Britt Robertson has steadily built a career for herself in Hollywood, with her roles expanding across a variety of genres. While some of us may recognize her face from Disney’s Tomorrowland, you may also recognize her from her genre-related appearances in Scream 4, CBS’s Under the Dome, or the fantasy series The Secret Circle. Now she is stepping into the horror realm once again with her role as Jenna in the horror anthology film BOOKS OF BLOOD.
For the release of BOOKS OF BLOOD, I got to chat with Britt about how she approached her character, the evils of cockroaches, and what she hopes people take away from her character in the film.
Synopsis: Based on Clive Barker’s acclaimed and influential horror anthology BOOKS OF BLOOD, this feature takes audiences on a journey into uncharted and forbidden territory through three uncanny tales tangled in space and time.
Hi Britt! Thank you so much for speaking with me today! To start things off, can you tell us a little bit about Jenna and your approach to the character?
Britt Robertson: It was interesting. When I first read the script, I didn’t really know how I was going to approach it and I wanted to speak with Brannon Braga, our director, since he sort of co-created that specific character. The thing that attracted me to it was this idea that there was so much happening within this character of Jenna. She seemed to be sort of running from everything that was happening in her life; but ultimately, what she really needed to be running from was herself. She was sort of tortured from the inside out and it was sort of playing on that idea and adding that to the different elements that come up throughout the film and all the different circumstances she’s put into. It’s sort of a case by case basis in terms of how we worked through the character challenges. It was very fun to find those different elements of her.
When it came to prepping for the role, what type of input and/or research did Brannon give you to do?
Britt Robertson: [Brannon] actually suffers from misophonia (same as Jenna) so he was a huge resource. I think senses are a big part of acting and being in touch with your senses. So to have to be playing a character who wants to detach from one of those senses, from sound, was fascinating. And obviously just leaning into that was sort of the idea. He was always a great resource to have because he would have the headphones in and be monitoring all the time. If he would be annoyed by a sound, and for some reason it wasn’t reading that the character was in that particular scene, he would always come up to me and be like, “Oh, there’s a clicking going on behind you. If there’s a way add that [reaction] into the scene.” So that was really nice in some ways.
There are a few unsettling moments in your segment in which you deal with cockroaches as well as terrifying creatures. Were the cockroaches real and how familiar were you with what those creatures were going to look like?
Britt Robertson: No, it wasn’t actually. That was one of the first questions I asked before taking on the project cause cockroaches are like my nemesis. I’ve lived in a house, shooting something in Wilmington, North Carolina once, and it was littered with cockroaches. I’d try to go to sleep and I would hear them crawling around and then I’d wake up and there would be dead or turned over cockroaches every morning and it was like my living hell. So I was not going to be cool with that being real (laughs). As far as the creatures go, all the elements that ring true to the horror parts of the film I was pretty familiar with. I saw a lot of storyboards but in addition to that I was in the hair and makeup trailer most of the time when they were testing these looks. So yeah, I was pretty familiar with what everything was going to look like. But it’s a different story when you’re sort of in the scene and things are quiet and still and made to be terrifying, I think that really helped add to the performance.
Jenna is a very complex and layered character who is dealing with the consequences of her actions. What do you hope people take away from this character by the end of this film?
Britt Robertson: I hope they don’t want to trap themselves inside a house for the rest of their lives. Jenna is someone who needed to sort of escape her own mind and didn’t really have any coping tools or anyone in her life to sort of help her work through that. When she was someone who sort of needed support, the only thing she really got was a further issue with her own inability to function. In life, in the human experience, it can be very difficult and challenging to just even exist in general, but to exist in a healthy way. I think Jenna sort of represents the darkest parts of us. There’s this idea that with work and time and patience, we can all sort of invest in ourselves in a way that ideally will make it a healthier, better place for us to sort of live inside our own minds.
BOOKS OF BLOOD is now available to watch on Hulu. For more on the film, check out our review here.