With the release of the graphic novel inspired BAD KIDS OF CRESTVIEW ACADEMY, we got the chance to speak with Ali Astin, actress, musician, and daughter to Sean Astin, about her role of Ethel, and what it was like working alongside her famous father.
Shannon McGrew: Hi Ali! Thanks so much for speaking with me today! To start things off, for those not familiar with your latest role as Ethel in BAD KIDS OF CRESTVIEW ACADEMY, can you tell us a little bit about her?
Ali Astin: Ethel is a bit of a mystery. She is a mascot, she enjoys going to parties, she's kind of crazy sometimes, and she doesn't have anything against plotting things very secretly from time to time. For me, her character evolved from a cheerleader, to a mascot, to a party girl, to then somewhat of an evil mastermind.
SM: I'm assuming that all these traits are what interested you in the role. Would that be correct?
AA: Yeah, pretty much. I mean, there's something wonderful about being able to join a group of actors my age that are all getting excited about being brutally murdered and then being able to talk to them and realize that I have an evil side within that and that's just fun to dig into.
SM: To prepare for this role, did you read the graphic novels that the movie is based off of? Was there anything that inspired you to get into the headspace of Ethel?
AA: Ethel is pretty unique because I don't believe she was in the original graphic novels, at least not in this way. I think she may be the only character that has that. That's not to say I didn't read the graphic novels and super enjoy all the drawings because they are amazing. I also watched the first movie, BAD KIDS GO TO HELL, which scared the crap out of me. There's a lot to do to get into Ethel's headspace, but mostly she just relies on having a good time. So to prepare, I went to a party or two, I meditated for awhile, and then showed up to work and hit my mark and place.
SM: Where there any challenges you faced during the filming of BAD KIDS AT CRESTVIEW ACADEMY?
AA: Oh yeah, absolutely. It was the first time I had ever done a night shoot. I was 17 at the time and should have been completely fine staying up past my bedtime (laughs). You walk onto set at 2am and they say "good morning, welcome to work" and you are like "hold on, hold on. This i not time for breakfast" and then they serve you breakfast and you go in and work. The scene that I was doing was a big party scene, so they had people partying on the top of this roof for fun from 10pm to 6am. Sixty random people just having a really good time, so it was a weird adjustment for me, but it was so much fun. I also ended up having music put in the film from the album I'm releasing this year, so finding a way to work through getting music to fit with a particular movie is really difficult. Then all of a sudden, I had this one song pop up that fit exactly with what [director] Ben Browder wanted for the music for this piece. I was like "WHAT!" that was an artistic challenge that had a very happy, surprising ending.
SM: Speaking of Ben Browder, what as it like working with him?
AA: My family has known Ben since my dad [Sean Astin] was exactly my age; they were working on a film together. Ben was also the football team's coach at my high school and he's such a welcoming, warm person. When you start actually being directed by him you just feel like you are having a conversation with him. That's really empowering for a young actress, to be able to sit there and go "okay this person is directing me, I could be shaking right now and really afraid, yet I feel like I'm just hanging out" and it makes my job become that much easier. He's just a likeable guy, but he's also not afraid to be blunt and honest and let you know what he's thinking.
SM: Obviously you star alongside your father, actor Sean Astin, so what was it like working wit him?
AA: After being at college for so long and doing so much without him around, it was so nice to be able to have footage of me and my dad hanging out together and doing our jobs. I know that when I'm 90 I'm going to look back and super enjoy the fact that there's footage of us. I respect him so much and when you are lucky enough to have a parent that is as successful as him, you kind of try to stay away from it. With me, I kind of have to look at him and think about how he's succeeding at the job that I'm looking forward to doing for the rest of my life, in a way that I can only hope to ever do. So getting to work alongside of him is one of the biggest privileges of my early career.
SM: That's so wonderful! So my last question for you is what can your fans look forward to from you in the future?
AA: I have an album coming out and that's the biggest deal for me right now. I also just got engaged so I'm crazy in love and there's a lot happening on the music front because love songs write themselves so easily. I also just had a film come out titled RIBBIT, where I play a princess, it's out on Neflix and it's super fun and completely different from the mysterious and plotting Ethel. Also, the preview of my new album is hidden inside the credits of BAD KIDS OF CRESTVIEW ACADEMY, so make sure to stay all the way through to the end of the film for that and another surprise.
SM: Congratulations on your engagement and we will make sure to also keep our eyes and ears out for your album. Thank you so much for speaking with us today and we look forward to seeing your continued success!
BAD KIDS OF CRESTVIEW ACADEMY will be released in select theaters and On Demand/Digital HD on January 13