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Actress
Cerina Vincent!!!

Icon of Fright is proud to present an interview with actress Cerina Vincent, who made her debut in the horror genre with CABIN FEVER. She's also appeared in the Anchor Bay release IT WAITS and most recently in RETURN TO HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL with Erik Palladino & Jeffrey Combs. We had a casual chat with her about all of the above and it became quickly obvious that she's just as sweet as she is beautiful. Read on for our FRIGHT exclusive interview with Cerina Vincent! - by Robg. 11/07

What are your earliest recollections of the horror genre? Do you remember the first films to really scare you? What was your introduction into the world of horror?

My introduction into horror was when I was about 9, I went to a slumber party and the parents of this girl decided that it was smart to rent all 3 POLTERGEIST movies! We watched them all at this slumber party and it scared the crap out of me. It really turned me off horror! I was scared to death of everything!

I can see at 9 that being traumatic!

I was young and I remember I got braces and I was scared they were going to attack me. That just put things in my head for years! (Laughs) So, that was my first experience with horror and it kind of turned me off of it because I was a wuss. Then I started working in the genre and of course now I have a whole new appreciation for it.


Is it safe to say because of your experience with POLTERGEIST, you stayed away from horror for a couple of years?

Yeah. Because I really didn’t sleep for a few days. I thought about that movie for years! Totally.

Can you explain a bit about the origins of your acting career? Because I read that you started out as a singer/dancer and also became Miss Teen Nevada in 1996 – how’d that all lead you into acting and was that a difficult transition?

Well, my mom was a ballet teacher so we had a dance studio in the back of our house. So, I grew up dancing around her studio when I was 2 or 3. I would sing and make up skits with my cousins and all that kind of stuff. I wasn’t the best dancer, there’s no way I could’ve gone into that as a career like my mother did. At 12, I was in a theater ensemble, and I did plays and musicals, which is how I started singing. Then I started doing local commercials and at 16, I entered the Miss Nevada Teen contest for some reason, and I went on to Miss Teen USA. Basically what it is, you’re there for a full month shooting a TV show. That broadened my horizons and made me interested in TV and film. After high school, I came out here and it just sort of happened.


It sounds like it was a all very natural progression for you.

Yeah, it was.

You’re in RETURN TO HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL where you play Michelle. You’re character has a lot of ulterior motives that aren’t always exactly clear through out the duration of the picture. What can you tell us about your character of Michelle and what part does she play in the HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL sequel?
Well, Michelle is very self-involved and selfish, which… I guess means the same thing! (Laughs) She uses men to get what she wants, I think she’ll use anything to get what she wants. I feel like she was probably raised very poorly. She’s untrustworthy. The role was actually a challenge for me to be quite honest. I’m obviously not the lead of the film and it’s hard –
But I still wanted to make her somewhat likable, but it was pretty hard, because everything I pretty much said was kind of bitchy. (Laughs) And I don’t think she’s supposed to be likable. It was fun, and the character has a few interesting little twists. There’s some backstabbing. She’s in it for the money. Have you seen the branching scenes yet?


No. I only have the regular DVD and the branching option is only on the HD-DVD! I think that’s such a cool idea. But I only watched it as a straight-forward version of the film.

Yeah, I think that’s what makes the film interesting and more fun. It was confusing as an actor. You look at your role and figure out, “Ok, at the beginning of the script I’m here. By the end of it, I’m here.” You figure out your arc, and if you’re shooting out of sequence, you try to make sure you’re staying within your arc. When you shoot branching scenes (or navigational cinema, as it’s being called), there are added scenes that maybe are different then what your character would do in the regular script. It’s challenging, but it makes it a lot more fun and interesting.


It sounds like such a challenge to have to do a scene and then have to do a completely alternate version of it right after. Did you have any problems doing that? Or was it well prepared in advance?

I think it was a challenge for everyone because we weren’t exactly sure what we were doing when we were shooting it. We couldn’t exactly understand how this was all going to work? But now in hindsight, it’s really cool. It was confusing in the moment to shoot it. Because you shoot a movie out of sequence as is, and then you have to think “Wait, is this scene before branching? Or after branching? Do I have my gun? Do I not?” It’s confusing for everyone, including the prop people or wardrobe. Everyone.
So, it was definitely challenging but totally worth it. I think it adds a little something to the film and makes it a little more interesting.

Did you watch or familiarize yourself with the first movie before you went to work on the sequel?


Oh yeah, I saw it. I hadn’t seen it in a while, but when I got this role, that was the first thing I did was re-watch the first one. I actually didn’t see the original version, which… perhaps I should probably get myself together and watch it since I haven’t yet!

I haven’t seen the original one yet either so don’t feel too bad.

Oh good!
Director Victor Garcia comes from a background with special FX make-up and after doing a short film, this was his first feature length movie. What was your working experience with him like considering this was his first big project debuting as a director?
Ok, first of all before I even walked on the set, I’d heard all these great things about Victor. When I met him, all the things I heard were indeed true and I’d seen his short (film) and he is indeed extremely talented. But what’s also awesome about Victor is that he’s just a really cool guy and a really good person who has a really big heart. I’m excited for him! I think just doing the short with a couple of actors and then getting thrown onto a giant movie studio production and having to direct a ton of us in the film. Three of us were American and we had actors from London, I’m sure it was overwhelming for him, but he did a really good job, and we all really worked together to try to make it work.


I know you have a very brief scene with Jeffrey Combs, but what was it like to meet and work with him? He’s so beloved in the genre and such a great actor! In fact, he’s one of my favorite actors.

Jeffrey Combs is again, so talented but also a really cool guy, and a smart man. Down to earth and funny and warm. I did a brief scene with him in the movie, but I’ve also seen him around at some of the horror conventions. I just really admire him as a human being! (Laughs) Even though we didn’t get a chance to really act together much, it was an honor to be in the same scene with him because I really do admire him.


It’s been about 5 years since you’ve worked on CABIN FEVER…

Oh my God! I’m getting old! (Laughs)

(Laughs) Oh come on! No, you are not! Looking back in retrospect, what about CABIN FEVER stands out for you now when you think back about it?

I mean, honestly? Everything! It’s one of those… It’s rare when you do a job and it changes your life. I’ve done so many projects that no one has seen, and then so many projects that aren’t that good. But CABIN FEVER was just one of those things that from the moment I got the script, I remember everything about it. I remember the audition, I remember first meeting the cast, first meeting Eli.
I remember the first day of shooting. It was one of those films that was just fantastic from the start. I had no idea what it was going to be! But Eli did. (Laughs) He knew. He said this is going to be huge and change your life. I didn’t quite understand that while we were shooting, but he was right. It was a huge success and it did change my life. And I’m really, really grateful for that. I mean, if it wasn’t for that movie, we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now. It was that movie that got me known in the horror genre and got me horror fans and that’s why people want me in their horror movies! (Laughs) I’m grateful for every aspect of it.
The film was shot in 24 days up in North Carolina, which is a fairly short period of time to shoot a movie. Compared to the other films you’ve worked on since, was it difficult because of the budget and time constraints? Or was it a blast? Because it looks like you guys had a great time making it.
It was a blast. It’s always difficult. It was freezing cold, so things like that make it hard. At one point in the production, the crew went on strike, so we were down for a day and didn’t know how we were going to finish the film. There’s always production hurdles like that, but it was just an all out great experience. I mean, I’ve done some other films where disasters happen and you just can’t wait to get off the movie!
And you can’t wait to get over the project, because of the people involved. CABIN FEVER was great, but of course we had obstacles. I remember the dog that wouldn’t work. Then we got a new dog and it turned out to be an attack dog and we were all scared. But in the end, it was all worth it. Obviously.
One of the things that completely freaks me out is the idea of catching something. Especially if it were something like a flesh-eating virus. You obviously have one of the most infamous scenes in the movie when you shave your leg. Can you talk about the making of one of the most gruesome scenes in the movie? Do you remember anything from when you guys shot that?
Oh absolutely. I remember every detail! But yes, me too, one of my biggest fears is catching something. That’s what I really loved about the script. I thought it was interesting that the monster wasn’t a monster, the monster was a virus. The leg shaving scene was incredibly difficult to shoot, but it was one of those things I was excited about because I knew it was going to be a cool scene. I was sitting in a bathtub in the middle of a sound stage at 4am, it was 2 degrees in the sound stage and minus 20 in the water, and I was naked.
The bathtub was dirty and bloody and disgusting! It was very awkward to shoot. It was obviously a very emotional scene, but it was also very technical, the reveal of the prosthetic. I remember disagreeing with Eli saying, “When we shave our legs, we look at our legs! Women look to see where they’re shaving!” And he said, “I know! But… we’re not going to be doing that here. You have to be so in your own zone, and not paying attention.” And I thought, “Well, wouldn’t it hurt?” And so, it was hard to shoot! Just to get the acting right and the emotion right.
Technically it was difficult because of the position I was in and the fact that it was cold and I was naked and everyone was watching! But… it turned out really great.

What a great pay off though when you see that scene with an audience and hear the reaction that people have! I cringe!


Yeah, and that’s obviously the editor and Eli (Laughs). And the make-up. A lot of people went into making that scene great.
After you finished CABIN FEVER, you and Jordan Ladd went on to shoot a few short films with David Lynch for his web content. What was the experience like working with David Lynch? I know Eli worked with him for a very long time.

Yeah, that’s true! It was amazing. Amazing! Eli introduced us to him, and Jordan and I got coffee at Lynch’s house. David was like, “Ya know what? I want to shoot something with you guys!” I didn’t really believe it! I couldn’t imagine why he’d want to work with me! (Laughs) But it was true. I remember Eli called me said, “Ok, you’re going to shoot something with David tomorrow.” And I’m like, “Tomorrow?! What are we shooting?” “I don’t know. He’ll get in touch with you and give you your lines and script.” He faxed over these pages, this scene that made absolutely no sense to me.
(Laughs) It was brilliantly written, but I had no idea what any of it meant and I called my acting couch and was working with her until midnight, and then went in the next day and did it with him. He said, “That’s great, Cerina! Now… do the whole scene completely monotone. I don’t want you to move at all!” (Laughs) His direction was just fascinating to watch. You just trust him and he has such a warm heart and he’s very hands on – he’s everything you think that he would be. He’s just a genius and a really cool human being. That goes down as one of my favorite things I’ve ever done in this business.


There’s no other filmmaker out there like David Lynch. That’s awesome that you got to work with him. You were also in another horror movie called IT WAITS…

Yesssss?

Your character of Danielle has quite an interesting story arc that she goes through from the beginning of the film to the end of the film. Plus, you have a monster to deal with, literally! How did you approach working on IT WAITS? It was a lead role for you, and the majority of the film weighs on you.
I’m really grateful for that film, because it was my first lead. It was pretty much me in that movie, with that monster and that bird. (Laughs) Um, it was a lot of work. Psychically. We shot in Vancouver and it was freezing and we were shooting nights and I was really sick the whole film.
I’m grateful for that film because it gave me the opportunity to show myself that I can carry a film and how hard it is to do that, and how much work goes into that. I really took a lot away personally from that experience. I worked really hard and it is what it is. It’s obviously not brilliant or life-changing. (Laughs) But it was a life-changing experience personally for me.
Well, the coolest thing about the movie (besides you of course) was the creature design! Please tell me you took pictures with that thing?

Oh, I did! I did. I need to find them. But they did a fantastic job with the monster. They spent a lot of time and a lot of money on it. It was really cool in person. It was really scary in person. If you could’ve been on set and seen what that monster looked like in the dark, in the rain, in the middle of a forest, it was really cool.


You’ve done several convention appearances through out the past couple of years. What’s the convention experience like from your perspective?

I had heard that these conventions existed but I had no idea what they were or how to get involved! It just sort of happened. So the first one was shocking to me. I’d never been to a convention before or seen anything like it. I think there’s a lot of people and a lot of actors that have mixed feelings about going to them, but I like it because you get so caught up living in this city, living in LA and this business and auditioning and almost getting parts and then not. Booking parts and having them be recast. It’s hard!
So for one weekend you can go away and remember again why you are working, and remember why you are in this business and that’s having a chance to meet your fans. There are some times when I feel completely insignificant, and it is a really hard business and it is hard to get from A to B, or B to A. So, when you get to go and have conversations with the people that are actually the reason why we work, it makes me happy. It makes me feel this is the reason why we do this, which is to meet these people.

Well, I think I can speak for the whole horror community when I say that we’re very lucky to have such a beautiful actress working in our genre, and such a nice gal coming to the conventions to meet us. I appreciated it.

Awwwww!


Although I myself have yet to meet you at a convention! I keep missing you.

Oh we’ll meet! We’ll figure it out! We always end up crossing paths.

Last question, what scares you and what are among your favorite horror movies?

Oh, good question! Well, POLTERGEIST scares me.
Never got over that one, did ya?

No! My favorite horror movies of recently? – and it’s not because I know Eli, but it’s the HOSTEL’s. 1 and 2. I think they’re great. They’re a lot of fun. I’m really happy for him and I really thoroughly enjoy those movies. THE SHINING, obviously is fantastic. That goes down as one of my favorites, and again I really enjoyed the last 2 HOSTEL’s. In real life, my fear is bugs! In any form.


I agree. I hate bugs. Mosquitoes are the most useless creature on the planet, I don’t understand mosquitoes. Cerina, thank you so much for your time.

Oh totally! Thank you, Robert. Great meeting you over the phone.


Special thanks to Tracy Galermo!

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