Quantcast ICONS Interview with actress Jordan Ladd - GRACE, CABIN FEVER, DEATH PROOF

Jordan Ladd!

It's kinda hard not to crush on Jordan Ladd when you're sitting across from her & spending about 5 minutes just talking about the forgotten art of making a "mix tape". But here we are and with limited time, we jumped right into her experiences portraying Madeline, the mother that would do anything for her baby GRACE. No stranger to the genre, Ladd also worked with another 1st time director on a little movie called CABIN FEVER. We chatted about the challenges of tackling such a complex & emotional role, working with Paul Solet & shooting in Canada. Read on! -by Robg. 8/09

What were your initial reactions to reading the script for GRACE? You’ve done some genre stuff in the past such as CABIN FEVER, so I’d imagine you probably got offered a lot of horror stuff after that. What was it about this that made you return to the genre?

I’ve had a fairly strict “no horror” policy (after CABIN FEVER), not that I don’t like the genre! By default by working in it, I’ve become a fan. Because all the filmmakers I’ve worked with supply me with the (genre) movies that they dig. For GRACE, it was really a compelling piece about a woman’s love gone wrong. How loving too much can be self destructive and it was something that in my own personal life I was exploring anyway - About self preservation and not over nurturing people. So it really spoke to me. And of course, when I read it, I didn’t want to like it. I didn’t want to have to do it. But I got to page 17 and I was already working, unbeknownst to me, I’m already working on the character in my head. I got to the end of the script and I thought ‘OK. I have to meet this guy. Because I want to say no. But if I say no, and somebody screws this up, squanders this opportunity, or somebody gets it and I look and think shoot, why didn’t I do this?!’ (Laughs)
So you felt you just had to meet the guy who wrote this script?

Yeah. I needed to meet him and I just needed to know – ‘Do you need to tell this story, Because there is carnage and suspense and these moments that ensue out of your allegiance to this story OR is it that you need a story because you love the gags? Does this story supply a reason for you to hack people up & use lots of blood and all that stuff. There’s a difference to me. I can’t work in something at this point after working in the genre – I can’t work on something where there’s a body count or a lot of blood, just for the sake of it. And he told me that that was just a part of telling this story. That was a big thing for me. We sat down for what I thought was going to be a 30 minute meeting, and we sat for 4 hours until his car got towed! We talked about love gone wrong, and excessive love and self love and family dynamics and co-dependency. And I was amazed that someone, a man could write something so sensitive and then speak about these subject matters, because it’s rare to come across that just in life, someone who’s engaged in relationship dynamics. So that was really the clincher, meeting & talking to Paul. We had a good rapport going and a real understanding of who these people were, specifically my character.
Although I was hesitant to take it because I’m not a mom. I’ve never given birth, I don’t know how that is. I didn’t want to get it wrong. And he assured me that those feelings are universal, I mean I’ve never had a kid. And he said “Well, I’ve never had a kid either, but I was able to write this. We’re going to figure this out together. Both of us as non-mom’s. You can do it!” We really went to those places and unfortunately I had to live there for a while, which was uncomfortable. But I needed to do it. I needed a place to get those feelings out, because they existed inside me. Every actress brings something to a character that they can really purge their soul into. This gave me permission.

What’s interesting about this movie, unlike most genre stuff, this really focuses on the characters. There’s no particular “villain” in this movie. Of course, we’re sympathetic to your character Madeline. But at that same time, I understand the motivations of Vivian or Dr. Sohn or Patricia. Everybody in this film wants something they can’t have. They each want what’s best for the baby. Was it difficult to find who Madeline was for you? Did you incorporate people you knew to play it?

It was not difficult to find Madeline at all. Madeline was finding me! As soon as I made the decision in my mind that I was going to do this project, I became flooded with ideas, where I started sleeping with a pad and a pen next to the bed. I was surfing the internet a lot. I read a lot about Sharon Tate and what kind of mother she would have been, had she had the opportunity. And I mean, that’s a very dark notion. But she was a reference point for me.

Had you seen the short film version of GRACE before this?

No, no…
Did you avoid it because obviously a different actress (Liza Weil) portrayed Madeline in the short & you didn’t want it to interfere with how you were going to play it?

No, I didn’t avoid it! I wanted to see it and Paul said, ‘You can’t see it. It’s got to come from with inside you.’ There was one moment where I unintentionally felt influenced (by the short). I had seen the making-of the short film version of GRACE…
By Adam Barnick! Whom by the way, says hello…

I heart Adam Barnick so much! He’s such a rad dude! I had seen his making-of from the short. It really gave me more of a sense of what Paul’s set would be like. Liza (Weil) obviously had a take on Madeline and it was a very strong take. Paul however said I shouldn’t watch the short, so I watched the making-of.
And there was one shot that he kept from the short specifically that I had seen in the making-of, which was where the camera travels over Madeline’s body right after the car accident & she’s bleeding. I had a big day, I had my headphones on and I’d been balling my eyes out all morning, not talking to anyone. There were maybe one or two days where I had to shut everyone out and really be in that character. And so I’m doing all this preparation, I get to set, I’m crying, tears streaming down my face, I’m laying in the bed. And all of a sudden, I feel the camera traveling above me, and I’m visualizing Liza! I’m comparing what I’m doing to Liza, and everything just stopped for me.
Thank God, he didn’t show me what she did, because I would subconsciously feel that I wasn’t honoring that or that I wasn’t good enough. I’d feel as if my allegiance wasn’t to her performance, and that would’ve been really complicated for me to even approach this when someone else had put their signature on it already. I still haven’t seen the short! But I’m curious to see it now since all is said and done. (Laughs)
It was necessary for Madeline to come from inside me and for me to not have a point of reference other then my own imagination and my own heart. I used Paul’s script for things to draw upon. Madeline just starting chasing me down, I was non-stop all night. I’d call Paul saying ‘What are you doing to me? I’m up all night, scribbling ideas!’ (Laughs) He was doing the same thing.

You’ve worked with first time directors before, obviously Eli Roth on CABIN FEVER. What was the experience like with Paul as a first time director compared to your previous films?

Paul was a really interesting first time director and I honestly can’t compare him to anybody. Eli Roth was so different as a first time director. Its apples and oranges. For neither one of them did it seem like it was their first project. And technically it wasn’t, they’d both worked creatively on shorts before. So they were both comfortable on the set. But they’re so enormously different. GRACE was an intimate story, Paul’s more of an introvert. Eli’s an extrovert. That was a lot of fun, it was a big party for CABIN FEVER. GRACE was very serious. Somber for me a lot of the time. Sometimes we’d joke around of course, but underneath it all, it was a tough piece of material. With someone as sobering and serious as Paul, he kept it in that place for me, so it was interesting. I can’t compare them! They’re so different and the stories are so different.
I’ve heard a lot about the shoot in Moose Jaw, Canada. Adam Green’s told us a few stories about bar fights? You however are absent from all these late night tales. What were you up to in the after hours when you guys weren’t shooting?

I stayed in Regina! So I had to drive an hour and a half to work every morning. It was simply because I was in Regina already, I had unpacked my room and my dogs, and my dogs toys and my stuff and my groceries. We had 6 day weeks, so when everyone did the move on a Sunday, I just thought ‘I’m not going to make it. I need to sleep the whole day and do laundry’ and I didn’t make it. I just stayed behind and slept when I could! That’s why I’m not included in their escapades in Moose Jaw!
GRACE Red-Band Trailer:

Jordan main image: © 2009 Casey Rodgers/WireImage

Stills from Grace: Alan Fieldel

Jordan with poster image © 2009 AFI Dallas

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