Q) What are the recent projects that you have been working on?
A) I just got back from Portland where I filmed a really cool show for Facebook Watch. It’s a horror show called “The Birch” and it has to do with bullying. Be careful if you’re a bully! Something is going to getcha!
Q) How was your character Tara Brenner from the film Into the Ashes originally described to you?
A) As a rose among thorns. I was intrigued. Then, they were like, “Alabama.” I was like, “Yes!” My friend Brady Smith has a wonderful role in the movie actually called me and asked me if I wanted to be a part of it because he’s really good friends with the director, Aaron Harvey. I got to act on screen with one of my buddies and that’s something you don’t always get to do, but it was one of the best things ever! I have always been trying to get to that since Wet Hot American Summer since all of them were old friends and I was watching all of them and thinking, “That looks so much fun!” You can make friends on movies and they are your new friends and you have a lot of fun, but when you have an old friendship with someone and then you get to be on set with them – it just feels different and it’s amazing.
Q) Was there anything you added to the role that wasn’t in the initial breakdown for her?
A) Oh! That’s a fun question. I’m sure. Inevitably you are going to bring yourself to it, which is a little bit of a different flavor than what is on the page. But I think that’s a better question for the director than me. I honestly can’t remember. Tara and I are one now, girl!
Q) What did you find challenging about the role?
A) She’s definitely a girl from another area of the country and Birmingham has a whole other vibe than Southern California. So, I called my friend Megan who is from the town that we shot in and had some good long talks. She told me, “Go sit at this counter and have a cherry limeade. You’ll soak up all that Birmingham has to offer.”
Q) Is that how you found the accent as well?
A) Absolutely! Listening. Trying to assimilate as fast as possible anywhere I am. Also, I recorded my friend Megan doing some of the material, which was also super fun. [laughs] She’s not an actress so she was a really good sport.
Q) Talk about building chemistry with costar Luke Grimes.
A) The second I touched down in Alabama I called Luke and he was like, “Meet met at this address.” We got together and spent as much time together as we could, but we kind of had to jump into pretty quickly. We spent a lot of time texting music back and forth to each other to try to build up some sort of a vibe.
Q) Was there something that director Aaron Harvey mentioned while filming that you took to heart?
A) He gave me a list of reference films that were pertinent to the overall tone of the movie like A History of Violence, Deer Hunter and Foxcatcher (which I was hoping was more for tone).
Q) How did you shake off a long day of filming?
A) Well, my buddy Brady and I were staying at the same hotel so we’d just go out. The whole city of Birmingham has a beautiful record of the journey of civil rights. We went for ribs. We went for our cherry limeade. We went all over town just soaking up everything that Birmingham is about.
Q) What do you think it is about Into the Ashes that stands out to you?
A) I think what I liked most about the movie is that it tells the tale of how hard it is to avoid our base human impulses. It does it in a great genre. It seems like Goodfellas, but from a different part of the country. I like films that kind of explore what makes us human, what makes us vulnerable and what are strengths and weaknesses. But I also love a beautifully shot movie piece to kind of give an overall complexity to the stuff that we all see.
Q) You’ve an incredible and lengthy career as an actress. What were some of your favorite projects to work on?
A) Well, I just saw the rough cut of a movie I finished at Christmas called Monuments, which I’m super excited about. It’s got a real camp feel to it. I did it with Jack C. Newell who is an awesome director out of Chicago and he runs the film department at Second City. One of my favorite characters is definitely Linda from “Shameless,” Katie from “Wet Hot,” Connie from Mighty Ducks and absolutely Dr. Emma Marling from “Grey’s Anatomy.” That was so fun to be on that show because I was a fan. I was like, “Uh…I just walked into one of my favorite shows. And now Christina Yang (Sandra Oh) is yelling at me. This is amazing!” She was like, “I’m so sorry I’m yelling at you on your first day!” I said, “Are you kidding me?! I just got ‘Yang’d!’ I’m in heaven!” She was like, “Yang’d! That’s amazing!” [laughs] I was like, “Later I get to say “Derek” and “Meredith” on camera!” That was crazy to me and so cool! Also, it was just fun to play that role. I wish that her and Owen (Kevin McKidd) had figured it out, but they didn’t. She always saw the best in him.
Q) You were a part of the iconic film The Mighty Ducks. What did you personally take way from your time on these films?
A) It was so incredibly special to get to be a part of something that took up pretty much my entire high school year. I kind of got to have two high school experiences – one in my normal high school and then kind of one with the Ducks. We all kind of went through that time together. That was in addition to get to make these movies that were so much fun! We kind of didn’t know at the beginning what it was going to turn out like. Just celebrating recently with everybody at the actual arena in Anaheim and getting to show my son, “This is what your mom is about. You might not understand it now.” But it was incredibly special and I feel very lucky and privileged to have been a part of that. Thank you to Disney, Jordan Kerner (the producer) and all the directors. It was incredibly special for a kid!
Q) Have all of you kept in touch much?
A) Oh yeah! We all keep in touch. We see each other from time to time and I hear how some of the others are doing whom I see more regularly. It’s nice! We have a plan to get together in New York at one of their houses and we all just really recognize it was this special thing that brought us together.
Q) What would you like to say to everyone who is a fan and supporter of you and the work you do?
A) Thank you very much! Let me know what else you want to see and I’ll work on it. But thank you. It’s an honor and privilege to get to do what I do and I love it when I hear from people and have that back and forth about what they are going through or what they responded to. It’s really nice.