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An Interview with Caitlin Gerard

Caitlin: "I think that’s exactly why we love horror movies so much, they play with our imagination".

Caitlin Gerard
Interview conducted by John Townsend
5 February 2013

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 of Ashley?
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 physical reality.

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 is happening.

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 films?
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.
And we wish you the very best of luck in the future."

'Smiley' lands on DVD in the US from 12th February 2013.


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