Hannah Fierman is best known for her role as Lily in the “Amateur Night” segment of the 2012 horror anthology V/H/S. This unique, unsettling character with very little screen time proved to many fans—myself included—to be what resonated most from that film. Fierman has also appeared in The Vampire Diaries, Gone by Dawn, The Unwanted and now SiREN, a feature film that spins off and expands upon her V/H/S character and the world she inhabits.
SiREN is wisely not a feature-length remake of “Amateur Night” if anyone was really expecting it to be. Instead it is a new story that is given the chance to develop the character a little bit more, but features a similarly ill-fated group of young men.
We caught up with the actress to talk about returning to the character for the new film, as well as other highlights from her career.
SiREN hits theaters on December 2nd, with subsequent VOD, Digital HD and DVD release on December 6th.
Wicked Horror: How did it feel to step into playing Lily again, after a few years since the release of V/H/S?
Hannah Fierman: It was really exciting. I was happy they decided to go with me. There were some auditions and some debates for auditioning for my role, which, you know, is very precious to me. It was a relief in all sorts of ways.
WH: I had no idea that other people were considered for SiREN. That was such a specific performance that people gravitated to.
Fierman: Thank you. Thank you, Nat. I thought so too! [laughs] I was like, “You’re going to make me audition? OK.” I walked into the audition room and there were a bunch of women trying to look like me. And I walk in and they’re all like “Wait a minute, you’re in the original, what am I doing here?” It was so awkward.
WH: I can imagine. After V/H/S, what was that like for you to sort of see that film build word of mouth and really take off?
Fierman: It was shocking. We had no idea it was gonna do that. It was really bizarre and I had to adjust pretty quickly to the attention, because at first I found it rather overwhelming. The first time I really experienced it… I wasn’t able to go to the Sundance premiere so I went to the one at Southby and people had already seen it, somehow. It was just a variety of faces and opinions and people screaming about my performance and saying very personal things.
It was such an adjustment. It was a little weird at first, to be honest. I think I’m better at it now. I think I’m used to it now.
WH: What do you think are some of the benefits of having more time to develop this character in a feature film, rather than a short?
Fierman: Actually, David Bruckner and I developed it a lot. Because at first we didn’t know exactly what she was going to be. We had this great idea, this succubus, but we didn’t know exactly. So we developed it for several weeks before we started shooting. We did camera tests. Makeup tests. And then I worked with my friend and stunt double Elizabeth Davidovitch and we talked about how she was going to move and how she was going to have those twitchy movements and that cat-like predatory reaction and that kind of thing.
But as far as the feature, I didn’t know. I knew that the movie was in development for years beforehand but I didn’t know if I was going to be cast in it or not. It took so many years to actually get out there that I was kind of like “Forget it.” I’m not gonna prepare for a movie when I don’t know if it’s going to get made or not.
So, years and years and years later I got maybe a month’s notice that I was actually cast before we started filming. So I didn’t really have any time at all to prepare. I don’t think it was even a whole month from audition to shooting, it was that fast.
So I didn’t have time to prepare physically except for what I had already done. And I figured the reason I was cast and the reason I got to do it is because people liked what we were doing. So I didn’t change her too much.
In fact, the feature script I think changed her too much and gave her too many lines. And I didn’t like that. I’m like “You’re making her talk too much, that’s not who she is.” So while we were filming, I didn’t ask permission, I just cut out some of the lines. I made her a little more like the original. Even though she’s a siren and she sings, I made her a bit more like the original than they had actually written.
WH: What do you think it is about Lily that made so many fans connect with that character in particular?
Fierman: I think that one thing is that she was very, very vulnerable and raw and I think that people grew protective of her. And I think they were made uncomfortable by the series of events. I think all of those emotions sort of mixed together to make people remember and make people very sympathetic to her character even though she was so savage. Her vulnerability mixed with that sadness is such a shock that it’s also very memorable.
A huge part of it was breaking the fourth wall and talking directly to the people that were watching. Looking right into their eyes and telling them that you liked them. People are just simply going to respond to that. It’s a connection that you don’t frequently see in the usual narrative.
I think that’s why so much of my fan mail, people send me these very personal letters telling me about their lives and dreams. I think it’s almost like they think that they know me and that I like them so they can open up. It’s amazing. It’s an amazing phenomenon.
Another happy result from that is that people tell me they like me all the time!
WH: Well, that’s good.
Fierman: Yeah, I’m so glad my tagline wasn’t something negative because then I would have to hear it again and again for the rest of my life.
WH: I’m also a fan of a movie you did, The Unwanted and a big fan of the story it’s based on, Carmilla, and was wondering what that process was like for you, being a part of an adaptation of such a classic vampire story.
Fierman: Yeah, that was an honor, you know, to be able to play such an iconic role and to do a more modern Southern Gothic interpretation. And such wonderful characters, but we took a lot of artistic license with it, without being too harshly judged. That was just the best character to play. Laura, she was just so fucked up on so many levels, and had so many places to go and so many arcs to develop. I loved doing The Unwanted, I really did.
Working with Brett Wood, the director, producer and writer of the script, he’s wonderful at collaborating. There was one scene that just didn’t work and I basically gave him some new ideas to how we could rewrite that scene and he was just completely open to it.
It wasn’t too precious to him, he didn’t have this gigantic hubris to me messing with his writing, not that I changed very much, but we workshopped it together and it worked. It’s a real treat when you get to work with somebody who is that artistically open and respects your opinion so much.