It’s been a creatively productive several years for actress Camilla Luddington, thanks to her work on Grey’s Anatomy as well as playing the indomitable Lara Croft in last year’s acclaimed videogame Tomb Raider (Rise of the Tomb Raider is set for 2015). If you’re into thrillers, her next choice might be up your alley.
With The Pact 2, Luddington is June Abbott, a crime-scene cleaner and emotionally complex artist who may hold a connection to the Judas Killer (the murderer featured in The Pact). There’s a valid reason why June immerses herself in a world of shadows, and though directors Dallas Richard Hallam and Patrick Horvath aren’t afraid to spill a little blood in The Pact 2 (the picture opens Friday), many of the film’s scares surface from the atmospheric unease that surrounds June’s universe.
During our conversation, Luddington talked about her love of horror films and creating a backstory for her character on The Pact 2. She also elaborates on why she loves getting feedback from Grey’s Anatomy and Tomb Raider fans.
Luddington was gracious and refreshingly gregarious throughout the chat, and when artists are filled with good intentions, one can only hope for their continued success.
What led you to The Pact 2? Was it the narrative or simply the chance to work with the filmmakers?
Well first off, I’m a huge horror movie fan. My family members are all huge horror movie fans. We grew up watching Halloween and the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre and even kind of odd movies like the French film Martyrs.
I had an interest in doing a horror movie and I was approached about (The Pact 2) during the summer of my hiatus off of Grey’s Anatomy and I was asked to meet the directors. The first thing I did was watch (The Pact) which I really loved and I loved Caity Lotz’s performance.
(The Pact 2 directors Hallam and Horvath) were super passionate and they had a clear idea of what they wanted to do with the movie. I’m always attracted to characters are in no way bimbos or kind of perfect – a little bit tortured, which is what June is. That conversation led to a chemistry reading with Scott Michael Foster (he plays June’s police officer boyfriend) and it kind of went from there.
What was the key to creating June? Much of her world is an interior one, as she often internalizes her feelings and works them out through her drawings.
It was very fortunate for me. I went home to England for a couple of weeks and I got to sit with the script. When I came back, I had maybe four or five days with the directors before shooting, which doesn’t always happen. It was really nice. I spent that time in England just asking a million questions about her backstory.
So a lot of her backstory and the choices I made for the character came out of those meetings – and it really helped inform me. June isn’t very emotional necessarily. She channels a lot of her inner conflicts through her comics and her drawings. That was really fun to play, but again I had a lot of questions about her backstory and it kind of all got answered in those five days.
Sometimes the (directors) didn’t have the answer and we would discuss what would make sense for her, or where I thought she was coming from. It was definitely fun to have that and it informed (the character) while filming.
As a film geek and actress, do you see more opportunities thanks to VOD and streaming? Is there more interesting material out there to explore?
I think so, and especially with the found footage films which started really with The Blair Witch Project, from what I remember. It’s encouraging people to pick up a camera and go and write their own material. There are lots of horror movies that are taking the opportunity to do their own stuff. For example, V/H/S – some of the stuff that comes out are really incredible and they’re done for no money and are very entertaining. (Just) being to get your hands on incredible technology for a very cheap price.
It’s really interesting for an actress and a horror movie fan to sit back and watch all the films that are coming out and see what people create. Even things like Slender Man, which was created over the internet, that’s interesting to me that something can go viral like that and sort of become part of pop culture and then urban legend. That’s just someone creating with exposure and the light. So yeah, there’s just a lot of great stuff out there.
Whether it’s being gutsy in taking on Lara Croft, your recurring work on Californication, or pushing the envelope with The Pact 2, it seems you love taking on new challenges as an actress.
I assume that every actor wants to do that. I’ve definitely done fantasy – I played a faerie on True Blood. I played Kate Middleton (William & Kate). Then I played this ridiculous, wonderful character on Californication and Lara Croft and now a doctor (on Grey’s Anatomy).
Part of it is me seeking out these projects and part of it is luck, to be honest. Because you go out for a lot of things that you like and you kind of just pray that you fit.
There are things that I turn down that I think won’t help in the longevity of my career. It’s always important to change it up as an actress. So yeah, a lot of thought goes into what I’ll audition for and meetings that I will take with directors. I hope that continues, because I feel very lucky so far.
I was a huge Grey’s Anatomy fan but I checked out when Lexie Grey (Chyler Leigh) left the show…
Oh no! I know…
On that note, you’re obviously working with a great writing staff and ensemble with Grey’s Anatomy, but what has it been like to also be in contact with the show’s loyal fans?
First off, it’s incredible. It’s in its 11th season. It blows my mind. The only experience I’ve had with fans this passionate are probably the Tomb Raider fans. They are absolutely exceptional – I have to say.
It’s very interesting with Grey’s Anatomy and having access (to the fans) with Twitter and Instagram because I feel very old, actually (laughs). They informed me of what “shipping” is, which I never knew. I don’t know if you know the term . . .
No I don’t.
Shipping is when you support two people getting into a relationship. I remember first getting on the show and people saying ‘Oh I ship Alex and Jo.’ I thought ‘ship them where?’ I was so confused (laughs), So I feel like the fans are keeping me young a little bit because they are so passionate.
What’s happening now are girls on the street who are 16 or 17 – they’re huge fans of Grey’s Anatomy and they would have been 6 or 7 when the show started. People are catching up and binge watching on Netflix. It’s incredible interacting with everybody and especially this younger generation that have newfound passion for the show. It’s pretty incredible.
Has working on Tomb Raider made you a better actress? Plus, playing one of videogames’ most iconic and beloved characters must be such a gratifying experience.
First of all, I didn’t know I was specifically auditioning for Tomb Raider. It had a codename of Krypted, and her name was Sarah. So when I got the role, I was blown away that I was getting to play Lara Croft. And yeah, she is iconic so it’s an honor to be part of the reboot.
Physically and emotionally, Tomb Raider pushed me more than any other project. She is often in the depths of despair and very interesting things happen when you’re at that point. The directors for Tomb Raider are constantly pushing me in that role because it’s very difficult. I’ve been able to explore a lot as an actress playing Lara Croft.
#mova being applied #tombraider #laracroft #bonuspicforIG
I recently interviewed Patrick Fischler (The Pact 2 co-star) and he was talking about the ability to snap in and out of a role – as long as it’s not a big emotional scene. Do you have that same facility?
I have to say I work a little bit different. I adore Patrick – he’s amazing. I got to work with him on Californication and The Pact 2. When scenes are a little bit heavy, or if I’m doing something where I’m having a fight with my boyfriend in a scene, I find it difficult to be laughing or joking with them beforehand. I do like to separate myself.
But that’s not for everything. Sometimes you are playing really lighthearted stuff and that’s great. I can joke around with people and then jump into the scene. Sometimes when things are really dark, I enjoy that ride home in my car just to kind of shake that emotion off. I do think you can carry that with you. At least I can.
When people ask you for acting advice, what do you say? Is perseverance an important part of what you do?
Yeah, I think you get told that all the time. We hear that as something that’s common – of course everyone says that. But one thing that was a practical piece of advice I’d give actors is that oftentimes, especially when you’re starting out, you feel in an audition that you . . . I always felt like if I did a scene once and I knew I could do better and the casting director says ‘Okay thanks, goodbye’ – I never wanted to ask if I could do it again. (It would look like) I didn’t know what I was doing.
Now I realize it was the most ridiculous thing to think. It’s so important to make that time in the audition room your own. If you want to go again, ask to go again. Even if you’re halfway through your scene but you’re feeling that if you start over, you’ll get it. It’s so important to feel empowered in the audition room. That’s my advice to actors.
You’ve played your share of emotionally resilient characters. Where do you get sense of strength and confidence from? Is that a quality gained from experience, or was that already ingrained from your family?
I think of course experience always helps. You become a stronger actor the more you have that on set experience. And then there are elements of myself that I bring to all of my characters. Anything that is perceived as strong is probably the result of my family. They always instilled a lot of confidence in me, and that’s why I felt I could persevere in acting because I had the attitude of not letting things get to me. So maybe that’s it. But I do think it’s a mix of both.
The Pact 2 opens in New York and select cities Friday, October 10 and expands to Los Angeles on October 31. For more release info, check out IFC Films.