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An Interview with Vicky Illk, Star of Simple

by Mike Haberfelner

July 2013

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Your upcoming movie Simple - in a few words, what is it about, and what can you tell us about your character in it?

 

Simple is a micro budget feature about an ensemble cast all working toward a personal goal but employing different methods to get there. Their stories intertwine on the streets of the Big Easy. My character, Monique, is a homefree, punk rock novelist that prostitutes and plays music on the street to make her writing possible. She works hard to keep her dream alive while the male lead, Weeds, seeks out the easiest, shadiest gigs to fund his girlfriendís music career. Major drama ensues when their paths collide.

 

What did you draw upon to bring your character to life, to what extent could you relate to her from the get-go, and how much of Vicky Illk can be found in Monique?

 

Miceal OíDonnell, our director, gave me a lot of specific materials to inform my character. Monique was heavily influenced by Ayn Rand, Henry Rollins, Dostoyevsky, and Jello Biafra in her early teens, so I took in this stuff as gospel. Iíd say Monique is a very punk rock version of myself; sheís a hard worker with a good heart. At the time I was studying the material, I was 22, just out of college, and a beginner actor. Because I took my prep so seriously, I couldnít help but let these books and music shape my identity.

 

How did you become involved with Simple in the first place - and how did you become a co-producer on the movie, too?

 

Miceal put out a casting call for a short film in early 2010 and I auditioned. I was a total amateur but he asked me to do the short on the condition I would attend his acting class. Because the class was free, we all started contributing $10 a week toward making a feature. Miceal wrote a script based on what we individually wanted to challenge ourselves with and delegated jobs to produce the film. On the days we didnít act, the producers worked as crew. I took on more of the production management side so I dealt with talent releases, script breakdown, stuff like that. And no one escaped the shoot without holding a boom, throwing up some lights, or setting up crafty.

 

What can you tell us about your director Miceal Og O'Donnell, and what was your collaboration like?

 

I can safely say Miceal is one of the most intelligent and motivated people I know. Heís also incredibly collaborative and pays back favors ten fold. As a director, heís very good at deconstructing the material with the actor and making them feel comfortable on set. I ask him for advice all the time especially when Iím choosing projects or needing help with a character.

 

A few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?

 

Very long and very fun. We worked weekends for something like four months to finish principal photography. Itís hard to beat the comfort I felt on set with our cast and crew; it was the ideal first feature film for me.

 

What got you into acting in the first place, and what can you tell us about your training as an actress?

 

Therapy. Really. I was 21 and in college and didnít know what to do with my life. My therapist suggested I try it out. I auditioned for the Vagina Monologues on a whim and got a great part. I loved that feeling of total vulnerability in front of the audience and portraying a character with complete honesty. Then I trained with Miceal in his class, which was inspired by the teachings of Meisner, Clurman, and Adler. I generally still use the way I learned how to break down a script in that first class and continue to use that system when doing scene work in other classes.

 

Can you still remember your first time in front of a movie camera, and what was that experience like?

 

Iím trying to think of what the first time wasÖ well, one of the first times, I had a total meltdown. It was one of my first days of shooting on Simple and we were doing a scene where I walk in to Weedsí apartment. I was feeling very self-conscious and intimidated so Tommy Vita, who plays Weeds, had to take me outside to calm me down. I think I delayed production like an hour. So embarrassing. But I learned to lean on my fellow actors for support and allow myself to be vulnerable.

 

What can you tell us about your filmwork apart from Simple? And any future projects you'd like to share?

 

Simple was pretty much my first project so Iíve done quite a bit in the three years since. Iíve been in several of Micealís other features that are in post-production like Dante and Minnie, Bye Bye Betsy, and The Victory Lounge. Otherwise, Iíve done a ton of student film, some commercials, and a little theater. I just starred in and associate produced a short, Tracks, about a twentysomething who goes on a hitchhiking adventure and catches a ride with the wrong guy. It looks great; itís crazy how production value has advanced since I started producing with the availability of DSLRs and REDs.

 

You of course also have to talk about your all-girl comedy troupe Pretty Witty? And what can you tell us about your troupe's brand of humour?

 

Well, since I moved to Austin, I donít really have the opportunity to perform with Pretty Witty as often. The structure is strong stand-up sets with sketches and improv games interspersed throughout. Iím not a stand-up comedienne so I collaborate on the sketch writing and perform in the ensemble pieces. The humor is really silly and off-beat and we definitely take advantage of the female perspective.

 

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

 

Iím thorough, probably to a fault. I deconstruct my scenes extensively and use daydreaming to emotionally prep for each moment of the script. I like to go out in wardrobe for a few days before a shoot to see how Iím perceived by people. I found that my hitchhiker look for Tracks really drew strangers to me. That surprised me and reinforced how important it is to recognize what kind of energy Iím projecting. I tend to be more nervous if I donít feel like I had enough time to work on a character or a script. I really admire actors that can just flip through different personalities; Iím working on giving myself permission to do that.

 

Actresses (and indeed actors) who inspire you?

 

I love Tom Hardy, Ryan Gossling, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Actresses I like are more from the comedic world; Emma Stone, Kristin Wiig, Amy Poehler. I really love Sandra Ohís dry humor that she uses to bring light moments to a drama.

 

Your favourite movies?

 

Miceal turned me on to all of Nicolas Winding Refnís movies and theyíre so great. Pusher-trilogy, Bronson, Drive. The Place Beyond The Pines is my favorite recent movie. Mean Girls is forever my favorite comedy. I recently saw A Clockwork Orange for the first time and was disturbed by how much I liked it.

 

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

 

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Your website, Facebook, whatever else?

 

Website: www.vickyillk.com 

Twitter: @Villk

 

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

 

Thanks so much for chance to talk about Simple. Itís the product of a life-changing experience and I think it shows in the work. I really love this group of people and Iím so happy to see them achieving success. For me, it was a dream first role and has helped me to not be typecast as a girl next door. In fact, the opposite has happened; I mostly get offered roles that are some aspect of Monique; punks, drifters, intellectuals, and deviants. No complaints here!

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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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
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

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

out now on DVD

 

 

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