Known for her roles in such series as ABC’s Once Upon a Time (“Blue Fairy”), A&E’s Bates Motel (“Miss Blaire Watson”), and Syfy’s The Magicians (“Professor Lipson”), as well as films such as Final Destination 2 and White Noise, actor Keegan Connor Tracy is no stranger to the world of horror and fantasy. Recently, I had the chance to chat 1:1 with the Canadian actor about her latest role in Brandon Christensen‘s supernatural horror film, Z.
In Z, when Beth’s (Keegan Connor Tracy) son (Jett Klyne) brings home an imaginary friend named “Z”, she becomes concerned that he is falling too deep into a world of make-believe. He starts to display extremely destructive behavior, blaming Z for all of his action. But after he gets kicked out of school, Beth is forced to find a solution. She medicates her son, making him unable to see his imaginary companion. But now Beth sees Z…and he wants to be her friend.
What was it about the role of Beth that drew you to this project?
Keegan Connor Tracy: I came from some lighter fare having been in the Descendants playing Queen Belle, the Blue Fairy [in Once Upon a Time], and even in The Magicians; it was pretty light, snarky. To get a hold of a script that had the ability to go really deep and explore a real psychological journey was appealing to me right from the get-go. I feel like I have muscles that needed some exercising that hadn’t had the chance to do so. I also feel like, in this climate, I talk about this a lot, I feel like stars get everything right now – like the big famous people are doing even the smaller animation, so you don’t get those chances as often as you used to be able to. To find an indie film where I could really expand out and, I think, show my chops was something I would have been crazy not to jump at. Once I saw the psychological journey that she could go on I was like, “Yup!”.
Were there aspects to Beth that you could relate to, especially as a mom?
Keegan Connor Tracy: Well, I certainly think as her being a harried mom…I feel like a crazy person half my life as a mother so that was certainly something I could relate to easily (laughs). For me, I talk a lot about backstory being a really important part of my work as an actor. I saw a place where I could write a really elaborate backstory for this woman and find truth in where this all came from. That was a wonderful challenge for me creatively. It was great, it was hard work, it was difficult, it was challenging, it was emotionally draining but it was really a great experience. I was so grateful to have the opportunity to play something that I could really dig into like this.
I love that this film takes the viewer on an unexpected journey, especially during the second part of the movie. It’s during this time where we see your character go through a traumatic transformation especially during the scenes where you are acting alongside someone who, visually, isn’t there. Can you talk a little bit about that experience?
Keegan Connor Tracy: It was hard to be in a movie where, for days on end, it would just be me. It would be a full day and I would be doing lots of emotional work and there’d be nobody else there. That was really a challenge. It goes to show you, and that’s not tooting my own horn, it’s anybody that works on green screens or anything like this, what we do as actors it really can be quite incredible what we conjure up from nothing. It was a wild journey.
Besides being a chilling horror film, Z also showcases themes dealing with trauma and abuse. Why do you think themes such as that fit so well within the horror genre?
Keegan Connor Tracy: I think because people are ready to be invested in something horrible that’s not happening to them, especially now. I really felt like when I was going to the film festivals with this and sitting in the audience and watching people watching it, cause I’ve seen it enough times and I’ve lived it, I was sort of looking around. Those moments when it was building tension, you could see it on people and then the “thing” would happen and there’d be the reaction. Then afterwards, everybody would laugh. That’s what they’re here for, it’s the release afterwards, you know what I mean? It’s kind of the horror equivalent of post-coital “ahhh” (laughs). I think it really gives people a release that they need. You want to be scared but not real-life scared. Now, as much as ever, is why it’s a good time for horror.
Lastly, have you, or your kids, ever dealt with an imaginary friend? Does the thought of having one scare you at all?
Keegan Connor Tracy: Heck no! I like the whole string theory that there are lots of dimensions and other realities and all of that. Who’s to say that there’s not a boundary to the other side that we can’t cross, I’m fascinated by that. My little one had an imaginary friend for a long time. Not exactly the same, she just had this girl that she was always talking about. They had their own language that was very elaborate and it would remain across time. There were things that she would repeat and weird enough, as she got older, it just sort of dissipated as I think most of them do. But I also think that kids have a closer tie to… if there is another side, then they haven’t learned that they’re not supposed to believe in that yet. That’s why I think, especially with kids, horror films with kids, are particularly powerful because we know that they are more inclined to be able to believe in that. They haven’t had that ground out of them yet. I think that’s what’s appealing about that piece of the genre.
Z is now available on VOD, Digital HD, DVD and Blu-ray. For more on the film, check out our review here.