Alex Essoe turned in one of the most arresting performances in a genre picture last year with her jarring portrayal of Sarah in Starry Eyes. She is ultra relatable and terrifying all at the same time. The viewer quickly identifies with her plight as she accurately portrays the desperation of an aspiring performer trying to make it in the Hollywood machine. She goes to dark places that are completely uncomfortable but Essoe never loses her audience. In fact, the viewer only becomes more engaged as she falls deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole. Wicked Horror managing editor Tyler Doupe´ secured a moment of Ms. Essoe’s time to talk about Starry Eyes, the toll a performance like that takes on an actor, her involvement with the horror anthology Tales of Halloween, and more!
Starry Eyes follows Sarah Walker (Alex Essoe) an aspiring actress in Los Angles. She tries to make ends meet by working a dead end day job until she is discovered. Sarah regularly attends casting calls and auditions but is still barely scraping by. Finally her luck starts to change: Sarah goes on an audition that leads to several call backs and she is eventually offered the part in an exciting project. This all seems like good news but she quickly learns that the role may cost her more than she has bargained for. You can read my review of Starry Eyes here and you can check it out for yourself on DVD and Blu-ray tomorrow (February 3rd).Wicked Horror: Anyone that is paying attention can tell that you really threw yourself into playing Sarah. As a result of that, I wonder if you were haunted by her when you weren’t filming?
Alex Essoe: I think acting is what you refer to as a disposable art. I think you need to be able to drop it when you’re done with it and try to make as smooth of a transition as possible. With that being said, I actually cared about her very much. I cared about her and I felt very protective of her. It was very important to me that I show her humanity and not just depict her as your run-of-the-mill desperate actress. There are a lot of things going on with her besides her ambition: Her opinions of herself and the decisions she makes and all of that. I was, in fact, very inspired by the character.
Wicked Horror: Your costar, Fabianne Therese, is perfectly wicked. In re-watching the film, I had to wonder if you ever had trouble keeping a straight face when she was reciting some of her more pointed dialogue.
Essoe: Totally. That is a very good question. There were actually a few moments. She just committed to it so completely. [Laughs] I think there were a few moments of levity on the set. I think she had a lot of fun playing a character like that and she made it fun for me. [Spoilers Ahead] The scene where I kill her was one of the most fun scenes to shoot in my opinion.
Wicked Horror: She just would not die.
Essoe: Her will to live was strong. That was really fun and she was right there with me. She is such a consummate professional. She’s just really funny in real life [End Spoilers]
Wicked Horror: It can be somewhat difficult to watch oneself on camera and your character certainly goes through some cringe-inducing onscreen tribulations. Was it tough for you to watch the completed film at any point?
Essoe: It was definitely difficult for my mom to watch it. She flew to Los Angeles for a screening at The Egyptian and there where a couple parts where she leaned over and told me she didn’t know if she could keep watching! But I told her to stick with it, it’s ok. I don’t die. It’s all good. So, I think it was probably harder for her than it was for me. [Laughs] I love genre films. I’m into all that stuff. It was really fun. It’s just such a fantasy of mine to be in a movie like this.
Wicked Horror: That is so refreshing to hear. I interview a lot of people that do horror films as a stepping stone or because it fell into their lap. But in talking with you and reading interviews with you, it’s very obvious that you are a horror fan and have a good understanding of the various niches and sub-genres within. You are obviously affectionate about horror and that is refreshing.
Essoe: Well, thank you so much! It’s funny because that’s one of the things I love most about horror, in general is all of the sub-genres that fall under it. It’s such an expansive multilayered genre. You have so many different kinds of horror. And that isn’t so much present with like, a drama. A drama is…a drama. You can pair drama with comedy or romance but it’s still a drama. It’s not like there’s body drama and supernatural drama. But with horror, it’s almost limitless as to the places you can go.
Wicked Horror: There’s such a great sense of community that is inherent to the horror genre. You don’t see conventions celebrating the romantic comedy community! Speaking of the horror community, did your performance in Starry Eyes lead to you developing a relationship with The October Society and being cast in Tales of Halloween?
Essoe: I met Axelle Carolyn, one of the directors from Tales of Halloween at a screening of Starry Eyes at The Egyptian. She was actually friends with one of the directors of Starry Eyes, Dennis Widmyer, and we all went for drinks afterwards and talked shop and talked about our favorite horror movies and stuff. And about a month later, she said she would love to work with me on a short that she was doing that was part of an anthology. And that was awesome to me because I love those. That’s just kind of how it developed. I loved working with her. She’s a really, really great director. I hope we get a chance to work together again.
Wicked Horror: That’s great to hear that your performance in Starry Eyes is opening doors for you. Thanks so much for talking with us!
Essoe: Thank you! Actually, it was my pleasure!