often dominated by large, unrelenting, hulking males in the Michael, Jason and Freddy mould, the independent Blood Widow looks to introduce a sleek, clinical female killer. And for every good killer, there comes a slew of potential victims. This is where Danielle Lilley comes into frame, playing the heroine in Jeremiah Buckhalt’s film. We managed to get some time to chat will Lilley about this female-driven horror with a stylish psycho at its core.

Starburst: First up, for those unaware of the film, how would you describe Blood Widow?

Danielle Lilley: Well the film’s very interesting. I’d kind of describe it as Friday the 13th meets A Nightmare on Elm Street. They really took the film back to the old cult classic, slasher-type. I found that really intrusting, and everyone’s really resonating with it very well.

How did you end up involved in the project?

I had just come home from L.A. and I really needed to strengthen my reel. So I went over to Orlando and auditioned for some films over there. While I was auditioning, I noticed this little posting on the wall that was a casting notice for Blood Widow. So I went in, signed up, read, and here I am.

Did you know any of the guys beforehand then?

That was the first time I met them. It was one of those situations where I was in the right place at the right time.

Your character, Laurie, is the heroine in this. Were there any particular “scream queens” that you did any background work on or drew inspiration from, like a Jamie Lee Curtis, a Neve Campbell, a Heather Langenkamp?

I always try and take my characters, try and develop them and make them a piece of me. I like to develop them on my own; I don’t really like to compare them to other scream queens. I wanted to be different. That’s something I always do when I’m developing a character; how can I make them different from other characters in the past. I really try to focus on that when I’m studying for a role or working on some character development.

Your character does a lot of research on the Blood Widow throughout the film, although she never truly finds out the full story. Do you think she gets a fair pay-off in the film?

I think that my character definitely takes some time to do some investigating; to really get inside of Blood Widow, understand where she’s coming from and why she’s doing all of this. You see that throughout the film, various points where I resonate with her and really kind of understand her from a different level than the other characters do. From my character’s perspective, I really get to relate to her from a woman to a woman, seeing the abuse that she was put through. From Blood Widow’s perspective, I think I remind her of someone from her past. So, throughout the film, you see that relationship.

Is there any part of you that wished you were playing the Blood Widow role or are you happy to have your face on show, putting yourself out there?

I really like to be able to put myself out there and to have that character development. Blood Widow was never something that I was necessarily interested in. I was very happy playing Laurie.

A lot of actresses that play the heroine roles often become typecast in that type of role. Is that something that you were weary of or was this film just about broadening your horizons?

I don’t think necessarily working on horror films is a bad thing. I think it’s a matter of working on the right one; the one that has character development. You really need something to work with. I really felt that with Laurie and Blood Widow when I was reading the script. They wanted to work on the audience building a relationship with Laurie, to be able to relate to her. When you’re watching the film, you feel the pain that she’s going through, the struggle. And that’s good.

Did you have any say in the development of the character or the script?

That’s the great thing about working on indie films. I think there’s always room for that discussion to be had. There’s probably some loose ties in the script that give you a little bit of room to play with, and that was definitely the case with Laurie. Jeremiah, the director, and I had those discussions several times. I think that it worked great and in the end it was a good thing.

You touched on it then, but the film is obviously a low-budget, small crew movie. How hands-on was everybody on the movie and was it a team effort?

With any indie films, you’re doing a little bit more than necessarily on a bigger production. Even though it was a low-budget film, as an actor on the film, I felt that they were treating me fantastic; they really just wanted me to come in and do my job. I always tried to lend a hand here and there when needed, but they never really wanted me to. They wanted me there to play Laurie. I thought that that was really nice and a breath of fresh air. They really felt that it was important for me to just focus on my character.

For the first half of the film, Laurie shares a lot of screen time with partner Hugh (Brandon Kyle Peters) before she ends up becoming the focal point of the second half of the movie. How did you feel about being painted as the lone survivor?

I thought it was great; I thought it was a nice little trick. When you’re watching Laurie, watching the characters develop, you realise that she really relies on Hugh and really wants him to be a man. Then the chaos begins and when we get introduced to Blood Widow my character becomes very strong and assertive and really just takes hold of everything. It’s like, “No, no, no. I’m not going to let this happen.” I loved it. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

It’s safe to say, your character is the sensible one throughout the film. How close to the real you is that?

I think I’m a little bit of both. I’m definitely fun, but when things have to be serious you gotta be serious. There’s always a good time to have fun.

You mentioned earlier on that this movie is like a hark back to the classic slashers of the ‘80s. That’s a sub-genre that’s dominated by big, burly, male serial killers. Do you think that Blood Widow is a nice change of pace to that and works as a nice reintroduction to slasher movies?

I think it’s awesome! Like you said, the past slasher films were masked killers that were all male. I think having the killer female makes it different. She has this delicacy to her that takes a different spin on everything. I think it’s definitely intriguing and our fans are really liking it. We’re getting great feedback on her being a female.

Now your character may or may not make it (no spoilers here), but do you see Blood Widow being the start of a series of films?

Well I think it was always in the back of their minds, the possibility to do a sequel. I think if the opportunity was to present itself then they would be on it. I guess there’s already plans in place. I think it’s just a matter of seeing how well Blood Widow does first time around. When I was hired on, I didn’t know that it was going to turn into a sequel. I just knew that it was an indie, but working on these films then you never know.

If there was a way for your character to come back for a sequel, would that be something that you’d be interested in?

Absolutely! I would love to come back if I could come back. I’ve already discussed that with Jeremiah, and now it’s just a matter of waiting and see.

For yourself in the future, what’s lined up for you at the moment?

I’m currently not signed on to do any projects at the moment. I’m really just working on auditioning, being picky and choosey about the next role that I do. I think it’s always important to take a step in the right direction when you’re looking at your next film.

Blood Widow is currently awaiting a UK release date, but the film is now available on VOD internationally as well as on DVD in the US. To keep up to date with Danielle Lilley, be sure to follow her on Twitter, and be sure to check out our Blood Widow review at a later date.

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