Linnea Gregg is an actress and writer known for THE GOD INSIDE MY EAR (2017), SWIPE LEFT TO LIVE, and THE NIGHT THEY KNOCKED (2018). She is a talented and versatile actress and has done professional theater and also writes poetry and short stories. She plays the lead role of Elizia in the mind tripping THE GOD INSIDE MY EAR and whether she is interacting with the odd characters in the film or doing one of the many solo scenes, she carries the film expertly. Elizia suffers a traumatizing break-up with her boyfriend and afterwards she begins hearing and seeing things that other people do not hear or see. Linnea is perfectly believable and she shines as Elizia. Her facial expressions really give life to the character as she deals with some truly strange situations that you have to see to believe. Linnea is adept at combining horror with dark comedy and she has a bright future as an artistic actress in independent film. Nightmarish Conjurings had the pleasure of talking Linnea about THE GOD INSIDE MY EAR. Read on to find out what Michelle and Linnea discussed!
Nightmarish Conjurings: THE GOD INSIDE MY EAR is a very surreal story. What appealed to you about the film and why did you want to play Elizia?
Linnea Gregg: Joe has mentioned in several interviews that he gave the actresses that he auditioned for Elizia the “hardest” chunk of text that she has in the script – a monologue about how having her heart broken by her ex-boyfriend is similar to an amateur magician screwing up the magic trick. I’d read the entire script before auditioning, and it was the strange beauty of this kind of dialogue that drew me in. Elizia is, in a lot of ways, just the girl next door… until she’s not, and she says something completely off the wall about cake being smashed to bits and wine bottles being shattered. I saw that flip between very normal, everyday diction, to heightened and stylized text as a sign that there was a whole world inside of Elizia that isn’t readily apparent. And this ends up being true in more than one way!
Nightmarish Conjurings: Elizia hears voices and sees things that other people can’t see. What was it like to film the dreamlike sequences and did you do anything special to get inside Elizia’s head?
LG: It’s funny, because as the actor in a dreamlike sequence, you are actually the component that needs to stay the most grounded in reality. Elizia is aware to an extend of how her perception of the world is shifting, but for the most part she is just experiencing the things that happen and reacting in a way that, to her, makes perfect sense. I tried to approach those sorts of scenes with the same foundation that I would with any other. As for getting into Elizia’s head, well, that was never really my tactic. I have a background as a dancer, and as a result work from a very physical place when it comes to acting. So the aim was always to get into Elizia’s body rather than her head, because that’s where I find emotional truth. I won’t bore you with the details of the weird things I do to make that happen, but everyone on set got to witness that process a good bit.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Elizia is one of the most unique characters I’ve seen in a film in a long time. How much freedom did you have with the role and did you have any input? If so, can you share what the input was without giving away any spoilers?
LG: Oh, I’m so glad you think that! I definitely thought she was too, based on what’s in the script alone. I really love doing extensive character work, just writing down pages of information that I think might be useful or relevant. After the second read-through of the script I approached Joe with a lot of backstory – Elizia’s major in college, her relationship history with other characters, and so on – and we were on the same page about pretty much everything. There were a few questions that I had for him, to clarify certain details, but intuitively we had the same idea about what she was like. Something I can reveal that might shed some light on the film without giving anything away is that Elizia is a deeply spiritual person. Part of her connection with Fred, and what makes the breakup so difficult for her, is that they had both been on a spiritual journey when they met. The way I pictured it, they both stumbled into the same church on a weekday afternoon, looking for fulfillment from some higher power but finding each other instead. Elizia thought that this relationship was the answer her soul had been seeking, and when that’s taken away from her it doesn’t break her but rather shakes something deep inside of her.
Nightmarish Conjurings: THE GOD INSIDE MY EAR relies heavily on twisted humor. I thought the scene with the talking dog was especially hilarious. How challenging was it to combine horror and comedy?
LG: Snickers was an absolute gem to work with. Don’t tell anyone, but I may have sampled one of the dog brownies. Anyway! I consider horror and comedy to be sister genres. In order to be successful they require a lot of the same elements, namely tight pacing and a fierce dedication to accepting absurd situations as real. One of my acting teachers told us a story once about an old comedy sketch, I think from the vaudeville era, which involved one character asking another for a cup of tea. The first time she did it, the audience thought it was hilarious. In every show after that, however, the line didn’t get a laugh. When she discussed the issue with her scene partner, he told her, “It’s because the first time you were asking for a cup of tea, and every other time you’ve been asking for a laugh.” That’s what I think the challenge is with the combination of horror and comedy: to never ask for a laugh or a scream, but to let the humor or horror of the situation speak for itself.
Nightmarish Conjurings: What do you enjoy most about working in the horror genre?
LG: Screaming! I’m kidding – kind of. Horror plays around with very extreme emotions in a way that other genres don’t. This may sound a little twisted, but it’s fun to experience a heightened level of fear, anger, and despair, when you probably won’t have the opportunity to feel those things in a real-world setting. One of the first few days of the shoot I had to cry off and on for about four hours straight, and even though it was all in character it was still a great emotional release. I slept very well that night.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Last, but not least, can you tell me about any new projects that you are working on?
LG: This summer I worked on another horror film called The Night They Knocked, written and directed by Philadelphia local Sean Roberts Jr. That’s a cabin-in-the-woods type of situation, about a group of friends who go away for a weekend that’s supposed to be fun but ends up going horribly wrong. I also filmed a short called Idiots, which is a dark comedy about five teenage girls dealing with their friend’s miscarriage at a slumber party. In the next year or so I’ll be working on another horror written and directed by Neil Brimelow called Swipe Left to Live, which I would describe as The Purge meets Big Brother meets Tinder. Joe has also written a new script called Sister Tempest, and I may or may not be playing a character in that whose full name is Ginger Rogers Breadman. I’d say that film is All About Eve and Black Swan meets Inception. If you think that sounds absolutely bananas, then you would be correct, and I hope to be answering questions about that film sometime in the next few years!