One-time X-Factor contestant, pop crooner and star of the stage and screen Diana Vickers (you remember; she never wore any shoes) turns Scream Queen, starring in the backwoods horror cannibal movie Awaiting. Appearing at FrightFest to present the film to its eager audience, Ms. Vickers took the time to sit with STARBURST about Awaiting, horror films and bonding with onscreen dad Tony Curran.
She wore shoes throughout the whole interview.
STARBURST: How would you describe Awaiting to potential audiences?
Diana Vickers: It's a psychological thriller; it's a very intelligent horror film. A lot of horror films can borderline comedy sometimes, and you've got to be quite careful – I think it's done really tastefully. It's about a father and daughter who live in a house together, and he treats her like a child, and she's very isolated from normality. He's got the secret life of a very angry man who murders people and lied to her about her mother, and then one day he gets caught in the act with Jake... Lauren goes very Lolita with him. She's never seen a man before in her life and acts on impulse. And then it all unravels. Shit kicks off, basically.
What attracted you to the project?
When I read the script I was automatically drawn to it. I love psychological thrillers. I read a lot. One of my favourite books is Gone Girl, and The Psychopath Test. I love watching horror, and it was just my kind of film. I've done a lot of comedy before and I hadn't done a lot of drama. It felt like the right role for me. It's very character led and the story's so powerful.
You've done some acting in the past, as you said – a lot of comedy – is a horror film something you'd been wanting to do for a while?
I love doing comedy, and I was filming Give Out Girls, the Comedy Central series I do, and Kerry Howard, who is the lead, said “Diana, you need to do a horror film, because you're so animated!” Usually I'm very animated, very big. It's a dream – I love doing horror. I want to do more.
Your character in the film, Lauren, isn't what you might describe as a typical female horror role in that she's not a damsel in distress or victim...
No, she's the person you empathise with. Everyone's crazy and there's a lot of anger from my father, and you've got Jake, who's quite aggressive and you don't really feel sorry for him at times. He's an angry man and doesn't help himself. Lauren is the innocent eyes – the person that you want to save by the end of it.
So was it a conscious effort to go for that sort of character, rather than the alternative?
Yeah! Lauren's a strong girl – she's a bit confused, she's had the wool pulled over her eyes – but by the end of the film she's really found her voice. I liked that about her; the fact that she could yell at her father and tell him all the things that he's done wrong; that she's a clever girl. I think that's a more interesting character to play.
It'll surprise a lot of people how brutal the film is. Do you think your being cast in the film was intentional, in that sense? Given that people might not expect you to appear in this sort of thing?
The director when he cast me said that he loved my audition and had no idea who I was! So I don't think it was an intentional thing from the director. But it's always good to shock people. That's quite fun.
Talking of shocking people, how do you think the fans of your music and prior work will react to the film? Do you think they'll be surprised?
I think so. It's a different side to me. Whenever I do a gig I'm always quite funny on stage. This is nowhere near my personality, this character, so it'll be quite strange for people to see.
It gets really violent and gory towards the end. How did you get on, dealing with all the fake blood and prosthetics there?
There were moments when it was pretty grim. I was so tired and delirious. I didn't have any fake tears. All the tears were real. I put myself in a real headspace and I was absolutely sobbing. I was exhausted to the point where I thought I was going to faint from crying that much. It is quite intense.
How did you find that experience?
I was able to take myself away and realise what was actually happening. It was tense and hard. But we had such a great team.
How did you get on with Tony Curran, who plays your father?
Tony is fantastic. He is such a terrific actor. He's a very real actor. He's very curious – he wants to understand, he always questions and he made me realise that you have to do that, and really delve into the character. We were doing before a scene – it was an awful scene where he puts his arms around my neck and strangles me – and he became the character before the take without saying anything, without warning me. He was whispering awful, violent, scary things into my ear and really prepping me up. It came out of nowhere and it absolutely terrified me. It just goes to show that he's a fantastic actor and wants to bring out the best in everyone's performance.
As a father and daughter, your relationship onscreen is very believable.
Me, Rupert and Tony were very close. Every night we'd share a car home to the same hotel and sat up drinking every night. We bonded; we were such a tight knit. He was lovely. He used to call me 'daughter' and I used to call him 'daddy' offscreen. We were really close.
Do you think you'll make more horror in future?
Definitely. I would love to do more. I had such a good time. I love horror.
Can you name a few of your favourite horror films?
I love The Strangers. What's the wrinkle-my-dress? Chucky! I love The Others. What's that one where the people have to cut their own limbs off?
Saw! I watched that the other day. I really enjoyed that.
What about films which would have inspired Awaiting, like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre?
I have seen that but I had to turn it off. It was a bit too gory for me! But the really good thing about making a horror film, when you shoot it, you realise that all the baddies are actually really lovely people. When the take stops they'll be like 'I'm just going to the toilet and having a cup of tea.' I feel like I can watch horror films now and not be as terrified!
Diana Vickers, thank you very much!
Awaiting is released on DVD on September 7th, and you can find our review here.