With the release of A24’s latest film, THE MONSTER, we had the chance to speak with actress Ella Ballentine on her latest role about a daughter and mother who must confront a terrifying monster when they break down on a deserted road.
Shannon McGrew: Hi Ella! Thank you for talking with me today about your newest film THE MONSTER. To start things off, I noticed that you have been in quite a few films and television series, what interested you in wanting to start acting at such a young age?
Ella Ballentine: It’s really just something I love to do. I can’t really describe it, but there’s this feeling that I get when I act. You know how visual artists saying painting is their release, composers it’s writing music, and for singers it’s singing? Well, for me it’s like when I’ve gone a couple of months without a role I start to feel kind of empty. That sounds so cheesy (laughs) but that’s the truth, I feel really distant from who I am. I really love acting, there’s something very therapeutic about it.
SM: Your role in THE MONSTER is of a very headstrong daughter who is essentially taking care of her mother, when it should be the other way around. Where did you draw your inspiration from to get in the mindset of this character?
EB: It was kind of hard because obviously I don’t go through what my character Lizzy goes through, thank goodness. I just kind of imagined it and also took it as a very exaggerated deep version of what every young teen goes through. The wanting to be independent. Sometimes, I personally think I’m more of an adult than some of my friends (laughs). But there’s definitely a line where you do need your parents, no matter what. You need a mother figure and a father figure in your life. So for my role it was just me re-imagining my character not having a mother figure which helped me get into that mindset. As you get deeper into the movie, it was then her [Lizzy] realizing that she does need her [mother] around. It reminds me of those times when you mess up and you’re like “okay mom, I need your help.”
SM: We have definitely all been there before, I know I have. Correct me if I’m wrong, but THE MONSTER is your first horror film, correct?
EB: I’ve been in thriller/horror type movies before such as “Clara’s Deadly Secret”, but THE MONSTER is definitely my first monster movie which was really cool.
SM: What was it about this script that made you want to take on this role?
EB: Actually, when I was auditioning for this I didn’t get the script, I didn’t get a synopsis of the movie, I had no clue what it was about. So I was kind of just taking a chance with it, I didn’t even know it was a monster movie. When I got the role, I finally got the script, and that was the coolest feeling in the world, seeing what I got myself into. I was really scared at first because it was so intense, I was like “oh my God, mom can I even do this” (laughs), but then I was thinking about it and how kickass it is. It’s this girl going through a horrific event with her mom and they are such badasses fighting this monster.
SM: Would you consider yourself a fan of the horror genre?
EB: Before this movie, I wouldn’t go near a horror movie at all, but since filming I’m watching horror movies. I know this sounds bad but I find myself laughing at some of them and it’s not even like, “Oh this is such a bad movie” it’s just like wow, that’s so scary it’s amazing. So I think some of my friend think I’m insane now (laughs).
SM: What was it like when you finally got to see the monster face to face?
EB: When I first saw the monster, I was actually just walking to hair and makeup. There was this door that was open right in front of it and I looked inside because there were people in there, then I see this monster head and I panicked for a second, I think I screamed or something (laughs). Then I went into the room and was like, “so, just a lucky guess but is that the monster?” and they were like “yup!” (laughs). It was so cool and so weird to look at it. I had seen some sketches and some ideas and it looked so real but because it’s something that’s so supernatural it was also something that was extremely fake sounding until I finally saw it all put together on set.
SM: I can only imagine, since in the movie it’s quite horrifying to see. For fans of yours, what can they look forward to from you in the future?
EB: Well, definitely THE MONSTER which everybody should watch. I also have “Anne of Green Gables” which is premiering on PBS on Thanksgiving. Besides that, I’m just waiting to see what comes my way.
SM: Well, you did phenomenal in THE MONSTER and I’m looking forward to seeing where your career goes from here. Thank you so much for speaking with me and I wish you continued success!
THE MONSTER will be in select theaters and On Demand November 11 and is now exclusively on DirecTV.