Your new movie Book of Monsters - in a few words, what is it about,
and what can you tell us about your character?
Book of Monsters
is a gory practical effects coming-of-age
horror-comedy about six monsters crashing a teenage birthday party. I play
one of three main female leads Ė Beth, an introverted 17 year-old goth,
and yes, without giving away too much itís a really fun part in a crazy
whirlwind of a story.
What did you draw upon to bring your character to life, and how
much of Lizzie Aaryn-Stanton can we find in Beth?
Beth is actually very different to me - which was great as an
actress, as I love the challenge of changing myself for a role. Itís
funny because both Lyndsey Craine [Lyndsey
Craine interview - click here] and Michaela Longden [Michaela
Longden interview - click here] (the other leads) look
and (sort-of) act exactly like their characters Sophie and Mona, and they
instantly get recognized at the festivals weíve been to - but nobody
realizes (even if Iím with them) that I played Beth. Even (the writer)
Paul Butlerís [Paul Butler
interview - click here] parents whoíd seen the film 3 times didnít recognize me
person at first! Obviously the different hair and makeup contributes
enormously to this, but I think itís also an energetic thing. Iím
quite bubbly and loud spoken as a person but Beth is definitely the quiet
thinker. I was a very solemn and serious baby though so I imagine Iím
using some of that.
you get involved with the project in the first place?
This is a great story and I hope itís testament to all the actresses
out there that persistence and near-misses do actually pay off. I sent a
self-tape for their first film (The Creature
Below) and made it to a
callback round in York (I was in London at the time). In the end I made it
to the last two for that role, but didnít get it (actually Michaela
did!), but I stayed in touch with the occasional update email. Anyway -
three years later I get a Facebook message form Paul telling me he was
writing a script with me as a lead in it - would I like the opportunity?
Er, Hell yes! By the way Michaela is a great friend now. I can see why she
got the role for their first film. Just goes to show donít let a
ďnoĒ turn you away.
what extent could you identify with the film's horror theme, and is horror
a genre at all dear to you?
Honestly I am the worst at watching horror. Sparkie (the director)
loves sitting next to me at the festivals because as such a long-term
horror fan heís immune to the fear and knows all the tropes. Me
literally jumping a foot out of my seat with a scream brings him back to
his earlier experiences of it I guess. Itís not that I donít love
watching it - Iím just not good at it. Which is why if I watch a
horror Iíd prefer be a horror comedy. What I will say though is that
Iíve learnt thereís a really lovely and loyal community of horror
fans. You have people picking up references from films shot in the 80s who
see everything every year, which is lovely as an
actress. It can be a lonely profession sometimes, so having a home in
horror is something no-one can take away from you.
What can you tell us about
Book of Monsters'
director Stewart Sparke, and what was your collaboration like?
Sparkie is brilliant. Heís not one of those heady directors who gets
stressed and canít be spoken to on set. He completely trusts his actors
- and often my performance more than I do myself sometimes (it was me
asking to go for another take over him more often than not). Plus he works
his butt off - dedicating more hours of the day to his films than most
people are awake - I literally canít stress that enough. Iím glad
heís getting the recognition he deserves, already having picked up a
lifetime-achievement award towards the horror genre - I think heís
only just turned 30!
talk about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
I can honestly say it was the most fun Iíve had on any project Iíve
ever done. Iím more of a dramatic actress actually, so maybe itís just
the vibe of being on set of a comedy (in which case gimme more please?!),
but it was just this sense of a really lovely, dedicated and fun-loving
community of people coming together to make something. Iíve made friends
future projecs you'd like to share?
Yes! Iím in two other films; I play a Russian farmer in The Good
Neighbour, directed by upcoming director Jon Reid-Edwards, and a really
damaged but juicy role in a film called Faith, which is a true story
written and directed by Ashley Chin. Both are dramas, although The Good
Neighbour has sci-fi elements.
Lizzie (right) with co-stars Michaela Longden,
What got you into
acting in the first place and did you receive any formal training on the
I think I sort of fell into it by default. I did a 4 year BA in Theatre
Arts at Brown University in the States - originally a Development
Studies major, I realized I was rewarding myself with acting classes for
getting through ones like Economics 101. Then I had this epiphany - why
am I forcing myself to do what I donít love, when I clearly have
something that I do? I declared my new major, fully committed, came back
to the UK and did a MA in Acting for Screen at Royal Central School Speech
and Drama. Havenít looked back.
What can you tell us about your filmwork prior
to Book of Monsters?
A dozen short films or so, a music video, and a two-line part in one
film. I was relatively fresh!
Besides making movies, you've also done your fair share of
stagework - so how does performing on stage compare to acting in front of
a camera, and which do you prefer, actually?
So so different. In film you donít film in chronological order. And
even such things as starting and finishing your day at different times
from everyone else has its effects. And of course with theatre you have
the instant feedback of an audience - you can generally feel how
youíre being received and adapt accordingly. Whereas with film the only
audience you have is a tiny circular lens, and perhaps someone in an adjacent room with headphones on
looking at the screen. But film is an intensely personal process, when you
nail a take itís beautiful, just for you and a select few people. But I
generally dislike watching myself back - like many actors. Glad to say I
usually prefer which ever Iíve done most recently, but itís been a
couple of films in a row now so Iíd love to now go back to the community
experience of being on stage every night!
How would you describe yourself as an actress, and some of
your techniques to bring your characters to life?
I consider myself a dramatic actress - be it for stage or screen, and
my strengths are in creating a strong emotional connection to the
character. I often play broken characters, or ones who are fighters
getting through what they have to get through. The process differs for
each project and role but I do a lot of work finding the specific memories
and understanding the relationships each character has - often to people
who arenít even in the film/play. The work happens before you get on
(and indeed actors) who inspire you?
Actresses: Shailene Woodley, Patsy Ferran, Sarah Lancashire, Frances
McDormand, Zarima McDermott, Alejandra Rivera-Flavia.
Seymour-Hoffman (one of the true chameleons, which I strive to be), Rob
Ostlere, Ray Bethley, Jack Archer.
Biutiful (which has some horror elements right?!), Capernaum, Eternal
Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Jellyfish, True Romance, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, it goes
... and of course, films you really deplore?
Oh God. I think Iíve successfully erased them from my memory. Maybe
the latest Cinderella?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
website, Facebook, whatever else?
Anything else you're
dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
YES! The industry needs to employ more female directors working at a
higher level, which will also create more (equal please?!) and better
female parts in film. Please check out my pinned tweet which is a speech
by dir. Susanna White which blew my mind in a painful way. Letís
incorporate inclusion riders in all contracts (Yes Frances!) and also if
anyone has any money or notoriety please consider donating or advocating
for ERA (Equal Representation for Actresses). Thank you for asking.
for the interview!