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An Interview with Asta Leigh, Co-Writer and Star of Running on Empty

by Mike Haberfelner

February 2019

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Your upcoming movie Running on Empty - in a few words, what is it about?


It's about a mother who finds an unconventional method to get rid of her pain and sadness after losing her child to a tragic accident.


What were your sources of inspiration when writing Running on Empty? And is any of the story based on personal experiences or the like?


Running on Empty's director Elizabeth Blake Thomas and I, whoíve worked together on 4 different projects, would always discuss what it might be like if we could just remove the emotion of sadness entirely. We would talk in length about how our lives would be affected. Our initial reactions were that it can only a a positive thing but after lengthy conversations we mused it may actually be very destructive.


What can you tell us about the film's look and feel?


The film has a very stark look which reflects how Alice feels in the world. We shot a lot in a big warehouse location. Itís a raw space with very little lighting and again the big space compared to Alice adds to her feeling on her own. Even though you hear Alice interacting with other people in the film, you never actually see anyone else other than her. We wanted the audience to feel the abject loneliness Alice is consumed with.


You also play the lead in Running on Empty, right? So what will you draw upon to bring your character to life, and how much Asta Leigh can we find in Alice? And have you written her with yourself in mind from the get-go?


For most of the film I have no make up on. And I donít mean the no make up look where you still have make up on but it looks like you donít. I had no make up on at all and it was a very unearthing experience. Iíve always believed that getting to the truth of a character is the job of us as actors. Alice is beyond devastated and unable to live in the world without her daughter and of course her appearance is the absolute last thing on her mind but when director Elizabeth presented the idea to me about wearing no make up at al,l which of course makes complete sense, I was resistant. I suddenly felt very emotional and almost manic and eventually I had to stop and ask myself why. I then realized that there was still a part of me that wanted to look pretty. That there was a big part of me, Asta, that still wanted people to look at me and think I was attractive. As soon as I accepted that revelation I let it go so I could bring all of Alice to the forefront. It was the most daunting and liberating experience Iíve ever had. Each day I felt like I was shedding layers of myself. I felt free. I didnít write Alice with myself in mind but I certainly drew on my own experiences with grief and loneliness.


Any idea when and where the film might be released onto the general public yet?


The film is hitting the festival circuit in the next few weeks.


Any future projects beyond Running on Empty?


I just played a guest role in Heirloom, a short film co written and directed by Paul Walter Hauser (I Tonya and BlacKkKlansman) and co-written and starring Raleigh Cain (Longmire and Shameless) and I'm about to direct and star in a short film that I wrote, Perception.


What got you into acting in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?


I started acting from a very young age and as soon as I could speak all I wanted to be was an actor. I would wake my mom and dad up early in the mornings so I could put on a show for them. Naturally they were permanently exhausted. Sorry mom and dad! I trained at an acting studio in London, England for a number of years before coming to Los Angeles.


What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Running on Empty?


I played a comedic role in a feature film, again with Elizabeth Blake Thomas as director and It was a lot of fun. I worked mainly with actor and comedian Mark Christopher Lawrence in the movie who is an exceptional talent. I acted in a movie, Sand Angels, playing a mom who lost a child to suicide and I played a woman in the military whoís been raped and is afraid to speak out in Army Strong.


Besides making movies, you've also done quite a bit of stage acting - so what can you tell us about your career in theatre, and how does performing on in front of a live audience compare to acting in front of a camera? And which do you perfer, actually?


I love the stage! I actually love both film and theatre for different reasons but there is something quite special about getting the reaction of an audience as you are on stage. I also love that every night is completely different which means when itís going well Itís an incredible feeling but when itís going badly, itís like dragging yourself through chewing gum and you just have to go with it. I also struggle with an abundance of nerves prior to going on stage and itís something I always am having to manage.


How would you describe yourself as an actress, and some of your techniques to bring your characters to life?


Iím an actress who likes to push boundaries and explore the depths of the characters I portray. Even though Iíve failed and continue to fail miserably at times, I wonít ever give up. Itís my aim to seek the absolute truth in people, in stories and in myself, no matter where that leads me. I will forever be on a journey of self discovery.


Actresses, filmmakers, whoever else who inspire you?


Iím obsessed with the work of directors Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Barry Jenkins, Ava DuVernay, Lynn Ramsay, Darren Aronofsky. To work with them would be an incredible honor.


Actors: Viola Davis, Regina King, Cate Blanchett, Elisabeth Moss, Christian Bale, Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Shannon, David Oyelowo, Naomi Watts, Ben Foster, Sam Rockwell, Michael K Williams, Chadwick Boseman, Donald Glover, Lakeith Stanfield and Richard Cabral inspire me no end.


Your favourite movies?


There are so many movies I absolutely love so this is difficult... A few of them are 21 Grams, Birdman, The Fighter, Requiem for a Dream, Moonlight, If Beale Street Could Talk, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Shame, Blue Valentine, Dead Man Walking, Whiplash, Get Out, Short Term 12, The Intouchables (French film).


... and of course, films you really deplore?


Feeling lucky ?
Want to
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Find Asta Leigh
at the amazons ...


Great Britain (a.k.a. the United Kingdom)

Germany (East AND West)

Looking for imports ?
Find Asta Leigh here ...

Your shop for all things Thai

Something naughty ?
(Must be over 18 to go there !)

x-rated  find Asta Leigh at

I am not a horror fan at all, so all the Saw movies I will never watch.


Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?


Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?


I just love the art of filmmaking in all its forms and I feel so utterly blessed to be able to do what I do, thank you.


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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and shall not be held responsible for
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Thanks for watching !!!



On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD



Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Tršume ...


Und an diesem Tag geht natŁrlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!


Bauliche Angelegenheiten
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Michael Haberfelner


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