[Interview] Gloria Reuben for FIRESTARTER

[Interview] Gloria Reuben for FIRESTARTER
Courtesy Blumhouse
An actress, singer, and published author, Gloria Reuben does it all. Known for roles in acclaimed TV series such as “ER” and “Mr. Robot,” as well as a role in Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-nominated film, Lincoln, Reuben is now stepping into the horrifying world of Stephen King with her latest project, FIRESTARTER.

In the new adaptation of Stephen King’s classic thriller, parents Andy (Zac Efron) and Vicky (Sydney Lemmon) have been on the run, desperate to hide their daughter Charlie (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) from a shadowy federal agency that wants to harness her unprecedented gift for creating fire into a weapon of mass destruction. Andy has taught Charlie how to defuse her power, which is triggered by anger or pain. But as Charlie turns 11, the fire becomes harder and harder to control. After an incident reveals the family’s location, a mysterious operative (Michael Greyeyes) is deployed to hunt down the family and seize Charlie once and for all. But Charlie has other plans.

Recently, Nightmarish Conjurings’ Shannon McGrew spoke with actor Gloria Reuben for the release of FIRESTARTER. During their chat, they discussed everything from her reaction upon getting cast in the latest adaptation of FIRESTARTER, the gender swap of Captain Hollister, and what she’s most excited for people to take away from the adaptation.

Hi Gloria! It’s such a pleasure to be speaking with you for FIRESTARTER! To kick things off, what was your reaction upon hearing you’d be part of this remake, and were you familiar with the Stephen King novel and/or Mark L. Lester’s movie adaptation? 

Gloria Reuben: I was familiar with the movie, the original, and I was over the moon excited when I got the call. I knew that Keith Thomas and I connected right out of the gate [and] I knew creatively we were on the same page. I just had a good feeling about it, but it’s the waiting for the phone to ring. It’s like, “Please ring!” [Laughs]. My first Stephen King project! Again, I knew the original. I knew what the remake was. The script was fantastic and to just be part of this IP was huge. Zac [Efron] I loved. Ryan [Kiera Armstrong] and Michael [Greyeyes] are extremely talented. It was a win. And Keith Thomas, I had seen his first film before FIRESTARTER called The Vigil and I was like man, this guy knows how to weave in family stories, suspense, mystery, intention, and horror all at the same time. I was like great, let’s do it! And during a pandemic? No problem! [Laughs]

One of the biggest changes from the original movie is the gender swap of Captain Hollister, originally played by Martin Sheen. When you were developing this version of the character, what was important for you to bring into this role to set you apart from the other version?

Gloria Reuben: I loved that the gender swap was happening. There’s always something great about when a role is written as a woman of color or anything like that. I always like to go for the stuff that isn’t that, though, unless it’s specific to the story. Diving into this part of Captain Hollister being a woman, being the head of this organization, being the new Captain, if you will, on this particular project [I had to ask] what does that mean for her to be new? Where did she come from? What’s her history? What does she want? What’s her family like? Why is she going after this family? I know that for work she’s going after this family, but what else is there in this? She will not give up until she gets this girl. So [there were] lots of these levels that we dove into and talked with Keith about and kind of going on the fly. And that’s the fun that I like to do, to just dive really, really deep, and hopefully, if I do my job well as an actress then it means that what’s going on with her really isn’t about what she’s saying.

What do you think horror fans are going to be the most excited about when it comes to this adaptation? 

Gloria Reuben: Well, for horror fans of the book or the original, I mean, it’s a no-brainer. It’s going to honor the fundamental ways, but elevate it not just in the special effects way but again in the multiple, multiple emotional ways I’m talking about. But for those who love suspense and the thrill and the horror but not watching people be axed to death, to me that’s not fun, but to watch the story of this family and this government agency, it just has all these different elements at play and you can still sleep at night after you watch it, you know what I mean [Laughs]? But for me, one of the things that stuck with me and is a reflection of a terrific film is that I keep thinking about it. It’ll pop up in my head, that kind of deeper, psychological, or emotional stuff you don’t really know is there until afterward. The relationship between the mother and the father and the little girl, it’s really great. Plus, it’s fun to watch and looks awesome!

FIRESTARTER is currently in theaters and is streaming only on Peacock.

Shannon McGrew
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