Sierra McCormick is well on her way to becoming a household name. An actress that has performed in both TV and film, with roles such as Lilith on the TV series Supernatural as well as the 2015 horror film Some Kind of Hate, Sierra is no stranger to our beloved genre. In the upcoming 50s inspired sci-fi flick THE VAST OF NIGHT, we get to see McCormick’s talent shine even more in her portrayal of Rose, a teenage switchboard operator who discovers a strange audio frequency coming through the radio.
For the release of the film, I had the opportunity to interview Sierra where she discussed everything from learning how to operate a switchboard to the power of storytelling.
Hi Sierra, thank you for taking the time to speak with me today about THE VAST OF NIGHT. To start things off, can you tell us a little bit about your character?
Sierra McCormick: Fay is a 16-year-old switchboard operator in 1950’s small-town New Mexico. She hears a strange noise that comes over the airways and she kind of loops her friend, Everett, who’s the radio DJ in this small town, into trying to find out what the noise is. She embarks on this adventure over the course of one night to find out what this sound is, where it’s coming from, and what it means.
What type of research, in regards to switchboard operating, did you do to prepare for your role?
Sierra McCormick: So for all of the switchboard scenes – well, first of all, there’s a lot of YouTube footage of women operating switchboards in the 1950s. I noticed that a lot of them had this very sort of fluid flick of their wrist, a swift motion, in which they would take the cord out, plug it in, and then release it. I wanted to make sure that the audience could tell that this was Fay’s job and she knew a lot about technology, loved technology, and did this all the time. I wanted to make sure I looked just as fluid and effortless operating a switchboard. Obviously, up until this movie, I had never seen a switchboard in my life. I ended up having one moved into my hotel room so that I could practice. Every day when I would come back from rehearsing or from shooting I would just sit there, take the cord out, plug it in, release it, take the cord out, plug it in, release it, over and over and over until I felt like I had that swift fluid motion that betrayed the fact that I had supposedly been doing this for a very long time.
Fay and Everett seem to have a really close bond. What was it like working so closely with Jake Horowitz to prepare for the film?
Sierra McCormick: The whole process that we got to experience preparing is why our relationship comes across so fun and authentic. Before we ever set foot in front of a camera we rehearsed extensively. We had a lot of time to get the scenes on their feet and start to normalize all the period dialogue and also just developing that relationship between Everett and Fay; this sort of fun bantering rapport that they have with each other, we had a lot of time to develop that. Also, Jake and I are good friends in real life so I think all those aspects – the rehearsal time we got, the fact that we were both really, really committed to diving into our characters, the fact that he’s a fantastic scene partner, and the fact that we just got along and were goofing around and having fun a lot of the time we were shooting because we had spent so much time rehearsing. By the time we got on set, we weren’t really worried about all these lines that we had to say and all these complicated shots we had to make sure we choreographed ourselves within. We were just having fun cause we had already rehearsed and got all that stuff on its feet and out in the open so we just got to goof off. I think a lot of that energy comes across on screen, you can tell we were having fun.
Not only did THE VAST OF NIGHT come out this year but also the punk horror splatter, VFW, which you also star in. I was blown away by your performance in both films and wondered what your experience was like playing such opposing characters?
Sierra McCormick: It was kind of strange the way it all timed out. I shot THE VAST OF NIGHT in 2016 and VFW in 2019 and then they ended up coming out at the same time and doing festivals together. It was a very odd and surreal thing to view these two movies side by side because a lot of time elapsed between making THE VAST OF NIGHT and VFW. Coming off of THE VAST OF NIGHT, I didn’t go straight into VFW but [when the time came] I was really excited to do something different. People got to see me being really crass and bloody and kicking some ass and then they also got to see me be sweet, adorable Fay (laughs).
Lastly, is there anything you hope people will take away from this film after viewing it?
Sierra McCormick: I hope that the film engages people and inspires people and really locks them Into the story. I feel like at the heart of the film the story is what’s so engaging. I think one of the major themes of the film is storytelling because a lot of the film we spend listening to someone tell a story that’s so engaging and enrapturing. On its own, I hope that maybe people will take away a new found love for storytelling or maybe a newly ignited love for storytelling or maybe their own ideas about how to tell their story super uniquely. I think I just want people to love listening to the story and then love telling their own story.
For more on THE VAST OF NIGHT, check out our review here. THE VAST OF NIGHT will arrive on Prime Video May 29th, 2020.