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An Interview with Kelly Rae LeGault, Star of In Fear of's Toxiphobia: Fear Of Being Poisoned

by Mike Haberfelner

April 2013

Films starring Kelly Rae LeGault on (re)Search my Trash


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You are currently starring in Toxiphobia: Fear Of Being Poisoned, an episode of the second season of In Fear of - so what can you tell us about that movie and your character in it?


Toxiphobia is about a particularly bad episode of anxiety in the life of a woman who suffers from the condition and how it's affecting her marriage. I play the wife, and Pete Mizzo plays my husband. As with most mental conditions, it affects more than just the person suffering from it; it affects their relationships, social lives, work and more. You get a sense that this woman doesn't leave the house that often (certainly not to go out to eat), and when she does get the courage to do so, comes running back for fear of triggering one of her episodes. The episode starts out with the couple sitting down at what should be a casual, comforting place: the dinner table. My character has not eaten or drank anything for two days and her husband is trying to get her to eat voluntarily so she won't starve. Because of her condition, she is reluctant to do so, and even something that was prepared in her own kitchen by the one who loves her most isn't going to change that. However, hunger and a little gentle persuasion motivate her to try. The rest of the episode focuses on what happens when her phobia (real or imagined) takes hold. I say real or imagined because the episode has two elements; reality and what she perceives in her mind. The phobia manifests itself in the form of an evil witch (who will be played by Manoush Vasquez) and you will know when my character is going through the paranoia based on my interaction with her. We will be going back and forth from living color to black and white. I'm excited to see how this will come out and even more so how it will be interpreted by the audience.


How did you prepare for your role, what did you draw upon to bring your character to life - and is the fear of being poisoned something you can at all relate to?


While I was a little bit familiar with the phobia, it obviously isn't a common one, and certainly not one I was expecting to be approached about. And anyone who knows me knows that I clear my plate, so me refusing to eat just wouldn't happen (HA!). Since I don't have direct experience with this, I tried to play it as someone being pressured to do something against their will, which is something we can all relate to. Thomas Norman [Thomas Norman interview - click here], the director, was the one who really brought me up to speed on the reality and severity of this condition. After reading the script, he and I had several conversations about a friend of his who actually suffers from this condition. In fact, this friend and his behaviors are the inspiration for our episode. There's even a scene at the dinner table involving the cleanliness of a water glass that is derived from Thomas witnessing the incident firsthand. Beyond that, I researched some testimonials regarding Toxiphobia and analyzed my own anxieties. I discovered that it's not unlike any other obsessive compulsive or eating disorder, really. People who become so consumed by what they're eating and the manner in which they're eating that it's all they think about. Things like being obsessive about personal silverware or glasses (see above) or bringing your own cooked chicken breast to a restaurant for fear of calories. The act of harboring any kind of "safe" food in one's own bag that given the right opportunity could even become "poison" in their mind.


Related to that, any personal fears you'd like to share?


Oh, I have the usual girly ones; spiders, cockroaches (which I've had to get better about in my almost five years in New York) and wood ticks. I HATE wood ticks. Just typing the word made me shudder. I grew up in the wilderness of Michigan's Upper Peninsula and had a childhood and several large, hairy dogs that attracted them. In fact, anything that sucks blood is not okay with me. Related to that, I have a fear of veins and needles. I have never had to give blood or have an I.V., and when that days comes it's going to be a problem for me. Even related to that, I am afraid of contracting a horrible disease from a medical procedure or a simple doctor's visit. What could be worse than something ripping you apart from the inside especially if you thought you were in a safe, sterile environment?  I also have a fear of drowning or being trapped under something. Perhaps I've said too much.


Let's return to the movie: What can you tell us about your director Thomas Norman [Thomas Norman interview - click here], what was your collaboration like, and how did the two of you first hook up?


Thomas Norman and I first met on the set of season one's Apehephobia: Fear of Being Touched. He played one of the pairs of hands that were attacking me the whole time. Because of the nature of that film (I was nude for a large part of it), I needed to feel comfortable and safe. It was also my first leading role on film so I felt extra pressure to do my best. Jeremiah Kipp (director)  [Jeremiah Kipp interview - click here] and I discussed who would be involved ahead of time. We had both just come off of The Days God Slept, a short film that also involved scantily-clad women (this time in a mysterious gentleman's club) a few months prior. It seemed only natural to use actors from that film because we all knew each other and were already in a similar situation together. I knew everyone who would be there in advance except Thomas. A last-minute, but no less professional addition to our little crew. Jeremiah and Scott W. Perry [Scott W. Perry interview - click here] knew of him of as a director and actor, so that was all the reassurance I needed. I had to summon some serious, outward physical discomfort on that set (more on that later). Ironically, it's because of his observation of me on that shoot that he knew I could handle the role in Toxiphobia. If Thomas hadn't been there, I probably wouldn't be talking to you now. Funny how things work out, eh?  As far as being on set, Thomas is a dream to work with. He knows what he wants yet lets you make your own choices first. He is focused, lighthearted and extremely professional. It also helps that he has firsthand experience with the condition we're trying to convey so we can make it as authentic as possible. We're having a great deal of fun.


Kelly with Peter Mizzo

You also have to talk about your co-star Peter Mizzo for a bit, and how did you two interact?


Pete Mizzo and I met exactly one week prior to shooting. I always like to meet anyone I'm in a scene with ahead of time (if possible) so we can at least discuss the concept and read through the script. I didn't know him or any of his work, but Thomas and Scott said "that's your husband" so we Facebook-planned from there. We chose a windy table and chairs in Bryant Park and had our introductions. We ran through the script and were in agreement of the concept, so the only thing we had left to do was memorize and be ready for filming. Pete was very professional and patient with me. Because I am so new to film, I really appreciated that. He plays the role of a man who should have divorced me long ago with sweet restraint and compassion. You won't see much of a loving relationship here until the very end. You can tell that he really cares for me despite all the nonsense I put him through. My character accuses him of poisoning her, even though she probably places that blame on anyone trying to put her in a similar situation. Because he is my husband, he gets the most of my paranoia-fueled wrath. And Pete had to deal with a LOT of my wrath in this; swearing, spitting, shoving, etc. I even hit him square on the funny bone with a paperback thesaurus which resulted in us halting production for about ten minutes. Sorry, Pete!


What can you tell us about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?


The shoot is taking place in Scott's own house in Amityville, New York. A perfect place for horror, and I learned that a great deal of it has already been shot in this house. We use the dining room and living room, and it's a small area but it's perfect for what we're doing. Being in someone's residence, I felt a little self conscious about screaming at the top of my lungs and throwing things around at first. Once I was assured that it was okay and encouraged to do so, I felt much better about it. I respect and admire everyone I'm working with so there are no problems whatsoever. We are a fun bunch, but know how to suppress the giggles and get down to business. There's been a lot of laughter on set and will be more. It's necessary when you're shooting something serious to find moments of levity. In addition to Thomas and Scott, we also have returning Cinematographer and Producer Steven-Mark Glassner (whom I also first met on Apehephobia) [Steven-Mark Glassner interview - click here]. We also have the help of Heather Drew (star of the upcoming Dysmorphophobia) and Matt Davis (Hydrophobia) acting as production assistants. There was a lot of prep work for the dinner scene, and they helped with everything and always made sure (unfortunately) that my wine glass was full. They even had an iPad with a clapboard app (the very presence of which makes me giddy because I feel part of something professional) to keep track of the takes. I think the beauty of working on something independent is the passion that everyone has. Scott had an idea for years to make this series and did. Thomas's words are brought to life by telling this story. Steven-Mark Glassner's unique, artistic eye always puts us in the best possible light in every sense. We all want to make this the best it can be. You're only as good as your cast and crew, and with "In Fear Of" we've really got something special.


You have also had a role in In Fear of's first season, in the episode Apehephobia: Fear of Being Touched - again, what is it about and what can you tell us about your character?


Apehephobia is basically a surrealistic fever dream depicting a woman suffering from fear of physical contact. It was a very different episode compared to Toxiphobia. There wasn't a script, just a concept. It was shot entirely in black and white and had a quick back and forth editing style. There was no sound other than the score and I was the only actor you ever saw on screen. Even though there were about seven other actors, they were only shown as hands and arms attacking me. My character was a woman experiencing three levels of the fear which were represented by different wardrobe choices. Black dress symbolized tolerance, white dress was discomfort, and nude was total panic and vulnerability. It was very artistically done and I absolutely loved shooting it.


What was it like, actually, as I have put it, "swimming in a sea of hands"?


"Swimming in a sea of hands" was a very unusual yet strangely comfortable experience for me thanks to the people that were involved. Personally, I don't have a fear of touch, but I can relate to feelings of confinement and feeling smothered at times. That was one of the things Jeremiah and I discussed for the episode. Living in New York subjects you to huge masses of people every day; in the streets, on the subways, in stores. It can be overwhelming even to people that have been living here for a while. You're tolerant of it to a point, because you have to be. But sometimes it gets to be too much. We wanted to show the anxiety and the phobia escalating. Jeremiah and I drew on those experiences for the concept of this episode. I'm not afraid of touch, but I am a hand sanitizer-toting New Yorker who tries to avoid touching surfaces inside mass transit at all costs (thanks, Mom). So for the episode, I imagined that all those hands on me were dirty. And they were. They belonged to people who drove or took mass transit in from New York and New Jersey and not one of them washed their hands before we started. They were on my face, my feet and more intimate areas when I was at my most vulnerable. And I'm so thankful to the actors that were involved. It's kind of crazy that they commuted all the way to Astoria to be part of something where their faces weren't even shown. It definitely made a huge difference in my performance to have seven pairs of hands instead of just two or three. That amount, the force of hands pressing down upon you, and my own anxieties about hygiene helped me channel the anxiety I needed for this episode. Having people around me that I knew and trusted gave me the freedom to do it without judgment. And I had a say in whose hands went where. You might say they were "handpicked" by me.


You also have to talk about your director Jeremiah Kipp [Jeremiah Kipp interview - click here] and your collaboration with him for a bit!


The Days God Slept

Jeremiah Kipp is the reason I am involved with In Fear of and the reason I will be involved in anything in the future. He and I are so much alike in our psyches it's uncanny. Every time (and I've told him this many times) I read an interview about him or how he discusses his projects it parallels my introduction e-mail to him. Speaking of e-mails, that's how my involvement came about. Up until this point, whenever Jeremiah approached me with a project I responded right away with a resounding "yes". But when I was reading about the character and that I would have to be nude, I had to give it some serious thought. We had just wrapped The Days God Slept (where I played an exotic dancer) and I was even uncomfortable with that at first. But being totally naked on camera is another story. I almost didn't do it, but I knew what Jeremiah wanted to achieve with this episode: disturbing elegance. The concept was so up my alley and I really wanted to be part of it. So I said I would do it under the following conditions: certain parts of my body would not be shown, everyone present in the room would be selected by me, and our crew would be as professional and make me feel just as safe as the previous film. I'm so glad I didn't pass on this project, and am very proud of it. Again, I probably wouldn't be talking to you now if I wasn't in this. When you feel comfortable and safe you can do anything that is asked of you. I came to realize that the nudity would only enhance the episode because it represented vulnerability. I wanted the audience to feel uncomfortable and invaded. You wouldn't have felt that way if the hands were only touching my clothes. It had to be this way. We didn't set out to make anything gratuitous or erotic, we set out to make something visceral. Jeremiah delights in the beautifully macabre and so do I. We work so well together, and I look forward to working with him as often as he'll allow it.


How did you become involved with the In Fear of-project in the first place?


Again, that distinction goes to Jeremiah Kipp. I was so fortunate to meet Jeremiah in January of 2012 (on the set of Aaron David Gleason's music video for Fate) and even more fortunate that he wanted to continue working with me on other projects. I wouldn't have met him if it wasn't for Xiomara Cintron (Podophobia, Ghosts) referring me. He took a chance on me and it has paid off for both of us. As I said earlier, after The Days God Slept, he approached me with the concept of In Fear of. He explained that his friend and collaborator, Scott W. Perry [Scott W. Perry interview - click here], had an idea for a web series exploring phobias. I loved the idea, but then needed a little bit of time accepting the reality of the episode we would be shooting. Thankfully, it all worked out for everyone. It's wonderful that people are really enjoying what we've done. I'm excited that this series has brought together so many creative independent filmmakers and performers. I'm so grateful to Scott for the opportunity, and proud to be part of the original cast.


What can you tell us about your acting experience prior to In Fear of, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?


I have always been something of a performer, but didn't get my confidence to get on stage until I was in fifth grade. My first real experience and realization of acting came from watching Saturday Night Live as a child at my grandparents' house. I have been watching that show since I was three years old. My grandmother would tape the episode every night, and my brother, cousins and I would watch it the next morning on the floor over a bowl of Trix. From those episodes, I learned all the characters and impersonations of some of the most memorable comedians of the decade. That show is the reason I moved to New York, and I will be on it someday in some capacity. I learned early on that I could mimic voices and dialects very easily and have played mostly character roles ever since. Being from a small town, I didn't have access to a lot of classes for acting or performing. But I did have access to a great high school drama program and community theatre group. I was involved in every show I could audition for in high school. After high school, I studied Theatre at Northern Michigan University. It was a very close-knit group of students and faculty and I learned the Stanislaski-method. I was pretty petite and looked young for a long time, so I was difficult to cast in college. Not surprisingly, I was cast as children or weird, character parts where it was up to me to stand out. I was frustrated that I wasn't being cast or even considered for the parts my classmates and roommates were. Looking back, it was for the best because it allows me to tap into that weirdness so easily now. Beyond the stage, I have zero on-camera training (which I hope isn't too evident when you watch my episodes) other than what Jeremiah has been gracious enough to include me in. But I try to be honest, I try to be fearless, and I'm very in touch with my emotions.


Any future projects you'd like to share?


I am always looking for new projects and to collaborate with new people (contact me!), but I take opportunities as they come. It's a good thing there's no shortage of talented, creative people in New York. I often help out friends with video and modeling work and am also an audio book narrator with I try to have my hand in a little bit of everything.


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


I consider myself to be a canvas for the creative ideas of others. I do have ideas of my own, but don't always have the means or time to see them through. If I had my way, I'd be doing a photo shoot one day, a film shoot the next and singing on someone's album after that. Like I said, I just love being involved. Transformation is huge for me, and versatility is a must in this business. The more you can do, the more you will work. I'm not afraid to get ugly or weird and would rather be considered interesting than beautiful. In fact, I rather love to be styled in extreme hair, makeup and wardrobe. I've been fortunate enough to fall into a group of friends who recognize this quality in me and utilize it. Jeremiah Kipp has even compared me to Lady Gaga in interviews for the willingness I have to take on a character. In my mind that's the highest praise I could receive because she's my favorite. In terms of bringing these characters to life, I am a very emotional person and honest with myself. How can you be in this industry and not be, right? I prepare for characters by doing any necessary research ahead of time; reading about the person, location, learning a specific dialect or voice, etc. When that's done, you plug yourself into the equation and become the role. However, I would love to take more classes to keep myself competitive.


Actresses (and indeed actors) who inspire you?


Anyone who can completely dissolve into a character and constantly surprise you; Daniel Day-Lewis, Charlize Theron, Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep, Stanley Tucci, Tilda Swinton, Steve Buscemi, John Turturro and Cillian Murphy just to name a few. I also respect people who take risks with their career by accepting a smaller film outside a genre they're not known for.


Your favourite movies?


Monster, Gia, Girl, Interrupted, Fargo, Se7en, The Lovely Bones, Django Unchained, Inglourious Basterds, The Little Mermaid and Sleeping Beauty, and of course Weekend at Bernie's 2. Way to round off the list, eh?!  I like a lot of film genres, but will be happiest with psychological thrillers or anything that shows the darkness within oneself (especially women in dire situations). I do enjoy comedies, but it needs to be smartly written and relatable, like Judd Apatow films. But I'm certainly not above the occasional stupid, Adam Sandler or Jackass-movie. I love South Park and Family Guy, so I'm not too high-brow. I also love beautifully done historical films like Shakespeare in Love, Schindler's List, Lincoln, Titanic etc. Anything that evokes a response in me is a good movie in my book. And I am a crier!  Anyone who knows me can attest to that, so prepare yourself if you see a movie with me. Damn those emotions always getting in the way.


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


Most chick flicks I don't like. I have a blacklist of actresses in my mind that I will almost always avoid when selecting a film. It can be fun sometimes when you just want to shut your mind off, but most times I need to have a story and compelling characters. Lindsay Lohan and Sarah Jessica Parker tripping into garbage cans just doesn't do it for me. We have WAY too many of these movies, unfortunately...


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© by Mike Haberfelner

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
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screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
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On the same day
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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