Michael J. Gallagher's new urban legend horror 'Smiley' is heading for DVD and so we've been chatting with the gorgeous Caitlin Gerard, star of the slasher flick, who spills the beans on her character Ashley and the terrifying trials and tribulations she faces when 'Smiley' comes knocking.
What attracted you to the role
Ashley, like so many of us, is going through a major transition in her
life. Leaving home to discover a new world at college, as well as a new
identity is often challenging and a very lonely experience. You yearn to
fit in, to be accepted, acknowledged and respected by your peers. And
sometimes these feelings will make us go to great lengths to achieve them.
Having switched to three different high schools, as well as attending
multiple Universities, I really understood Ashley’s need for friends. Even
more so, what Smiley also addresses is viral bullying, which is a serious
and traumatic issue for many. Having been bullied myself (hence the moving
around high schools) I understand the desperation that ensues in Ashley’s
quest to seek the truth. This is what enticed my interest even more, is
Ashley’s courage to stand against the grain and fight for the answers.
This is at once a battle within herself, as well as a battle against the
outside world. She wants to know she can trust herself (and her fleeing
sanity) but more so she looks to those around her for support, like her
knew friend Proxy. Ashley has so much goodness in her heart and her
weaknesses prove to be her strengths.
Caitlin: "For Ashley most of the battle is
conquering her mind and regaining control".
The film predominantly focuses
on Ashley’s struggles with accepting and understanding the events
happening around her. How important was it for you to convey the
difficulty in differentiating between reality and fantasy?
Mental instability is a serious illness; it is an internal dilemma where
no solution appears to solve the silent problems of the mind. Ashley’s
mother committed suicide, causing her to unravel emotionally. Only now (at
the start of the film) having finally overcome the darkness caused by her
mother’s death, Ashley is faced with an entirely new dilemma, she is being
hunted by a viral serial killer. Beyond her personal trauma, this new
situation is far worse than she could have ever imagined, because now
there really is no solution, either she is going crazy, or there is an
actual murderer hunting her. I won’t spoil the end, but the finally of the
film reveals an evil that not even Ashley can resolve.
I see I’ve gone on a tangent. I could get into deep and oh so meaningful
conversation with you about what is reality and how is it any different
from fantasy. But let’s spare the strain. For Ashley most of the battle is
conquering her mind and regaining control. And during this mental anguish
Ashley gets lost in a fantastical (viral) world hidden from our physical
reality. It was therefore really important not to differentiate between
fantasy and reality but more so the tangible and the intangible. This is a
question we all must face in the 21st Century, what is real and what is
not. What is real to me, what realities are we creating online and are
they separate, as real, more real, or maybe indistinguishable from our
It is an emotional trial for
Ashley. How did you get into the role?
As a young actress, still very new to my craft, I feel somewhat more
self-conscious about sharing my preparation techniques. I hope you don’t
mind if for now, we’ll leave this one aspect a mystery.
Why do you think horror films
maintain their attraction to audiences? Everyone seems to remember their
first horror film.
Haha! I remember mine for sure. I was about seven or so and my babysitter
brought over I Know What You Did Last Summer. Let me tell you, she
wholeheartedly regretted doing that. My mom was out of town, and after
watching that movie she had to sleep with me during her entire stay. I
clung to her and couldn’t be alone for a second, fearing that someone
would jump out of the dark and come after me with a hook, or a bat, or
something. That being said, I think that’s exactly why we love horror
movies so much, they play with our imagination, they challenge our reality
pushing the limits of our safety zones. But these horrors projected on a
screen, keeps them at safe distance, so we can indulge in these uneasy but
exciting feelings. I guess what makes scary movies even more exhilarating
is the small part of us that might actually believe in the reality of what
Caitlin: " It is a collaborative art and we are all striving together to achieve one final end goal".
You've appeared in big budget
films like Magic Mike and The Social Network. How different was it working
on an independent film with a small budget?
Well, in essence they aren’t any different from one another at all, we are
all working together (crew, art department, production, crafties…) to
create something unique. It is a collaborative art and we are all striving
together to achieve one final end goal with the same vision in mind (for
the most part, right? I am sure politics can get involved at times, but I’m
speaking from an altruistic or maybe naive point of view). But this is why
I do what I do, the best part of acting for me is being on set and
belonging to this wonderful collaboration where everyone is vital,
important, and necessary, without one, the puzzle falls apart. That is
what is so great about film production, no matter what the size or budget
we are all here striving for a dream.
What are your favourite horror
The Shining, The Omen, and Rosemary’s Baby
What future projects do you
have lined up?
Right now I am back at UCLA finishing school. But in the spring I have a
comedy series coming out on MTV called Zach Stone Is Gunna Be Famous,
starring and created by Bo Burnham (I get to play his best friend, which
was really fun).
"Thank you ever so much for taking part in this interview.
'Smiley' lands on DVD in the US from 12th February 2013.
And we wish you the very best of luck in the