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
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.
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
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
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?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
National Lampoonís Pledge This is the most cringeworthy
movie Iíve ever seen. Like not even funny bad,
like need-to-take-a-shower-after bad.
Facebook, whatever else?
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!