During SXSW, Shannon had the chance to speak with actress Ashleigh Cummings about her acclaimed role as Vicki in the thriller HOUNDS OF LOVE (review can be found HERE). For the release of the film on VOD, Ashleigh tells us what inspired her to take on such a powerful and heart-wrenching role, as well as what it was like to work with actors Stephen Curry and Emma Booth.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Hi Ashleigh, thank you so much for speaking with us today! To start things off, could you tell us a little bit about your character Vicki in HOUNDS OF LOVE?
Ashleigh Cummings: Vicki is a young teen growing up in the 80’s and she is undergoing the divorce of her parents. In that turmoil she starts to rebel and one night she sneaks out of her house and tries to make her way to a party but is picked up by a couple who offer to help her out. After that, the kidnapping ensues and we have our film. Vicki’s an incredibly intelligent young woman with a long of strength but also a lot of resentment towards her mom at this point in her life. She begins to understand her mother’s plight through the interactions with Evelyn, one of the kidnappers.
NC: As you mentioned, the role of Vicki is one that exudes a lot of strength. Is that what interested you in the role?
AC: The first thing I noticed was her strength of character, her ability to maintain a sense of survival and hope throughout this arduous ordeal, as well as the very human element that she pulls into despair as well. It’s a wonderful thing that director Ben Young did, he doesn’t make our hero inhumanely heroic the whole way through. I loved that she was determined and knew how to lean on the weaknesses of Evelyn to learn how to manipulate her way out of this situation of captivity.
NC: What type of research did you do to get into the head-space of Vicki?
AC: I did a lot in terms of really trying to honor those people who go through this sort of experience. I read a lot of autobiographies and watched documentaries of girls and women concerning what their experience was like. I tried to get into the psychology of those initial periods, the first few days after the initial kidnapping, that accurate period of absolute terror and anxiety. That was my main research but then I watched a few films like ROOM and THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ALICE CREED. There was also a lot of research into the stages of grief and trauma and also the physiological effects of the drugs that my character had to endure.
NC: Did you face any type of challenges during filming?
AC: It was a highly emotional film and it was very necessary that I consciously worked on separating myself from my character’s experiences but also being able to cope with the notion and the knowledge that this was something that real people go through and are going through and will go through. So a sense of self care was really important to me.
NC: Below the surface, the film focuses on the relationship between Vicki and her mother. Did you see any of your life come through in your character’s relationship with her mom?
AC: Not particularly, I mean my relationship with my mom is an extraordinarily strong one and my parents are still together. I don’t have any of those elements that paralleled with my real life but I certainly related to the kind of natural adolescence of rebellion and trying to find your own sense of identity and break away from the nest. I did my rebellion very differently than Vickie’s but I think that’s a natural part of life.
NC: What was your experience like working with Emma Booth and Stephen Curry?
AC: I met them and we immediately click, all three of us, they are such good humans. Stephen Curry is both the funniest and kindest man you will ever meet. Emma is a real role model for me, because she is a pillar of absolute strength and she knows what she wants and what she stands for yet she is full of the most beautiful soft love and compassion and I just really admire the way she balances those.
NC: Last, but certainly not least, what can your fans look forward to from you in the future?
AC: I have a few projects coming, one I can’t say because it hasn’t been announced yet and one that is a Kiwi film that is being released in Australia in May. I literally just moved to LA so I’m trying out this world now (laughs).
HOUNDS OF LOVE is now in select theaters and is available on VOD