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An Interview with Jessica Sonneborn, Star of Never Open the Door

by Mike Haberfelner

December 2016

Films starring Jessica Sonneborn on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new movie Never Open the Door - in a few words, what is it about, and what can you tell us about your character (characters?) in it?


Never Open the Door is about a group of six friends celebrating Thanksgiving together, in a beautiful rented cabin in the woods, who are suddenly disrupted by a knock at the door. Behind the door is a Stranger, who becomes violently ill and dies, as my character lets him in. I play Tess, who goes from being an ordinary girl, to several characters whom kind of morph. I can’t say too much, without giving it away. J


What did you draw upon to bring your character to live, and how much of Jessica Sonneborn can we find in Tess? And since your character's pretty much literally going through all the motions, how much of a strain was that for you as an actress?


I loved playing Tess; it was exciting going from an ordinary person through the transition of what happens to her. It’s always great to have a character or characters that you can have range with, so I wanted her to be very quiet at the beginning. I’m one of those people that is very quiet and reserved when I first meet people, until I’m comfortable… and then I’m pretty outgoing. We did a lot of improv in the movie and we also shot somewhat in sequence, so the first day was the opening dinner scene. A lot of that Tess is me: watching, observing and listening. As she transitions, it’s obviously less and less me, ha ha!  But I really did and do enjoy becoming characters that are far from who I am, so this one was a blast.


How did you get involved with the project in the first place, and what drew you to a film with such an unconventional story as Never Open the Door?


I worked with Vito Trabucco [Vito Trabucco interview - click here] and Chris Maltauro on Bloody Bloody Bible Camp (along with actors Deborah Venegas, Matt Aiden and Mike Wood). Chris reached out to me a few months after we wrapped Bloody Bloody Bible Camp and asked if I wanted to participate in the next project with them, which he explained would be quite different. I had a blast working on Bloody Bloody Bible Camp, Chris and Vito are awesome people and I believe in both of them so much, so of course I said yes. I really enjoyed the script, and read it in one sitting. I was so happy to see how different my character was from the one I played in Bloody Bloody Bible Camp (Brittney – who was also SUCH a great one to play)… but it’s always nice to bounce off to a different dimension with characters. J


Part of Never Open the Door you spend in heavy monster makeup - so what kind of a pain was it to apply that, and in what way (if any) did this affect your acting?


I spent quite a lot of time getting my make up done and luckily, George Troester and Maggie Dillon, who did my SFX make up, were so awesome to work with. It made the long sits in the make up chair totally worth it, to be around them. Having the make up totally helps you get into your character… I was fitted with a few different prosthetics, so all of those helped, especially the claws!


What can you tell us about your director Vito Trabucco [Vito Trabucco interview - click here], and what was your collaboration like?


Vito knows his stuff. He knows the genre so well and he also is great to work with as an actor, because he allows you to play. He may ask for a take his way, and let you also do what you want to do for one… I really like and respect that.


Do talk about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?


We were all living and working in a cabin up in Big Bear with lots of snow outside…so it was warm and cozy inside. Everyone was a blast to work with, so it was great waking up and having our meals together and going to work together. This was one of the special ones.


Any future projects you'd like to share?


I just had two features that came out, Dog Eat Dog with Nicholas Cage that I have a small part in, and One Night of Fear that I’m a lead in. Both are available on Amazon. I also have several coming up:  I just finished directing a segment for a horror anthology that I also starred in called Labor Day, and just wrapped up working as an actress with Oscar winning SFX artist Barney Burman on his directorial debut Wild Boar. A film I acted in Dark Roads, ’79 (with Bill Moseley) out of Spirit World Pictures in Atlanta is premiering in January at the Idyllwild Film Festival and will be released soon after and The Haunting of Alice D came out last May and is available on Amazon.


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


I don't think so J 


Thanks for the interview!




© by Mike Haberfelner

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On the same day
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and your Ex wants
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A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
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written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

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