CS Interview: Barbara Crampton on strengthening the horror image of Jacob’s wife
After his acclaimed debut on South by Southwest and just in time for its release, ComingSoon.net had the opportunity to meet horror icon Barbara Crampton (Beyond the gates) to discuss her work as the star and producer of Gothic Chiller Jacob’s wifewhich is now in select cinemas and on digital platforms!
RELATED: CS Interview: Stevens & Crampton Talk About Gothic Chiller Jacob’s Wife [SXSW]
ComingSoon.net: Now that you’ve seen the positive response from south to southwest, how does it feel for you to come up with it and see all of this, this praise from the horror community?
Barbara Crampton: It’s a relief, I think, because I’ve dreamed of it for so long. I first read the script five years ago because it won a contest at the Shriekfest Film Festival and he and Denise Gossett who runs that festival and original writer Mark Steensland really loved the story. It was bigger and bolder, so I felt like it was in some ways similar to what I’d gone through in my acting career after not working for a few years. When I was in my mid 30s the phone just stopped ringing and it wasn’t me, I wasn’t offered any parts, I wasn’t auditioned. I had to come back You are the next one, Fortunately, that was a movie that went so well that people noticed me a little more and I was still there. At that point, I returned to my career and really started working more. Now I can say that my character reflects what happened in my own career in my life. That I was kind of away from the business for a while and just didn’t feel part of it anymore and then came back and focused again, a whole world opened up to me. Now I’m really excited to work with all of these young filmmakers and tell amazing stories and I feel like I have some of the best characters I’ve had in my entire career over the past few years, so I am more than I am ever excited about the business.
CS: The last time we spoke for the film, we tried to avoid spoilers, but I think now that we have it I want to talk to you a little more about it. How was it when you first saw Bonnie as the master with Salem’s Los look?
BC: I knew Travis wanted her to have this Nosferatu makeup, he talked to the special effects team about creating that. We were all on set because there wasn’t a makeup test, we were just waiting to get the first look at her and it was adorable and scary and really cool and really bad all at the same time. Bonnie has a way of really transforming herself depending on what type of makeup she is in. She is very valuable as a performer and she really felt like she was living in this makeup forever. When I first saw her about five minutes after the makeup was done, it was really inspiring and a great choice for her as an actress in the movie and in general because we don’t see her often the Nosferatu Vampire. We all loved Salem’s lot and that was one of the inspirations for this film, so Travis really wanted to make The Master look like that, and for her especially, I think it was a good choice.
Click here to rent or buy Jacob’s wife!
CS: How was it to look for your monstrous look or to find it, because in some scenes it’s just the eyes, others just the teeth, some both?
BC: Well, he just wanted me to be like a young version of Bonnie and I just kind of get my teeth wet. So I just had to be a slightly more minimalist version of Bonnie, they kept saying they wanted me to be cute but she’s like a cute young Nosferatu and I’m an older woman so it’s like a rebirth of my character. But she’s still young in her vampiric life so we just wanted the touches and the flashes of it and there is only one scene where my nails really get longer and then I bite the neighbor and try to rip his head off. [laughs]
CS: What were some of your greatest creative challenges in film for you?
BC: My character is going through a transformation. To effectively and realistically bring this transformation to life, and to do so, I had to be the most vulnerable and harshest. First as a kind of character and as a kind of long-suffering housewife who has really lost her zest for life and then something happens to her where she is renewed and youthful. How to play this both physically and emotionally, but mostly I think a physical transformation has to take place and how we wanted to film that. You know, special lighting to make me look different from the beginning of the movie, in the middle and at the end of the movie, and in terms of costume, how we’d present their change and make them look fresh for the second half of the movie . I’m in the movie my age all the time, but I’m going to be a vampire. How can we effect this physical transformation in a visual but also realistic way so that it looks plausible and not looks artificial? We had great teams to make this visually believable. I think that was a challenge especially for Travis, you know, that was really his job to make this complete, but it’s also an inner journey about a woman and it’s not just the physical transformation but the emotional transformation as well how she has a new lust for life that enables her to recapture her youth through history.
CS: How was it to film these bloody sequences?
BC: Exciting and fun, I love special effects, I’ve worked with special effects from the start and I love the way they put everything together, from the latex and the teeth to the blood and the blood. All of that and how everything is put together to hopefully present something beautiful and delicious on the screen. It’s really fun, it’s exciting. I really enjoy it – you know, as much as this movie is about feminism and marriage – the movie is a love letter to the fans and we wanted to give people something they would like to see visually. So those moments on the screen when Naveed bit and there is blood all over the place and I can knock it off the floor like a kitten. We just wanted people to have fun with the movie too.
CS: One thing I found interesting in my conversation with Travis was that he had mentioned the opportunity to explore this world further, whether continuing Anne’s journey or looking back at the Master’s past. What do you think about it since you’ve been behind the development for so long and sitting in the producer’s chair?
BC: I think there is a future, we talked a little bit about it, it really depends on the fans. If fans are seeing more of Jakob and his wife, and want to know more about Bonnie Aaron’s character, who she is from, we definitely have some thoughts on that. I’ve talked about it, and I’ve had a couple of meetings about it, so we’ll see what you think about it and if there’s enough interest there to look at future iterations. But we’d love to continue these characters because we really like them and we think hopefully the audience will like them as much as we do and want to see more of them.
CS: With this film we saw you explore the producing game a little more, but I’m curious to see if you will explore the writer’s or director’s chair in the future?
BC: I don’t know, people ask me this a lot and my answer is that I am really enjoying my beginnings as a producer. I love helping other people realize their dreams and stories and it sounds clichéd but it really is true. I love it when someone sends me a good script and I think, “Paul, this is amazing. I know that I can help you. “They say character is story and story is character, so I’ve studied characters all my life since I was in college, and I feel like that’s why I understand the story. I really like helping people improve their scripts, and I’ve been able to do this with Jacob’s wife, and also with a number of other projects I’m now developing with AMP, the people I’ve sliced with, especially Bob Ford, who is my main producer there. We’ve worked pretty closely together on some projects going forward, so I’m enjoying it a lot and my love for acting has been renewed and rekindled over the last 10 years You are the next one and i love it so much. I want to keep doing that. Adding writing and directing seems to be the kind of thing a lot of very successful young people are doing now, in fact most of the people I’ve worked with You are the next one were hyphens even then. Adam Wingard is an editor and he was the cameraman and director and Ti West was an actor in the film and a producer and writer and director, and everyone in that film did different jobs. So I think there is a possibility that I could do something in the future, but I would probably want to get my feet wet if I maybe direct a short film and see how to do it. But I also know that when you’re a director on a project, you just have to focus your focus on that one project for a couple of years and I don’t have that many years, Grant, I’m up there [laughs]. I enjoy being a dabbler and helping other people make their films. As a producer, I can come and go, and as an actor, I can come and go, but as a director, you really have to focus all your energy on it. Saying that I want to do this isn’t something I want to commit to just yet, but I’m definitely ready to commit to a short film. I am talking to some people about trying to do this in the EU in the near future.
RELATED: CS Video: Victim Interview with Horror Genre Icon Barbara Crampton!
The film revolves around Anne, who is married to a small town minister and feels that her life and marriage have shrunk over the past 30 years. After a chance encounter with “The Master” she discovers a new feeling of power and an appetite to live bigger and braver than before. As Anne becomes increasingly torn between her alluring new existence and her previous life, the number of bodies grows and Jacob realizes that he must fight for the woman he took for granted.
In addition to Crampton (We are still here), the ensemble list for the film includes Larry Fessenden (Stake land), Nyisha Bell (Coming 2 America), Mark Kelly (The hot zone), Sarah Lind (Wolfcop), Robert Rusler (A nightmare on 2 Elm Street, vamp), Bonnie Aarons (The nun, the incantation 2) and Phil Brooks (aka CM Punk, Girls on the third floor).
The horror thriller is judged by Travis Stevens (Girls on the third floor) and co-written by him, Mark Steensland (The Special) and Kathy Charles and is an AMP production produced by Bob Portal (It came from the desert), Inderpal Singh (The hoarder), Crampton and Stevens. RLJE Films is a unit of AMC Networks, while Shudder is the studio’s premium streaming service for horror, thriller and supernatural titles.
Jacob’s wife previously made its debut at SXSW in March and is now available in select cinemas as well as on digital platforms and VOD!