Horror n Chill caught up with actor, writer, and producer Camille Hollett-French. Camille is the star of the horror film Kingdom Come. Besides acting, writing, and producing, Camille is a huge horror fan. In this exclusive interview we talk to Camille about everything horror.
What horror movies have influenced you as an actor?
Camille Hollett-French: I’ve always been into anything post-apocalyptic. Anything zombies. I can never find enough zombies! 28 Days Later is maybe my absolute favorite horror movie. Smart, thought-provoking, suspenseful—that’s what I like.
Then there’s House on Haunted Hill, The Haunting, Planet Terror—Oh! The Blair Witch Project. Paranormal Activity. And then you’ve got stuff like Earnest Scared Stupid. That movie scared the crap out of me as a kid. It’s maybe not traditionally viewed as “smart” and “thought-provoking,” but that was scary for kids on a whole new level. And plus, it does take a lot of smarts to market something that terrifying to children. And to the parents who will actually take their kids to see it. For example, my father! Love the guy.
What’s great about the concept of horror is that there are so many sub-genres to play with. Silence of the Lambs for instance. Not everyone considers it horror, but that’s the stuff that gets you right in the bones—a deep, inexplicable terror that gives you the sweats. Speaking of sweating, the one and only film that’s made me nauseous and dizzy and clammy was Turistas. Being cut open alive and having your liver pulled out? Yeah, I almost threw up several times. I couldn’t sleep for days after seeing it. It’s a film about a bunch of tourists who are kidnapped to have their organs harvested on the black market. No movie has ever made me feel that ill in a moment. Naturally, it’s one my favorites.
I may make people mad with this one because I like it better than the original—the remake of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Pet Cemetery. I could just go on and on.
How did you get involved in Kingdom Come? And what was it like working on the film?
Camille Hollett-French: I did it the old fashioned way, by auditioning. I guess it worked out!
It’s a film I will always hold near and dear to my heart. The conditions were, at times, grueling, but anytime I’d be exhausted, I’d think, “This is so cool. Look at what I get to do as a job!” And the whole cast and crew became very close. It was hard leaving everyone when the shoot was over, especially my make-up artist Sam. She still gets random texts from me when I miss her. I always made her come with me to the bathroom because every hallway was pitch black! I think once I begged her to put toilet paper on the Port-o-Potty seat for me because I was afraid to look into it and see, I don’t know, the face of a demon or something, or poop—the same thing. I begged her and begged her, and she did it in exchange for thinking I was a complete loser. I earned that one.
It was such a great location. It was March in Ontario, so it was freezing, and the only power we had was from a generator they moved around this million-square-foot, formally operational mental health facility. It was great, but truly frightening.
I’m very fortunate. Let’s not bullshit anyone here. It’s a hard industry. Only one person gets the job, and there are far more people vying for jobs than jobs actually available. So I know I’m lucky, fortunate—whatever you want to call it. Kingdom Come was one of my firsts in lots of respects—first horror, first time shooting in a super authentic location, first time working in a likely haunted place.
Of course there are things I’d change if I had a redo. I’ve grown and learned about who I am and what my work means once it’s eternalized through film. I probably would have done a few things differently. Like, I would have done something different with my awful hair. I had this quasi-mullet for a few years after a terrible dye job and we shot the film around the end of that very embarrassing period of my life.
Do you think you would continue acting in horror films? What kind of projects would you like to be involved in?
Camille Hollett-French: I love horror, but it’s a genre you’ve got to be very choosy about working in. I will most definitely keep working in the genre, but I’d like to move forward in what the films I’m doing are saying. I’d like to work on films that are a reflection of who we are as a society and how we’re progressing, or digressing, especially in cases of post-apocalyptic stories.
I love sci-fi too, and I like the idea of working on films that wake people up from this constant, perpetual state of being brain dead. What do we do as a species? We wake up, shower, eat some breakfast, go to a place where some dude pays us far too little in exchange for our very precious time. We go home, buy some stuff online, get lost on YouTube for hours. Sometimes we meet up with people we like, or don’t like, to spend far too much money eating food that’s nowhere near worth the price we’ve paid. Sometimes we get together for a BBQ with our family. Then we go home and wait for the weekend to end so we can start it over it again. I know. Titillating right? But when you break it down like that, you see just how useless the day-in-and-day-out is. What I want to work on is films that wake us up, films that make us consider what life would be like if it were all gone, taken away, for whatever reason. That’s why I love post-apocalyptic so much because we’ve never really been taught by society to believe it could happen to us. We’re taught it could happen to a group of people on the other side of the planet, somewhere far, over “there.” The truth, it could happen in a flash, then what? I’d like to work on films that make us believe it could happen far more simply than we’d care to admit now, in hopes of making people appreciate what we’ve got.
Any particular horror directors, producers, or studios you would like to work with?
Camille Hollett-French: Danny Boyle of course. I, and I’m assuming the rest of the world, have become very intrigued by the minds of the Duffer Brothers, the creators of the show Stranger Things. Gore Verbinski, The Ring is another one of my favorites. Forgot to mention that one.
Really though, I’m just interested in working with anyone who wants to ask the world important questions about who we are. A lot of people consider watching horror a mindless pass-time. I consider it an opportunity to view ourselves in more honest lights.
I noticed that you enjoy not only acting but writing and producing. What do you enjoy most between the three, and why?
Camille Hollett-French: I’ve always been a writer. I have a background in journalism. I actually started writing before I starting acting so that will never leave me. I’ve just started getting into producing. We live in a time when we don’t have to wait on some studio to approve us. The Internet is an amazing place. Everything to create whatever we’d like is at our fingertips. Everything we need to learn is but a click away. That doesn’t always mean it’ll be great but hey, newsflash, big studios make shit movies all the time! If you’re a person who’s got that constant need to tell your own stories, you’ve got to find a way that happen.
The thing about people though is that we’re very rarely good at only one thing. We’re so unique and multi-faceted by nature. We also yearn to be understood, and that happens best by finding ways to communicate our perspectives to those around us, so we naturally become very good at communicating in several different ways. For that reason, I think all three go hand in hand for me.
Who is your favorite horror killer and why? Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, Leatherface, or Chucky?
Camille Hollett-French: Hannibal Lecter. For sure. He’s so smart. And sometimes even likeable, just long enough to trick you. That’s pure evil. Sure Freddy and Jason are scary in their very specific universes, but Hannibal is scary on real-world terms, and that to me is truly horrifying. Knowing that people like him exist. They do, and we never know who those people are until it’s too late. So I guess he’s my favorite because he’s the worst. Second place? `
What’s next for you as an actor?
Camille Hollett-French: I was just involved in a very cool indie shot here in Toronto called The River You Step In, and I’m about to do something super home-grown, the 48-Hour-Film Challenge. There are similar competitions all over. The day it starts, you’re given the guidelines, then you have two days to write, shoot and edit a short-film. I’ve done them a few times in the past but I haven’t in a while so I’m excited to get my hands dirty again. I’m treating it as my last hoorah before I leave Toronto for a while to head West. I need some beaches and constant sunshine. The vitamin D helps keep me sane. Mostly.
How can people follow your career?
Camille Hollett-French: Like my Facebook page for updates. Check out my website www.camillehollett-french.com. My Instagram is @thiscity0fmine. You can also follow my cat @heshwanks_thetravellingsenior. He has lots of things to say about his momma.