My introduction to actress Azura Skye was in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” when she portrayed the doomed Cassie Newton. In just one episode, adolescent me was completely transfixed by the natural, memorable performance and I couldn’t wait to see what she would do next. A natural talent, Azura Skye has steadily crafted a space in the genre realm, with roles in films like One Missed Call and 20 Years After, and with appearances in TV Shows like “American Horror Story: Murder House”, “Grimm”, and more. Each time she’s onscreen, though, there is an unspeakable quality that she infuses into her roles that makes it instantly grip your heart. Now, she will not only grip your heart, but she will completely tear it asunder in her most recent project, THE SWERVE.
Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Azura Skye, via email about the film, her process into getting into the headspace of the character Holly, and what she hopes others take away from THE SWERVE.
It’s been almost a year and a half since I watched THE SWERVE and it still lingers after all that time. Your performance, in particular, is a clear standout when I reflect back on the film now. To start things off, what initially drew you to take on the role of Holly?
Azura Skye: Upon reading the script, I immediately recognized Holly as the role of a lifetime. I mean that very literally. I’ve been working as an actor for almost twenty-five years, and have been very fortunate to play some incredible characters, but none quite as harrowing, or devastating, as Holly.
Knowing the levels Holly emotionally hits throughout the course of the film, what preparation went in to help you get into that headspace? And, when leaving the set behind, did you do any sort of self-care to help create that decompression from playing Holly?
Azura Skye: For the emotional scenes, I used music. I created a playlist for Holly before we started filming with something like eight, or ten songs, each of which takes me to a very raw, and emotional place, in a very short amount of time. As soon as we finished filming, I got to go to a beautiful lake house in Canada, and spend some time in nature, which I always find to be very restorative. The timing was a coincidence, but it worked out really nicely.
Generally speaking though, I am not someone who takes my characters home with me. Even between takes, I tend to abandon them momentarily, and immediately come back to myself. This is not by choice, it just happens to be the way I work. This film was no exception, thankfully — but the character is so heavy, that I did have concerns going into it, and wondered if Holly might be the exception because the role was so extremely emotionally demanding. Fortunately, I was always able to leave her on set.
There is a lot to be taken from this film. One of the themes that stood out to me was the unspoken expectations placed on women, particularly mothers, in this film. Taking that in the context of how one component of Holly’s spiral is as a result of consistently living up to those expectations and the males in her life not matching up. It makes one wonder, in the grand scheme of things, about the sustainability of these expectations. Can you speak on that?
Azura Skye: Being a mother is one of the hardest, and most important jobs in the world, and often a thankless one. So often, mothers feel taken for granted, because they are. Taking care of everyone else, they can easily neglect themselves and suffer because of it. Women are expected to do it all and make it look easy. In terms of the wife and mother roles, expectations that are so ingrained in us from an early age, I think it’s important for girls and women to question those patriarchal traditions, and make choices that are best, and true for them.
When I discuss my own depression and spirals, I have brought up THE SWERVE as an example to anyone who’ll listen. All it takes is just one instance to trigger that change, but there are also signs along the way that are frequently ignored by those around us. What conversations do you hope will spark as a result of this film?
Azura Skye: Such a big part of the takeaway from this film for me, is that of silent suffering. The silent pain that people carry, oftentimes unknown to anyone else, even their closest friends, and family. We all do our best to put on a bright, brave face when we go out into the world, and since we’re not bleeding, or don’t have a broken limb, no one knows that we’re hurting. So I hope this film encourages people to treat one another with a little more kindness, more empathy. You have no idea what the person at the grocery store may have had to endure that day. Never assume; and exercise some care.
Dean Kapsalis’s THE SWERVE is now available on major VOD and Digital platforms. If you want to learn more about the film, check out our review from Cinepocalypse 2019.
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