Interview: The Ward's Lyndsy Fonseca
Lyndsy Fonseca has been around for quite a while, but over the past few years, her career isn’t just on the rise, but on a rocket. In 2010 we saw her in Hot Tub Time Machine, the a few months later as Katie in Kick-Ass and now she’s about to get to work on the sophomore season of the CW show Nikita. She’s certainly been busy, but nestled in there was yet another feature film, John Carpenter’s The Ward.
After wrapping Hot Tub Time Machine, Fonseca stepped into the North Bend Psychiatric Hospital as Iris, a rather intelligent and welcoming resident eagerly awaiting what she hopes to be her final evaluation. However, when a young woman named Kristen (Amber Heard) is thrown into the ward, strange things start to happen and the girls realize it’s not their freedom they need to be fighting for, but their lives.
Not only is The Ward Fonseca’s very first horror film, but it’s her first horror film with renowned director John Carpenter. Perhaps it was intimidating at one point, but now, Fonseca has only the best to say about Carpenter, attributing quite a bit of this fantastic experience to him. With The Ward’s July 8th release fast approaching, Fonseca took the time to chat about working on the film, her upcoming projects, the status of Kick-Ass 2 and even a little about The Hunger Games.
(And yes Nikita fans, I am now kicking myself for starting to watch the show after conducting this interview rather than before. Oh well; until San Diego Comic Con! For now, check out my interview with Fonseca on The Ward.)
Let’s start with the beginning; how’d you land the role? Did you audition?
I got sent the script and I really responded to it, I loved it. I had a meeting with John Carpenter and we just talked and really hit it off and then that was that! He was just a really great guy and I was really lucky that he liked me. [Laughs]
Were you always going for Iris?
Yeah, definitely. I think John thought that I fit that role very well and I kind of respected that idea of his. When I read it, I kind of read it for Iris and I loved her, so yeah.
What was it about her that you connected to?
I liked that she tries to see the positivity in everything. She would try to stay positive and see the beauty in everybody and just try and get out. I kind of liked that.
Once you got the role, what kind of preparation did you do? Anything beyond rehearsing?
Yeah, my mom’s a psychologist, so I talked to her a lot about the nature of the film. I don’t want to give anything away, you know?
For sure. So what was your rehearsal process like then? Did you even have time to rehearse?
Yeah, we had very little time, but yeah, John was really cool. We did a lot of table reads and talking about it and it was a really collaborative feel. John really brought all the girls together to kind of be on the same page with this.
What kind of actor’s director is he? Is he really hands on or does he let you take the reins?
No, he’s very hands on and knows exactly what he wants and you get two takes to do it. [Laughs] He’s very fast and because he’s been doing it for so long, you know that he knows what he’s doing. He doesn’t spend a lot of time like a lot of directors I’ve worked with blocking things or rehearsing things. We didn’t have the luxury of a big budget film. We all were doing it kind of for our passion project. Once we got to set, we filmed. [Laughs]
How was it working on that set? It’s a functioning mental hospital, right?
Yeah, we were actually filming in an abandoned building, but we were at a real mental institution for the criminally insane, so it was a very big complex of different buildings and grounds and stuff. The building that we were in wasn’t up and running, but our trailers were right outside the building, so it was a little creepy.
Is it good for you to work in a location that is so close to the material?
Oh, yeah! John’s the best at that kind of claustrophobic, small space horror films. He really thrives in that kind of genre and I think being in the actual place with the real paint peeling off and everything like that, really gave us an authentic feel.
Were you familiar with his work beforehand? Did you kind know what you were getting yourself into?
Definitely. I love Halloween and I love The Thing. I think those are my two favorite John movies. Yeah, I know what I was getting involved with. [Laughs]
And how about the horror genre in general? Do you enjoy them? Do they keep you up at night?
No, I didn’t. It was my first horror movie, but I didn’t because, you know, there were so many girls in this movie and after work we’d just all go get a drink, grab dinner or something and laugh it off. I don’t think anyone took work home with them.
Can you tell me about working with your co-cast? Anyone have any particular methods of working you had to adjust to?
John definitely set a tone for the working environment and the kind of professionalism. I had just come off Hot Tub Time Machine and I remember being like, ‘I love working with guys!’ I’d just done this crazy comedy with all these older guys, which was really awesome and I was definitely a little hesitant to go into a film with a bunch of young girls. And it was awesome because, like I said, you kind of step up to the plate for John, you know?
Sounds like you girls got close off set, so how did that relationship effect your on set work? Your characters aren’t exactly the best of friends.
We were in Spokane, Washington, we were all in the same hotel, we were filming in a mental institution, we were all young girls in our early 20s and we’d all been working for a long time. It’s Laura-Leigh’s first film, but she’s been to Julliard. So everyone’s kind of been there, you know? It was just a really cool experience and I really do thank John for the way that he created the film in a sense that when we all got there we had table reads and we had rehearsals, we talked as a cast and he didn’t make anyone out to be better than anyone else. He was really into creating a really fun working environment, which was so cool. And it was about the work. Everyone involved, we were really passionate about making it a good movie.
He seems incredibly organized.
He is! He’s the most organized. Literally, you walk on the set, he’s already got the shot set up, boom boom, you just bang through it. He’s just very very responsible.
MAJOR SPOILER ALERT
Clearly this will need a major spoiler warning, but can you tell me about shooting your death scene? It’s certainly one of the tensest scenes in the entire film.
It was crazy. John was actually the one holding the equipment, the needle that goes through my eye, because he didn’t trust anyone else holding it that close to my eye because we actually had to use a real pointy object because when it was up close, you could tell the rubber one was fake. So, yeah, John was actually the one killing me in the movie [laughs], because he didn’t trust anyone else to be careful enough, which was very sweet. So it was crazy. My throat from screaming all day was just done.
So what’s it like preparing for a scene like that as compared to one of the ones in the common room when you’re with the other girls?
I think the key to that story was keeping it real because it wasn’t just about a ghost. This was a case of multiple personality disorder, so it was about keeping it realistic. Each one of us believes that what’s happening to them is fully real. I had to remind myself it wasn’t like, ‘Oh, a ghost!’ It’s like, ‘Holy crap, this thing is going to kill me,’ and I think you just kind of remember the reality of that. John was really trusting. He trusted all of us as actors really well, so I never really felt pressure from him, which was really nice.
END MAJOR SPOILER ALERT
So now I know you’re pretty busy with Nikita, but how about with your film career? Anything planned?
I actually just finished a television movie for Lifetime called Project Five about breast cancer and it’s a really meaningful project for me. I finished that a couple weeks ago and then I leave for Nikita this week actually.
I know you get this quite a bit as I’ve read some of your thoughts, but, as a fan, I have to ask, what’s the fate of Kick Ass 2? Will we ever see it?
I have no idea. You know, it’s interesting; I think the fans kind of took it upon themselves to create this mystery or this rumor of a Kick Ass 2, but as far as I know, there’s not a script and, you know, I think everyone’s probably down to do it if it were to come up, but right now everyone’s kind of busy.
And not to beat a dead horse, but how about The Hunger Games? Clearly you’re not Katniss, but this is a multiple film franchise and there are many more great roles to be cast, so are you still considering that?
You know, I literally had the most incredible experience auditioning for that because I got to go to the director’s house and Gary was just the nicest – he has a studio in his house and, you know, I played a lot with the casting director and, I don’t know. It was a really fun world to get involved with and meeting him was just – I just felt very honored that I got as far as I did, so I would definitely work with him at some point. He just was lovely, so it was a really fun experience.
Have you read all three books?
Yeah, I have actually. They’re fantastic!
How about Johanna in the next book? I think you should go for that one!
Okay, thank you! Thanks so much! Yeah, my friend Leven [Rambin] is playing Glimmer, so I’m really happy for her.
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