In BLOODTHIRSTY, vegan singer-songwriter Grey (Lauren Beatty) goes to work on her second album with notorious music producer Vaughn Daniels (Greg Bryk). But as the album progresses, she starts to transform into a powerful beast with a thirst for blood, meat and the hunt. As the film progresses, we experience commentary on the music industry and the sacrifices required by entertainers conveyed through beastly transformations and, for both Beatty and Bryk, the two were up for the challenge.
For the upcoming release of BLOODTHIRSTY, Nightmarish Conjurings had the chance to chat with both Lauren Beatty and Greg Bryk, where we discussed what initially drew them to take on the project, what it was like exploring their characters and their experiences dealing with the blood and viscera on set.
Editor’s Note: There are possible spoilers featured in this interview. You have been warned
To start things off, this question is directed to both of you. What initially drew you to BLOODTHIRSTY?
Lauren Beatty: For me, it was many things. The first one being that Amelia Moses is directing it and I had just been in a feature film with her the year prior that she directed, and I had such a great experience working with her. When she came to me with this, saying she’d been brought on to direct and the character is a queer, pop star werewolf, I was like, “Well, that is my dream role. So, can I please audition?” There was that aspect. There was that it was a very female-driven film. That it’s a female werewolf, which you don’t see very often. It’s clear that the music was so integral to the movie. And the songs are just stunning. So, as soon as I heard the music, I just was completely sold. So, a lot of things. [laughs]
Greg Bryk: Just a beautiful how we met story, right? [laughs]
Lauren Beatty: [laughs] None of them were Greg.
Greg Bryk: I was working with Wendy [Hill-Tout], who co-wrote this with her daughter, [Lowell]. I’m on another movie out West right before Christmas, and Mike [Peterson], who produced this, was producing that. They approached me and asked if I’d read the script, and then if I wanted to play Vaughn and I thought the script was pretty interesting. I like the idea of the price, the pound of flesh that being an artist takes and what you have to give to achieve authenticity and greatness in your work. That was really interesting to me. And I think as a Canadian who is surrounded by politeness and niceness, often to our detriment, the idea of owning that beast, of being a little bit more of a bastard in life when you have to, is important, and to be willing to sacrifice things. Sometimes you can’t be there for everybody when you need to be there for yourself. So, that was kind of interesting to me. Then when this one [gestures to Lauren], and Amelia and Katharine were on board, and I met them. That made it super worthwhile because they’re all really remarkable young women and very talented artists all in their own right. It was a real pleasure working with them and getting to know them and it was kind of like a happy little adventure together out in Edmonton, Alberta.
Lauren Beatty: We also pay him to say that.
Greg Bryk: No, they don’t. They don’t and I know. I’ve asked. I’ve sent invoices. None of them paid, but we’re going to…They think I’m old enough to forget. Like, ah he’ll never remember…
It’s funny, Lauren, that you mentioned not seeing enough female werewolves because Greg was in the series Bitten.
Lauren Beatty: I know. I know. He got me for that one earlier.
I watched the film and I was like, “Jeremy, no!”
Greg Bryk: Right? People like the series because I play this very nice pack alpha. Very kind. Very involved father.
Best father figure ever!
Greg Bryk: Yeah, I love Jeremy too. So, this guy’s going to be a bit of a disappointment for some fans. He’s not quite as…
He’s like the opposite type of quality father figure. It brings me to a question that I wrote down for you, Greg. There’s an interesting juxtaposition between Jeremy and Vaughn because Jeremy is sort of chosen family, whereas Vaughn is, you know, blood family, and both approach fatherhood a bit differently. So, I was wondering if you could touch upon that.
Greg Bryk: Well, you know, Jeremy came at a very interesting time in my life. I had just turned 40, and I had some regrets as a parent and as a man, and I felt like I needed to be more accountable to my family and the community around me. This part came to me, and he really was a beautifully written character. But he was a better person than I was, and I felt like I needed to do the work to earn that role. I did some counseling with a couple of counselors who specialize in men and anger. So, I tried. I consciously tried to change who I was, and I became more engaged in the community and started teaching at-risk young men acting in Toronto. So, that was powerful.
Now, this is the flip side of that, but it was a question that I’ve been asking myself about what are the terms of greatness? What is that? What does that mean to you? And so, with this family, it is much more about blood possession. But yet, you know that on the paper, it seemed that way but, when I met Lauren, when I first heard her sing ‘Bloodthirsty’, we had the scene where we’re working on it in the studio, and it’s just so beautiful. She’s so beautiful singing it that it made me feel very vulnerable. And I felt lost in my own time continuum. I felt very young and uncertain at that moment. So, in dealing with parental loss, or like the time gone, and moments that you can’t recover, [that] was interesting, and it kind of played between us.
So, it went from on paper being this very cold relationship to something a lot more playful at times. I think my favorite scene is when we’re just joking about the song and writing it together and collaborating on it. Because it’s so innocent. It’s like a nice moment between a father and a daughter, which I don’t think is necessarily written into the script, but definitely makes the rest of it a little more powerful, because you’re like, “Okay, there’s something at stake between them.”
And it also shows that it’s not necessarily black and white too. There’s a nuance. Lauren, what was it like developing the werewolf physicality in Grey? There are several physical beats culminating up that very physically intense scene in the recording studio. Can you talk about that?
Lauren Beatty: Yeah, it’s interesting. You’re one of the first people to mention that, but Amelia and I wanted there to be sort of hints towards the monster inside throughout the film. So, we tried to incorporate these moments where, whenever Grey was getting angry or worked up about something, she would…her jaw would clench and she would feel this something happening to her and she would suppress it. And then the first moment that you see where she really just lets it happen is when she bites Vaughn’s cheek, you know, and there are all these little things leading up.
But yeah, the physicality was really fun. It’s interesting, because we actually did the transformation scene on the third day of shooting, and we did a lot of the werewolf stuff in the studio. That was the first week. So, I really was just thrown right into it. There wasn’t too much time for us before those scenes to really get into the physicality but I tried to do as much on my own as I could just picturing, you know, how my body would feel, where would I be heavy. My arms would feel weighed down. My back would be hunched, and Amelia and I worked on that as much as we possibly could before the transformation scene because, once I found out I got the part, and the wheels started moving, it just moved so quickly. So, there wasn’t a lot of time. There’s also something to be said for not rehearsing too much and just see what happens in the moment. And so, I think when we actually got to filming that scene, I was finally able to just let loose and do things that maybe I wouldn’t have done in the rehearsal, you know? Just fully be in the moment and let loose and go through just feeling it in my body. It was really fun. It was very cathartic.
That day did you have a nice long cathartic nap? Sometimes in those physically intensive scenes, you’re just so drained.
Lauren Beatty: No, I think I was on a high.
Greg Bryk: She chased squirrels.
Lauren Beatty: I remember chasing squirrels around the parking lot. Yeah, I remember I was banging the glass in the sound booth, and I did it so many times. It’s really hard because the guy who owns the place said that I absolutely couldn’t break the glass because it was bulletproof. So, slamming so hard, and I don’t think I got the feeling back in my hands for like two days, which was not ideal because I had to play the piano.
Greg Bryk: Like in my studio, I’ve got like, East Coast Werewolf, West Coast werewolf beef so it’s all bulletproof.
Lauren Beatty: [laughs] Well, the studio was called…wasn’t it called Wolf Willow Studios? That we recorded in? We were like, “This is meta.”
I mean, a lot of it’s very meta because, again, you have the entertainment industry factor involved in everything that entertainers have to sacrifice in order to create and do these things. Meta seems on point for this film.
Greg Bryk: It’s pretty much everything you need. I think when people study the Bible, or Shakespeare, and they can find really much everything you need in the canon of Western history together there. I think this is the next chapter in that book where all wisdom is like, any question you have and the answer is in BLOODTHIRSTY.
Lauren Beatty: Yeah, you heard it here first, folks. [laughs]
Greg Bryk: And last. Never again.
Could it teach me how to do taxes? [laughs]
Greg Bryk: Hasn’t taught me yet…
Lauren Beatty: No, me either.
So, maybe not everything?
Lauren Beatty: It’s a nice thought though, Greg.
Speaking of things that we should be taught how to do, but probably just don’t know how to do, what was it like dealing with all the blood? And handling the prostheses? Because you both had that.
Lauren Beatty: That stuff is the fun stuff for me. I love just getting to play around with the goriness. And I’ve been covered in a lot of blood in my day. It comes with frustration sometimes but, ultimately, it’s so much fun to get to act in horror and to be covered in blood and just portray these scary, creepy, grotesque characters. Whatever it might be. But I just love it.
Greg Bryk: One of the nights we shot it a particularly bloody night and it was late. It was like four in the morning when we were going back to our hotel and we were sort of on the outskirts of the city we were in. There’s a poor guy that was working the door. I didn’t have time to shower before I came back. So, I was in this big pink bathrobe covered in blood with a plastic bag wrapped around my pants. Almost like a rubbery, like a plastic kilt or something, and we come into the door and he thought it was real. He was having such a panic behind the desk until we explained “No. No. No. It’s just whatever.” I was just hoping when I was getting on the elevator that someone was coming down for an early breakfast and just meet me in that.
It adds something to it. Like, there’s we have a macabre sense to us underneath everything, right? So, to get revel in that, even though, it’s just in the safe confines of art and whatever, there’s something thrilling about that. To be like eating something freshly killed, in this case, happens to be a person. But let’s just say it was not a person. It’s an animal we killed. Something like that. It’s just, there’s something really viscerally exciting. There’s something thrilling about the wildness. We all have that in us.
Brainstorm Media is set to release BLOODTHIRSTY in theaters and VOD on April 23, 2021. Raven Banner will be distributing the film in Canada on the same day! Also, the BLOODTHIRSTY EP, with original songs written by Lowell for the film, will also be available for purchase on April 23rd via Apple Music and more. To learn more about the film, check out our review from the virtual Fantastic Fest Celebration
Editor’s Note: This interview was edited for length and clarity.