These days, so many people are convinced they know the truth. Spend just ten minutes on Twitter and you’ll scroll past hundreds of people who know. It doesn’t matter where they got their information, or if their sources are credible, or how they came to their conclusions. Somewhere along the line, the world stopped investigating to seek out the truth and started allowing people with strong voices and dubious motives to decide our truths.
THE CALL, featuring the singularly talented Lin Shaye, addresses this idea in a uniquely dark and entertaining way. I had the chance to speak with Lin about her character, Edith Cranston, and the journey she took to bring her to life.
THE CALL is a very creepy film, and you’re playing a very unsettling character in it. What was your way in to finding the character of Edith Cranston?
Lin Shaye: It was very important to me to not have [THE CALL] just be a metaphysical, scary movie about a person who does bad things.
I was really interested in this woman and what [damage] bullying can do to a fragile person. [A person] living a good, positive life and how it can be eroded by meanness. Mean is bad. It’s bad to be mean. There’s just no other way to describe it.
So that became my in. [Working with Tobin Bell] helped with that part of the atmosphere of the film, creating this positive and loving relationship that this woman has.
She’s a very positive woman. [I was interested in] how [that positivity] gets eroded by these kids who are just plain nasty, mean people. They have their reasons we find out. But [the] reasons never matter to the person all that lands on. All that [the victim] feels is what is being done to them. And that’s something to remember.
We all have bad things happen to us, terrible things. A lot of us had terrible things happen to us, but that does not become an excuse for the way you behave in life.
So well said, and a lot of people need to hear that right now.
Lin Shaye: Yup. I’m right there with you. The movie is coming out at the very perfect time to make people think about that. I don’t know that that’s the philosophical message people will take away. It’s still entertainment, obviously. And we wanted to make a film that was unsettling and fun to watch for the fans, et cetera. But there really is that message in there, which is what I was interested in and what made me want to do the movie.
Your first monologue confronting the kids vandalizing your house is emotional and terrifying. How do you motivate speeches like that when you have very little dialogue to react to?
Lin Shaye: It actually had a lot to do with the content of that monologue, which I’m very proud of because I wanted you to see that [emotion]. This is her at a point before some bad stuff happens. We don’t know too much about her yet. [That scene as her introduction] was actually a question I had when I saw the cut of the film. Timothy [Woodward Jr.] and I talked about it, and I thought it was a very good choice to have that [scene] be the first time you see her rather than what we see later.
There were some interesting things with the makeup and the physical deterioration. It is always something to watch yourself [transform] in the mirror. I’m talking about sitting in makeup. I mean really letting that come into you. Letting that negative and ugly image begin to work on you.
When we shot it—and this doesn’t always work in your favor—it was very late. It was like one or two o’clock in the morning. But I remember I wanted to be barefoot, because it was cold and the cement was cold and it felt bad. It made me really unhappy. I think being in a vulnerable place when you begin anything in a scene is a good place to start. Then knowing how you want to build the story that you’re telling.
This is the first time you meet Edith. She’s at a point where [she’s in] extreme pain and [we] didn’t want to [show] her just angry and mad. Because that wasn’t what it was about.
So it’s kind of a combination of physical stuff that I use personally, as an actress, to amplify the physical feeling I want to have. And then it’s also telling your story with truth and [with] availability to your own emotions.
That was a wonderful night. I knew that I hit some chords that surprised me, which is the most fun as an actress, when you can surprise yourself.
You’ve worked in so many horror sub genres. Do you have any favorites, or is it all about the story for you?
Lin Shaye: It’s all about story. Whatever the genre, for me, it’s story and character and the people I’m going to be working with. This [shoot] was wonderful. [Director] Timothy Woodward I’d worked with on The Final Wish. He’s a really tuned-in director who gives you very specific [direction] and is fun to work with.
And working with Tobin was a first for me. We have mutual godparents. Leigh Whannell and James Wan spawned both of our careers, basically, at this point in time.
I love acting. I love working. I love finding the answers. It’s always scary. It’s always hard, and I’m very hard on myself about it. But I think this is a movie that will open people’s eyes about some stuff as well as being entertaining.
I hope people go see it. TheCallMovie.com will have a list later this week that has all the theaters and drive-ins where the movie is going to be shown starting October 2nd.
I hope people go see it.
This interview was edited for clarity and length.