In a way, Kirby Johnson is her own movie special effect. An actress/gymnast/model/contortionist, she can mold her body into some very surprising shapes, and it's work that can be quite freaky. Few in the world might know this better now than Shay Mitchell, the star of the new horror film The Possession Of Hannah Grace, as she got a front row seat to just how scary Johnson's special talent can be. She recently told me,
She is pretty phenomenal as an actress, as a contortionist, she killed it - literally! And she frightened me quite a bit. You know, being in the elevator and shooting that whole scene with her was a little terrifying, just because I felt like she transformed when they called action. As we all do, but because there were so many different body movements with what she's doing, you really feel it in the scene.
With The Possession Of Hannah Grace arriving in theaters this Friday, I recently had the chance to sit down with Shay Mitchell to talk about her work on the film, and first subject discussed was about what it was like sharing a set with Kirby Johnson. Mitchell's character sees Johnson do some pretty crazy things in the movie (she plays a possessed/undead corpse, after all), and apparently the performance was more than enough to slightly unnerve her even when the cameras weren't rolling.
In the Diederik Van Rooijen-directed film, Kirby Johnson plays the titular Hannah Grace, who we meet at the start of the film at the center of an exorcism. The whole thing goes horribly wrong, leaving the young woman dead, and it's how she winds up crossing paths with Megan Reed (Shay Mitchell). Hannah's body is delivered to a morgue the first night that Megan is working the graveyard shift as an attendant, and it becomes very clear very quickly that while Hannah's body might be seriously disfigured and not breathing, that doesn't mean that she's not insanely dangerous.
Fortunately, because The Possession Of Hannah Grace is a horror movie it actually made sense for Shay Mitchell to be a bit afraid of Kirby Johnson, as wound up adding a bit of extra realism to the actresses' performance. That being said, even in between calls of "Cut" and "Action" Mitchell still found herself feeling uncomfortable around Johnson when she was decked out in her full prosthetic makeup. She explained,
It was a little creepy, you know. With all the prosthetics and her neck thing, I'd just be like, 'Oh, okay. And I'm good.' All that stuff creeps me out in general. Even seeing it on screen. But to see it in real life, yeah, it was terrifying.
And when you go see The Possession Of Hannah Grace you'll definitely have a better understanding.
To hear all about Shay Mitchell's creepy experience working alongside Kirby Johnson, be sure to click play on the video interview below -- and take note that the room we're in is not just a well-dressed hotel suite. We actually filmed the interview in a real morgue! Enjoy!