Tina Majorino has stacked up quite the film and TV resume, which should come as no surprise considering she’s been acting since she was a child. Known for starring in films such as Corrina, Corrina, Waterworld, and Napoleon Dynamite, as well as TV series such as Grey’s Anatomy, Big Love, and True Blood, Tina has now completed her first horror film with Into the Dark‘s Mother’s Day segment, DELIVERED.
For the release of the film, I had the opportunity to interview Tina Majorino about her latest role as the Annie Wilkes-inspired character, Jenny. During our chat, the bubbly and energetic Tina discussed everything from her excitement over being in a horror film to the important themes that the film touches on.
Hi Tina, thank you so much for speaking with me today about INTO THE DARK: DELIVERED! To start things off, can you tell us a little bit about your character and what drew you to this role?
Tina Majorino: The character is very, very complicated. This is the first horror movie that I’ve ever been a part of and I’ve always wanted to do one. Not that I was super focused on trying to find one but when it came across my desk it was just so scary and awesome, the dynamic between the two female characters in the story. Jenny is a pretty formidable woman but not in the ways that you expect. She was so complicated and nuanced and it scared me to read the role and imagine myself playing it. That’s how I knew that I had to try and do it because I was really afraid to try to play someone that is dark in the way that Jenny is. It was so much fun, though!
As someone who loves horror movies, I was able to pick up on the comparisons between Jenny and Annie Wilkes from Misery. Were there any other inspirations that helped form your performance?
Tina Majorino: Myself and Emma Tammi, who is an incredible woman and director, we talked a lot about Misery and wanting to touch on those classics but not rip from it. For me, it was more about trying to make Jenny a fully formed person instead of looking at her like she’s the scary one because a scary person never looks at themself that way. Emma and I talked a lot about how to make it as honest and grounded as possible because there’s absolutely no way that I would ever take on a role and try to emulate someone else’s performance because those are stand-alone. We were definitely inspired by that and The Shining as far as aesthetics go. They [Emma and the crew] were obviously a lot more educated on the genre than myself, so I really trusted them to guide me as far as trusting that they could reel me in if I went over the top. That was a big fear for me because I do want it to be real, I didn’t just want it to be a parody of a frightening person.
You and your co-star Natalie Paul work very closely together on this film. What was that experience like considering what you end up having to do to her?
Tina Majorino: You know what was amazing was that I met Natalie for the first time at our table read that we had before we started production and she is also just a really energetic, bubbly, happy, woman. I clicked with her immediately just because she’s really down to earth and fun and she’s super smart and has a great sense of humor. I knew from that meeting that as far as behind-the-scenes stuff we were going to have a good time. Our first day on set I definitely sat down with her and explained that I had never done this before where I’m going to have to do horrific things to [Natalie] and I wanted her to know that if we are in a scene and she needed something from me, to tell me and I would do the same. We just had this really honest conversation because we both had the same goal in mind but we also wanted it to be doable, we didn’t want our individual processes to inhibit our ability to tell the story. What was great about her is that we just had a very open conversation, if we were doing a really emotional day and she didn’t want to talk to me in between takes I told her to not feel pressured to be super friendly. We were just really supportive of each other. Whatever we needed we gave to each other and Emma, our director, and Lauren, our producer, were also incredibly supportive of that. It was really nice to be working with an actress that was willing to be that open and honest about what we were about to try to do and to be open and honest that we were scared (laughs). It was just a wonderful experience and we both held up our end of the deal, we had a great time! The shoot was so cold and poor Natalie, as people will see in this film, had to do some pretty horrendous stuff and she’s freezing and screaming and crying all day long, it’s exhausting. It was great that we had that dynamic in place.
There’s a lot of themes that DELIVERED touches upon, one being how society treats pregnancy and motherhood. What are your thoughts about the themes at play?
Tina Majorino: It’s interesting because times have changed a lot because of social media and people’s abilities to create a narrative for themselves whether it’s true or not. Of course, there are people who want to have families but the people that don’t shouldn’t be villainized because that’s not in their cards. I think it’s absolutely a responsible choice to actually think about what you want as a human being on this planet and to follow that and not to follow all of the stuff that you see on social media or in the news. The societal pressures on females to be mothers because that’s the female identity is just outdated, that’s not for everyone.
For me, more so than anything, the message that I took away from reading the script, and I don’t want this to sound horrendous because obviously my job is to find a way to be empathetic towards any character that I’m about to play, but when I was reading the role of Jenny and how she’s interacting with the world and these women, the big takeaway for me was the lack of mental health care. That’s the thing that I took away. Mental health is of utmost importance. Everyone on the planet, I think, I hope, knows that. I still don’t understand why with everything that we’ve been able to work through in society that’s one that people struggle with. I think there’s such a taboo around it which doesn’t make any sense because everybody has their mental health issues. That was the big takeaway for me – how heartbreaking it is when people go through trauma. If they don’t have the ability to get help, things can devolve quickly, and I’m not saying that people’s lives turn into horror movies when they don’t get help, I’m just saying that was the underlying takeaway for me. That’s how I was able to bridge the gap between who I am as a human and who Jenny is as a character. I had to find that pathway into her psyche. I have to be able to relate, not necessarily love them but kind of, and that’s really what I reached for. I’m not approaching it in a way where I’m making light of that topic. It’s huge. I think Jenny, having gone through such horrendous trauma in her life and just being alone and not having anyone, it’s sad. It was really sad.
Lastly, since this is your first horror film, was there a favorite scene that you filmed?
Tina Majorino: Yes! I have to say one of my favorite things to do has always been when I get to be fake injured on a set or I get to be covered in blood because it’s just so fun. There are several scenes in this movie that were so much fun. I can’t give it away because it’s a big moment but I loved having to be choreographed with Natalie Paul and be that intense with her and just really letting it rip. All of that stuff was so fun. What other job do you get to say, “I’m going to work today and we’re just going to dump blood all over me and I’m going to be dragging dead bodies”? – it’s bizarre but really fun (laughs).
INTO THE DARK: DELIVERED is now streaming on Hulu and for more on the film, check out our review here.